- Buyer's Guide
As we hurtle into the first action-packed, mud-splattered drive by of the New Year, we’re stoked to welcome our new contributor, Emily Thompson…
“A perfect all-mountain bike pack for lady shredders”
Platypus is a US company who have long held a reputation for hydration and maintain that to this day with thoughtfully designed, super-functional packs. While it used to be that CamelBak made the only good-fitting (not great), durable, feature-rich hydration packs for mountain bikers, Platypus has come onto the scene in the last few years with well-designed packs that fit great and a hydration bladder system that CamelBak is now racing to catch up to. The Platypus Siouxon Hydration Pack maintains the brand’s edge on the competition by being the best-fitting women’s mountain bike pack I’ve ever worn, hands down.
I won my Platypus Siouxon in a raffle at a volunteer trail work party. I was fairly pleased with the CamelBak Day Star I’d been riding with before but figured since the Siouxon was bike specific (the Day Star is a more general purpose ‘outdoors’ pack) and didn’t smell like the inside of a gym bag, I’d give it a shot. My first few rides with the Siouxon were in May, in Washington, so from day one my Siouxon was stuffed full of extra layers and subjected to downpours, mud puddles and crashes (the crashes have little to do with the month, or living in Washington – crashing is just my style so every piece of gear I own gets beaten up regularly and brutally). Since May, I’ve used this pack in six enduro races, hundreds of miles of riding, tens of thousands of feet of climbing and descending, one particularly gnarly tumble over the bars, a broken wrist, and all sorts of weather from summer’s hottest days to the coldest days of winter so far.
Who it suits
The Siouxon is one of two packs Platypus specifically designed for women, and is the bigger sister to the B-Line. Designed for burly, all-mountain rides it’s on the larger side and feature-rich so works great for carrying a helmet (full face or half shell), goggles/sunglasses, pads, an extra layer or two, tools, snacks, you name it. Of the two packs, this is the choice for enduro, downhill or longer XC rides.
Who it doesn’t
If you’re looking to lighten your load, tape goo shots to your hard tail, carry Chamois Butt’r in the back pocket of your skin suit, with only water and an extra layer in your pack, this isn’t the Platypus for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the right bag to stash your first aid kit, can of beer, muddy knee pads, roll of TP, and the before and after load of a lunch on the trail, the Siouxon is your girl.
Overall the pack has a sleek and ergonomic shape with a ventilated back panel and adjustable waist and sternum straps. The Siouxon features three main pockets, an expandable front pocket that a half shell can slide into or a full-face can clip onto, a main compartment, and a rear pocket that houses the bladder. Available in turquoise/yellow and maroon/gray the 2014 colors are approachable to a wide audience without being dull or overly loud.
Having used many hydration packs over the years, the Platypus Big Zip bladder is one of the smartest designs I’ve come across. The hose detaches from the bladder with a button release at the base which makes removing it from the pack a breeze. This feature has become fairly common on hydration packs, but still can’t be overrated. The hose features a magnet that attaches to a second magnet on the shoulder strap which keeps the mouthpiece on hand but not hanging in your way when you’re not using it. Yet another super-smart feature that sets Platypus bladders apart from the crowd is the wide mouth opening with Slidelock™ seal (picture a beefier zip-lock bag style closure) which makes filling and cleaning a relative breeze. Unlike bladders that screw shut which are prone to leaking if not shut tightly, the Platypus Big Zip is completely sealed if the Slidelock™ is in place.
In addition to a superior bladder system, the Siouxon is feature-rich with thoughtful additions like clips/loops for attaching pads, a fleece-lined goggle pocket and a front pocket with interior organization system.
This pack fits so well, that until I really started thinking about it, I had forgotten all about the issues that mountain bike packs are notorious for, such as chafing hip and shoulder straps, bouncing and shifting while going over uneven terrain, and sweat-soaked back panels that remain wet long after you stop using them, playing host to bacterial environments that even Mr. Clean fears. The Siouxon suffers none of these issues.
The cushioned back panel promotes airflow and with soft, contoured shoulder straps the pack carries incredibly well, feeling like it’s disappeared from my back after the first few minutes.
Touted as an all-mountain pack, the Siouxon features a full-face helmet carry system as well as a fleece-lined goggle pocket. I’ve personally never used the goggle pocket for actual goggles as I wear them to keep mud out of my eyes and would rather have them get scratched in my pack than the soft fleecy pocket of my pack get muddy. The pocket is large enough to fit a couple pairs of glasses (a pair with clear lenses and a pair with dark lenses), these being the reason I work to keep mud out of it.
Platypus has designed the Siouxon to carry a full-face helmet by clipping the front part of the helmet through two buckles at the front of the pack. These buckles do double duty by affixing a front stow pocket which opens accordion style to hold a half-shell helmet, jacket, or knee pads. I found carrying a full-face this way to be a bit clumsy as there was nothing to prevent the helmet from swinging side to side on the pack. Despite it not being the most elegant helmet carry system, I love this stow pocket for stashing my gloves, extra layer or knee pads. It’s a great place to keep gear that you’ll want to grab throughout the ride and it can stow wet gear away from the dry gear inside your pack.
For ladies who want an all-mountain pack that can stow gear for all-day rides in every sort of weather, the Platypus Siouxon Hydration Pack is a great fit. It’s packed full of thoughtful details like multiple helmet carry options, an easy-to-clean and easy-to-use bladder, and tons of pockets for organizing gear. This pack would be pretty hard to beat even if it didn’t fit perfectly, but it does. It’s quite clear that Platypus put some time into designing a pack to fit women specifically and that time has paid off with a back panel, shoulder straps and waist straps that are perfectly sized, chafe-free and hold the pack snugly in place on my back without restricting movement. Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with this pack. Yes, there are some details to fine-tune but it still takes the cake for the best-fitting pack I’ve ever worn.
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Space & Access
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