Leatt Hydration MTB Mountain Lite 1.5 review – tough South African backpack

The neck brace legends have now got your back too

Leatt Hydration MTB Mountain Lite 1.5
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

BikePerfect Verdict

Multi-pocket weatherproof backpack but X strap arrangement won’t suit everyone and some details are baffling.

Pros

  • +

    Plenty of pockets

  • +

    Excellent Hydrapack bladder included

  • +

    Durable materials

  • +

    Single point harness release

Cons

  • -

    X harness can impact breathing and stability

  • -

    Generous busts can cause issues

  • -

    Some baffling features

  • -

    Back protector sleeve but no matching armor

  • -

    Small bladder size for the bag

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Leatt has expanded from designing DH/MX neck braces into a full MTB clothing, shoe and helmet brand to fully kit out riders out on the trail. 

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

Its latest hydration pack is tough and Moto influenced in both fabric and fit. There are some odd features though and the X strap arrangement won’t suit everyone.

Design

Given that the X-strap is a big part of the fit I’ll do the stay-or-go selector straightaway. Basically, rather than two shoulder straps that run vertically down the sides of your chest and can be secured with a waist belt/sternum strap, the two shoulder straps are boomerang-shaped and clip together in the center like a parachute/race car harness.

You still get two zipped mesh pockets on the lower part of the strap but they sit diagonally over your lower rib cage, not on your hips. Two reflective straps above the buckle let you attach the magnetic bladder hose clip to either side and there are velcro quick release guide straps and elasticated exit ports either side of the bag too. Otherwise, the straps are open mesh over a padded perforated core and the same mesh covers the back panel. Four deep geometric-shaped pads sit on the shoulder blades and lumbar area with the spine and center cross-section left clear for ventilation. 

Leatt Hydration MTB Mountain Lite 1.5

The bag can almost fully open up for easy acccess (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The main 10L storage compartment has a variety of mesh pockets for tools and spares and snacks, but the only zipped ‘valuables’ pocket doesn’t have a key clip. While there’s a padded sleeve for a back protector, Leatt doesn’t actually make one that fits, despite doing a comprehensive range of other armor. Despite opening most of the way around from the top on both sides, you also get a zip that opens the bottom up all the way into the main compartment. There’s an outer compartment with a zipped mesh pocket (but again no key clip) and an elasticated daisy chain. The pocket and elasticated mesh gussets on either side also provide a home for helmet/jacket/armor or anything else you need to stow temporarily.

The bag also comes with a 1.5L BPA and PVC free Hydrapack bladder with an easy clean (it’ll even go in a dishwasher) wide top opening, ‘plug n play’ QR hose and gradient markers on the outside.

Leatt Hydration MTB Mountain Lite 1.5

The unconventional shoulder strap format might suit everyone (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Performance

While most backpacks are pretty vanilla in fit, the Leatt caused us some issues. Some riders found the X strap arrangement constricted their breathing when going hard and the positioning needs a lot of care if you’ve got a bust to work around. It’s stable stood tall on the bike – as though you were riding a motorbike – and it’s shaped to be compatible with Leatt’s neck brace collars. Without a brace though, it can shift around a lot more than a conventional shoulder and waist/sternum strapped bag, particularly on steep, heavy braking descents. The stiff, angular back pads dug into some people even when the bag was lightly loaded too so I’d definitely suggest trying before you buy. 

The lack of a key clip is an irritating detail and I never worked out what the elasticated daisy chain strap is for. While the base zip is potentially useful if you find some armor that fits or you want to load the bladder in from the bottom, but it loads from the top fine anyway. That means all it really adds is the potential for the zip to open accidentally or break and dump your contents on the trail.

While the bladder itself is excellent and the bite valve easy to use, the magnetic hose clip wasn’t always strong enough to keep the pipe in place either. This leaves it free to swing about and slap you in the chops, almost always when you’re trying to focus 100% on a technical trail section. A 1.5L bladder is comparatively small for a bag this size too and there are no supplementary bottle pockets for adding extra quaffing capacity easily.

On the plus side, it’s proved impressively durable so far and it cleaned up super well when I chucked it in the dishwasher after a particularly filthy ride.

Leatt Hydration MTB Mountain Lite 1.5

The bladder is from Hydrapack and can carry 1.5 liters (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

If you’re wanting a tough, easy-clean bag with a decent amount of storage and prefer a stiff, structured feel, then the Leatt should be in with a shout. I'm a big fan of the included Hydrapack bladder too, even if it’s a smaller one than most 10L bags. The X strap arrangement and blunt rear padding definitely needs trying before you buy if possible though, and I'm still baffled by some of the storage details.

Tech Specs: Leatt Hydration MTB Mountain Lite 1.5

  • Price: $119.99 / £109.99
  • Colors: Graphite (tested), Dune
  • Weight: 790g bag + 140g bladder

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg