Review: POC VPD 2.0 Spine Pack 15

The POC VPD 2.0 Spine Pack 15L backpack is a unique pack designed with a pretty specific use case. Specifically, the spine protector is designed to keep you safe even during the most hellish of crashes.

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Official Specs from POC:

  • Back protection VPD 2.0 system (removable)
  • Hydration system compatible
  • Bi-directional water tube exit
  • Height adjustable heavy duty waist band
  • Padded and easy access pocket for phone or camera
  • Helmet pouch (fits a full face helmet)
  • Low profile elastic mesh pockets
  • Sturdy ergonomically cut shoulder straps
  • Heat molded back with mud shedding top fabric
  • Separate compartments for back protector, hydration pouch, tool kit, tubes, pump

Note: the VPD 2.0 Spine Pack does not come with a water reservoir.

Out on the Trail

During actual use, I found the POC pack to be functional, but a bit lacking for everyday trail use. If you need to dig into your pack a lot for essentials, the two mesh side pockets are good for holding granola bars. However, you’ll need to store your phone in one of the two slide-in pouches on the back of the pack. Sometimes I was able to access these with one hand, but it was a chore.

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I found the single main pouch to be adequate, with a few different storage compartments, but when compared with other packs that offer two major compartments, and also have a dedicated hydration compartment, this design seems lacking. My main concern is a leaking water reservoir. It’s happened to me many a time, and getting all of one’s gear sodden from a faulty connection or a worn-out bladder just isn’t fun.

However, there is one thing that this one big compartment design excels at: hauling gear, and lots of it. 15 liters is a ton of storage space, and you can pack anything you need for an epic, backcountry enduro ride: food, parts, tools, clothes, rain jacket, more clothes, a 6 pack of beer, a chair to sit in while waiting to drop your stage… all that, and there’s a deployable helmet pouch that allows you to haul a lid (open face or full face) on the outside of the pack as well. Want to swap the 6 pack of beer for a keg instead? POC offers the VPD 2.0 Spine Pack in a massive 25-liter version as well!

Dropping in with the POC VPD 2.0 Spine Pack
Dropping in with the POC VPD 2.0 Spine Pack

The only downsides to having the pack stuffed this full are that it can sometimes be difficult to locate your beer koozie at the bottom of that mess, since there’s only one compartment, and the straps aren’t very comfortable with that much gear in the pack.

My overall impressions definitely weren’t all negative. In fact, one impressive feature is the hardy fabric that the pack is made from. While some packs go for the lightest material possible, such a construction can often tear in the event of a crash or quickly disintegrate over time. The material on the VPD 2.0, on the other hand, is tough, durable, and can no doubt endure repeated tumbles down some sharp rock gardens—not that you really want to test it.

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Yeah, sure, I had a few gripes about gear organization and comfort above. But that’s really not the main point of this pack. In my opinion, the main point is safety. Many of us—and I’m truly looking at myself here—fly down the mountainside at breakneck speeds wearing little else for protection except for some styrofoam that only covers the top of our heads. Building in a back protector—and a good one, at that—directly into the hydration pack is ingenious. Not only will it protect from rocks and debris in the event of a crash, but tools and sharp objects in your pack won’t be able to harm you if you fall on them.

Now if you don’t want to haul around all that weight, you do have the option to remove the VPD back protector. But if you want to pull the protector out, you might as well buy a different pack.

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Bottom Line

The VPD 2.0 offers excellent spine protection, durable construction, and tons of storage room. However, the gear organization and fit left something to be desired. And while the back protection is indeed a great feature, I’ve used packs with spine protectors before… that also had the gear organization dialed.

MSRP: $175

Thanks to POC for providing the VPD 2.0 Spine Pack for review.