Named for the very dirt that makes up the western side of the Washington Cascades, the Tokul XC 8.0 from Platypus is the ideal pack for riding the trails of its namesake. With 3.0 Liters of water storage and 6.0 liters of gear capacity, this bag was made to keep you on the trail all day and prepared for every situation or surprise that may arise. Appropriately, it is designed for the comfort and convenience one would hope for on such a ride with several clever and efficient features subtly built in to its sleek frame. With my new location in Western Washington, I was lucky enough to actually test the Platypus Tokul XC 8.0 at the Tokul Trails in Fall City, WA to determine if it stood up to its title.
The first feature that really stands out about the Platypus Tokul XC 8.0 versus its competition is the 3.0 liter Big Zip LP bladder. The bag itself has a heavy-duty zip lock at the mouth that seals up nicely, with a clip that slides securely over the zipped portion. I was skeptical at first of the design, but its simplicity of use surprised me and it eventually grew on me. Filling this thing up in a hurry is no issue; and I’m always in a hurry so that earned it some bonus points right off the bat.
The clip that seals the bladder itself connects to the backpack within the bladder pouch through the clips on either side. The clip system is actually a lot more secure than other bladder styles that I have utilized in the past and makes for easy access when it’s time to refill while also being much simpler to zip away than I’ve been previously accustomed to in other bags. A separation wall sits inside of the bladder, which helps prevent the vacuum effect that occurs when drinking down the water supply too aggressively. In the past, this was a nuisance that had me bothered on previous Platy designs. They are definitely taking their time to listen to feedback and redesigning accordingly.
Without my helmet, I was able to store all of the necessities with a full bladder: spare tube, CO2 cartridges, tire levers, a hard shell for my riding glasses and a bike pump with plenty of room for more. Personally, I wouldn’t typically travel with much more than this, usually just enough to get me out of the woods and back to safety should my tubeless setup become compromised, but I could easily have squeezed a spare jersey, snacks, shock pump or an array of helpful tools into the Platypus Tokul XC 8.0. Of course, with the helmet things got a little more crowded, but I still had extra room for clothing and tools.
For those of you who may be into photography, I fit my Nikon SLR, in its case, inside of the helmet pouch. On a photo day, this is invaluably comfortable on a long trek to great shots. Definitely a plus in my line of work. This helmet pouch ultimately has the potential to store quite a bit depending on your needs, and when it’s not in use, it folds up nicely with minimal slack.
One of my favorite features on the bag is the magnetic clip on the water hose. Once this is adjusted it works perfectly, snapping into place after every sip and staying put. Magnetic clips are a common feature among hydration packs these days, but I have had trouble with them in the past. Some designs have tried to compensate for weak magnets with a hooking mechanism combination, but the magnet here is strong and won’t come undone unless you deliberately want it to.
As far as comfort on the ride, The RidgeAir back pads make for a cozy and breathable fit. Made of foam, they are a lightweight solution to extreme back sweat and discomfort that easily carry their own weight. The chest and waist straps are minimal and effective at providing the “perceived” lower weight effect. I noticed that the bag did tend to sit high on my back, but with the strap system I didn’t notice much shift in my center of gravity.
My only real complaint, as always with Platypus, is the mouth piece. It's not as easy to access as I’d like and I did experience some leakage at first that was resolved by shortening my line with a pair of scissors.
Overall, I am definitely impressed with the Platypus Tokul XC 8.0. This is a solid pack that competes with other big names out there at a relatively affordable price of $99.95. I can see that certain riders might not like the deviation from the standard bladder designs or the slightly higher fit on the lower back, but for me, I keep this thing loaded and ready at the front door at all times.
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