I had been using the Hydrapak Morro on a few local bike rides here and there, enjoying its roominess, but never realizing its full potential until I took it with me on a recent mountain biking vacation in the desert. Equipped with a 100-oz. reservoir (3 liters) and 800 cubic inches (13.1 liters) of food/gear storage, it is noticeably larger than my slim-fitting go-to hydration pack. While, I typically shy away from slinging the Morro over my shoulder on shorter, close-to-home rides, it was the ideal companion to take with me on Southwest Utah’s singletrack. If you don’t want to worry about conserving water on your 21-mile epic mountain bike ride, or need additional space for food, tools and layers, the Morro’s for you.
Featuring a large main compartment with two zippered pockets, a vertical storage pocket and dual side pockets, this pack is perfect for those of us “over the top” organizers. Seriously, there’s a place for everything. I like to stash my spare tube and tire levers in the side pockets, my food in the large bottom storage pocket, and my pump and any other tools and layers of clothing in the main compartment. My water reservoir goes in a dedicated zippered pocket on the back panel, so nothing gets wet in the event of a spill—not that I’m worried, the clip that seals it shut works wonderfully.
Once it’s properly adjusted, the Morro feels comfortable while riding. Ventilated corrugated foam shoulder straps and a soft moisture wicking back panel keep me from sweating through the back of my jersey on hot rides.
My husband teases me about this, but it really aggravates me when adjustable waist straps dangle from any backpack of mine—and particularly on my hydration pack. Once adjusted to my waist, there is typically an excess of strap left over, and I feel as if I am forever folding and tucking so as not to feel the straps against my legs. This is especially true on the bike. What’s worse than trying to tuck in a strap that’s come undone while you’re riding (or, worse, racing), you ask? Not much. Sure, I could cut them to fit, but then my packs would only be useful for one person, and I like to share. Hyrapak’s Morro offers a solution to my overly-dramatic dilemma: side pockets on the waist strap. Sold.
The Morro's water reservoir features a quick disconnect on the tube so you can fill it up without worrying about unfeeding the hose from the pack. There's also a ziplock like seal on the inside of the reservoir. When sealed, water stays in two chambers, slimming down the reservoir's profile. The bite valve releases water a bit slower than I'm used to, but I can only see this being an issue in a race. A magnetic feature keeps the end of the tube in place.
I have to admit, the first time I took the Morro with me on a trail, I was hiking during winter. After I removed the bladder—my water would have frozen—it transformed into the perfect little backpack to store my food, outer layers and insulated water bottle. The dual compression straps located on either side of the pack even allowed me to carry my condensed trekking poles on my back when I didn’t need them to hike anymore. However, in order to get anything out of the main compartment, you'll need to unclip the compression straps, which is a bit annoying.
I haven’t been on one in a few months, but I can certainly see this pack being the perfect size to accompany me on a bikepacking trip. For those of you riding in the mountains, where weather is typically unpredictable, the Morro is sized right to fit a few layers and a rain jacket. And if you’re riding in the desert any time soon and find yourself low on water, like I did, you’ll be happy to know there’s room to store an extra bladder.
Other features include reflective fabric, a smooth-feeling slider sternum strap and a removable waist strap. Made of 210D Baby Ripstop Nylon and 100D Trilobal Nylon Construction, the Morro weighs in at 1lb, 13 oz. MSRP: $124.99