The USWE Outlander 2 is a hydration pack and really no more – unlike the majority of backpacks it's not covered in pockets, straps and zips. Instead it just carries 1.5L of water and – in the single, zipped internal pocket – puncture stuff and a multitool.
Design and performance
The result is physically small (the bag itself has a 2L capacity, hence the name) and sits high up on your back, which helps a fair bit with cooling: this has a very open-mesh foam that sits against you, but otherwise no large blocks to create air channels. Despite this, and the fact our testing coincided with a record-breaking heatwave, we never found it trapped enough heat to make itself unwelcome.
At 417g on our scales it's pretty light, and while it could be lighter still, it's built impressively ruggedly. In fact, USWE also recommends this for offroad motorycle use, and it feels strong enough to cope.
The fabric is ripstop and quite thick, there's a rubberized patch (complete with useful reflective bars) to protect the bottom when you're filling the thing with water, and the straps are very solid.
The four-point harness style has a lot of advantages; certainly enough to justify the extra weight, in our view. It's extremely adjustable for comfort, very secure over rough ground and – thanks to the central buckle – very fast and easy to get on and off.
Large stretches of tough elastic in each strap give a certain amount of 'suspension' to the load, too, though not nearly enough to let it spring around. To be honest, it's overkill for the weight this can carry – 1,500g of water plus, say, 200g of tools – and probably more noticeable on USWE's bigger bags – but it certainly does nothing to harm comfort. The Outlander 2 never feels like it's constricting your breathing, and the slight strap stretch surely helps there.
Filling is pretty easy thanks to a really solid hanging strap, and a second strap inside supporting the bladder. Well, it actually supports the slide-on closure, but the bladder can't go anywhere as you fill it, fold over the top and slide it back together.
There's only just enough free movement to get the big grey plastic clip and the top of the bag lined up, though, so it can be a bit of struggle at this point. The other niggle lies at the other end of the hose – there's only a clip to stop the bite valve waving around as you ride on one side. That's your left, but I prefer these tubes on the right.
I ended up tucking it behind the lower strap and fishing it out when I needed it, but it's sitting perilously close to your armpit then, which isn't ideal... the valve works well and delivers a good flow of water, at least, and while there's no way of locking it shut I never had any leaks (either in use, when dumped on the ground or when shoved in the car).
The hose can easily be run on either side, though I'm not sure what the single large grommet is for given the broad exit just above. Perhaps it's for hanging your tea towels from, 1970s style. More usefully, the bladder copes easily with being turned inside out for cleaning and drying.
This is a great pack it all you want to carry is water and the bare get-me-home essentials – it feels cooler and less noticeable even than a very lightly-loaded 'regular' pack. The Outlander 2 is secure, comfortable and for the most part very easy to use, plus it feels very much built to last.
Tech specs: USWE Outlander 2 Hydration Pack
- Price: $90 / £80
- Size: 1.5L reservoir, 2L bag
- Colors: Black, Orange