We test Thule's e-bike hydration pack

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A great backpack for those big days on the bike (Photo: Thule)
A great backpack for those big days on the bike (Photo: Thule)
  • The Thule Rail eMTB has a dedicated sleeve for carrying an extra e-bike battery
  • A magnetic retention system ensures that the drinking tube is always within reach
  • The Koroyd back protector is designed to keep your spine safe in the event of a crash

Along with the rise in popularity of e-bike riding comes the need for accessories with specific requirements. The Thule Rail eMTB 18-litre offers everything one could want from a mountain biking hydration pack and more.

If you are going to be attempting longer rides on your e-bike you will most probably need to carry a spare battery and the Thule Rail backpack has just that. It features a dedicated, stabilized pocket, for carrying your spare e-bike battery, allowing riders to essentially double their range.

Staying hydrated while on the move is easy using the hands-free ReTrakt magnetic hose return system. The 2.5-litre HydraPak reservoir features a slide closure for the easy cleaning or adding of ice.

All the options

Storage options include dedicated internal pockets for tools, pumps, snacks and accessories while dual front pockets store small essentials. It is not necessary to remove the pack to access items such as nutrition or your cellphone, thanks to lower-back jersey pockets with secure hook and loop flaps. The roomy external pocket is great to carry a jacket or protection such as knee and elbow pads.

This Thule hydration pack is not just about carrying ability and hydration though, a removable lightweight Koroyd CE certified Level 1 back protector protects your central back and spine from impact or injury.

Koroyd’s welded tubes crumple instantly and consistently on impact, absorbing maximum force in a controlled manner, minimising energy transfer.

e-bike backpack
This is a big pack with a lot of useful storage and great ergonomics (Photo: Thule)
Thule e-bike gear
If it doesn't fit in this Thule pack, you probably don't need it (Photo: Thule)

Putting it to the test

 I wore the backpack over a weekend of trail riding in Waterval Boven and it was extremely comfortable.

Although it is slightly heavier than my Mil Spec Camelbak, mostly due to a bunch of added functionality, the Thule Rail carries its weight well and the wide padded shoulder straps are extremely comfortable.

The sternum strap is easy to attach and detach, when you quickly need to get your camera out from the front shove-it pocket, thanks to a yellow locating loop. Its combination of sternum and hip straps meant that the pack remained secured, even on the gnarliest descents with the weight ergonomically positioned lower down on your back.

Thule’s magnetic tube retention system, dubbed Retrakt, is great. You can simply drop the tube when you are done drinking and it self-locates alongside the right shoulder strap, no hanging around and it is easy to grab again.

The 2.5-litre HydraPak reservoir is easy to fill thanks to a wide opening and the fold over and clamp closing design ensures that there are no leaks. I also found the bite valve easier to use, with less bite required than on other hydration packs and no dripping post sip.

In terms of styling, the nylon material in a slate colour presents well and does a great job of hiding dirt. The quality of Thule’s range of luggage and bike carrying systems is well proven and that has been continued on their cycling products, I have no doubt that their cycling range will offer the same long life that their product range has become renowned for.

The Thule Rail eMTB 18 litre retails for R5499.

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