Do you ever get a piece of gear and think, I like the concept, but how is this is going to work? That’s how I felt when I first looked at the Hot Laps 5L waist bag from Dakine. The idea seemed great—a pack that rides on your hips, preventing all the heat (and sweat) you'd normally get from a backpack. But I figured it would bounce around when I hit bumps, and in general just be uncomfortable. Plus, it just didn't look like it could hold two liters of water and my extra biking gear.
Before continuing, a disclaimer: filling the bladder the first time is a pain. The seal is so good that it’s hard to find and open. I ended up watching a YouTube video to figure it out. Once filled with two liters of water, though, I threw in a spare tube, CO2 cartridges, a couple tools, my raincoat, snacks, and a few other emergency items. The Hot Laps provides adjustable straps on the bottom (where I keep my tube) and the sides, so you can tighten the load once the pack is filled. There is also a side pocket for your phone and smaller items you don’t want to lose. It appeared to hold everything needed for an early-morning or after-work ride, but performance on the trail was where my real concerns were.
Strapping the pack around my waist, I had visions of my father back in the early '80s, mainly of him continuously pulling his overstuffed fanny-pack back up on his hips. I was positive this would be me. But this was not the case—the Hot Laps stuck in place, with the padded belt keeping the pack comfortably snug, and the breathable mesh panel minimizing hotspots. After several rides, it has proven to rarely need adjusting. Even the magnetized locking mechanism for the hydration hose withstands the rigors of the trail.
In sum: the Dakine Hot Laps has become my go-to bike pack. I’ll have to switch it out for longer rides, but most of the time it holds more than I need for a day on the trails. I can envision it also working as a hiking, running, upland-bird hunting, and even a fishing pack. Stop by Bob Ward's or the Round House to check one out for yourself. $80.