Hydrapack’s highest volume pack, the Jolla, has been revamped for 2012. Now with a top-loading design, the 18-liter pack offers cargo space more akin to a messenger bag than a typical hydration pack.
The cavernous main compartment features a pump sleeve and mesh pocket inside, and is accessible either from the drawstring top opening or the smaller, zippered side opening. There are also a handful of exterior pockets, including the fleece-lined top compartment that features a removable tool kit bag and a headphone port.
Two waterbottle-sized pockets on the side of the Jolla both have zippered access and one mesh internal pocket each. In case that’s not enough room for your gear, there's an open-mouthed pocket on the outside of the pack that’s perfect for quickly stashing a jacket, a zippered pocket catering to map-shaped items and two small open-topped pockets on the belt that work well for energy bars.
Pack construction is of good quality and the Jolla has held up without any issue over a couple of months of regular trail use. Four compression straps cinch down cargo quite well in the main compartment, but be warned – the volume of gear the pack will hold can quickly sabotage ride quality in the form of weight swaying back and forth, regardless of cinch straps.
In addition, the top compartment with internal tool kit isn’t able to be cinched down; this means heavier items can slosh around quite a bit, which led us to repack the tool kit down in the bottom of the pack. Several reflective accents on the Jolla are appreciated, especially at this time of year when limited daylight pushes many rides into dusk or proper night rides.
The Jolla’s ventilated and corrugated foam in the back panel and shoulder straps offers good breathability. The chest strap is easily adjustable with Hydrapak’s 'Silky Slider Sternum Strap' and the removable waist strap should fit most waistlines out there. A magnet attached to the chest strap works very well at keeping the drinking tube from flailing around, too.
Hydrapak’s 100oz Reversible Reservoir 2 is accessible via a dedicated compartment and is both easily fillable and cleanable thanks to the wide-mouthed design and Plug-N-Play quick release at its base. The bite valve works well but has a tendency to leak a few drops here and there if it isn’t in the locked position. Overall, the Jolla is a great option for riders who want to bring everything but the kitchen sink with them. And it works well as a commuter bag, too.