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planetFear - Rock Climbing, Adventure Racing, Mountain Biking

Megamouth 18

Review by Customer Review
Monday 11th September 2006

The North Face Megamouth Hydration Pack

Part of North Face’s extensive range of hydration packs, the Megamouth is aimed at the ‘all day’ end of the market be that for biking, bouldering, skiing or simply a jaunt in the hills.

The reservoir holds 3-litres and the pack itself has 18-litres of storage which I found was more than adequate for a long day mountain biking in the Alps - allowing storage for tools, tubes, food, windproof and even an SLR camera with spare lens. 

The storage is split across 3 compartments with the reservoir securely tucked away in its own zipped section to prevent damage from objects you maybe carrying.  The main compartment is large and suitable for bulky items such as camera and clothing.  The next has several useful Velcro pockets, dividers and a mesh zipped section which I found allowed quick access to things like mobile and wallet. 

Between the second compartment and the final outer one is a mesh pouch that can be stretched to fit things like a bike helmet (unfortunately a full-face biking or skiing helmet won’t fit which is a shame). 

The final small outer compartment has some mesh dividers and an external bungee system for securing items or simply tightening the pack.  Although I liked the extensibility of this mesh pouch when carrying lots of stuff I did feel that the versatility of the pack could be improved with the option of completely removing this whole outer compartment for shorter days when less was required.  However the four external compression straps do hold this compartment in when not required.

The pack is very comfortable in use and fits snuggly helped by the “Molded E-VAP™ back panel with airflow” and the removable waist and chest straps.  I didn’t like the removable clip attachment on the chest strap as I nearly lost it on several occasions as it fell off.  It does however have an emergency whistle on the buckle which is a nice touch. 

Unfortunately what let the pack down slightly in my opinion as a hydration pack is the “CXC Nalgene Reservoir” and more specifically the “Quick-Connect Hose” system.  This innovative valve allows you to unclip the hose, remove the reservoir to fill with water then re-clip the hose without the faff of re-routing the hose.  In theory it’s an excellent innovation but in practice on my reservoir the valve didn’t securely clip so I experienced several occasions when I was unable to drink as the hose had unclipped itself.  This means taking the pack off, re-clipping and hoping that the hose will remain attached.

The fill opening on the reservoir is smaller than others on the market but at 63mm it is specifically designed to fit ‘standard’ water purifying devices.  The “Articulated Bite Me™ Valve” with useful magnetic clip to secure the tube during activity allows good water flow when drinking and can be locked by turning 90 degrees to prevent leaks when not in use.  The reservoir is also coated with “Aquaguard” to prevent the growth of mold.  I have yet to experience bacterial growth after a month of use though past experience has taught me to frequently wash reservoirs.

All in all as a small day pack the Megamouth is excellent.  However as a hydration pack it was let down slightly by the innovative “Quick Connect Hose” system that unfortunately didn’t work well on the reservoir in the pack I was testing. 

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