The Air BackPack 2Core from Topeak is a curiously awesome hydration pack. Its small in form, but packs tons of gear among its cleverly hidden pockets. Its quite light at 645g yet it’s still loaded to the brim with technical features. Among conventional hydration packs, the AirBackPack is like an enigma, wrapped inside a kite, wrapped again inside a stealth bomber. This is the back pack that Bruce Wayne would use on weekends. For short, I call it the Bat Pack.
In terms of standard features, the Air BackPack 2Corerates an A+. This pack comes with all the normal things such as a 1.5L hydration core, sealed zippers, rain cover, helmet holder, mp3 pouch, reflective strips, utility clips, a stuff sack, and pockets and even more pockets. I wont go into the details or performance of those things, because theyre not particularly interesting and they all worked as expected.
Now here is where things get exciting. The central concept behind the Air BackPack is the air mesh frame built into the pack. Instead of the usual foam padding and rigid support frame, this pack uses an inflatable grid for the back area and the hip straps. Included with the pack is a tiny little hand pump that allows you to inflate the back air mesh and the hip air mesh separately to your own preference. By adjusting the pressure in each of the air compartments, you can fine-tune how the pack fits you. The air padding provides structure for the pack but it also distributes the load evenly across your body, making for an incredibly comfortable fit.
The other really cool thing about the Air BatPack is the core concept that makes storage somewhat modular. Inside the the long zipper that goes straight down the middle is the bags main storage compartment, which contains a few small internal pockets, the mp3 pocket, and the gear core. The gear core has six or eight little pockets that would be good for tools, parts, food and other stuff that is smaller than your hand. The best part, though, is that the gear core can be unclipped and completely removed from the inside of the bag, clearing up space for other stuff or just lightening the load when you dont need it. Now this might not seem all that revolutionary, but this really blew my mind when I thought about how easy this makes it to use the bag across multiple activities. I could hit the snowy trails in the morning, take out the gear core full of food and tools, fill the bag full of books and take it to school, add a different gear core full of waxes and hand warmers, and then take the bag skiing in the afternoon. Sure, you could go through the process of packing, unpacking, and repacking all of your crap, but the core concept makes life a whole lot easier.
There are few, if any, outstanding deficiencies in this product. Still, I do have issues with a few things. First, I’m not a big fan of the bite valve on the drinking hose…it’s just not that great. Secondly, I dont particularly like the use of some of the hook-and-loop straps, which tend to get mudded and mangled easily. Im also on the fence about the lightweight 210 denier nylon because I just dont know if it will stand up to extreme use. Finally, there’s a rubbery patch on the front of the (extremely comfortable) shoulder straps that makes me unnecessarily hot and sweaty at the front of my shoulders. Despite all that, the general quality of design and construction makes this one of the nicest packs Ive ever used.
The Air BackPack is an aerodynamic, lightweight, form-fitting pack meant for cycling, but it is versatile enough to serve you well in other outdoor activities. This packs clever technical features make access to your gear quick and easy. Furthermore, the Air BackPacks gimmick-free innovation provides a comfortable fit that can be infinitely adjusted to suit any rider.
Thanks to Topeak for providing us with the Air BackPack 2Core for review. For more information and details check out Topeaks website.