It seemed every ride with the Thule Rail revealed yet another neat feature. Koroyd spine protection? Cool! A unique strap system that keeps the pack stable on your back? Wow! A magnetic hose attachment that actually works? Are you kidding me?
The Rail immediately sets itself apart from other hydration packs as soon as you slip it on. That’s because the shoulder straps wrap around your arms more dramatically than most packs. The attachment point at the pack itself is higher up under the armpits, so when you tighten the straps, the bag feels locked in place. By tightening the chest and hip straps, you’ll ensure the pack stays in place, even when jumping and dropping. When it’s time to climb, just pull on the orange tabs to loosen everything up again. It’s quick and easy, and it offers best-in-class stability.
The Rail is also the first hydration pack to use Koroyd as a spine protector, according to Thule. You’ll recognize this green honeycomb material from Smith helmets. It’s designed to distribute impact forces more efficiently, and it’s breathable and lightweight. The pack includes two Koroyd panels for Enduro riders, but you can remove one or both if you want to ditch some weight on your Trail ride.
As the name suggests, this is a 12-liter pack, which would certainly be too large for XC riders. It’s intended for enduro riders, but we’ve found it’s also ideal for most trail rides. There’s ample room for food, tools, a jacket, and lots of water (the pack includes a 2.5-liter bladder). And the straps on the outside of the pack allow for easy helmet stowage.
The ReTrakt hose impresses, too. In fact, it was perhaps the biggest standout feature on the Rail because this magnetic hose retention system actually works. Instead of using one small magnet near the bite valve to secure the hose in place, the ReTrakt system consists of a sleeve on the hose that integrates a long magnet into it. There’s another long, thin magnet mounted to the shoulder strap, so when you’re done drinking, just let the hose flop down. The magnet will automatically grab it and line it up with your shoulder strap. It’s a bit of genius.
There were just about no downsides to our experience with the Rail. The only problem we could find was some chafing on the back panel. There’s a piece of material that runs down the center of the back panel, and another that loops down in a U-shape from the sides of the pack. We noticed some rubbing on very hot days when we were wearing a thin tech tee, but it wasn’t severe enough to cause much discomfort. It was noticeable but not problematic.
Aside from that one nitpick, the Rail thoroughly impressed. The Covert color makes this rugged pack look the part, too. We wouldn’t hesitate to reach for this pack on everyday Trail rides, all-day adventures, and Enduro race days.
This pack hits store shelves in February 2019.