LEATT H2 HYDRATION SYSTEM

HYDRATION YOU WILL LOVE BUT NOT NOTICE

You probably know Leatt as a neck brace company, but the company has expanded to peripheral products affecting its neck braces. Leatt now offers a variety of products, like chest protectors, body-armor suits and hydration systems that integrate perfectly with the brace and your other riding gear. USWE worked with Leatt to design the H2 and H4 high-performance hydration systems so they wouldn’t make the rider feel bound up when the hydration pack was added to a chest protector and a Leatt brace. They succeeded so well that the H2 and H4 are far and away our favorite hydration systems. The secret is the ultra-light and super-adjustable hydration harness. The straps are not like a normal backpack, but more of a cross-your-heart affair, with a single- clip fastener in the middle of your chest. The weight is distributed evenly, the pack doesn’t move around, and it doesn’t restrict arm movement in any way. Every strap is instantly adjustable, so it is easy to wear with or without a chest protector. The pack is also insulated to keep the liquid cool.

Some big issues with hydration systems are fit and comfort, but the other sticking point is the bladder. It has to be easy to fill, resist punctures and leakage, and be easy to clean. Leatt handles all of these issues with a disposable bladder. The bag itself is totally clear, so it is easy to see if it is clean. The bag feels like cellophane and even makes crackling noises when you move it around while filling it. It has a molded-in hard plastic neck with a screw-on top. The opening is small but easy to fill. Simply pull the hose off the cap, unscrew it, fill it, and put the cap back on. Push the hose back on and drop the bladder in the pack. Easy. After a year of constant use on quads, motorcycles and almost daily on the mountain bike, the bladder is still like new. A new one costs $15 when we need one, but so far there have been no problems.

Both the H2 and H4 use the same 85-ounce bladder, but the $69 H2 has one pocket that will hold a wallet or a cell phone, though not both. You can also get the H2 with a Helmet Hands- Free (HHF) kit for $99. The HHF is a quick-disconnect system that allows you to run the hose to your helmet and keep it attached full-time. You can purchase it separately for $35. The $99 H4 has all the same features and the same outstanding fit as the H2, but has an additional pocket capacity. It will carry a few tools, a light jacket, snacks, your wallet and phone with no problem. We use the H2 for racing, track riding and when bicycle training. When we ride off- road, we take the H4.

THE VERDICT

In the world of hydration, Camelback is the household name. We checked our local sporting goods superstore for some Camelback prices to compare value. The Camelback Classic hydration pack is comparable to the H2, though at 70 ounces, it holds less. It runs $58.99, but is binding, bounces around when worn outside a chest protector and doesn’t really fit right with a neck brace. The 100-ounce Camelback Mule holds more water than the H4 and has similar, if less usable, storage and, of course, isn’t designed for ATV use. Even worse, Camelback gives a portion of each sale to radical groups that want to end motorized recreation. Leatt, which fits awe- some, never makes you feel bound up and supports riding opportunities and riders, making it the clear winner in hydration packs.

View the Leatt line at www.leatt- brace.com or call (888) 651-3431.

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