With a sleek design, cavernous storage and some nifty little features…the FUSE 12L pack has become a source of delight!
From choosing the right size, which features are crucial, how many litres should it hold and of course after all that, does it come in the right colour combo to match your riding kit? The last bit is obviously the most important, right?
Finding the right pack can be a mine field to navigate through and can end up being an expensive process. We hope to alleviate some of this by providing some insight into our latest pack test from Source Hydration.
Who are SOURCE?
SOURCE (Shoresh in Hebrew) was founded in 1989 by Yoki Gill and Daniel Benoziliyo and now employs more than 200 workers. SOURCE are well known in the Tactical Gear, hiking sandals, hydration and travel accessories categories worldwide for over 20 years.
We discovered SOURCE via their hydration bladders through our hiking adventures. We’ve been a fan of their bladders for several years due to the ease of filling, cleaning and the lack of plastic taste they seem to have over other brands, but have never had any experience with their packs, until now.
What we noticed straight away was how light the pack felt. Even when empty, it was noticeably lighter than other packs of the same size we’ve used. The FUSE has a 12 litre capacity, so that sits nicely in the mid volume range, suitable for a full day ride.
The construction and design has a tapered profile, giving it an overall sleek, wedge appearance. The zippers, compression straps, harness and general overall look, is all very appealing and got the thumbs up in the looks department. The Fuse comes in a range of colour options but we opted for the blue and lime colour scheme which is very nice.
The bladder has a 3 litre capacity with features that set it apart from others on the market. What we really like about the Source products are the design features used with their bladders, tubes and mouthpieces. We’ve listed some of those features below.
The main body of the bladder itself is made using a Glass-Like™ Technology film, which is 2000% smoother than standard TPU films, with virtually no difference from glass itself. This multi-layer Polyethylene film prevents bio-film build up, making the system virtually self-cleaning.
Widepac™ Slide Closure
We’ve quickly become a fan of the Widepac™ Slide Closure. Why? Because you can get in there and clean the thing soooo much easier. If you use hydration powder or tablets, you’ll know all too well that if you don’t get in there and clean that stuff out, then sooner or later it starts to become a bit of a mold factory. Not good.
Being able to get in there with your entire hand means easy filling, cleaning, draining, and even adding large chunks of ice in there! And don’t worry, the closure is airtight. Which is more than can be said about other closures out there.
One of the most notable areas for us, was the lack of that ucky plastic taste that you get with some bladders. Source use a Taste-Free™ System which retains a purer taste with absolutely no plastic flavour. It’s also BPA and Phthalate free.
To date, we’ve experienced zero mold build up. Source claim that their GrungeGuard™ Technology inhibits bacteria growth on the reservoir and drinking tube for the life of the system. We’ll just have to wait and see, but so far so good.
Overall, the hydration delivery system in this pack, and all other Source packs, include so many features that you are left thinking how they could ever improve on the design. We stopped trying to outthink them on this, and were just satisfied to give it a full marks in this department.
The FUSE features three main, seperate compartments, each containing smaller pockets, some of which are zipped and padded for organising your tools, smart phone, snacks tubes etc…. There is so much space in this pack that we just couldn’t fill it all, as you’ll see from the images.
For only a 12L pack, the FUSE has some sort of TARDIS technology that swallows up anything you put in here. Oh yes, and there are two side mesh pockets…is that enough for you?
The back of the pack has a structured padded piece that allows airflow and provides some spinal protection. It’s not as robust as the EVOC pack with their specifically designed spinal pad, but it’s enough that in an OTB (Over The Bars) event, it will certainly help reduce the impact.
The FUSE 12L has a built in whistle on the chest strap, a very comfortable adjustable harness system and waist belt. The waist belt can also be detached and stowed away.
The main fabric of the pack is made from a Ripstop material, which is perfect for the gnarly Australian bush and the compression straps are incredibly robust, they look as if you could hang a small car off them. We would advise against that though.
The FUSE also features an integrated rain cover, which lives inside a small pocket at the very bottom of the pack.
