The Platypus Tokul XC 8 Hydration Pack is a great water and load hauler for off-road gravel riding and mountain biking. While it can be used for multiple sports, it’s optimized for cyclists who prefer a hydration pack over water bottles and has plenty of well-organized storage for a pump, spare tubes, tools, personal effects and snacks. The Tokul XC 8 also includes a leak-proof Platypus Big Zip 3L hydration bladder with a wide-mouth sip-tube and a quick-disconnect hose for easy refills.
Specs at a Glance
- Gear Capacity: 6L
- Reservoir Capacity 3L
- Total Weight: 1 lb 8 oz
- Pack Weight: 1 lb 3 oz
- Reservoir Weight 6 oz
- Dimensions: 18″ x 6″ x 7.5″
- Features: ventilated back panel, helmet carry stash pocket, light loop, reflective detailing, hydration reservoir/hose, internal pockets optimized for cyclists
The Tokul XC 8 is mesh backed where it touches your back with wide air flow channels to help dry back sweat. Ridged foam padding around the mesh perimeter helps pad the pack but is soft enough that it conforms to your back shape, keeping the internal hydration bladder as close to your core muscles as possible for maximum efficiency and weight control.
The Tokul XC 8 uses the leak-proof Platypus Big Zip 3.0 hydration system which is specially designed to make it easy to refill and clean. The hydration bladder closes with a zip lock instead of a twist cap, making it much easier to refill in standing water or rinse out. The zip lock is held closed with a sliding handle which locks the top closed so it can’t leak, makes it easy to carry the bladder standalone, or attach it to hooks inside the hydration pack. Suspending the bladder helps prevents kinks in the hose that can block water flow and provides a stronger gravity assist so you have to suck less on the mouthpiece.
The hydration hose can be easily disconnected at the based of the bladder with a quick release mechanism, so you can remove the bladder to refill it without having to rethread the hose. The hose threads through a hydration port in the center of the pack while shoulder strap hydration loops let you keep it under control. The end of the hose connects to the end of the sternum strap with a magnet to keep it from dangling.
The mouthpiece has a lock on it to prevent accidental leakage, a must-have feature for a higher capacity hydration packs. However, the mouthpiece is uncovered and does not include a cap, which is suboptimal since it can get dirty. A separate cap is available separately.
The Tokul XC 8 has three storage areas. There’s a hydration pocket to hold the hydration system which is flush against the pack of the pack. Behind that, is a full length pocket for gear and tool storage, and on the outside of the pack, a open stretch mesh pocket makes it easy to store your helmet or extra layers.
- The hydration pocket is sized for the 3L Big Zip reservoir and has two side hooks for handing the reservoir from.
- The middle pocket has many small pockets for storing tubes, tire pump, tools, CO2 cylinders, snacks, and a cell phone. Many of the pockets are made with mesh so you can see what’s in them. While anyone can use it, the pocket organization is really ideal for cycling.
- The outer mesh pocket is large enough to store your bike helmet or for stashing extra thermal and rain layers. There’s also another external pocket on the outside that’s perfectly sized for carrying maps and travel documents.
Shoulder Straps and Hip Belt
The Tokul’s shoulder straps are ventilated to help reduce sweat buildup. They’re thin, mesh-covered foam that is itself perforated to increase air flow. The Tokul also has a hip strap, really just a pice of webbing to cinch around your waist. This doesn’t provide any load transfer, but is good for off-road cycling, to keep the pack in contact with your back and from jumping around.
The Platypus Tokul XC 8 Hydration Pack is a great hydration and gear carrying system for off-road cycling. I got started using it for gravel-bike trips on backcountry roads and when bikepacking to store my water, gear, and tools. Using a lightweight hydration pack for water and the little stuff helped free up my bike’s attachment points for the frame bags that I use to haul camping gear, fishing gear, and food on longer trips. The Tokul has also proven useful for more urban riding, so I can step away from my bike and take my valuables with me without having to worry about someone riffling through my bike bags and ripping off my stuff.
I’m honestly a little surprised by how much I like the Tokul XC 8. It’s easy to ride with because it’s so low profile and curves to your back. The back ventilation is great so you hardly know you’re wearing it. The hydration system is much easier to drink with than bottles when off-road, and the storage is great for carrying bike repair gear. Highly recommended!
Disclosure: Platypus provided the author with a sample pack for this review.