Tested: Ballard’s ‘The Guzzla’ Hydration Pack
A product the Transmoto team has tried, tested and would recommend to a mate.
WHAT IS IT?
Ballard’s ‘The Guzzla’ 2L Hydration Pack is an all-new product that’s designed to offer all the practical features you need in a race/ride hydration pack, but at an affordable price. It’s got a four-point, fully adjustable harness system, and three low-profile neoprene expansion pockets (which, combined with the main compartment, offer 2.5 litres of cargo storage capacity). The Guzzla comes with is a 2-litre TPU bladder, insulated drink hose, and high-flow bite valve.
WHY WE RATE IT
- Comfort: If you’ve ever worn a hydration pack with a four-point harness (a design pioneered by Swedish hydration specialists, USWE back in 2007), then you’ll know how comfortable these things are to wear while riding (or doing anything active, for that matter). Aside from the fact that the adjustable harness ensures a snug fit and prevents the pack from flapping around, there’s no annoying waistband to pinch your gut while seated and its straps don’t chafe your armpits. In fact, you barely know you’re wearing the lightweight, sleek-fitting Guzzla.
- Pockets: The three low-profile neoprene expansion pockets are stretchy, which means you can jam loads of your favourite cargo into them. The lower pocket design is particularly practical because it allows you to carry any heavier items where they’re least inclined bounce around or damage delicate items (like your phone) that’s stashed elsewhere in the pack. When combined with the main compartment, these ‘expansion’ pockets are claimed to give you a total of 2.5 litres of cargo space, but we reckon there’s more like twice that storage volume.
- Adjustment: The fully adjustable stretch strapping gives the pack a wide range of size adjustment. And it can be altered to suit Small to XXL-framed adults. That said, the second buckle on each side strap could be relocated to ensure better use of those straps’ elastic when adjusted for Small, Medium and Large body sizes.
- Bodacious Bladder: The 2-litre, dishwasher-safe TPU bladder comes with a large opening to make filling and washing it out easier, and a 100% no-leak guarantee. The insulated drink hose is smart because, if you’re sipping on the thing (which is how we predominantly drink from hydration packs), the fluid in the hose doesn’t constantly heat up. We also like the high-flow bite valve because it’s straight – not kinked, or angled at 90º, which can catch on your bars or brakeline and/or make it harder to get into your mouth quickly while you’re wearing your helmet.
- Zippers: Seriously, how many great products (luggage, jackets, pressure suits, gearbags, surfboard bags, etc) are let down by a shithouse zipper that busts or seizes while the rest of the product has got years of use left in it? Loads of them, annoyingly! Thankfully, The Guzzla comes with high-quality, light-action zippers, featuring bigger-than-average teeth. The main compartment gets an opposing zipper for easier access, while the zipper tabs all get a mini lanyard to make identifying where they are (and yanking on the things) way easier.
- No Cargo Compartment: It’s true that an easy-to-access external compartment (often secured by a clip or shock-cord) can come in handy from time to time, such as when you want to stash something quickly without having to undo a zipper. While The Guzzla doesn’t come with one of these, you could argue its more streamlined design makes it less likely to snag on overhanging trees or lose cargo inadvertently.
- Shoulder Straps: As the fluffy half of the velcro on the main shoulder straps (the velcro’s ‘loop’, not ‘hook’) extends all the way up and over your shoulder, it gives you virtually unlimited scope for adjustment, but the loop material does attract and trap grass and other crap.
- Colour Options: Unlike many other brands, which are available in a wide range of fashionable hues, The Guzzla 2L is available only in black. Though it does get a flash-looking grey GT stripe.
The Guzzla is comfortable, practical, durable and lightweight and doesn’t come with any gimmicky features. Most hydration packs with comparable capacity and features cost somewhere in the $100 to $150 range. So, at $79.95, The Guzzla is bloody good value.
PRICE: $79.95 (complete pack); $24.50 (2L bladder with insulated hose) // MXstore