By: Kevin Tan
Mavic Crossmax Hydropack 8.5 | Price: $129.99 | www.mavic.com
Well known for rims and complete wheels, Mavic also offers a full range of clothing and accessories for both road and mountain. On the mountain side of of things, the Crossmax line of clothing and accessories is targeted towards enduro and trail riding and was developed with feedback from Mavic team riders Jerome Clementz, Fabien Barel and Anne-Caroline Chausson.
The Crossmax Hydropack 8.5 is the smaller counterpart to the Hydropack 15 and is designed to carry 100 ounces (3 liters) of water and most anything you would need for medium and long rides. Starting with the reservoir, rather than using a threaded cap, the Hydrapak-made bladder utilizes a clip, which slides into place over the folded top section of the bladder. Another feature is a welded seam running vertically in the middle of the bladder, effectively dividing it in two to keep sloshing at bay. The hose is attached with a button-operated quick release which, when disconnected, stops the flow of water from the bladder. The hose quick release system is also compatible with accessories such as filters.
The shoulder and waist straps are a bit wider than similar packs and feature amply sized zippered mesh pockets on both left and right sides. The shoulder straps also feature an adjustable sternum strap. The pack itself sports three zippered main compartments–the first one has two zippered mesh pockets and two open pockets for tools. The second one has a single zippered pocket and a large volume for stuffing additional layers or even a bulky jacket. The third compartment houses the bladder and has only a Velcro loop for securing the bladder top clip. The hose can be run through either shoulder strap. On the outside of the pack there is a single full-length, non-zippered pocket accessible through an overlapping flap of material. At the base of the pack, a small zipper conceals a foldout helmet cradle that could also carry bulkier clothing items. There is also a convenient area to clip a blinky light.
The overall design of the Crossmax 8.5 is refreshingly clean and doesn’t leave much to snag on low hanging branches. I really appreciated the pockets on the shoulder and waist straps. On average rides the shoulder pockets were more convenient to use, and on several long rides, the waist pockets provided even more room for easily accessible snacks. The waist straps are quite wide where they meet the pack, and I this really adds stability to the fit of the pack. Even when fully loaded the Crossmax 8.5 is very stable and feels surprisingly light when riding. By dividing the reservoir into effectively two compartments, the pack lays flatter on the back and that full-bladder swishing sensation is eliminated. I did have some concerns about the thickness of the bladder. The material is thinner than some other packs I have used and coupled with the quick disconnect hose and sliding clip on top, I had some initial doubts about long-term durability. However, during the several week test period, I had no issues with the sliding clip or the quick disconnect, and at this point I don’t expect there to be any. Overall, the sliding top cap design of the Hydrapak reservoir is a useful feature. Not only does it make it easy to throw in some ice, but the reservoir can also be turned inside out for cleaning.
The Crossmax pack uses a thin piece of plastic material to give the panel separating the reservoir and rider a bit of stiffness, enabling the mesh-covered pads to do a better job of distributing the load while still allowing good ventilation. Despite temperatures well into the 90s, the area underneath the pack stayed comfortable and breathed well.
The only real complaint I really had with the pack was the Hydrapak bite valve. The flow is less than what I am used to, and required more effort for a given amount of water. Hydrapak offers an upgraded bite valve with more flow – which would be a worthy upgrade (and even better as the stock valve). I should mention, however, that the valve didn't leak, even when carelessly tossed into a pile of gear. For extra security when in transit, the valve can also be locked closed, although I rarely needed to use it.
Functional and stable with clean styling, the Crossmax 8.5 Hydropack is a well-thought-out piece of gear and a pleasure to use. The shoulder and waist strap pockets are really handy for quick access to snacks, gadgets, or small tools. The pack has a generous amount of storage capacity for any XC adventure, and still feels light enough to not be overwhelming.
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