Dakine Hot Laps 5L – $70
By Eric McKeegan
Water bladders in hip packs have never been a combo that I could get along with, at least until this guy came into my life at a recent press camp. Designed to carry a 2-liter bladder and enough supplies for a lengthy ride, the Hot Laps 5L doesn’t look the much different than many other bladder-equipped bum bags.
But unlike those other bags, something about the design of the Dakine keeps even a jammed-full bag from bouncing or shifting. Admittedly, a full bladder feels bulbous, but a few big gulps and that feeling goes away as the water volume shrinks. Straps on sides and bottom keep the pack snug, even when less than full, and the side straps can be tugged tighter as the bladder empties. The lower straps are big enough to hold knee pads or a jacket but could use better strap management when empty and snugged up tight.
I was able to fit a bunch of snacks, a sizeable combo tire/shock pump, a large tool pouch, wallet, phone, keys and a spare tube with some room left over. A disconnect for the hose and a lock on the bite valve would be swell, but these are minor complaints about an otherwise fine bladder.
For riders looking to maximize ride time without a backpack, this bag is worth a look.
Hot Laps Gripper – $22
By Eric McKeegan
Strappy devices to attach gear to bike frames is a hot category these days. The Gripper sits between a simple strap and fully enclosed bag, providing some security and protection from the elements.
There is a main compartment and four elastic loops. The loops under the flap hold 16 or 20-gram CO2 cartridges securely, and the side loops can handle a minimalist multi-tool or a tire lever. The main compartment can handle a pretty sizeable tube, or a smaller tube and a bigger multi-tool. A single strap wraps around the Gripper and the bike, keeping everything very snug. The strap is long enough to wrap around even a stuffed-full bag and a big carbon downtube.
While I worried that the side loops might lose things out of their open top or bottom, in use it never did. I’d still rather see a closed bottom on the side loops and a flap that covered the sides of the bag as well, for security and to keep mud off my spares and tools.
More protective and more foolproof than a minimalist strap system, the Gripper is a good option for modern on-bike storage. For some riders, it will be the perfect middle ground. I liked using it on bikes without a bottle mount to free up hip pack storage for more fluids.
Dakine Hot Laps Stealth Waist Bag – $35
By Scott Williams
Not all rides are going to be all-day epic adventures. Carrying your bulky 4-6 hour pack and a few litres of water just isn’t necessary for quick rides when you’re never more than a stone’s throw from the car or potable water. Welcome the Dakine Hot Laps Stealth waist bag (hip-pack).
At 21.5 x 7.5 x 2 inches, the Stealth hip-pack is Dakine’s most minimalist hip pack. To keep things tight, light and fitting well under the jersey, the Stealth does not offer a means to carry additional water. There is still plenty of room for essentials though. I was able to pack a toolbag, mini-pump, two CO2 cartridges, tube, keys, iPhone 8, wallet, and some snacks and still have some extra wiggle room for small, pliable items.
Even loaded to the gills, the pack fit comfortably thanks to the micro-stretch waist belt and was often forgotten about once the cranks started turning. It should be noted that the 21.5-inch width includes the two exterior mesh pockets – one zippered and one kangaroo pouch. While these pockets are great and offer storage for small items like keys or snacks, this reduces the main storage area from roughly four Ramen noodle packs down to two. It’s worth mentioning the comparably sized Dakine Hot Laps 2L waist bag offers a deployable side water bottle pocket that can be folded up when not in use for an additional $5. The added benefit of the option to hold a bottle for an extra $5 seems like a no-brainer to me; otherwise, the Hot Laps Stealth is a well-executed pack.