Friday, 1 November 2013

Review: Platypus Duthie All Mountain 10 Hydration Pack

Platypus have been in the hydration system market for a long time; they were one of the pioneering firms that first started producing the bladder and tube systems, they know their stuff when it comes to keeping you topped up with fluid when you're on the move.

The Duthie All Mountain 10 is the latest and greatest pack from this American firm; a bag designed to keep you hydrated and well provisioned with food and spares, even on EPIC All Mountain day-long adventures.

I am planning on doing some long distance mountain biking expeditions in Summer 2014, so the Duthie 10 looked like the ideal pack for the role. Filled up with fluid, supplies and spares, I've been testing it out...

The primary concern with any rucksack that you'll be wearing all day long is comfort, and the Duthie has it in bags. The shoulder straps are made of a ventilated foam padding, the back panel is also well padded, with a central air channel and a semi-rigid internal frame to ensure comfort even when the pack is lightly loaded. The broad waist strap has cushioned hip supports, and is made of strong webbing with a sturdy buckle. Then to ensure there really is no movement even when tackling the most extreme terrain, there is a fully adjustable chest strap to really lock the pack in place. It's the small details with the Duthie that have really impressed me though; the quality buckles, strap tidies and compression straps show that a lot of thought has gone into the design and feel of this bag.

With no worries on the comfort side or the security side, you can turn to loading up the Duthie with your kit for the trails, there are endless storage options. Closest to your back is the pouch for the huge 3 litre Big Zip LP Hydration pack, which I will discuss later. Then just to the rear of this is the main storage compartment; in here there are dedicated pockets for keys, tools, two pumps (shock and normal), tubes and levers, and anything else that you think you might want to house! Organisation is a large part of endurance riding, keeping everything in its place means you are less likely to forget that vital tool or accessory. In this main storage compartment you'll also find that there is room for a waterproof jacket, and spare layers for those mammoth expeditions.

To add more storage to the already impressive list, the Duthie features a soft lined smaller pocket for valuables such as phones and cameras that you don't want to risk scratching if you placed them in the same pocket as tools. There is also another secure zipper pocket on the very outer of the pack, as well as an expandable pouch to take a helmet or pads, and numerous lashing points down the sides of the pack. To top the list, there is a reflective light clip on the base of the bag, and the padded hip straps have elasticated pockets on them to stash small easy-to-reach items such as gels and bars. There is no risk that even the most organised person will have a problem with stowing their kit in this pack!

Out on the trail the Duthie is comfortable, feels secure and shrugs off any knocks or bumps. The rip stop nylon material brushes away overhanging sticks and thorns, and my kit has been kept dry and safe (although it is probably worth putting valuables in small waterproof bags as the pack is not fully waterproofed).

The final feature to consider is the hydration bladder used in the Duthie AM 10 - the Big Zip LP 3 Litre bladder. I've always used Camelbak bladders before, but this hydration system has really impressed me. The Big Zip has a secure "Zip-Lok" style opening at the top, which seals with a slider, it then hangs inside the bag with two clips, to ensure that the "top" remains at the top and that the bladder doesn't slump down as it empties.

The whopping 3 litre capacity of the Big Zip will take at least 4 hours worth of fluid for even the thirstiest rider, and the hanging design keeps it secure and stable inside the bag. The hose system is detachable at both ends without leakage, making it easy to keep clean and thread through the pack. Neat! You can route the hose over either shoulder and then it secures to the chest strap with a clever magnetic clip. The mouthpiece is strong and comfortable, and has a simple twist-to-lock mechanism to avoid leaking when not in use. The bladder also uses Slimeguard technology to keep away bacteria, which seems to work well - it hasn't gone mouldy yet! This really is one of the best (if not the best) hydration bladder I've seen; it is taste-free, light, robust and has one huge capacity; perfect for the day long adventures!

Overall, the Duthie AM 10 is a great bag, its 7 litres of storage and 3 litres hydration capacity is ideal for long rides, and it is built to deal with that kind of riding as well. Neat little features like the soft lined valuables pocket, totally detachable hose and secure padded waist strap show the thought that has gone into the bag, and make the £90 UK price tag very respectable. If you need a bag for bombing along the trails all day long, look no further!  

Platypus is distributed in the UK by CascadeDesigns.com (Link)

Note: The Duthie AM 10 will be available from January 2014, along with some new women's specific hydration packs from Platypus (this is a pre-launch review). However, if you can't wait until January, the Platypus range already features the great 3, 5 and 8 litre Tokul XC models, as well as the spacious 12 and 14 litre All Mountain models. There really is something for all requirements!

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