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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Crumpler Bumper Issue Hydration Pack > Test Report by Richard Lyon
CRUMPLER THE BUMPER ISSUE hydration pack
Test Series by Richard Lyon
Initial Report October 6, 2009
Field Report January 17, 2010
Long Term Report March 21, 2010
PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
Male, 63 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Dallas, Texas, United States
I've been backpacking for 45 years, regularly in the Rockies since 1986. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do forced marches too. I've been actively reducing my pack weight, though I still tend to favor my favorite camp conveniences over minor weight savings. Much of my winter backcountry activity takes place on telemark skis.
October 6, 2009
The Bumper Issue is a hydration pack designed for cyclists and hikers. In person it looks very much like its description and pictures on its manufacturer's website, bright colors and all. It was ready to use out of the box, as it includes a 2-liter hydration pack (made by a company named Source) that's also colorful – a bright red bladder and tube. Maybe it'll work with wine!
Web Address: www.crumplerbags.com
Dimensions, measured: 18.0 x 9.5 x 4.75 in (45.7 x 24.1 x 12.1 cm)
Weight, measured: 30.9 oz (876 g)
Materials: "Water resistant 600D shell & 150D Ripstop lining"
Color: Green front panel, black and white side panels, bright blue trim. Also available with front panel in red, brown, or black, or in two different camouflage patterns.
MSRP: $95 US for solid colors; $125 US for camo.
Warranty: One year
This is much more than a simple top-loading pack with a hydration sleeve. The Bumper Issue is flush with features that to my eye indicate very thoughtful design.
The grey material at the bottom on the front of the pack, just under the buckle for the top, and under the front compression straps is reflective, for greater visibility when biking. Crumpler calls these the pack's "eyes." Hard rubber Crumpler logos on the right shoulder strap and the middle of the cover are also reflective. The white trim on the side panels, though not reflective material, should also aid nighttime visibility.
The top opens to reveal three compartments separated by fabric dividers: one for the hydration bladder and two for gear. On each side of the front panel is a zipper. At first I thought that these were two openings to the same pocket, but not so: each secures its own compartment that extends all the way across the front of the pack. Though no capacity is listed on Crumpler's web site I estimate that the four storage compartments will hold 800-1000 cubic inches' (13-16 liters') worth of gear. And it is possible to use the compression straps (two on each side) to lash additional items. Each compression strap and the strap that holds the cover are adjustable, and each has a Fast-tec type snap. The Bumper Issue cinches around me by means of an adjustable hip belt and sternum strap, each also connected with a snap; the male piece of the sternum strap buckle includes a small whistle. The pack's shoulder straps are padded with mesh and quite comfortable.
Source has supplied a bright red hydration bladder. This has a mouth that runs all the way across its top, secured by a bar that slides on and off easily. The hydration tube is heat-welded to the bladder and the bite valve and so cannot be removed. The tube may be inserted through a sleeve on either shoulder strap, as shown in the top photo, or through a simple port on either side of the top of the pack. I tried all four and had no problem with any; each aperture is large enough to thread the bite valve and tube through quickly and without any forcing in either direction. I also had no difficulty fitting 2L bladders from two other manufacturers in The Bumper Issue. The bite valve has a rubber cover that is secured to the tube with thin string.
My first project with The Bumper Issue was to see if the bar atop the hydration bladder holds all the water inside. It does; after filling the bladder and replacing the bar I shook the bladder vigorously in various positions and didn't lose a drop.
Last Sunday The Bumper Issue got its first workout, on a short day hike in the park area surrounding Bachman Lake near my home. On my one-hour early-morning hike conditions varied from a light mist to steady rain, at about 65 F (19 C). I carried a sweater and rain pants in the two inside compartments and my wallet and house keys in one of the zippered pockets on the front. Upon returning home I found all contents to be completely dry and the pack beaded with rain but not the least bit soggy. The hydration system worked as it should, though once or twice the cover slipped off the bite valve.
The bright colors and reflective material. I hike or walk my dogs early in the morning, often on city streets. One reason I requested green, the brightest available front color, is that I want to be seen.
Sturdy material and sound construction.
The string holding the bite valve cover appears somewhat flimsy.
January 17, 2010
Over the past two months I have worn The Bumper Issue on five or six day hikes, in the Dallas area or in the Texas Hill Country, and on several dozen walks with my dogs (twice-daily events that involve anywhere from one-half to two miles/0.8 to 3.2 kilometers). There’s been no special rhyme or reason for wearing the pack on a particular dog walk; I have done so to give this pack more exposure to the elements and more wear than the occasional planned day hike. I hang the pack on a peg next to the utility room door and strap it on when I think of it.
December and January in North Texas have been much chillier than normal, with a few days below 10 F (-12 C) early in the mornings and only a few days when the mercury rose above 50 F (10 C). While I have not hiked in sustained rain the pack has been exposed to mist, fog, freezing rain, and snow.
I am pleased to report that The Bumper Issue scored well on all counts.
Durability. The pack really looks like new, with nary a smudge visible even on the bright white reflective patches on the sides. I’ve wiped it down after the day hikes, using a damp cloth and then a dry one, but haven’t had to use any soapy water or solvent. Several of the longer dog walks include marching through heavy brush; not exactly bushwhacking but not just a stroll in the park either. All stitching remains sound, and I’ve had no trouble with any of the buckles. All interior surfaces and pack contents have stayed completely dry.
