Hydrapak Borracho £69.99
21 litres of internal storage / Three-litre reservoir / EasyFlo valve, 90-degree elbow / Camo only / Contact: www.hydrapak.com
MBR rating: 7/10
CamelBak Mayhem £65.99
10.5 litres of internal storage / Omega HydroTanium reservoir / Bite valve / Black only / Contact: Zyro
MBR rating: 9/10
The pictures here don’t show it but the CamelBak Mayhem has 10.5 litres of internal storage, and the Hydrapak Borracho has 21 litres. The Mayhem is made from a non-reflective, hard-wearing ballistic nylon fabric, which was developed on CamelBak’s range of military packs. A half-size organiser is joined to a full-size main pocket, but in-between the two is a large stuff pocket, which will easily take arm and knee pads. There are also a number of loops and compression straps for lashing on gear and new for 2006 a dedicated (head) camera pocket. The shoulder straps are shaped and, while Velcro tags (strap management) feature on most of the straps, two flimsy elastic bands hold the excess waist strap.
The Borracho has a semi-hard EVA front face, which opens to reveal one of two inner pockets. Inside is an array of smaller mesh pockets and space for everything from a pump to keys. The main pocket has a small compartment for a mp3 player and a Hydratunes exit hole on the top. On the outside there’s a detachable spider-web bungee system to hold a full face with two sets of double loops on the bottom for armour or a waterproof. The waist belt is removable and there’s a full complement of compression straps. Elastic loops feature on all the straps to keep them tidy.
The Mayhem comes with a new three-litre Omega HydroTanium reservoir, which is thicker and harder wearing, and has a lifetime warranty. The large opening makes filling and cleaning easier, and it unzips from a specific three-quarter back pocket, which sports the Air Director back panel. The Barracho’s three-litre Reversible Reservoir has a fold-over top (like a dry bag) allowing you to get right inside when cleaning. The hose can be routed high or low and is fitted with an EasyFlo valve and a 90-degree elbow.
Both of these packs are unstable with a full-face lid lashed on, but they can easily accommodate arm and knee pads. Despite that, it’s better than riding with your helmet hooked on your handlebars.
The construction of both packs is good but we have a couple of criticisms — the two elastic bands holding the excess webbing on the Mayhem’s waist strap are useless. We broke the buckle on Borracho’s sternum strap and the stitching on the right shoulder strap has also started to come away.
We’d say the Hydrapak’s Reversible Reservoir is slightly easier to clean and dries out quicker, but the Omega is guaranteed and we prefer the bite valve over the EasyFlo valve.
The Mayhem is a robust, comfortable pack with an excellent reservoir and some sensible features that are actually going to be really useful out on the trail. It’s still not the ultimate freeride pack, but it’s the hands-down winner here.