High Sierra Tokopah 6.0
Test by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: February 4, 2017
This hydration pack is not yet listed on the web site but the High Sierra Tokopah 6.0 looks to be aimed at the runner or biker who will be out for several hours and needs to carry 2 L of water and have a way to keeps few other odds and ends with them. The camo color I’m testing might lend itself useful to a hunter out for a few hours but I’d actually prefer a brighter color for bike riding. I’m guessing that the 6.0 may indicate the volume of the pack pockets, but regardless, it is a small pack, basically sized just big enough to fit the 2.0 L bladder inside the back panel and with a corresponding main compartment on the front of the pack. This pocket measures about 8 inches wide by about 16 inches tall and is about 2 inches front to back. There is a small pocket on the inside back side big enough for a wallet, cellphone or camera and a key keeper just above it. The zipper goes all the way around the top half of the pack, stoping where the top of the helmet pocket starts. The helmet pocket is held snug around a helmet with adjustable straps but will also hold other small odd shaped items or even a rain jacket. It is not so big that a helmet wallows around inside the pocket. Here is the helmet holder deployed.
On the very front of the pack, over the helmet pocket, is another pocket that measures about 7 inches wide and 9 inches tall. It is not really thick front to back but it is plenty big to store even the biggest smart phone and still have lots of room left over. Inside it are 3 small mesh pockets to further organize the contents.
The material for the pack appears to be pretty rugged. I’m not sure if it is waterproof but the zippers are not so it would still let in some rain, which is why I like to carry a light rain jacket. I can easily fit one inside the main compartment or the helmet pocket. The pack is big enough to carry most of the things I like to carry on a bike ride of a few hours. Besides the 2 L of water and a rain jacket I will have room for a few snacks, my bike tools, a spare tube and most importantly, a small roll of toilet paper in a ziplock bag.
The bladder for this pack is a basic bladder with a basic mouth piece. In other words, it has no fancy disconnect or shutoff valve. Sometimes simpler is better but I do like my hydration bladders that have quick disconnects which make it easier to remove the bladder for cleaning and filling. And speaking of cleaning, I prefer flat top bladders that close like a big ziplock. It makes cleaning much easier and drying a snap. This bladder features a big jug type lid much like a Nalgen bottle would have. It is secured to the bladder with a plastic strap so there is no danger of loosing the lid. However, that strap is fastened to the pack with plastic clip located in the top of the bladder sleeve. This is nice for holding the bladder upright but I have found it almost impossible to disconnect the lid keeper from the clip. I finally managed to unsnap it but it was so difficult I’m seriously considering cutting the snap since the bladder sleeve is sized just big enough to hold the bladder and it should remain fairly upright inside it. Here is the snap.
Trying it out
After getting the snap undone I washed the inside with warm water and then refilled with cold. I shoved the bladder back in the sleeve and routed the hose back into the pack. The hose is plenty long and I also discovered it can be routed out either side of the pack. It is easy to drink from and does not leak so that is good. When I first tried to get a sip it wouldn’t let any water pass but I finally pulled on the mouth piece to try and remove it from the hose. When I did this it moved easily just a short distance and then felt stuck. I decided to try and get a drink again and water came rushing out. The instructions printed on the bag did not mention this so I just chalk it up to dumb luck.
I do have one small negative to point out. When the pack arrived the first thing I did was try it on. The shoulder straps are lightly padded and felt fine but the hip belt proved to be a tad short. I let it out all it would go thinking I would then tighten it to fit but it was immediately apparent it was too short. Now I’m not a skinny guy by any means but I was just a tad bit insulted. I stand about 5’11”, weigh about 240 lbs and wear size 38 jeans, however, this belt was a good 4 inches too short. Fortunately, the belt is not a big deal on this type pack unless I were planning to be doing a lot of running and jumping around. My knees won’t allow that and by tightening the shoulder straps good and snug it seems to ride just fine. I just tucked the straps inside the area they were fastened so they are out of the way and I can’t really feel them through the padding that rides next to my back.
That’s all for now, stay tuned for my next update to see how the hydration pack is working for me.
Update: April 22, 2017
I have been using the High Sierra Tokopah 6.0 hydration pack off and on for the past couple of months, mainly because I was sick with allergies and asthma for several weeks and I did not walk or ride my bike or Elliptigo at all for 3 weeks. I’m pretty much back to normal except for being out of shape so my rides are still fairly short. My longest rode was on April 20th for 13.2 miles in an hour and 14 minutes. However the ride lasted almost 2 hours because I had to stop and rest occasionally.
