Thule Vital 6L hydration pack review$189.00

Thule's first hydration pack has some tidy features

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Thule is entering a crowded market with its first hydration pack, but the Vital has some neat features. 

The most obvious is the ‘ReTrakt’ “hose return system”. This uses flexible strip magnets down the hose and right-hand shoulder strap, which ‘zip’ back together when you let go of the bite valve. They don’t always fully engage, but connect enough to stop the hose flapping around, without you having to clip it back in or strain your neck to reach it when tethered.

HydraPak supplies the 2.5l bladder. The bite valve only has an average flow rate and the hose isn’t detachable, but the fold-over top means you can get inside to clean it.

The pack itself sits low for stability and less sweaty shoulders. Plenty of internal pockets on a neon yellow background mean easy visibility of bits. Pump straps are provided, along with a soft-lined pocket for phones or glasses.

HydraPak supplies the 2.5l bladder
HydraPak supplies the 2.5l bladder

The jersey-style side pockets hold energy bars or multi-tools securely when you’re wearing the pack but can spill their contents as you’re pulling it on/off.

There are no external straps or pouches but that keeps things sleek. And if you need more space, the £120 / $140 / AU4219 Vital 8l has an extra 2l of bag space (and an expandable outer sleeve) with the same bladder.

Less? The £85 / $90 / AU$169 Vital 3l downsizes to a 1.75l reservoir.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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