The WilsonPac by VestPac
Hailing from the rugged mountain town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, VestPac produces an interchangeable range of lightweight, breathable hydration packs and waterproof products. The company originally designed their low profile packs for use underneath jackets in the cool mountain climate where carrying bulky or heavy gear generates unnecessary sweat. Coincidentally, the same attributes that make a hydration pack good for use in the mountains also lend themselves well to SUP.
The WilsonPac by VestPac is constructed with the outdoor company’s patented 3D Airmesh material intended to wick moisture away from your body during use. The WilsonPac has an integrated front panel with a variety of pockets and attachment options to hold an assortment of items from keys or a whistle to a cell phone and snacks. A list of features includes the following:
Two pockets with security flaps
Key ring clip
Four adjustable elastic straps
3D Airmesh construction
1 L BPA free hydration bladder with a 360 degree bite valve
Alligator clamp style clip for adjusting the placement of the drinking tube
Weight, 16.9 oz
SUP Examiner’s Take
The WilsonPac by VestPac delivers a high degree of performance and comfort that meets the needs of stand up paddling. SUP Examiner tested the WilsonPac in a range of paddling scenarios from recreational paddling, sprint training, countless buoy turns and racing. We even jumped in the water with it to test how well the VestPac 3D Airmesh material drains when wet.
The four adjustable elastic straps enable you to size the WilsonPac to fit any body shape, man or woman, and most importantly, they hold the hydration bladder firmly in place on your back. You will not experience any sloshing around to distract you from your primary task of paddling. The pack just sits comfortably in the background and allows you to enjoy your time on the water. Additionally, the 3D Airmesh material and elastic straps are soft enough to wear against your bare skin – an important consideration for female paddlers.
The height of the WilsonPac’s front panel can be adjusted to suit your personal preferences. The pockets are easy to use and a nice size to securely hold a few necessary small items such as a phone, snacks and lip balm. The design and dimensions of the pockets are well thought out and you don’t have to worry about fishing around for an item while balancing on your board.
The 1 L BPA free hydration bladder included with a 360 degree bite valve works well and is a sufficient size for the majority of paddlers. The drinking tube can be disconnected from the bladder itself for cleaning, but be sure it is attached when filling the bladder to prevent liquid from draining from the drinking tube’s attachment point. The hydration bladder’s design could be improved by employing a one-way valve to allow one to remove the drink tube for cleaning and filling the hydration bladder without the contents draining out. Being able to detach the drinking tube would come in handy when filling the hydration bladder and alleviate the drinking tube from getting in the way and flopping around in the sink during filling.
Components of the 1 L VestPac hydration bladder.
Another potential design improvement for the hydration bladder would be to do away with the screw cap opening for filling the bladder and use a top loading style opening similar to the one designed by MOCKE and used in the MOCKE Rapid Hydration Bladder. The advantage to a top loading style opening is it allows users to easily access to clean and dry your hydration bladder after use. It would also enable users to hold the hydration bladder in a more natural upright position during filling.
The included alligator clamp style clip for positioning the drinking tube to the shoulder strap is a bit finicky and may come detached during use. VestPac has designed a hose clip which attaches to the shoulder straps and can be rotated to attain your preferred placement. The hose clip is available for an additional charge and resolves the issues encountered with the alligator clamp. Even so, we feel VestPac would be well served if they included the hose clip with the WilsonPac as we found it to be an essential, yet missing feature on the current design as it applies to the stand up paddling community.
Although we’ve recommended a couple of improvements to the hydration bladder, the VestPac itself met or exceeded our expectations in terms of the pack’s comfort and performance while stand up paddling. SUP Examiner has used this pack regularly for a number of years without encountering any wear or tear to the pack’s construction. It is a great design that should meet the needs of a wide range of users in the stand up paddling community from recreational paddlers looking for a functional hydration pack for their on the water excursions to top SUP athletes seeking a lightweight, high performing pack to assist them in attaining their goals.