With so many mountain bike manufacturers eliminating water bottle mounts, the ubiquitous hydration pack is a necessity. I find myself hauling the hydration pack on short and long rides because of this very thing.

Sometimes it feels like overkill while other times it comes in handy as trailside repairs become a part of the adventure–at that point, you’re glad you stashed away the extra tube, toolkit and shock pump. I also dig having the ability to stash away extra layers without filling up the back pockets of my jersey (which sometimes has pockets but other times does not). I’ve now had enough cycles on the Dakine Amp 12 hydration pack that it’s time to deliver the verdict.

DaKine Amp 12 Hydration Pack Review

About the DaKine Amp 12 Hydration Pack

An all-new design for 2009, the 700 cu. in. DaKine Amp 12 is built for all-day adventures with pockets and compartments aplenty. Built with a combination of lighter weight nylon fabric (as compared to other DaKine packs), the Amp 12 errs more on the cross-country/enduro side of things.

Features of the Amp 12

  • Molded back panel with air channel ventilation
  • XC helmet carry straps
  • 100 oz. Hydrapak reservoir with Quick Disconnect hoses
  • Quick-access mesh side pockets
  • Fleece-lined sunglass pocket (doubles as a camera pocket)
  • Internal tube/pump sleeves
  • Volume: 700 cu. in. (12L)
  • Materials: 630D Nylon and 70D Nylon Dobby
  • Colors: Black, Slate, Rust and Moss
  • MSRP: $90 ($65 without bladder)

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DaKine Amp 12 Hydration Pack Review

After years of using the same hydration packs, I’ve most recently been stoked on Deuter’s hydration packs–primarily due to the suspension design, which provides more airflow than a wind tunnel. With that standard in mind, I embarked on a review of the all-new Amp 12 hydration pack from DaKine–hoping to find similar breathability.

The Amp 12 utilizes a lot of what DaKine is known for: ample pockets and storage compartments galore–all sporting a new lightweight fabric design. Unlike most DaKine products, which use primarily heavy-duty fabrics, the Amp 12 utilizes a combination of lightweight ripstop nylon and nylon weave fabrics to keep the weight and bulk down to a minimum.

Slapping the pack on, the aerated (think Swiss cheese) shoulder straps and dual back panel ribs provide a snug and comfortable fit. The air channel system needs a little refinement though. It performs pretty well, but the dual ribs don’t keep the pack off your back when fully loaded. They easily compress, thus negating any potential for airflow back there. They also make the pack feel odd at first.

What I love the most about the Amp 12 are the bevy of compartments and exterior pockets galore. Many packs still lack these basic necessities. Zip open the main compartment and there’s a sleeve for a pump, a padded MP3/mobile phone pocket and a mesh pocket for tubes or miscellaneous items. Organization is good!

The main compartment is complemented by a second exterior padded pocket (perfect for a small digital camera or sunglasses), a large zippered mesh pocket and two mesh side pockets that remain accessible while the pack is in use–great feature!

The included Hydrapak 100 oz. reservoir is an improvement over Hydrapak’s designs of old. Opening and closing the reservoir is easy and the quick-disconnect ports allow for easy refilling. The angled bite valve provided plenty of waterflow when needed.

The Amp 12 stays in place well while in the saddle. I found it easy to cinch things down for extended downhills and likewise easy to loosen when pounding out a long climb.

Because the fabric is relatively lightweight, it feels a little floppy when the pack is empty. I know it would add a bit of weight, but a couple of strategically-placed compression straps would help resolve that problem.

DaKine Amp 12 Hydration Pack Review

Good Amp 12

  • Tons of functional pockets
  • Love the two padded pockets for phone, iPod, sunglasses or camera
  • External quick-access mesh pockets are superb for on-the-fly access
  • Feels lightweight
  • Good size for all-day fun
  • Shoulder straps are breathable and comfy

Bad Amp 12

  • Back panel is a good effort, but not as breathable as some
  • Two back ribs feel a tad awkward at first
  • A strategically-placed compression strap or two would help

The Bottom Line: DaKine Amp 12 Hydration Pack

As an all-new design for 2009, the Amp 12 is a solid choice for an all-around hydration pack. The plethora of pockets and compartments keeps all your gear organized and accessible. A couple of minor complaints aside and this is an affordable and versatile hydration pack for all-day rides.

Buy Now: Find DaKine Hydration Packs at CompetitiveCyclist.com

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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