Before getting sick it was still pretty cool weather so I just filled the hydration bladder with faucet water. But the last 3 rides have been in temperatures at or slightly above 80 F. I noticed the water in the bladder was pretty warm by the end of a short 6 mile ride that took me 40 minutes so the next time I added a lot of ice. It was another short rides but my water was nice and cold, nearly too cold. On my most recent rode I used ice again and this time I almost finished the whole bladder. I had just a little ice and water left when I got home. What I noticed was if I waited 20 minutes or so between getting a drink the water came out very warm. It was really sunny and 84 degrees. I also noticed a plastic taste in the water more than on previous rides which I attribute to the warm water in the drinking hose.
I’ve dialed in my filling procedure and while I’m still not in love with this style bladder I’ve found an easier way to fill it. I take it out of the pouch it sits in but leave everything connected. This is where a detachable drinking tube would be nice. Anyways, I place the bladder and the pack on a chair in the kitchen and fill the bladder with a glass. Before this I was trying to fill it under the sink faucet and would get water on the pack material. No biggie but aggravating. I find that if I spin the lid attachment strap to the lower side of the opening and pull on it gently it opens the reservoir up so that water does not spill as I pour it in. I also pour in several glass fulls of ice in the same manner. This means I don’t quite get the blade full but I know it’s around 90% full which is plenty to get me through a 2 hour ride.
The one one thing I still don’t like about the bladder is trying to dry it. I don’t worry too much if I’m ridding every few days but when I know it will be a week or longer between uses I try to get it completely dry. A bigger opening or slider type seal across the top would be ideal.
On last thing I’ve noticed was that the pack does make my back sweat but not terrible bad. Of course real hot weather has not arrived yet. I did find that with ice in the bladder it was not as hot and this was on my hottest ride so far. However, I still felt like my back was getting warm and sweating more than if I were not wearing the pack. I kinda though the ice water would work to cool my back but the padding is just thick enough that it really don’t let it cool my back much. On the plus side I guess it helps insulate the bladder and keep the ice better.
As for the pack itself, I found it to ride very comfortable with a full load of water and a few items in the pack. I kept a light rain jacket in the main compartment and my keys, wallet and sometimes cell phone in the small pocket on the front. I also carried a fix-it-stick in the same pocket but in one of the flat mesh pockets. I have not ridden in the rain so I’m not sure how waterproof the pack is but I try to avoid ridding in rainy weather.
Final Update: August 6, 2012
I have now used the High Sierra Tokopah 6.0 for a couple hundred miles of bike riding. I fully intended to use it more with my ElliptiGo but I kept breaking spokes so parked it until I loose some weight. It is more practical on my ElliptiGo because I only have on bottle holder and no place to put panniers . I just pretended I didn’t have this option on my bike. The only time I didn’t use it was when riding my recumbent because the seat back prevented my from wearing it. So in my final update I will focus on how I used it on my fitness bike.
The pack itself is great! I have been able to carry everything I need on all my rides. Of course my rides have not been very long, I usually covered 10 to 15 miles in 2 hours or less. I always carried my house keys, rain jacket, a spare tube, a small tool set, some toilet paper and my bike lock. In all my rides I was lucky that I never needed the spare tube and only needed the bike lock a couple of times. I did use the bike tool a couple of times to adjust my saddle height and I used the rain jacket once when I got caught in a rain shower. I will not discuss the toilet paper…. Anyways, the pack was always comfortable to wear and not too bad in hotter weather. It helped that I stopped riding for several weeks in July and in the past few weeks I have tried to ride early in the day or late in the afternoon. I did ride once in the middle of the day when my wife called needing me to come move some things for her in her classroom. It was 91 F and I got hot during the 12 miles round trip. My back got even hotter even though I had some ice water in the bladder
Which brings me to the bladder. I loved having plenty of cold water on my rides. However, I did not like having to dry the bladder out after each ride. So, sometime I just refilled it and added a few drops of Clorox in it. I did this when I know it would probably be a week or longer before getting another chance to ride. Then when I was ready for my next ride I would dump the water, fill it about halfway, put the lid on and shake it vigorously, dump this water, add ice and refill completely. I seriously wish they had went with the type bladder that opens all the way across the top. They might cost a few more dollars but I find they are much easier to use.
The High Sierra Tokopah 6.0 is an excellent general purpose hydration system that could be better with a different bladder. The pack aspect is just about the perfect size for carrying everything I needed to make my rides enjoyable but more importantly, having a place to carry the things I would need to fix a flat or do minor roadside repairs on my bike. And as I stated at the beginning of the review, a brighter color would be more practical from a safety standpoint then the camo. Fortunately, there is a place to hang a rear bike light. I left one on mine and used it in the flashing red strobe light mode.
This concludes my review of the High Sierra Tokopah 6.0. I would like to thank 4alloutdoors and High Sierra for this testing opportunity.