A well-packed bicycle is something that most bikepackers take great pride in. Utilizing every cubic inch in a Tetris-like puzzle is something I'm sure many of us can relate to. However, this often leaves little space for grocery stops, beer hauls, or any other unplanned loads you may encounter along your way.
Previously, I addressed this problem by carrying a tiny packable backpack that folded down to the size of a golf ball and weighed less than 200 grams. It served me well on a few occasions, but its sporadic use meant it never really found a designated place within my systems and would always be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On bike trips, my hip pack is something that I have on me nearly every second of the day. Unless I'm in the shower or swimming, I usually make sure it's within sight, and consider it my 'A' bag for anything that cannot go missing. My memory cards, camera, passport, wallet, and phone are usually in here. It gives me the ability to pull my camera out while I'm riding and that means my camera won't shake apart at the seams while in motion.
I've owned several hip-packs over the years but nothing has ever really stuck. Each usually lasts a big trip or two before needing replacement—too often nylon with no sealed zips and claps that break or seams that fray due to pressure from overpacking. Being time for an upgrade, I thought I'd put a little extra thought into my body luggage of choice. Something with more room to carry my camera kit, and last longer, ensuring my most valuable items are kept safe and strapped to my person.
Introducing the Fjällräven x Specialized Expandable Hip Pack, a remarkable collaboration between two esteemed outdoor companies renowned for their premium quality and reliability. This partnership harnesses decades of expertise in cycling design and fabric technology.
The hip pack is made from Vinylon, a synthetic fabric that excels in weather resistance, and even more so with its sealed seams. Like all Fjällräven products, the construction of the pack feels sturdy and well-crafted. I can envision the texture of the fabric aging nicely over time. Additionally, the pack boasts webbing on top to hold a shell or an extra layer, which is incredibly handy when the temperature fluctuates and you don't want to pack your jacket each time you overheat.
To test my new purchase, I called up my buddy @dirtsloth to hit some local trails here in Vancouver. We packed an extra layer, a camera, a lens, a cliff bar, and tools and headed into the woods.
An important feature of any hip pack for me is being able to access it without taking it off my body—ideally not having to rotate the belt or adjust the buckle. The SxF Hip Pack seemed to do a good job. You can unzip the pack, reach inside and things won't fall out (which has happened more than once in the past). Nothing feels under stress when the pack is fully loaded. It sits on the hips well and the body-facing side is padded with a super absorbent cushion for your lower back. There is no other padding, and I may look for an insert to give my camera a bit more protection.
Other features include two expandable side pouches that can fit water bottles, a reflective logo, and the star of the show… the expandable back feature that can accommodate a hydration pack. The expanding pack is made from recycled 70D nylon, perfect for all-day comfort. There are also 2 internal mesh pockets with an elastic hem to stop your tools and cliff bars from escaping.
The transformation from hip to backpack is pretty simple; simply, pull back the pinch straps, unroll the bag and shoulder straps, then hook the straps onto the base. It's basic but it works well and adds lots of capacity quickly ranging from 4.5 liters when used as a hip pack and 11.5 liters when expanded into a backpack.
The waist belt also adds to the functionality and could even be used for impromptu hiking situations. We even tried it out for what it most admittedly might be used for: the end-of-ride beer run. We managed to squeeze an eight-pack right in there with room to spare.
The overall appearance of the pack is exceptionally clean and boasts a quality finish, evident in the woven branded labels, sealed zipper seams, and technical fabric. It is available in three colorways: orange, green, and black, all showcasing the beautiful pastel tonal palette that we have come to expect from the Swedish brand. The pack weighs 325 grams, which may initially seem slightly more than expected. However, considering the added capacity and strength it provides, this slight extra weight is a price worth paying. I intend to use the hip pack as my go-to this summer, and I am confident that the additional backpack feature will prove useful on numerous occasions.
For more on the Fjällräven & Specialized collaboration check out this lovely vid.
|Durable fabric and construction|
|Expandable back pack function|
|Clean simple design and great colourways|
|Roll top feature may allow water to build up in heavy rain when rolled|
|Slightly more cumbersome than a regular hip pack (but not much)|
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