When the Dakine Seeker 15L showed up, I dreaded testing it. I’d prefer not to mountain bike while wearing a pack. Too often hydration packs throw off my balance. And at three pounds empty, this bag felt like total overkill. Then I wore it for several days of six-hour rides at Vermont’s amazing 200-plus-mile Kingdom Trails singletrack oasis last month and it totally changed my mind about the Dakine.

Because weight doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Seeker carries exceptionally well. Even when I tossed in food, filled the Hydrapak reservoir with 70 ounces of water, and added a pump, spare tube, and tools as well as a camera, the mesh trampoline design kept the heat off my back and the load didn’t shift around while I was bombing trails. Plus the waist belt is pre-curved to ride a little bit higher, hugging your hips at the back, but not digging into your gut where it clasps in front.

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Dakine clearly thought through the entire design, too. For instance, the reservoir is square and rather than ride vertically against the length of your spine, slots into its own sleeve at the bottom of the Seeker. That way the heaviest item you’re hauling can’t slosh upward and throw you off kilter when you’re trying to survive a g-out off the back side of what you thought was a straightforward roller. And while the built-in spine protector that Dakine added to both its bike and ski packs adds weight, it also stiffens the back panel, forming a pre-curved frame that arcs the weight from the top of the pack into your hips, again adding stability. While I wasn’t loving the stout, 200-denier ripstop fabric exterior, it proved durable after I took a nice digger and is waterproof enough that I could just hose it down to remove caked-on mud.

The integrated helmet carry system is an especially handy extra if your local trails require a lot of sessioning long climbs, and it’ll expand to fit a full-face lid.

The Seeker is versatile enough to use for day hikes, too, with multiple bar-tacked loops for attaching extra layers with the integrated strap system or with carabiners, but I wish Dakine had made the hip belt removable, the better for using the pack while rock climbing or anywhere you might need a harness.

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If you want an all-day pack for mountain biking though, that’s hardly a deal breaker. Because the Seeker is so supremely comfortable it’s changed my mind about riding with a pack. Or at least mountain biking with this pack.

$225 | BUY


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