Shimano Unzen 15 hydration pack review$142.00

Original design with sternum buckle

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Shimano’s Unzen range takes a different approach to the humble backpack. We tested the largest, with 15L of well-organised cargo space in addition to the included 3L bladder, although 10 and 6L versions are available, as you can see in the following video:

Shimano unzen - first look

The big difference is its ‘Rider Fit Cross Harness’, which uses a single, central buckle on the sternum to secure the broad, curved straps in an X shape. They adjust internally and have neat organisers to control webbing. Despite a lack of waist or sternum straps, the pack fits securely and allows comfortable breathing and movement. 

The single clip makes it easy to get on and off, while full-length zips on either side allow fast access. A mix of ripstop nylon and rubberised stretch material gives water resistance and durability, and the back is comfortable as raised sections allow air to flow. The Hydrapak bladder and bite valve aren’t as refined as CamelBak’s offerings, but still do a good job.

In addition to the main compartment, there’s a lined pocket at the top and one at the bottom with a key clip – they open via ringpull-style zippers, and there’s an elasticated cord for securing armour. 

We’re less impressed with the quick access pockets on the straps, and Velcro fasteners eat into storage space and lack positive closure.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Jon Woodhouse

Technical Editor, France
Jon's been working with bikes for as long as he can remember, from spanner monkey to product tester. He's always looking out for new kit that'll give an edge when the going gets rough and is happiest experimenting with geometry, rubber and suspension.
  • Age: 31
  • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 65kg / 143lb
  • Waist: 79cm / 31in
  • Chest: 92cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Big days out that pack in the steep and technical
  • Current Bikes: Mondraker Foxy Carbon, BTR Fabrications Custom hardtail, BMC Teamelite SE02 SLX
  • Dream Bike: Nicolai Ion 16 Longest
  • Beer of Choice: Franziskaner Weissbier
  • Location: Paris, France

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