The Charge 10 LR carries over most of its design from the excellent Charge LR, and has added some great new features, yet has still retained the excellent low lumbar weight carrying and stability characteristics of its brethren. The Charge 10 LR has lowered the pockets in the main compartment, changed to the LV back panel, added their new helmet hook and an air pump holder, and placed the reservoir compartment on the back. The construction, reinforcement and stitching have been greatly improved over its predecessor, which adds to the longevity and durability of the pack.
I have used the pack since the summer, and it has been thoroughly abused, and has been quite durable and tough for a pack made from lightweight materials. The lumbar design pulls the weight off the shoulders, and moves it onto the lumbar and lower back, offering increased stability and weight carrying characteristics, and draws the center of gravity in close to the torso.
The LV back panel uses their ‘integrated ventilated system’, and it’s soft and conformable, and offers good comfort and ventilation, though with everything squished up against the lumbar, it can get damp in that particular spot. The bottom of the pack rolls around your hips and feels like a favorite comfy pillow. The hip belt and back panel were nicely padded, and highly flexible, so it conformed extremely well to the contours of your back, and it carried the weight in a balanced manner. The shoulder straps were minimally padded and with the lighter loads, the pack would be carrying it doesn’t really need much anyway, though I found them quite comfortable. The pack itself is feathery light, and I never felt the weight, even with the full two liters of water and the additional gear being carried. By having the weight of the water pulled down into your lumbar and not on your shoulders, along with the rest of the gear being snuggled tightly into the back; the pack seems to disappear, while offering excellent stability. The conformability and stability of the design mean the packs doesn’t flop around on rough terrain, and stays put no matter what is going on, and felt like it was Velcroed in place. With the weighting drawn into the lumbar and lower back, it meant the shoulders were freer to move, which was advantageous in technical terrain, and reduced back, shoulder and neck strain.
The lumbar compression straps, which are located on each side of the hips, are hidden inside the wings, and help pull the bottom of the pack into the back when the extra girth of the used up water reservoir shrinks during usage. It keeps the pack, load and weight stable and centered on the back, and can be done on the fly. Although its primary use is for the reservoir, it can also be used to trim and alter the way the pack sits on your back, giving one micro tuning customizations, and I used this feature frequently on every ride.
The main compartment had a nice long zipper, which opened along most of the pack’s length, allowing efficient access to everything without having to dig around for hidden items. The three mesh pockets in the main compartments are located at the bottom of the pack for stability and to keep the weight on the hips. They offered effective organizing for tools, parts, and other sundry items, and the small Velcro closing tab on the inner one kept things in place. The pump holder sat up higher in the pack above the pockets, and worked nicely to keep the pump secure and out of the way. The hip belt’s two cargo pockets are quite roomy, and I used them for my cell phone, camera, tools, and keys. I do wish there was a key hook in one of them, as it would be a great place for quick access to your keys. The back sleeve pocket was excellent for overflow storage, and the stretchy material on its side allowed a jacket or armor to be placed in it. It was easy to route the hydration tube from the shoulder strap, through the top of the main compartment and then inserting it through the port by the pockets into the reservoir back chamber.
The Antidote lumbar reservoir system worked extremely well, and the new screw closure only takes a quarter turn to open and close, and the wide mount is easy to pour into and clean, though to fill to capacity you do need to hold it with the handle at a slight angle to facilitate. A minuscule amount of water can get stuck in the nooks of the wings, exacerbated by the prone cycling position. Most of the water gets pulled out of the wings by the partial vacuum produced by drawing water towards the inlet when drinking, and body movement, such as pedaling and hip swivel aid in drawing any lingering remnants back towards the center. Testing showed a worst-case scenario of 4 oz or 1/2 cup of water staying in the reservoir, some in the wings, and the rest where the draw port wasn’t able to extract the residual. Doing the same experiment with a normal reservoir, there were 1-2 oz or 1/8-1/4 cup of water left. The Quick Link is pretty sweet, and facilitated clipping and in a leak-free manner for the bladder removal, though on occasion, the hose would dribble some water, so I would blow the hose clean beforehand. With age, I found the push button connector on it got stiff, and made it tougher to remove the tube.
The hydration reservoir compartment is now located at the back of the pack, and this new design makes it easier to swap out a full reservoir when the pack is fully loaded with gear. To remove the reservoir, unzip the compartment, pull it out and unclip the tube. You can fill the reservoir back up, clip the tube, push the tails into the hip belt, and then hook it back on and zip it shut.
- Pack Weight (no reservoir) – 507 grams / 17.9 oz
- Antidote Reservoir (with hose) – 184 grams / 6.5 oz
- Total Weight – 691 grams / 24.4 oz