Earlier this winter, the presumably bearded guys at Revelate Designs in Anchorage sent Fat-Bike.com headquarters the Wampak, a winter specific hydration backpack to check out.
Revelate Designs has been responsible for changing the way we all travel and live on a bike. They’ve constantly made things we didn’t know we needed until we saw them. Frame bags, Handlebar harnesses, gas tank bags, seatpost bags, poggies. They were all a rare sight 10 years ago, but are everywhere now.
An entire generation of riders is getting introduced to bike packing instead of bike touring. The rising popularity of endurance races, on gravel, trail, or snow, have been at least partially spurred by all this gear that Revelate has pioneered. If you don’t believe me just check out their website, www.revelatedesigns.com they’re legit.
The Wampak is no different than any of their other products. It’s super simple, 9 oz. and somehow packed with features that set it apart from other hydration packs.
Remember the first ride that your water froze? You probably took precautions to avoid it like I had, but still failed. I mean come on…I had a thin neoprene sleeve covering my water hose, I’m pretty sure the cap over the mouth piece had a picture of a snowflake. Surely this hydration pack was rigorously tested to assure top performance in the coldest of conditions.
Well we’ve all had problems keeping our water in liquid state in the winter, there’s a few tricks learned over the years to minimize the issue. Run the hose under your arm, pinch the bite valve after drinking, some people insulate the hose (that’s not for me), and keep the entire pack under your outer most riding layers.
Most packs have been designed for runners or summer riding. The minimal/small packs that would conveniently fit under an already tight riding jacket rely on smaller bladder sizes, which is out of the question when it comes to endurance racing or deep backcountry travel.
So that’s where Revelate stepped in and helped solve the problem with the Wampak. Here’s some of the features they packed into 9 oz.
First of all it’s slim, super slim. No external pockets or stretchy straps to get caught up on your layers. A jacket or an extra layer slip easily over it. I’ve had to size up to fit a pack under my riding jacket, but the Wampak definitely fits much better than anything. It fits comfortably with 100 oz. of water under my favorite jacket, and I don’t need to wear a size too large to make it fit.
That’s a big deal, especially on extremely cold or windy days. Having an outer layer that is plastered tight against your chest, core, and arms just allows the cold to radiate straight through you. Always leave a bit of breathing room in the winter. The Wampak has made a big difference on that front for me. In the past I would purposely drink a lot of water after leaving a checkpoint so my pack would fit better under my jacket.
The backing and the shoulder straps on the Wampak are mesh. It’s less area for sweat to absorb, and it also allows for your body’s internal furnace to heat the water. Earlier this winter on an overnighter the water had partially frozen and even with temps around zero or 10 above the ice had all melted and I had relatively warm water for the rest of my ride home.
The exterior shell of the pack has a bit of foam and a lining of a reflective material to keep the heat in. I really think this is more for the look of warmth than actual functionality. I’ve never had my water freeze in my bladder while I had the pack on my back. But it is nice to know it’s there. It also has the added bonus of creating a bit of structure to the pack so that it always stays in place, unlike some ultra-light running hydration packs I’ve used before
Those are a couple simple features that most winter fat bike riders have considered while brain storming out on the trail.
The reason Revelate Designs is such an epic company is that they think about more than you or I. Revelate has an eye on making the rider part of the bike, part of a self-contained efficient system. The Wampak feels like just one more piece of the system.
The Wampak is designed with accessibility in mind more than any other hydration pack I have ever seen. In the winter, most motions should be simple and easy. Numb hands and numb brains tend to be the norm from November through March and Wampak addresses this in a few different ways.
The pack has just one clip to access the water. It takes no strength or coordination (two things that are lacking in the worst of times) to open or close. Just pull down on the elastic closure and it opens, then a magnet essentially closes it on its own. I want this sort of closure on all of my winter gear now. Never thought I would dork out over a closure, but here I am gushing.
There’s a Velcro covering on the back of the pack. It opens up onto the port that connects the bladder to the hose. Easy access so that you don’t have to reroute your hose every time you refill your bladder.
I might not use this when I’m really trying to avoid getting wet, but it does add to the accessibility, it’s simple and it adds next to nothing in complexity or weight.
To be honest I probably spilled more water because of that. It was never at a time when it really mattered, but I imagine that if I was far from the road on a cold day, Im not going to risk spilling the residual water in my hose. I like to stay dry in the winter.
The most clever design feature in the wampack are the ¾ “clips that detach the shoulder straps. Unclip the sternum strap, and the two straps to take the pack off under your layers. It’s a feature I never knew I needed until I had it.
I’ve used it all the time. Arriving at a cold cabin, bivying, getting back to a cold car at the trail head, the finish line of a race, and more importantly checkpoints in the race.
In the winter, my first consideration when I stop is immediately putting on a down jacket to retain my warmth, rather have it sucked away by my cold and wet base layers being exposed to the cold. I’m a pretty small guy and I have a hard time staying warm.
If you’re of the endurance racing mindset, checkpoint efficiency is sometimes what determines a good race. Taking off your pack under jacket while you walk into a checkpoint feels pretty boss.
There’s very little negative to say. Partly due to its simplicity, but just as much due to the design. Some riders may not like that there is no waist/hip belt. But the contour of the pack, sternum strap, and the layers over the pack hold it firmly to your back. I can imagine an extra point of contact being worth it on more rugged terrain, but for winter specific I’ll take this design every day.
The other point of detail that I would change if I could. Would be the clip on the sternum strap. Since I ride with the hose under my arm in most cases, I want the hose to be clipped in vertically instead of horizontally.
The Wampak has been great in every situation I’ve used it in. With a price point at $95 dollars. It has honestly changed the way I consider carrying water even into the summer months, I’ve mostly abandoned water bottles just due to carrying capacity. The Wampak is the one hydration pack that can be part of the bigger system.
Inevitably a good ride often leads to places that are a little cold. Layering is the key to staying warm up here. I’ve really become accustomed to wearing the Wampak like it is just part of my layering system. In between my base layer and my outer layer. From 40 below to 70 above, it has been the pack I’ve needed since I got my hands on it.
For more information about Revelate Designs visit – www.revelatedesigns.com