The Dakine AMP 18L is a trail hydration pack with plenty to offer, including a rip-resistant nylon construction and a suspended mesh ventilation system.
The pocket layout and features of the AMP is as close to lavish as a pack can be. It has separate fleece-lined pockets for sunglasses and a smart phone, a pump pocket and zippered mesh pockets for other small items, so everything has a place. There's also an emergency whistle integrated into the sternum strap.
The 18L storage claim doesn’t give as much room as you would think, because a fair chunk of that space is occupied by the pack's suspended ventilation frame. The curve of the frame makes carrying large flat items (such as a laptop) nearly impossible. The space is still sufficient for all-day trail use, and after filling the internal organisation pockets, there is enough room for a jacket, a day’s food and some light body armour.
The pack's contents can be cinched down to ensure a stable ride through rough and technical terrain. The compression straps used to do this can get in the way of opening the pack up completely for easy access though. Luckily, mesh side pockets are provided to give easy access to energy food.
Padded shoulder straps distribute the load evenly, making the pack comfortable to wear, even when it's full. None of us have particularly wide shoulders, yet we found the shoulder straps were joined too closely together at the top. This gave a close fit at the back of the neck and may cause problems for riders with broad shoulders.
The suspended mesh ventilation design keeps you cool and dry, while keeping the pack flat against your back for stability. As an added benefit, it puts space between your body heat and the hydration reservoir, helping keep the water cooler for longer.
The bladder compartment sits directly against the bag's frame and is completely separate from other compartments. It isn't easy to access or fill the bladder quickly in a race situation, but that isn’t the pack's purpose. We liked knowing that our water was completely safe from whatever we threw in the pack's main compartment.
The included 3L (100oz) Hydrapak reservoir is a great addition. Its baffle design stops the shape from ballooning and there was no plastic taste. The leak-proof roll-top closure is large enough to fit a whole hand into the bladder for cleaning.
Both the included helmet storage net and fitted rain cover attach with velcro straps, providing a degree of tension adjustment. The rain cover's dark colour is a clear indication of this pack's off-road purpose.
The AMP 18L is a fantastic trail pack; breathable, stable and very well organised. Just be sure to check the fit.