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Thule Rail 8L hydration pack review

A very capable and well-specced hydration pack for everyday riding

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £120.00 RRP | USD $150.00 | EUR €130.00 | AUD $229.00
Thule Rail hydration pack for mountain bikers

Our review

An excellent, top-quality, small hydration pack that ticks all the boxes effortlessly
Pros: Excellent wide-opening pockets; quality reservoir with lockable bite valve; magnetic tube retainer; good tool organiser; effective compression straps
Cons: Elastic hip pockets all but inaccessible when riding; reservoir difficult to remove
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Available in 8-, 12- and 18-litre capacities, and with an optional back protector accompanying the 12-litre pack, the Thule Rail range can fit various riding requirements.

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I tested the smallest 8-litre model and was suitably impressed by its performance.

That’s largely down to the quality on offer, the top-notch reservoir and all the rider-friendly features that more than make it worth the asking price.

However, the pack’s reservoir is not the easiest to remove and there were some issues with accessing the pockets on the bike.

Thule Rail 8L hydration pack specifications and details

The main pocket opens wide and there is good additional storage.
Andy McCandlish / Our Media

Even at first glance, the Thule Rail 8L is a superbly detailed and fully featured hydration pack.

The large main pocket opens wide with a zip down both sides of its rectangular shape, and this lays the extensive tool organiser wide open. Pockets for tools and spares are plentiful, and there are two loops to hold bike pumps or other items of a similar shape.

The hydration pocket sits behind the tools and has a loop at the top to prevent the reservoir sagging to the bottom. The tube exits at the top-right of the pack.

There is no option to switch which side the bladder hose exits the pack because there is an excellent magnetic strip built into the right strap, which snaps the hose into place to prevent it getting in the way or flapping about while on the move.

A handy magnetic strip in the right shoulder strap prevents the hose flapping about.
Andy McCandlish / Our Media

External compression straps keep larger loads under control and also act as a place to affix extra items, such as wet and muddy waterproof jackets you wouldn’t want to put back in the bag.

A generous zipped phone pocket sits at the back and deep hip pockets on each side are made from stretchy mesh fabric.

The wide shoulder straps and deep hip wings help spread the load and add comfort too, while a Hydrapak reservoir with lockable bite valve is supplied.

Thule Rail 8L hydration pack performance

The waist belt ensures the pack fits well and remains stable.
Andy McCandlish / Our Media

This is a great spec for a middle-priced hydration pack, and each of the details has been well chosen to make up a very capable and rounded product.

I especially liked the long strip magnet and shoulder harness clip that combined to make hose flapping a thing of the past. I found that if it was adjusted properly I could easily just spit the tube out and it would automatically snap into place just about every time. It is truly a great feature.

Access to kit was similarly excellent, with the three-quarter zipped main compartment simply falling wide open to reveal everything, without needing to rummage around or squeeze kit into narrow slots.

The organiser was well pitched with just the right amount of spaces for tools, tubes and other spares, and again it was so easy to access because of that long zip.

There isn’t an option to switch which side the hose exits the pack.
Andy McCandlish / Our Media

On the bike, it was extremely stable once the waist belt was done up, and the wide straps made everything very plush and comfortable.

The tall hip fins prevented what was otherwise a narrow waist belt from digging in, which was great, but I did find the stretch pockets weren’t very accessible on the move because the shoulder straps restricted my hands from delving in.

The only other problem I had with the pack was a very tight loop that held up the reservoir, which was a struggle to release.

Thule Rail 8L hydration pack bottom line

The Thule Rail is one of the best hydration packs on the market.
Andy McCandlish / Our Media

There really isn’t much not to like about the Rail hydration pack, short of access to those hip pockets and that frustratingly tight loop for supporting the reservoir.

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Everything else just works, from the excellent compression and accessory straps on the outside to the superb magnet that automatically snaps the reservoir tube back under your arm. It’s an excellent choice.

Product Specifications


Price br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $229.00EUR €130.00GBP £120.00USD $150.00
Weight br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 690g – without reservoir, Array, g
Brand br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Thule


Features br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Capacity: 8L cargo (inc 2L reservoir)
Colours: Obsidian; Covert
Material: Nylon
Features: Comes with 2L Hydrapak reservoir; Locking valve on reservoir
Bag capacity br_bagCapacity, 11, 0, Bag capacity, 8l, Array, l
Bladder capacity br_bladderCapacity, 11, 0, Bladder capacity, 2l, Array, l