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Source FUSE 12L – Pack Review


With a sleek design, cavernous storage and some nifty little features…the FUSE 12L pack is 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.

The SOURCE Fuse 12L has a sleek wedge profile. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Who is SOURCE?

SOURCE (Shoresh in Hebrew) was founded in 1989 by Yoki Gill anisaniel 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.

The FUSE with its eye-catching design and high-quality construction makes it a winner in our books. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

First Impressions

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 FUSE oozes quality when it comes to seams, stitching and overall panel construction. Pic:© Tyres and Soles

Hydration Technology

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.

Say goodbye to that horrible plastic taste with the Glass Like™ and GrungeGuard™ technology used in the FUSE bladder system. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

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 so 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.

 

Taste-Free™ System

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.

GrungeGuard™

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.

Storage

The FUSE features three main, separate compartments, each containing smaller pockets, some of which are zipped and padded for organizing your tools, smartphone, 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?

 

Other Features

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.

The FUSE hydration hose with it’s neat mouthpiece holder and the integrated whistle on the chest strap. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

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.

Padding

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 weight and balance of the pack felt great, especially with the wedge shape design keeping the centre of gravity low. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

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.

 

Weight Balance

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.

Keeping Dry

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!

 

Specifications

Pack Features

  • 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

Hydration Features

  • 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.


EVOC Stage 6lt – Pack Review

TESTED: EVOC Stage 6lt Pack

My pack stinks!!! No seriously, it reeks like a hobo who’s been left to soak overnight in an infected piss pool.

I’m actually embarrassed to go out riding with it. I just pity anyone riding behind me. Imagine the scene for a minute, those old cartoons where you see the character following a scent, leading them to a delicious pie cooling off on a window shelf.

Well, it’s like that but the complete opposite. I turn around to see my riding buddy dry retching. OK, I exaggerate somewhat but you get the idea. Oh and by the way, yes, I have washed it, several times, but there must be something at a molecular level I cannot seem to kill.

I’ve decided I’m not about to shrink myself and set off on a bacterial killing mission in a microscopic spaceship just to solve this problem. I can’t afford it, plus have no idea how to do it, so lets just go for the easier option. Time to hit up the tinterweb thingamajig and start the painful search for packs, of which there are about a gazillion on the market right now.

By the way, I am not changing my pack just because it stinks. My current pack has actually started falling apart, probably a by-product of the stink. The poor thing has decided to give up on life and dissolve into a pile of unrecognisable matter. I don’t blame it.

The EVOC Stage 6l Hydration Pack, sitting pretty. Photo ©Jason Lorch

I seem to have the capacity to never quite be happy with things I have (wife excepted of course). The grass is always greener, especially as soon as you’ve jumped that proverbial fence to munch on it. Your mate buys something new and all of a sudden you MUST have it too! But then, as soon you have it in your hand… ooh look over there..shiny thing! ahhhh must have that now. Does this ever end?

I blame the evil overlord brands for tempting us weak-minded MTB folk with a constant mind bogglingly array of precious things. You have to blame someone eh? So, laptop in hand and a major search engine (sounds like poodle) at the ready, let’s go!

And The Search Begins…

Several days of online research later, I eventually decided to opt for a brand that I already own. Enter the… EVOC Stage 6litre pack. I really did want to try a different brand, but this one just kept coming back to me. EVOC’s new range, from what I’ve read online, sounded like it was going to meet my needs. So I was keen to get my hands on this particular pack.

EVOC have been on the MTB scene for quite a few years but also produce a range of products for snow and travel as well as MTB body armour. They’re known for their quality and well thought out designs and have made a big impact on the Enduro race scene.

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Clean and simple design. Photo ©Jason Lorch

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Ready to roll! Photo ©Jason Lorch

EVOC Has Landed

I currently own the 10ltr FR Lite with the back protection. It’s great for those longer rides and for when I lead group rides. I can get a bit more personal kit and first aid items in there. This time however, I was after something for shorter rides.

The pack arrived a few days later and I immediately headed out to my local trails to test it, and as I expected, it felt great, but I wanted to see what it was like for a full day of racing. So I headed up to Killingworth for round 4 of the RockyTrail Entertainment Superflow series to give it a good thrashing.

The pack comes with a 2 litre bladder of the design that I have come to really admire. The bladder uses a fold top with a plastic closer, which slides across horizontally. I like this design and have never had an issue with it over the years, as opposed to some of the other brands on the market, which can tend to leak under pressure and can be quite fiddly to open and close.

