i recently purchased a nathan x-ceed hydration pack 2.0L capacity. it certainly looks good as it tries to emulate shimano's x-strap design instead of the more common sternum strap/shoulder strap combo found in backpack style hydration packs. it has a 2.0l capacity hydrapak reservoir with a pretty efficient bite valve fixture on it.
I've been using this pack in lieu of my high sierra splash 70 for the past two weeks, and i must say, using this in comparison to my splash 70 is a mixed bag.
for one, initial setup/fitting was a pain. since the primary source of adjustments are the x-shaped shoulder straps that are on top and inside of the bag and held in place by velcro, you have to constantly take off the pack to adjust for fitting. the lower half has the more traditional hook and loop design but its primary purpose is to tighten the pack once fitted to your desired adjustment. but once adjusted right, this pack is quite comfortable and the weight distribution is pretty neutral without having hot spots especially on the shoulders.
another is the cargo space, or lack thereof. aside from the main cargo area which houses the reservoir, you only get a small front pocket with a side mounted zipper and an external open pocket secured by bungee cords. again, comparing it to my splash 70 (which has the same water capacity), the pockets, especially the zippered one really has no space at all, i could barely fit a small multi-tool, small rear bicycle light and an extra pair of clear glasses and the outside pocket could barely handle a 200g bag of cookies. i've read a review about this in amazon, where one reviewer said that he entered a 5 hour unsupported mountain bike race using this same pack, carrying all his supplies and he survived and finished the race. i say, this guy either has very small nutritional/energy needs or he mistakenly posted his review of another product. very stingy cargo space, unlike the splash 70, which has a generous front and mesh pockets, aside from the main cargo space that has a protective partition, shared by the reservoir.
lastly, in order to take it off, you also have to remove your helmet as the x-designed straps is barely bigger than the hole you put your head through on your t-shirt or jersey (which present the problem of sometimes the upper straps chafing your neck). it's also quite inconvenient if you need to take something from the main pocket that you either unbuckle the pack and rotate it the front or remove your helmet so that you can completely take the pack off.
in conclusion, this pack is quite uniquely designed, although it needs polishing in some areas. this pack, i think is not suitable for trail rides lasting for more than 2 hours as it lacks the essential cargo space to stash your stuff. but for short trail rides, this is the one to beat. it's light, unobtrusive when fitted correctly and quite cool on the back.
nathan x-ceed 2.0L hydration pack with the x-strap design and small front zippered mesh pocket
the stingy cargo area and reservoir compartment
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