Mountain Gear

Reviewed: Acre’s weatherproof Hauser mountain bike pack

The Acre Hauser pack is burly, stylish, functional, and very expensive

Bring a little style, a little form with your function. Bring big storage, big straps, a weatherproof hide and superior adjustability. Bring a slimmed-down, close-to-body fit, a bag that expands vertically instead of away from my center of gravity. Bring fabrics that feel like they’d hold up to a few years of crashes and bad weather, getting crunched under bikes in the back of a pickup and maybe attacked by a trail dog or two. Bring made-in-the-USA.

Bring these things to the table and maybe, just maybe, I’ll pay twice as much for your pack, compared to other very good options.

San Francisco-based Acre, an offshoot of Mission Workshop, makes a bag called the Hauser, in 10- and 14-liter versions. It brings all these things, and a price tag to match.

It’s an excellent pack at what, for some, will be a prohibitive price — $195, plus $35 if you want a hydration bladder. That’s $95 more than the Camelbak MULE, a long-time favorite. It’s $80 more than the Osprey Raptor, one of the best packs of 2014.

Is it worth it? As with anything, it depends.

Fit

The 10-liter Hauser, tested and reviewed here, is relatively narrow, extending vertically along the spine rather than out and away from a rider’s back. This increases the pack’s footprint, and thus makes it slightly warmer than more compact options like the MULE. It also keeps weight close to a rider’s center of gravity, resulting in a more solid and stable feel. Even a full pack stays admirably planted.

The Hauser offers a wider range of adjustability than most packs. The shoulder and waist straps have multiple anchor points and can be easily tuned depending on rider size and body type. The waist strap can also be removed entirely.

The sternum strap is adjustable, and sits in a comfortable position across the chest.

Despite the available adjustments, the Hauser’s tall profile may not work for very small riders.

Features

Weatherproofing is outstanding. The Hauser is capable of handling anything short of being thrown in a lake (and, even then, it would likely keep your gear dry for a little while). This is perhaps the feature the sets the Hauser furthest apart from its peers. While many packs come with a stashable waterproof cover, the Hauser’s nylon, ripstop exterior fabric, covered in a waterproof laminate, can handle the elements without requiring a mid-ride stop to unzip a cover.

To this end, no detail has been ignored. The zippers are urethane-coated, making them waterproof (or as close to waterproof as a zipper can be), and all seams are taped. The roll-top closure, a design borrowed from the company’s urban bags, keeps water out effectively, even when temporarily submerged.

The back panel is not made of the same waterproof material, of course. It sits away from the rest of the bag and is made of a hexagonal mesh foam. It wicks and cools well, though not as well as the innovative back panel on the new Camelbak MULE NV pack.

All hardware is made in the USA by National Molding, and looks and feels rugged.

The single, large main compartment is augmented by four smaller, weatherproof exterior pockets. The outermost pocket, with a vertical zipper, holds a well-apportioned tool roll, a tube, pump, tools, a bit of extra sealant, and more. The tool roll comes with every pack sold.

The bottom pocket holds a set of tie-down straps, intended to work in conjunction with a set of straps near the top of the bag to hold a full-face helmet and/or pads. For those looking for a different sort of adventure, the straps are also long enough to hold a sleeping pad or bag, or even a small tent.

Between the straps hidden in the lower pocket and two other sets of straps on the back of the bag, just about anything can be held securely. Attach the bottom and middle straps to hold a helmet, or the middle and upper straps to hold the roll-top down, or carry a rolled up jacket (as pictured above).

The top pocket is a valuables carryall. It has plenty of space for a phone, keys, wallet, and more.

The fourth pocket is a low-profile cubby on the side of the pack. For those frequent social sharers among us, it’s a great spot to hide a phone for relatively easy access.

The hydration compartment features a long zipper that extends three-quarters of the way around the bag for a bladder. The Hauser is compatible with three-liter bladders from most major hydration pack brands. The company does not make its own, but will sell you a bag with a bladder from Hydrapak or Camelbak for an extra $35. The hose can be routed over or under either shoulder. Small clips on the shoulder straps hold the hose in place — a magnetic clip, often found on many cheaper packs, is conspicuously absent.

The size is perfect for a full day on the bike. The main compartment has plenty of room for clothes and food, while the smaller pockets hold items that may need to be accessed more quickly. Three liters of water is plenty for a single day.

If you’re the type that can never seem to pack light, look to the 14-liter version. It’s not any taller, just a bit wider.

Is it worth $200?

Perhaps. It certainly looks better than most packs; the fabric is thicker, with better feel, and of course dramatically improved weather resistance. It feels more durable as well. Colors are muted. The Hauser looks at home in the woods. Lovers of neon need not apply.

It’s versatile, too. All those external straps make it highly flexible.

It’s too big for two-hour rides, and the back panel venting is only average. But the big, wide, adjustable waist strap provides comfort all day — or days.

If you dig the unique look, that might be enough to convince you to fork over the extra cash. It will not disappoint. The Hauser is cleverly designed, meticulously built, and capable handling anything you can throw at it.

We like: Fabric choice is spot on, and build quality is excellent. Highly adjustable for body type and riding style. Weatherproof.
We don’t like: The price is high, and the back panel could vent better. May not fit riders with short torsos.
Retail price: $195, plus $35 for a Hydapak or Camelbak bladder.