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We Test Out Polaris Backpacks

Looking for a running backpack that can carry the essentials on those long training runs? Andy Tomlinson tries out a couple of packs from British brand, Polaris.

During the colder months I find myself turning to the mountain bike and the local trails to run through a few puddles and maybe even an off road Multisport event to fill in the time before the next season’s triathlons. We had the chance to try out a few items from Polaris, a bike clothing brand based up in Derbyshire and they have a few new lines launching. First up, the Hydration Vest is one for both biking and running.

Polaris Hydration Vest

Polaris hydro vest backpack
Polaris Hydro Vest

Price: £64.99
Size: Height: 40cm, Width: 19cm
Weight: 150g
Capacity: 2L (excluding bladder space)

Key features

  • Lightweight vest style design
  • Made with durable 30D CORDURA® waterproof fabric
  • Multi function straps and pockets carry valuables and additional softflasks
  • 2 litre hydration pack is available as £20 accessory
  • Materials and Construction

First impressions? The vest is small and lightweight and the material feels robust and feels like it will stand up to some outdoor abuse. The pack is sold as a 2L + 2L hydration pack with half for the bladder and half for any extra kit. The CORDURA fabric seems very durable and well able to hold the 2L badder with no stretch or give.

How did it perform?

I have not used a hydration vest before so when I first saw the Polaris vest I was surprised as to how small it was. On first wear it feels very comfortable, the shoulder straps are wide enough to spread the load of the hydration bladder and feels jiggle free.

Filling and fitting bladder was straight forward enough and there are two clips inside the vest at the top of the pocket that secure the bladder to support its weight from the top and the elastic chords on the outside of the vest to secure things even more without movement. Across the chest there are two straps featuring a hook system that fastens to the elastic loop on the other side. At first I thought that was a potential weak point but on reflection this might be more durable than the clip-in fasteners that sometimes lose their click after frequent use.

The rear large pocket also will hold some essential kit items up to 2L of volume so if you are on the bike that might be small tool items, inner tubes, phone etc, or if you’re running it could be a jacket, gloves, hat.

The front and side area of the vest have several smaller pockets for nutrition, keys etc. These are not large enough for larger smartphones but will hold plenty of gels and energy bars.

The vest also features various elasticated loops to keep the drinks tube from the pouch secure and also offers places to attach items. There are also elastic loops to secure drinks in the front facing pockets.

There are two larger pockets that are designed for smaller water bottles or softflasks. As the picture shows, they unzip and can hold two larger 500ml water bottles. Whilst they are held firm and felt quite safe running I would perhaps stick to smaller flasks.

Polaris backpack
Front pockets for additional water bottles

The main storage area has a divider to keep the bladder even more under control and keep it away from kit items and will avoid rubbing or reduce the chance of puncture!


As this is my first experience with a hydration vest I had nothing to compare it against except a bigger trail backpack that often is only partly utilised for kit. With this smaller vest you can only pack the real essentials so it does limit you, or, as I found, free you up of kit I never use and the elastic outer straps hold everything snug without jiggle. If it’s not essential, leave it at home!

Running in the vest was just fine, the fit and straps kept any movement under control and gels did not bounce around. On the bike it allows enough storage to do away with a saddle pack potentially making you more aero! Something I always consider whilst on a tricky rocky decent in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales!

Whilst not totally triathlon orientated, if you are doing off road multisport events this vest can be worn on both the run and bike stages and worked really well. It’s priced fairly and details of design make it an appealing choice. There are plenty of neat touches to make it a contender for your kit wish list. Pockets, loops, reflective details, comfort and practicality all add up to a very decent hydration vest. Something I will use frequently.

You can find out more here.

Polaris Aquanought Hydration Waterproof Backpack

Next up, the Polaris Aquanought Hydration Waterproof Backpack. This is the latest addition to the Polaris range. Whist this pack is more cycle orientated you could happily use it for running for essential kit items. It’s probably not ideal for commuter clothing but ideal for a day in the hills. The tool organiser would work equally well for compass, mandatory kit etc and it will all be in the easy to locate pockets.

Polaris Aquanought Hydration backpack
Polaris Aquanought Hydration backpack

Price: £89.99 (but currently £79.99 as an introductory offer)

Key features

• Fully waterproof main compartment
• 10L Capacity
• Taped zips
• Additional hydration bladder (up to 3L capacity) compartment
• Hypalon light loop for rear facing light
• Removable tool organiser
• Adjustable waist and chest straps
• Additional front mesh pocket

This is a larger pack then the previously tested vest with a 10L capacity and space for upto a 3L water bladder. The bladder is housed away from the main compartment in a separate section of the pack which helps protect it from any damage which might cause leaks.

How did it perform?

As a day to day bag you can leave out the bladder and just use it for smaller items of kit.

The main storage space is ample for a day out riding or running and there is a removable organiser section that Velcros firmly into the main compartment to stop it moving around and makes your kit easy to find. this also has a useful zipped pocket for keys, small wallet or cash and cards etc.

As the name suggests the backpack is waterproof with sturdy waterproofed zippers with a decent opening to make access easy.

Construction is suitably sturdy too and the fabric is robust. The pack sits snugly in place with additional chest and waist straps for added security to stop it bouncing around. As a day pack on changeable weather days this will ensure any spare kit you have to carry will remain dry and keeps things well organised and easy to find.

Both the Hydro Vest and the Waterproof Backpack are equally suited for running and cycling as they are mid-sized and lightweight. The larger Waterproof Backpack obviously allows you to carry more kit so is better suited to the longer day out.


If you are looking for a smaller backpack for a hydration bladder and kit that has the added bonus of being waterproof, the Polaris Aquanought Hydration Waterproof Backpack is probably just what you need to check out.

The Backpack is available now direct from Polaris here.

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