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Thule Vital 3L Women review: an excellent hydration pack for cycling and running

The Thule Vital 3L Women is a compact hydration pack that won’t weigh you down

Thule Vital 3L women
(Image: © Thule)

Our Verdict

The Thule Vital 3L Women hydration pack is very comfortable, designed with excellent women-specific hipbelt and harness, I nominated this as the best on test as a cycling hydration pack, but it can be used when walking and running too.

For

  • Easy to reach external phone and snack pockets
  • Magnetic sleeve on hydration hose auto connects to shoulder strap

Against

  • Hose cover picks up metal shavings
  • One colour

First Impressions

The versatile Thule Vital 3L Women is marketed at mountain bikers, but this hydration pack can be taken on the trail by runners and walkers too. The pack is suspended on a mesh harness, and has a main compartment that’s positioned low for comfort and stability. Inside there is an internal sleeve for the reservoir, a vertical tube for a pump, and a zip pocket for tools (you can of course use these spaces for other items if you’re walking or running).

The Thule Vital Women’s Hydrapack bladder hose feeds from the reservoir pocket through a guide loop at the top of the pack harness. It has a magnetic sleeve near the bite valve, so when you let go of the hose after sucking down a few mouthfuls of water, it clicks securely against the shoulder strap instead of flapping around.

Specifications

RRP: $100 (US) / £95 (UK)
Weight: 55g /1.21lb
Volume: 3L / 183 cu in (plus 1.75L / 59 oz reservoir)
Sizes: One harness size
Colours: Alaska

In the field

When I’m out for a long haul, I need a hydration pack to carry water for the day, as well as extra layers, tools, and emergency gear. The Thule Vital 3L Women's hydration pack is a minimalist backpack that carries 1.75 liters of water, plus all the gear I needed with room to spare. Even so, wearing it feels more like riding with a hip pack than a backpack, partly because the mesh harness is fully breathable, so I felt like I had less on my back. Also, because the Vitale keeps weight low, even a full pack pulled less on my shoulders and put less strain on my back than other packs.

The reservoir valve has good flow and was easy to turn off and on to prevent accidental spills. The bladder is easy both to fill and close, but because the reservoir doesn’t have a stiffener like some others, it has to be clipped to the back of the pack, or it will sag and feel lumpy inside the pack, which would also make it harder to drink.

The Vitale’s main pack bag held plenty of gear, even with the 1.75-liter reservoir filled to the brim. But the handiest storage was the Velcro-close jersey-style pockets in the hip belt that held snacks, hex wrenches, and my phone where I could reach them without taking the pack off. The wing-shaped hipbelt and the mesh harness made this the most comfortable cycling hydration pack I’ve ever used. The unpadded hip belt stabilized the load without needing to be ridiculously tight. And the women-specific shoulder straps and torso design really made a difference.