- Fox Portage hydration pack
Fox’s Portage pack is, as the name suggests, designed with the longer ride in mind. It comes with a 3l reservoir in its own pocket and the pack itself is pretty sizable. Unlike some packs, the Portage is a fairly regular sort of shape, which means that there’s no problem getting lots of stuff into the big main compartment. It’s all black in there, though, so it can be a bit hard to find stuff.
There are plenty of extra pockets to stow commonly-needed items, though. There’s a zippered pocket on each side, handy for multitool and snacks. The top part of the pack has a pocket with various compartments in it to organise those odds and ends. It’s also got a pouch for a music player, complete with a cable port – potentially also useful for helmet cameras, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Adorning the outside of the pack is a stretchy helmet/pad holder. It’s detachable if you don’t anticipate having to carry that kind of stuff, although if you’re heavily laden it does contribute a little bit of a compression effect on your load.
The back and harness system is a fairly conventional padded shoulder strap/chest strap/waist belt arrangement, with ventilated pads on the back. The reservoir hose has neat internal routing over either shoulder. The bite valve isn’t the most free-flowing that we’ve encountered, but it works OK and has an anti-leak lock on it.
In use the Portage is a competent performer. It’s not as contoured as some and the size means that it can shift about a bit with a big load in – you can minimise it with careful adjustment, but it’s not the most stable out there. You can carry a lot of stuff in it, though, and the price is good.
Positives: Plenty of space, handy pockets, low price
Negatives: Can be a bit wobbly, water flow rate slightly low
There’s nothing terribly innovative going on here, but the Portage is a competent pack at a decent price. It’s not going to set the hydration pack world on fire, but it does the job just fine.