As an avid cyclist going back to the first years of the hydration pack, I couldn’t begin to account for how many such systems I’ve owned. It has to be a number registering well into the low 20s, but I can only think of one or two I really tolerated using. I am loath to riding with anything on my back, and look at the hydration pack as a necessary evil, a tool I use only when forced to. That is until now.
For the sake of full disclosure, I am a bit of a pack snob. Bring your best, I can probably nit-pick it to pieces with one breath. I am also an ardent fan of packs made by Mission Workshop. When they announced a new line of products launched under the Acre name, a collection of products aimed at the avid cyclist, I was already sold. As soon as it was made available, I was the happy owner of an Acre Hauser 14L.
The Hauser 14L is a complete departure from the standard hydration pack with at least half a dozen unique attributes. Most notably, it’s waterproof. For someone like me located in central Arizona, that isn’t the most necessary of qualities, but it is nice all the same. The key to the Hauser’s weather thwarting construction is the 4-layer sail cloth paired to a roll-top closure. The roll-top can also be employed as a traditional drop-down flap, a design element that is common throughout much of the Mission Workshop line.
Rounding out the bells and whistles, there is an oversized outer pocket with an enclosed tool pouch for optimal organization. It has a small accessory pocket at the top and side of the pack for items that need to be accessed quickly, and the lower outer pocket houses two accessory straps for bulky items that need to be lashed to the lower portion of the pack. Dual buckles on the face of the pack can be used to secure a helmet, but I’ve always found my head makes the best helmet transporter.
My chief complaint with most packs is basic enough and is relative to how they carry. If I launch off a ledge on my mountain bike only to get smacked in the back of the head by my pack, you can bet that pack will be on Craigslist by week’s end. The Hauser on the other hand, is one of the most stable and comfortable packs I have ever worn. The lower aspect of the pack includes two oversized lumbar wings that wrap around my back giving the pack a large foundation on which it rests. The removable waist belt, something I begrudgingly wear on most packs, can be adjusted to one of three positions on the wings of the pack for optimal fit.
The shoulder straps, back panel, and aforementioned lumbar wings are constructed of a highly breathable foam, and as our summer temps increase, have proven to be exceptionally comfortable. The Hauser fits close to the back and due to it’s flexible structure, moves with my body, adding to the comfort and stability. There isn’t a gratuitous amount of contouring to the straps, but they are quite comfortable all the same.
The tool pouch seemed like overkill at first, but it holds my tools in place without any rattling, and has been very handy.
The belt and shoulder straps can be relocated for an optimal fit. You can also see how overbuilt the ripstop fabric is.
With 14 liters of storage it’s a perfect size for day long epics, but not so huge it’s too big for training rides.
I love how the hydration compartment is so easy to access. No more cramming a reservoir into a tiny pocket.
One of the most overlooked aspects of a hydration pack is the means by which the hydration reservoir is accessed. I ride every single day, and wiggling a full reservoir in and out of some packs makes me nuts. The Hauser makes loading the reservoir a snap with a full-length waterproof zipper that opens the pack up like a giant clamshell. I use either a Platypus, Hydrapak, or Geigerrig reservoir with a quick-connect which allows me to leave the drink tube in place to make the whole process that much easier.
It’s a fantastic pack, every bit as good as I knew it would be when I pulled the trigger on it. Best of all, like almost all Mission Workshop goods, the Hauser 14L is made right here in the US of A.