PRODUCT: The 4.5 Hydra chest protector was created by melding the front plate of the 4.5 chest protector with a backpack and hydration system. The backpack uses a unique harness strap to secure it to your body. The 4.5 chest protector front plate is then attached to the harness, providing excellent impact protection aided by the CE-certified impact panels. The backpack has 10 liters of cargo space, while the CleanTech bladder with quick detach hose holds 3 liters of fluid. The backpack has two separate compartments: The larger one holds the bladder in an insulated pocket while also providing a full-length storage pocket. The outer pocket is slightly smaller and contains a mesh pocket for small items, as well as a waterproof, removable pouch that’ll hold even the largest cell phones. There are four cinch straps on the sides of the pack to compress the load, as well as ribbed AirLine air channels and mesh to aid ventilation. The drink tube has a magnetic clip to secure the hose to the front of the chest protector. The 4.5 Hydra can be worn with or without your Leatt neck brace.
POSITIVE: Having a backpack hydration system and chest protector combined into one is the best of both worlds for the dual-sport and adventure rider. Figuring out the multitude of straps to put this on was akin to solving a Rubik’s Cube on our first attempt. Then we decided to read the directions and discovered it’s really quite easy. With the chest protector removed, the backpack is put on and adjusted to a comfortable fit. Once that’s accomplished, the chest protector is attached to the backpack’s strap system. Now that it was properly fit, putting it on was a simple two-strap procedure. The chest strap worked excellent at keeping the backpack secure, even with 3 liters of water and a day’s worth of trail supplies in the pack. Let’s face it, backpacks are hot and always leave a big sweat spot on our backs. The 4.5 Hydra is no different, with the exception that the AirLine channels actually work if you sit up straight and allow them to create some airflow. The larger pocket in the pack has enough room to handle a full drink bladder, plus a light windproof shell. The outer pocket has more than enough room for a day’s worth of trail snacks. The waterproof cell phone pouch is a nice touch, but it requires the help from a buddy to get to it or removing the pack. At first the chest protector looked a little on the small side, but it does cover the rib cage quite well. The magnets on the chest protector and drink hose are a nice feature that really works. The bite valve on the drink system works well and doesn’t drip, which is another plus.
NEGATIVE: There are a couple changes we’d like to see to elevate the 4.5 Hydra on the must-have list. The chest protector is a little short, and we’d love to see a version with the 5.5 Pro front plate. Even though the pack has a lot of storage space, it would be nice if there was a smaller zippered pocket about halfway down the pack. The zippers on both pockets only run halfway down the pack, making it difficult to retrieve small items that inevitably find their way to the bottom. The pockets don’t expand enough to actually require the compression straps, and it’s a bit pricey.
BOTTOM LINE: A huge plus for us is how secure the pack stays even when pounding whoops in the desert. The 3-liter drink bladder is another plus, since we often carry an additional bottle of water to supplement the standard 2-liter bladder in other systems. Even though the chest plate is smaller than we’d like, it does cover the rib cage well. There’s more than enough room to carry a day’s worth of mandatory stuff in the pack. The 4.5 Hydra will be seeing a lot of miles on our dual-sport adventure rides. o
PRICE: $219
CONTACT: www.leatt.com


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