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Pockets a plenty! Photo ©Jason Lorch

Pockets and Pockets and Pockets

The pack is loaded with pockets that have been well thought out. There’s the usual top pocket for a phone and other small items, such as snacks. The internal pockets are neatly organized and just the right size to stow your multi tools, spare tube and tyre levers.

There’s also enough room in the main bladder area for a shock pump and/or a tyre pump. I particularly liked the pull cord for the main outer storage area. Just grab the middle of the cord and pull down, hey presto! There’s also a zipped internal pocket, which is perfect for those items that require extra security, like your car keys.

I’ve known riders who’ve lost their keys on the trail. As if that’s not enough of a pain in the ass, having to wait for roadside assistance to arrive and be charged an arm and a leg to open your car, will always feel like someone has pissed on your chips.

But the best bit is, you still have to purchase a new set of keys! Arghhh just kill me now and leave me in the bush. It goes to say, I love internal zipped pockets and internal zipped pockets love my car keys.

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Attention to detail. Photo ©Jason Lorch

Perfect Enduro Race Pack

The pack can carry an open face and a full-face helmet, which is perfect for Enduro races where you may use the open face for liaison stages and the full face for the race stages.

There’s a mini mesh thing, which is stored underneath in a little pocket. Pull this out and it fits over the top of your open face, keeping it nicely attached to the pack.

For your full-face, there are clips at the top of the pack that clip over the chin guard. Too easy!

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Open face helmet hammock. Photo ©Jason Lorch

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Full face carry straps. Photo ©Jason Lorch

Breezy

The pack has some great air-flow features that many smaller packs on the market just don’t seem to offer. EVOC say ”We solve this contradiction by means of a back component where all ventilation components such as large ventilation channels and specially grooved and perforated EVA pads behind mesh material have practically been moved to the inside. This ensures that the pack fits close to the back and simultaneously provides optimised back ventilation.” Zzzzzz…… Sorry, I drifted off there for a moment. I have to agree with their statement though. It works, believe me!

EVOC Stage 6l pack -Air-Flow contact system, it works! Photo ©Jason Lorch

Brace Link System

EVOC have introduced the Brace Link System, which adjusts the shoulder belts perfectly to the width of your shoulders. Sorry, another techy bit coming up, pay attention now!… EVOC claim:

“This automatically adjusts the load transfer to the body’s centre of gravity, while at the same time the contact areas with back and shoulders are minimized. Even wearing a neck brace is possible through the BRACE LINK”.

Is there anything this pack can’t do?

EVOC Stage 6l pack – The Brace Link System. Photo ©Jason Lorch

In For The Long Haul

I buy stuff, use it, complain about it, buy more stuff, repeat. Well, to be fair, I don’t always complain about it. If it’s a truly great product, that’s been well though out, solves a problem and adds value to my MTB life, it will stay with me for years to come.

These products and I will have a long and lasting relationship and experience many great rides together. I will also unashamedly recommend these products to anyone and everyone, with gusto.

Throughout the race it just felt really secure on my back, no bouncing around and hitting me on the back of the head. Photo: ©Outerimage Collective

CONCLUSIONS:

The pack does what is says on the label. It hugs your body really well without the need to keep cinching it tight throughout the day. The air flow system keeps your back ventilated and most importantly, stink free! A set of great pockets and storage options and the 2ltr bladder is perfect for those shorter day rides or racing.

Throughout the race (see pic above) it just felt really secure on my back, no bouncing around and hitting me on the back of the head, especially on the steeper sections and no painful hot spots or abrasions, probably due to the Brace Link System.

Well, I can safely say that the EVOC Stage 6ltr has well and truly won me over. After a brief online interaction and a date at a muddy race event where we truly connected, I have to admit, it was love at first sight.

So I raise my glass and toast a full and adventurous future together with my Stage 6ltr EVOC Pack. A match made in heaven.

Below is a full spec list and a link to the EVOC site for further info.

Tech Specs:

  • Emergency plan (integrated)
  • BRACE LINK
  • Attachment system for: helmet (XC, full face)
  • Tool compartment (separate, quick-access)
  • Hydration Bladder 2 l (included)
  • Accommodates hydration systems up to 2 litre
  • Volume: 6 litres
  • Weight: 700 g
  • Size: 23 x 24 x 6 cm
  • Material: Nylon 210/D Ripstop PU coated, P600/D PU coated, 3D Air Mesh, Air Mesh, Airo Flex
  • Price: Between $150 – $180 aud