Platypus has recently revamped their hydration pack lineup, which now includes five packs (3 classified as XC and 2 classified as AM). The Duthie AM 12 is the second largest pack that Platypus makes (the 12 designation an indicator of its total volume – 12 liters). It has a bladder capacity of 3 liters and a cargo capacity of 9 liters. Full, this pack holds a lot of stuff and while it might be overkill for everyday use, all that room could really come in handy for fatpacking. For reference, the size of the Duthie 12 falls in between the CamelBak MULE and HAWG.
Overall, the pack is well constructed. It’s made out of coated diamond ripstop nylon with reinforced stitching throughout and all the zippers are smooth and easy to operate. Other nice details include plenty of compression straps for adjusting your load and ventilated mesh shoulder straps. It also has body armor compression straps, so if your gravity inclined; you can easily carry your pads along with you. The pack is also equipped with a waste belt (which is stowable) for when you need some extra security . Despite its size, the Duthie 12 is relatively light.
One odd thing that is immediately noticeable when first looking at the pack is that the main body is bigger at the top than it at the bottom (sort of exclamation point shaped), which I’m thinking is supposed to represent he shape of your back. However, this shape results in the possibility of more stuff being packed towards the top of the pack, which could really raise the center of gravity. If you’re careful when packing it this could easily be avoided.
The bladder does what its supposed to do – hold liquid. The bladder itself is made out of a clear, PBA material that is treated with a antimicrobial treatment (SlimeGaurd). I really liked that it was clear, which make cleaning that much easier. One feature that is touted by Platypus is the Big Zip reservoir (basically a Ziploc bag style of opening with a plastic bar – “SlideLock”- that helps to keep it sealed), which is supposed to make filling and cleaning much easier. While it easier to fill then some of the bladders I’ve used in the past (especially, interesting enough, an old Platypus bladder), I was barely able to get my medium sized hand in the opening to clean it. However, since I normally use a brush to wash the inside of my bladders, the smallish opening was workable. The bite valve, which doesn’t give the greatest flow, is a bit bulky and was my biggest sticking point of the whole pack. Even after I tried to widen the opening, I was still not getting the desired flow. However, this may be more of personal preference issue. The hose has a quick disconnect, which is a nice feature that allows for easy routing and bladder removal without having the snake the hose back though the pack.
Storage wise, there isn’t much to complain about. There is plenty of cargo room throughout, which is divided up into three compartments; a large main (which is also where the bladder is stored), a slightly smaller middle compartment (which is where there is divided space for tools), and a small third compartment on top of the pack (for quick access items such as camera or food). There is also an outside mesh pocket on the back and two small zipped pockets on the waste belt (again, quick access items). The one issue I had with the pack itself were the clips that hold the extra belt straps in place. They simply do not work, which leaves that extra strap flapping around in the wind. Cutting them is a solution but then you loose some adjustability.
At the end of the day, this a hydration pack so there isn’t a lot to be said. It’s supposed hold your gear and water, which this pack does. After a little over a month of putting it through its paces, I’d call the Duthie 12 adequate. While the pack is well built and has some nice features, I would say that it isn’t quite a refined and lacks the bells and whistles of some of the other hydration packs out there. I guess the term would be no frills. The only issues I had were the bite valve’s lack of flow, the smallish opening to gain access for washing (which is actually better than most bladders), and the poorly executed waste strap management clips. On the plus side, despite the smallish opening, the BigZip bladder along with its quick disconnect are quite nice as is the pack’s overall cargo capacity, the later of which should serve fat-packers well.