Leatt are based in South Africa where marathon racing in hot weather is a massive deal so we can see why their hip pack is all about maximum hydration. It’s a tough, easy to clean and comfortable pack too. Awkward pocket shaping and other detail niggles are frustrating given its obvious potential to be one of the best mtb hip packs though.
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The Leatt Hydration Core 1.5 uses the same heavy duty ripstop material as their Mountain Lite 1.5 backpack. The ‘four pieces of deep EVA padding behind an open mesh’ “AirLine “ back panel design is the same too, but with extra rubberized abrasion panels top and bottom. The hip belt gets tapered and zipped semi-mesh pockets either side to form deep flanks. The adjuster belt buckles are hidden inside these wings with Velcro wrap straps to tuck the rolled ends away neatly and the main buckle is tough too. The belt also has a drinking hose hooked on one side and a magnetic head clip on the other. These can be swapped over to work from either side and the hose exits the bag through an elasticized port at top center too.
The main compartment has a single mesh pocket for the excellent, easy clean, QR hose Hydrapack 1.5L bladder which takes up most of the space when full. There’s a two-way zipped outer pocket with internal apron dividers and an elastic ‘daisy chain’ strip as well as small and large zipped mesh ‘valuables’ pockets inside the outer face. There are stretch mesh bottle pockets either side of the main compartment too which press stud shut if not needed. There’s an LED clip loop on the back for safety too.
The Hydration Core 1.5 looks great at first and its water capacity is certainly impressive. You get the Hydrapack bladder included in the price too which makes it good value and I like that you can tidy the straps out of the way. While the back panel padding seems needlessly deep considering you have a soft bladder against the back wall of the pack, I guess that potentially keeps the water cooler on a hot ride. I didn’t have any stability issues even on fully loaded rides either as the straps stay tight and the extra hip depth and rubberized material add grip. That means I’m not going to call that as a pro or a con, just something to be aware of if you prefer your bag closer to your body.
The deep hip pockets aren’t quite big enough to put a phone in for a quick grab though which is definitely irritating if you want to answer a ‘shirking from home’ call or quick-draw to take a photo. The apron pockets are also an awkward size for anything but very thin tools/CO2 inflators/thin gels too. The potential wider pocket at one end is stitched through for the elastic ‘daisy chain’ that I couldn’t see a use for. That meant all my tools and spares ended up free-range in the outer pocket, which was noisy and potentially dangerous to the phone in the zipped mesh pocket. There’s no key clip in either zipped mesh pocket either. On the plus side the outer pocket is webbed to stop things falling out when it’s fully opened.
While the hose clip holds the mid-section in place fine, the valve end regularly detached from the magnetic clip while riding. The quick-release convenience is a positive when it’s behaving itself though and the bite valve itself is a good one. The open top ‘ziplock and safety bar’ design makes the bladder easy to clean and fill as well.
Leatt Hydration Core 1.5 is stable and tough hip pack that’s a great choice for riders who need a lot of water but don’t want to use a backpack. With a bit more thought put into the pocket sizing/shaping and a more secure hose clasp we’d be scoring this bag a lot higher too. It’s frustrating in its current form though, especially when there are so many other hip pack options.
Tech Specs: Leatt Hydration Core 1.5
- Price: $99.99 / £79.99
- Colors: Graphite (tested), Dune
- Weight: 331g (+ 140g for bladder and hose)