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Built for long cross-country rides, the Platypus W’s B-line hydration pack, “designed for women,” according to Platypus, is lightweight at 691 grams and fits well. I particularly appreciated the “RidgeAir” back panel–a mesh feature separating your back from the pack, thus providing some good airflow.

The pack was roomy enough for a spare tube, pump, tool, zip ties, small first aid kit, Advil, sunscreen, eye drops, phone, Chapstick, map, lube, hankie, battery, Gu, blocks, windbreaker, and a beer. Riding staples. The outer pocket expands generously for a helmet, or for extra layers or raincoat. A key leash snaps onto your key ring or bottle opener so if everything in the world goes to hell–you crash upside down and you’ve stupidly left your pack nine-kinds-of-open–your keys and/or bottle opener aren’t going anywhere.

The advertised “taste free” aspect of the bladder fell a bit short, and the first three rides prompted a rather unladylike expulsion of fluid, along with a few drowned swear words, but it faded by ride #4. The bite valve took a few turns to break in, but ended up working quite nicely.

A small magnet on the hose snaps up lickety-split to its partner on the shoulder strap in the most flawless execution I’ve experienced. It may be a small thing, but it drives me batty when the hose flails around in my face like it’s trying to interrogate me. With this one, I get my water, drop the hose, and “blink!” it’s tucked away nicely with no effort.

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Because another thing that drives me batty is a leaky reservoir, I’ve tried hard to make this one leak. It won’t. It has a Ziplock-like closure on top of its 3.0-liter reservoir, then the blue and white plastic bit shown above slides over the top. It is easy to remove and replace and doesn’t make blood vessels in my head stand out when trying to open it like my Camelbak bladder does. I’ve turned it upside down and shaken it hard, shaken it sideways, shaken it with and without the blue slidey closure, and it still holds. Hallelujah for that! Now I just need to remember to close the mouthpiece valve in transit, and maybe my stuff will stay dry.

My only minor issue is the hangars for the reservoir. Now, to be fair, I just discovered that such a thing even existed in my other pack that I’ve had for years, so I don’t even find these bladder-slouch-prevention-hangers necessary, but since it’s there, I gave it a go. Between the angle of approach and another piece of the bladder interfering (white plastic piece in the photo above), it was difficult for me to get it hooked in. I didn’t have any problems with it slipping down, so I really don’t find these hangers necessary, but for its intended purpose it was a bit fussy.

The Platypus W’s B-line hydration pack comes in Icy Plum (shown) or Radical Lime. One more understated and one more blingy, both have a nice style.

While I did have a few small gripes about a couple of the pack’s features, overall it’s been a dependable pack that’s performed well!

MSRP: $109.95.

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Thanks to Cascade Designs for providing the Platypus Hydration pack for review.

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