- The North Face Megamouth 18 hydration pack
- The North Face
The North Face is better known for hiking, climbing and camping kit, but recently it’s been making forays into the multisport market, which inevitably leads to bike stuff. The Flight Series of hydration packs are designed for fast, lightweight outdoorsy stuff like trail running and mountain biking, with the Megamouth 18 sitting neatly in the all-day, big ride pack position.
As you might guess from the name, you get 18l of storage volume. The hydration reservoir itself takes 3l of water. The bladder is from Nalgene and its main selling point is that whatever you drink from it doesn’t taste like plastic. To be fair, it’s been a while since we encountered a reservoir that delivers particularly nasty-tasting water, but this one certainly doesn’t. It also has a big filling cap with a captive lid and useful handle, a detachable hose for easier cleaning, a handy anti-car-boot-filling valve on the mouthpiece and it hangs off a hook in the main pack so it doesn’t end up all scrunched up at the bottom as it gets emptier.
The pack itself is notable for the flexibility of its storage options. The bladder gets its own pocket with a choice of left or right hose routes. Once the hose is over your shoulder there’s no clip or anything to hold it, but you can feed it under elastic loops on the shoulder strap to stop it flapping around. Outboard of the bladder pocket is the main cargo pocket, just a good, simple, deep pocket with a broad double-ended zip. Outside that there’s an organiser pocket with the usual selection of zippered and Velcro’d pockets, key holders and the like. Then there’s a small mesh pouch with an adjustable quick-release strap closure and finally a “floating” outer pocket linked to the main pack with mesh gussets and compression straps to form a great place for stowing spare clothes. There’s also the de rigeur bungee cord arrangement on the outside.
TNF’s E-VAP Suspension back system uses perforated foam panels with air channels between them. The back panel is quite stiff, which helps the pack hold its shape and stops it hanging in any odd or uncomfortable ways. The shoulder straps are well-shaped and comfortable and the usual sternum/waist strap combination keeps things stable. The emergency whistle built in to the sternum strap buckle is a particularly neat touch.
Finishing touches include a handle at the top, an LED loop at the bottom and some reflective trim about the place. There isn’t really any big new idea here, which isn’t all that surprising – we’re not sure there are any big new ideas to be had in the field of hydration packs – but the Megamouth ticks all the boxes in a good-looking, lightweight, well-put-together package. And if this is a bit too much pack for you, the Flight Series includes several smaller models.
Positives: Well put together, light, comfortable, has all the essential features and some neat details.
You’d expect a company with The North Face’s experience to come up with the goods, and the Megamouth doesn’t disappoint. It’s got everything we look for, nothing that we don’t and it’s a very reasonable price.