Capacity. My standard day hiking kit fits inside The Bumper Issue with a bit of room to spare: hydration bladder (discussed below), an extra layer (wind shirt, light down sweater, or rain shell, depending on what I’m wearing), extra pair of socks, small first aid kit, lunch (usually in a Ziploc baggie), gaiters, wool hat, assorted odds and ends such as sunscreen or hydration tablets, and on several occasions the Jetboil Flash cooking system that I am testing. The Flash and a small packet of tea bags fit perfectly in the front compartment. I really like the zippered pockets on the front of the pack. I use these for cell phone, car keys, wallet, and other small items that I want securely zipped up but don’t expect to use until after my hike.
Features. The best feature, in my opinion, is the hydration system. The red bladder hasn’t lost a drop and the fitted sleeve on the pack’s strap makes it very easy to take a draught one-handed. I’ve never used a Source bladder before. Its plastic is somewhat heavier than my usual alternatives, so I experimented with its use in the cold. On Christmas morning, 8 F (-13 C) at 6 am, I filled it three-quarters full and hiked for two hours from the park area adjacent to my house down to nearby Bachman Lake. I was hoping that Source’s plastic would retard freezing. Alas, no, even though I carefully blew the water in the spout back into the bladder after each sip. I’ve never been able to use a hydration bladder in extended sub-freezing weather, so I’m not finding fault with Source or Crumpler, just reporting on my dashed hopes. Testing the hydration system did bring some good news: the string holding the bite valve cover remains intact. Perhaps the fear of flimsiness in my Initial Report was misplaced. If I’m careful to give the cap a slight twist when replacing it I have not had a repeat of its falling off.
I tested the whistle (it works) and have adjusted the compression straps to cinch the pack’s contents down, most often to take account of the presence or absence of the cooking system (no mishaps and no slippage).
Fit. By adjusting the shoulder straps, hip belt, and sternum strap I get a good, tight fit regardless of the number or bulk of the layers between my back and the pack. The Bumper Issue sits slightly higher on my back than another daypack I own. I prefer this for stability and balance.
Summary. I rate The Bumper Issue as an excellent daypack for general use. I particularly like its compartments, reflective strips, durability, and good looks. I really can’t think of anything to change.
LONG TERM REPORT
March 21, 2010
I have continued to use The Bumper Issue as my daypack of choice, and have broadened its use to biking (the sport for which Crumpler promotes it). All testing has been in North Texas, at temperatures between 30 and 70 F (-1 to 21 C) in sun, overcast, light rain, and, this past weekend to celebrate the arrival of spring, a snowstorm. For true day hikes (a planned walk that lasts at least two hours) I’ve packed a rain jacket, energy bars, extra insulating layer, and assorted gadgets (sunscreen, lip balm, headlamp, blister kit, pocket knife, bottle opener, corkscrew, food container, actual contents turning on time of day and whether lunch is planned). My car keys and mobile phone are usually stashed in one of the front pockets.
Shorter walks, usually to provide exercise and an opportunity for bodily functions for my two dogs, have continued. As noted in my Field Report I simply grab the pack from its peg near the door and strap it on.
Through the five-month test period I estimate having worn the pack on fifteen day hikes, thirty dog walks, and three leisurely bike rides.
Little new to report – The Bumper Issue has continued to meet my needs with aplomb and style. Rather than repeat the findings in my Field Report I shall point to two aspects of this very useful daypack that I particularly like.
If anything I have come to appreciate the design of the hydration system even more. If I carefully arrange the spout to come about four inches (10 cm) through the sleeve on the shoulder strap I can often grab a drink merely by turning my head – no hands needed. I found this especially pleasant when on my bike. This requires, of course, leaving the bite valve cover off, but doing so hasn’t meant losing it or its getting tangled up in any of my gear or clothing.
Both the bite valve and the connection of the drinking tube to the bladder are welded. I haven’t been able to remove them with moderate pressure, so I think this is intentional. This brings good news and bad news. The good news is no leaks, none at all, a compliment that I cannot pay to any other water bladder hydration system that I have ever used. The bad news is that I must remove the entire system (bladder, tube, and bite valve) from the pack to refill the container, meaning that I must remove and then re-thread the tube through its sleeve. So far that’s been a minor inconvenience, as its two liters/quarts’ capacity has sufficed for each of my day hikes. The slider at the top of the bag has also not resulted in any dripping, and makes it very easy to refill the bladder once I’ve removed it from the pack, thanks to the wide mouth at the top. The mouth makes for easy cleaning and faster drying as well.
The Bumper Issue isn’t the lightest weight daypack I own; in fact it’s heavier than even a pack from another manufacturer that flouts the ultralight trend with impunity. This fact bothers me not at all. When I’m carrying a heavy load I’m not wearing a daypack. The heavier materials that Crumpler has put into this pack have added durability and functionality that are more than worth a few extra ounces/grams. The pack has a few smudges from brush and snow, but I’ve been able to remove any major grit and grime with a dabbing of warm soapy water. The pack looks almost like new. The reflective patches are large and visible, great for twilight walks and bike rides. The extra zippers that secure the pockets on the front really help organize my kit.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I have nothing truly negative to report. Any annoyance with refilling the water bladder is offset by not finding the pack’s contents or my shirt damp from a drip – and if I plan refilling my water supply along the trail I can always substitute a different water bladder. A regret – the inside sleeve/compartment at the front of the pack isn’t quite large enough for the blade of my backcountry shovel, so this pack isn’t really suited for my style of skiing.
As for other good things, I continue to like the bright colors and easy-to-operate compression straps. I look forward to years of use of this sturdy and functional hydration pack.
My Test Report ends here, with thanks to Crumpler and BackpackGearTest.org for the testing opportunity.
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