Dakine Drafter 18L Hydration Backpack Review

Dakine Drafter Backpack 18L Review

With room to hold just about everything and anything you’ll want to have with you on your ride, the Dakine Drafter 18L Backpack is perfectly designed for those longer days in the saddle. Fall is around the corner (already here in the Tetons), so now is a great time to get out and enjoy some long mountain bike rides.

Dakine Drafter 18L Review

What sets the Dakine Drafter 18L Backpack apart from the competition is a couple of things, first and foremost is the amount of water the pack holds in its reservoir. Thanks to Dakine’s use of the 3-liter Hydrapak reservoir, most likely you won’t run out of water.

Dakine Drafter Backpack Review

Secondly, the reservoir is a lumbar style which sits lower in the pack in turn changing the center of gravity. At first, it might feel a bit awkward having more weight lower on your back.

Anyone that has spent time backpacking with heavy loads will surely appreciate this feature. And most likely you’ll come to like having the weight a bit lower in the pack too.

Dakine Hydrapak Mouthpiece
Since we’re talking about the hydration, Dakine tapped into Hydrapak one of the industry leaders in hydration to offer a very user-friendly interface. The mouthpiece is easy to use thanks to its High-flow Blaster bite valve when you need water just bite and suck through the tube.

Your dog will love this pack as well especially since it’s easy to squirt water into your dog’s mouth.

Dakine Hydrapak Resevoir

Last but not least the reservoir is unique in shape, it’s more of a horizontal design than you may be accustomed to. This allows the reservoir to rest lower in the lumbar portion of the backpack. Toss in the quick disconnect valve and the hydration part of this backpack is 100% spot on. Kudos Dakine and Hydrapak.

Dakine Drafter Capacity

This 18L MTB backpack is well equipped for everything you will want or need on the trail. Starting at the front top of the backpack is a deep fleece-lined pocket that works great for storing sunglasses, sunscreen, and other small items. Below that comes to the main MTB gear storage pocket. When unzipped this panel reveals 5 unique pockets each designed to hold and store gear in numerous sizes.

Dakine Drafter Backpack Review

There’s room for a bike pump (with its own sleeve), tools, headlamps and so much more. And on the front of the panel, there’s even an external helmet carry. The only flaw in this design comes from the use of buckles to hold the helmet in place. If you plan on accessing the main compartment for your repair gear you will have to undo the buckles before accessing the zipper.

This has been an on-going design flaw with some of the Dakine packs over the years, in my opinion, especially the backcountry ski and snowboard packs. For mountain biking use this won’t be much of an issue, especially since you can carry bear spray in the external pocket.

Dakine Backpack Bearspray

Speaking of bear spray, I ride in the Tetons and love getting away from people which in turn has me routinely playing in bear habitat. When this backpack first arrived I was stoked to see the oversize side pockets knowing that I would be able to carry bear spray with me on my rides and even more importantly said spray was easy to access.

One of the side pockets is zipped and one is open. I like to carry a full size can of sunscreen/mosquito repent in the zippered pocket. You may even be someone that tosses a coffee mug in here, red bull, etc etc..

Drafter Backpack Fit

Dakine uses sweet back panel air suspension system that extremely breathable and ergonomic. At times you may forget you’re even wearing a backpack that’s fully loaded up with gear and water. The fact that it’s so breathable is huge, no more sweaty backpack rides.

Dakine Backpack Test Cache Creek Jackson WY

A single chest strap and waist belt hold everything into place which is easily adjusted on the fly.

Perhaps you find that you like climbing with more weight on your lumbar on the way up and less weight on the way down. With the lumbar hydration design and bulk towards the bottom, the swing weight becomes very manageable.

Overall Impression

It’s truly impressive as to just how much gear the Dakine Drafter backpack can store. We have a saying here in the Tetons, the bigger your pack, the more gear you will inevitably bring with you. When it comes to long MTB rides, being a little extra prepared, pampered and cozy isn’t ever a bad thing.

Most likely you and your partners and even your dog will appreciate just how much stuff you’re able to bring with you onto the trail. The only thing I would change on this pack would be adding pockets to the waist straps. This is the place I carry my gels, blocks and much-needed fuel.

This backpack is designed for rides in the 1 hour plus range. Sure you can use it for a quick lap but with all the features, pockets and hydration capacity the Dakine Drafter 18L MTB will excel in rides up to a half-day or longer.

Dakine Drafter Backpack Review
Saving the best for last my favorite feature on the Dakine Drafter 18L ($144.95) is the use of magnetic snaps on the hydration hose. When you need a drink of water simply pull the hose, bite down and for the most part just let go. The hose will magically return to it’s home and lock into place via a magnet.

To be honest, this works about 70% of the time, but when it does, wow, wow wow.

We loved this backpack so much, it made our list of the best mountain bike backpacks of the year.

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