When I went to Ladakh, just after Jispa, I got a bad case of AMS. The world looked dopey, I had no idea where I was going or how, and a kilometer felt like a light year. In hindsight, I should have taken more water, that may have been one of the primary reasons why I was fucked so badly.
But then again, it’s so difficult to stop riding, pull the water bottle out, gulp some and the put it back again. Riding is like doing something after taking bhang, you just continue doing it for no apparent reason and never want it to end. This is where hydration packs come into the picture.
There are quite a few hydration systems available online, most of them from Camelback or Decathlon. Both of these are respected brands, but their prices are a bit too northward! So when the good people at ViaTerra came up with the Marine Hydration pack, I ordered one right away. I have taken it for a few spins, over many hundred kilometers, and here is my ViaTerra Marine Hydration Pack review.
ViaTerra Marine Hydration Pack review: Capacity
I own the 2L version of Marine, there was supposed to be a 1L as well but I couldn’t find it and didn’t want it. 2L feels like a respectable size, something you can ride with a whole day.
I am not a very water-loving guy, definitely not the kind who drink 6-8liters a day. I only drink when I feel like drinking, so the Marin’s capacity is huge for me. On my recent 10 hour drive, I wasn’t even able to finish half of it. For a more “normal” rider, this capacity should be just perfect.
ViaTerra Marine Hydration Pack review: Ease of use
It did take me a while to figure out how to use this thing, but first things first. The cap to fill in the Marine from is big, so putting in water is a very easy task. Once that is done, all you need to do is close the cap and put the pipe in your mouth.
The pipe has a bite valve which has 2 positions, locked or unlocked. In the locked position, no water will come out no matter how hard you bite it. In the unlocked position, where the blue bite valve is moved a few centimeters forward, you can quench your thirst.
Unlocking the bite valve generally takes 2 hands, but can be done with 1 also, so it will be a better idea to stop the bike, unlock it, put it in your mouth and then ride again. But there is an alternative. I started from Mumbai with the bite valve unlocked, sucked in water whenever I felt like and just left it hanging there. I crossed Pune, then came back. The whole way the valve was unlocked, but I didn’t notice any leakage. So theoretically, you can ride all day long, drink on the move and never stop, but then you will have to add a urine bag as well somewhere. Good luck with that.
The drinking involves 2 steps, biting and sucking. As gay as that sounds, It works very well. You bite a bit on the valve, then suck air inside, and you get a refreshing stream of water. The flow is respectable, not too less but not too much either. I think it is this 2 step process that stops the pipe from leaking even when it is unlocked.
Overall, the Marine is very easy to use.
When I got the package, I was surprised to see how small it was, and how light. The design is very minimalist, with the straps made of mesh material to improve airflow and stop you from sweating like a pig. When filled at capacity, it does feel heavy, but it is all water weight for sure.
The Marine fits very snug on your back, like a baby monkey. There is ample padding on the back, which supports it well over long distances. Apart from the 2 shoulder straps, there is an additional one to attach the shoulder straps together, which helps a lot in keeping the whole thing stable. In short, when you wear the Marine, you will feel like wearing a 36DD bra, but backwards.
The pipe is curved, so when you let it be, it hides behind your back and stays away from the wind. Once you get upto speed, you will probably forget there is an black-orange baby monkey on your back.
ViaTerra Marine Hydration pack review: Verdict
The good things:
- Awesome capacity
- Small pocket to keep your wallet etc.
- Very comfortable
- Easy to use
- Good looks
- Extreme value for money.
Things that could be better:
- The shoulder straps are relatively thin. Plus they are made of mesh surrounded by 2 very thin strands of cloth. Feels a bit dangerous every time you take it off and on again. Has worked well till now and I don’t expect it to snap anytime soon, but there’s nothing else wrong with the Marine, so gotta find something!
I generally love all things ViaTerra. Loved the Claw, and now the Marine. These guys make good, sturdy, no-nonsense, within budget stuff that does what it is supposed to. The Marine, at just 1800 bucks, is incredible bang for your buck, especially when you see hydration systems from other brands priced almost twice for the same capacity. I guess through this Viaterra Marine Hydration Pack review, all I am trying to say is, keep up the good work guys!
RiderZone recommends the ViaTerra Marine as a tourer’s BFF.