On The Trails
We know too well that all of these great features count for nothing if the pack doesn’t work when out on the trails. I’ve actually been using the pack for the past couple of months as my main riding pack, so this is based on about twenty or so rides, in dry and soaking wet conditions, here in Australia and in the UK.
Weight and Comfort
Out on the trails, the pack feels lightweight and well balanced. The chest and waist straps are positioned to provide a secure and comfortable fit. The harness straps feature a thin foam insert which helps keep the comfort factor high for those longer rides. This pack has never felt uncomfortable or awkward when riding.
Cooler For Longer
On longer rides, I was surprised to find that my water was staying cooler for longer. I can only put this down to the special (green coloured) fabric in the water bladder pocket that helps insulate this section of the pack. Refilling the bladder is a breeze by the way. The combination of the pocket access and the Widepac™ closure means you can get the water in there with minimal fussing around.
I really like the way the FUSE felt in terms of balance. As we mentioned, the pack has a wedge like profile. What this means is when loaded up, the weight of your gear sits lower in the pack, where the pockets are roomier, and gives it a lower centre of gravity. This is noticeable on steeper descents where you really want to avoid the pack sliding up. The FUSE stays low and secure.
As to be expected, it rained when we were riding in Wales. But the integrated rain jacket was a boon! We don’t get to use these much in Australia, due to the weather and the “Don’t ride the trails when it’s wet” way of thinking whereas the UK is set up for wet riding, so out it was a novelty to get it out. Oh and it was used a lot!
The hydration bladder is incredibly easy to wash due to its Widepac™ closure and the Grunge Guard™ technology. You can just get in there and access all those small places where mold tends to build up.
Cleaning the pack when it’s very muddy is easy, we just throw it in the shower and hang it up. It dries very quickly! Otherwise we tend to just dust off any dry crud. A big bonus for us is the noticeable lack of hideous pack stink you can get with some packs. So far, it’s stink free.
SOURCE - FUSE 12L Hydration Pack
The FUSE 12L is a very capable pack. If you’re looking for a mid capacity pack with T.A.R.D.I.S like pockets, an incredible hydration system, plus a well designed weight and balance ratio, then the FUSE 12L is certainly one you should consider.
We’ve used it in dry and very wet conditions, dragged it halfway around the world, washed it several times and there are no signs of wearing or tearing. Being made with a Ripstop material certainly helps, but it’s also the combination of tough zippers and compression straps you could hang a small car off, that make it a really tough nugget.
Only item we would of preferred is slightly lower profile design on the bottom end. Although the wedge like shape works great for keeping the weight of the pack lower, it can also get a little bulky down there, when fully loaded. But overall, a very capable and impressive mid capacity pack with a lot of well thought out features.
User Review( vote)
- Lightweight Fabrics
- Padded shoulder straps
- Adjustable sternum belt with integrated whistle
- Padded and vented porous foam back system
- Lightweight buckles
- Essentials compartment with internal Storeganizer™, key holder, pen pockets
- Velcro sealed phone pouch
- Insulated hydration compartment
- Raincover included
- Carrying handle
- Cargo Volume – 12L
- Widepac™ hydration system
- Helix™ bite valve – Comfortable valve with safety shut-off mode
- Co-Ex tube
- Triple layer taste and odor free film
- Glass Like™ Film Technology
- Grunge-Guard™ Technology
- Taste Free™ System
- Easy Care & Low Maintenance
- Hydration Volume – 3L Widepac (shipped with pack)
See what we thought of the EVOC Stage 6l pack here.
Author: Jason Lorch
Born and grew up in Wales but now a fully fledged Aussie. A passionate mountain biker, hiker and general nature addict. I’m also a bit of a muso and enjoy a good craft beer every now and again (probably too often).
I hope what we do here at Tyres and Soles will inspire people to get out there and experience first hand, the natural wonders that surround them.
So, pump up those tyres, don your favourite boots. Grab a mate, a partner, a pet… and head out into nature. But tell us all about it when you get back.
Chief editor at Tyres and Soles.