Henty takes a new approach to the best way to carry your gear on the trail…
Words: Toni Walbridge
Photos: Misti Walbridge, Steve Cotton
Henty is a bicycle soft-goods manufacturer out of Tasmania, Australia that has recently expanded into the mountain bike market with their Enduro Backpack. Up until recently, their focus has been on crafting some very nice looking bags for commuter cyclists that promise to get your suit, laptop, and essentials to the office safe and dry. Henty has now turned their eye towards improving the way mountain bikers carry their gear and have come up with a fresh new approach to how we haul our ride essentials. The Enduro Backpack is what I would describe as a hybrid backpack / fanny pack with a rather unusual style. We put it to the test over the past few months and found that it’s actually a pretty well designed, highly functional piece of gear packed with thoughtful details and quality materials.
One of the first things I noticed about the Henty pack is that they managed to keep the Enduro Backpack remarkably light at a claimed weight of 550g. The pack we tested actually weighed in slightly under that claim at 524g. To put this in perspective, a Dakine Drafter backpack I have on hand weighs in at 1010g, nearly double the Enduro Backpack. Even the minimalist Dakine Hotlaps fanny pack that I normally ride with weighs in at 202g and it has only a small fraction of the capacity. This is even more impressive considering the pack is constructed of durable 500D Cordura and is covered in pockets, molle style loops, and heavy-duty zippers. Another key feature is weight distribution. While Henty did add shoulder straps for stability, almost all of the weight of the pack is down low on the rider’s hips just like a fanny pack. The entire top half of the pack is constructed mainly of light weight mesh and molded foam. Riding with the Henty pack, I never had a sense of any weight resting on my shoulders.
In terms of outright carrying capacity, the Enduro Backpack slots in closer to a full sized backpack than a fanny pack. Under the main flap, there’s a large compartment rated for up to a 3L bladder where the hose can notably be routed up either shoulder strap. Behind the bladder pocket there’s an additional separate zippered pocket perfect for cell phones, wallets, and keys. There are also a couple of zippered mesh compartments under the main flap to keep tools and supplies organized and a couple elastic mesh pockets in the main compartment area for bulky items. Probably my favorite pockets are the ones on the hip belt. I could easily fit my Sony RX100V camera in one and plenty of ride snacks in the other. Although, the hip pockets are a little too small to fit a phone unless you’re still rocking a StarTac. Another feature to call out, are all the molle style loops for stowing gear and food. I found that my pump fit snugly in a couple of those loops and others were useful for things like storing gels or other quick snacks. All summed up, this bag is a pack-rat’s dream.
One of the ways Henty kept the weight light is to use a semi-open design where much of your gear is attached to very light external loops or stowed in light weight mesh pockets. The down side to this weight savings approach is that it takes a little more thought and organization to get everything stowed just right. It’s worth noting that anything stowed in those mesh pockets under the main flap or on outside loops is subject to getting wet or caked in mud or dust. This never really resulted in measurable harm during my test but I could see my gear potentially getting pretty caked after a super-muddy ride. Since both of my current bikes have water bottle cages, I wound up doing a few rides using the Henty pack just to carry tools, food, and a jacket. In the absence of the water bladder, the Henty sits very close and is nearly invisible while riding.
Riding around carrying next to nothing in the pack does kind of defeat the purpose of the Enduro Backpack. Wouldn’t you agree? Rest assured, I did put its load capacity to the test. I loaded it up for a big ride with no less than a full 3L water bladder, a multi-tool, Leatherman, allen key set, a pump, saw, gorilla tape, zip ties, a full medical kit, flashlight, my favorite wet weather riding jacket, camera, enough snacks to keep me going all day, and probably several other things that I’m forgetting. This is the point where the somewhat polarizing design of fannypack + backpack straps really shined. The Enduro Backpack, despite being arguably overloaded, managed this load with ease and stayed put no matter how rowdy the trails got.
But is it hot like a backpack? Well, it’s warmer than no pack, or a fanny pack but the mesh and molded foam upper back and straps are certainly cooler than any normal backpack. Most of my riding with the Enduro Backpack was done through the winter months where this was never really an issue. Another amusing touch – Henty included velcro patches outside the main pocket in case you want to personalize your pack. Could be a great spot for reflective patches or maybe something proclaiming your allegiance to a riding club or race team. Or, just have a little fun with it.
So did I find my new perfect pack for every-day use? That depends. Evaluated on functionality, materials, and construction, there’s little to want for. In terms of long-term durability, after a few months use there are no signs of wear. All of the stitching, zippers, and buckles are top quality materials and I have no doubt that it will last a long time. My only hesitation in making this my go-to pack is that most of the time, I just don’t need this much capacity. Most of my rides are 2 to 4 hours on trails I know well around my home town where I take a “less is more” approach to what I carry. Typically, this means a few basic tools and supplies and maybe a SteriPen for water replenishment on the fly. This all fits quite handily in a small fanny-pack. Where I do see making good use of the Henty Enduro Pack is on those really long days in the saddle where I might feel compelled to carry extra spares and food. That said, I fully recognize that not everyone appreciates the minimalist approach, and if that’s you, I highly recommend you take a close look at the Henty Enduro Backpack.