It is not often that you come across a product whose design has solved every issue you can imagine before you have time to address them. The POC Spine VPD Hydration Pack is the Swiss Army Knife of conveniently sized hydration packs. I used to have a Camelback pack that did the job, but I wasn’t really a fan of the bladder-straw apparatus. You couldn’t take the whole thing apart, it got dirty easily, and when you wanted to wash out the inside of the bladder it became a huge pain in the ass. The hydration bladder and straw system is eons better. Every little piece can be separated to be cleaned, the mouth piece is easy to drink out of, and the bladder clips and zips fully open so you can pour in some beverage powder, then seal it closed with ease.
The Spine VPD has loads of conveniently organized pockets for stashing clothes, phones, ipods, snacks, etc. It also has a nice elastic, mesh net that can hold your bike or ski/snowboard helmet when you are hiking, or just busting a chill, and in case you don’t want to utilize it, they placed a little pocket in the bottom-front of the bag that discretely tucks the net away. Instead of the waist-strap being permanently attached, you can vertically adjust where the strap meets the pack. Very unique, very rad, and allows the pack to tailor to anyone of any size.
The VPD (Visco Elastic Polymer Dough) is an effective feature that provides spinal support and protection in the event of a seriously fall. The great thing about the VPD is that you can remove it in the summer if you are going on a hike, and the piece fits into other POC clothing if you are just going to rip some downhill mountain biking and don’t want to bother with the pack.
My only gripe with the pack, and this is personal preference, is that I like to have an open mesh pocket on the side to hold something that I might need easy access to, like my phone if I’m waiting for a call, bear spray, or iPod if I’ve got a bad case of song-ADD that day.
At around $150, it is definitely worth every penny. Plus, you cannot deny the impressive Swedish design. This is definitely the best bag I have used from this genre of packs. I would confidently recommend this to any mountain biker, road biker, hiker, skier, or snowboarder.