Vaude’s Aquarius 6+3 hydration pack is built with cross-country in mind but is suitable for trail and enduro duties too, if you’re happy to pack light.
Made from eco-friendly, bluesign-certified materials and manufactured in a sustainable way “with resource-saving manufacturing and in fair production facilities”, opting for one of Vaude’s hydration packs is a good way to reduce your environmental impact.
The 736g Aquarius is a small 6-litre option that can be zipped-out and expanded to 9-litre. It’s built around a rigid, concave frame that lifts the bag away from your back to improve airflow.
A Velcro tab allows the shoulder straps to be extended, changing the back length and shifting the weight lower down. Coupled with a wide, padded waist belt – with two zip pockets – this is effective at making the pack stay put.
The problem is that, as well as having a tapered, top-heavy shape, the pack’s rigid back panel really eats into the storage. Once you fill up the 2-litre HydraPak reservoir (included in the price) there’s not much space left.
An improvement would be if the Aquarius widened out at the bottom, which would make for better weight distribution and added cargo capacity.
On the plus side, the front zip pocket is a decent size, and the hydration hose is neatly routed via a clip on the sternum strap.
There are two plastic tabs on the outside for attaching an open-face helmet, but this doesn’t feel like the most secure system.
A removable orange rain cover in the base of the pack is a nice touch for wet or foggy days.