Thursday, September 28, 2017

Gear Closet: Platypus Duthie AM 15 Hydration Pack Review

Ask any outdoor athlete and they'll tell you that a good hydration pack is one of the most important pieces of gear that you can take with you on the trail. Whether you're hiking, trail running, mountain biking, or taking part in some other aerobic activity, being able to keep a steady flow of fluids into your body is vitally important. Picking the right pack to meet your needs isn't always easy however, as there are literally dozens of good ones to choose from these days. But, the new Duthie AM 15 from Platypus needs to be on your short list of hydration packs to add to your gear closet, as it delivers a host of welcome features along with outstanding comfort and versatility.

With 15 liters of onboard storage capacity, the Duthie AM 15 is perfect for active day trips. It offers very sturdy construction that feels like it can take a plenty of punishment and come out without a scratch. The fabrics used in the bag's construction are tough and durable, but remain lightweight, which is always key to a good backpack for high intensity sports.

Designed mainly with mountain bikers in mind, many of the Duthie's features cater to that crowd. For instance, it comes with a dedicated storage area for both a helmet and pads, as well as a tool organizer and a pump sleeve. And while those options are very nice to have included, don't be fooled. This is a pack that could be used while doing some day hikes as well, although most trail runners will probably want to look for something a bit more suited for that sport.

The Duthie's back panel is one of the most breathable and comfortable that I've come across on a dedicated hydration pack. It holds the pack – and all of its contents – snugly in place on a wire frame, while still allowing plenty of air to flow through, keeping your back cool even when working hard on the trail. It also does a great job of allowing the wearer to move freely when riding or hiking, without restricting their motion in any way. This is nice for hikers of course, but essential for mountain bikers.


One of the things that I really like about this bag is it's large hydration reservoir. The Duthie ships with a 3-liter Big Zip LP Platypus bladder, which fits surprisingly well into its dedicated hydration sleeve. Most packs of this size struggle to carry a two liters of water, and yet this one not only adds additional capacity, it does so without adding bulk. That is an impressive feat and is one of the reasons it is easy to recommend this pack.

Other nice touches include a magnetic hose retention system, a light loop for attaching a rear light, and an integrated rainfly that can be deployed at a moments notice should the weather take a turn for the worse. Reflective detailing helps to make the rider more visible in low light conditions and a fleece lined pocket is perfect for storing sun glasses or a smartphone without fear of scratching. To round things out, there are even two zippered pockets in the waist belt for storing energy bars or other small items.

As impressed as I am with this backpack, there are a few things that buyers should be aware of. For starters, thanks to its built-in wire frame, it isn't easy to compress the bag down for storage in a larger duffel or bag. That isn't an issue most of the time, but if you're traveling somewhere to go mountain biking, it may become a consideration. Also, the Duthie tips the scales at 2.2 pounds (1 kg), which isn't particularly heavy, but isn't very light either. For what its suited for, that is a solid weight, but if you happen to be one of those people who counts every ounce, there are probably lighter options available elsewhere.

The Platypus Duthie AM 15 sells for $149, making it competitively priced with similar hydration packs on the market. Personally, I feel its a good buy at that price, providing plenty of features and functionality in a compact, comfortable package. Mountain bikers will love what it brings to the table and those who don't want or need an extra pack, will find that it is versatile enough to be used in other activities too. Tough, rugged, and with plenty of storage capacity, it is an almost perfect pack for active outdoor athletes.

But it now at REI.com.

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