As a mountain bike guide I need to carry a lot of kit with me. First aid, tools, spares, emergency gear, spare tops and of course food and drink! My search for a backpack that could handle all the gear, and still let me ride freely led me to the Dakine Apex. It is a 26 litre backpack with a 3 litre reservoir and has lots of pockets and straps for armour and a helmet so seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I’ve been using the pack for 7 months now so click ‘more’ to see how I’ve got on with it.
My first impressions of the Apex was that it is huge, I can fit all my guiding gear in and still leave space! This wasn’t possible with the HAWG and Havoc that I had previously. The interior is well though out with nice compartments to keep everything organised and there is also a padded compartment for a camera, although this doesn’t feel as secure and waterproof as the similar compartment on my Havoc.
Over the last 7 months I have used the pack a lot and it’s gradually become the only pack I bother using. I have filled it to the brim with guiding gear, carried the bare minimum for riding DH on the chairlifts and used it for everything in between. Initially I found it hard to get comfortable when it was very full and it rubbed on my collarbone, however after lots of fiddling I have managed to get it set up comfortably. I still find that when full it moves about a bit more than my CamelBaks ever did, however this is probably due to the extra size and correspondingly heavier load. The armour straps work well and it is easy to strap leg and arm pads to the pack, even when carrying a full face helmet as well.
The design of the bladder is a real plus point of the Dakine system. The “fold over and slide” system to open and close the bladder is a pleasure to use compared to the Camelbak system, which is often difficult to open. This system also means that the entire top of the Dakine bladder opens, giving great access for filling and cleaning. Another clever part of the Dakine system is that you can detach the hose from the bladder, meaning you don’t have to thread the hose through the guides every time. I normally just blow the remaining fluid back into the bladder, leaving the hose empty, remove the bladder and pop it into the fridge between rides and find that works really well. One downside of the Dakine versus the Camelbak I have found is the hose itself, it is far softer than the Camelback system and as such can kink making it difficult to drink from. The other niggle is the push-pull system to close the valve on the hose, which is far harder to operate than the easy twist system on the Camelbak, this means I don’t use it and I have had the pack leaking a few times in the van on the way to rides.
The Apex is a fantastic pack if you need to carry a lot of gear. The load carrying capacity is such that you should never struggle to carry all that you need. I’ll give it a 4.5 out of 5.
+ Removable hose means it’s easy to remove the bladder from the pack.
+ Well designed bladder is easy to clean and fill.
+ Load carrying is fantastic and there are plenty of pockets inside for organising your gear.
– When full it can be hard to get the pack comfortable on your back.
– The padded camera section isn’t very waterproof and could do with more padding.
– The hose for the bladder is soft and can kink easily.