XA Belt is pretty sorted, but we won’t be swapping it for our regular pack
The new Mavic XA Hip Belt has three litres of storage and a host of mtb-specific design details to ensure it’s no bog-standard bum bag.
Tough fabrics and metal buckles offer extra durability, and the pack is centred on a roll-open design that protects a jacket or extra top.
Opening the XA’s main flap reveals this jacket stash and also a main chamber with a wide zipped mouth. To tune waist tension depending on cargo load, this flap fastens via a sturdy metal hook into various fabric loops. Extra zipped pockets and stashes can accommodate trail snacks, mini-tools and a mobile phone, and there are specific pouches to hold an inner tube and mini-pump. The right waist wing flap also has a decent-sized, zipped compartment that’s handy for grabbing essentials without removing the pack completely.
Hydration storage sees twin mesh pockets to hold standard water bottles, rather than a bladder and hose set-up. This arrangement works well but it won’t best suit riders who like to continually sip fluid.
Mavic’s adjustable waist belt uses an all-metal clasp that threads through itself, and dense foam backing on the main pack that’s comfortable and airy against the spine. I had two gripes: first, the fabric strap joins the main chamber via elasticated tips, which afford the ability to ‘peel’, or bounce, the cargo load off the spine when fully loaded and riding dynamically. Another bugbear is how fiddly Mavic’s thread-through metal clasps are with cold hands and how you need to breathe in to release the buckle if you’ve cinched it tight enough to stabilise the pack properly. Extra faff points go to the multi-position closure on the main wrap-over flap that’s more fiddly to close than a normal, tensioning plastic clasp buckle.
The Mavic XA Hip Belt’s jacket stash is neat and keeps it out of the crud and wet, and the layout is generally pretty good with solid and durable materials used everywhere, although the 3L of storage feels like less owing to the way the space is divided up. £54 is a good price for the build quality, but several elements feel a bit over-engineered, and a waist pack you can ratchet tight onto your torso is the number one priority for me to eliminate any swinging. So while the XA Belt is pretty sorted, I won’t be swapping it for my regular pack.