Travelling light is the best way to travel! If you’re tired of getting sweaty back from your backpack, you should think about using a hip bag instead. We tested the compact USWE Zulo Hip Bag for over 8 months and we’ll tell you for whom the hip bag is sufficient and who’s likely to reach its limits.
Quick post-work rides, party laps in the bike park or a well-developed trail network: unless you’re in the middle of nowhere and you’ve got a good infrastructure around, you’ll be tempted to minimise your luggage when riding. If you still want to carry the essentials to mend a punctured tire or repair a broken chain and not die of thirst along the way, the USWE Zulo 2 Hip Bag is the ideal solution. The hip bag itself has a total volume of 2 litres, though the storage space gets cut in half with the 1-litre hydration bladder inserted. The main compartment, which is where the hydration bladder usually goes, isn’t divided up into further compartments. There’s a strap with a key ring to keep your keys secure and always within reach. The front compartment has 2 convenient mesh pockets in which you can stow energy bars, CO2 cartridges or small spares. Outside the integrated nets, there’s plenty of space for a tube and a small hand pump, for example. Both main compartments have just one zipper each, which limits accessibility. The hip bag has a small pocket on each of the two hip pads, which are covered by a mesh flap. They’re perfect for a multitool, giving you quick access to it at all times. There are 2 compression straps on both sides of the external mesh pockets to support and lash down the main compartments, preventing them from swaying around while riding.
On the trail, the USWE Hip Bag offers two possible configurations: with or without the hydration bladder. With the hydration bladder, you can tell that the hip pocket is clearly at its limit and the extra weight of the bulbous bladder tends to make it swing around. To minimise this effect, avoid making the hydration bladder more than three-quarters full. If you do, you can also reduce the bag’s weight by taking a large sip. The hydration bladder never leaked and can easily be rinsed and refilled thanks to the large opening. Additionally, the magnetic mount on the hip pad brings added convenience and keeps the mouthpiece securely in place. With the hydration bladder removed, the hip bag offers sufficient storage space thanks to the large main compartment in which you can fit bigger items. Without the additional weight of the full hydration bladder, you can barely feel the hip bag on your back as it conforms to your body and doesn’t create any uncomfortable spots. The padding on the back is thin and optimised to be light while also preventing heat build-up thanks to the perforations. Unfortunately, the ventilation wasn’t always effective on warm days and dirt tends to get caught under the mesh material when riding in muddy conditions. The hip bag is available in the neon yellow on test or in black for € 79 incl. the 1-litre hydration bladder.
Ultimately, the USWE Zulo 2 is a very light and compact hip bag that still offers the option of a hydration bladder. If you’re looking for a place to store a few spares, a smartphone, keys and a repair kit when on the trail, the USWE is an excellent choice. If you would like to carry a litre of water and be prepared for a possible rain shower, you will reach the limits of the USWE both in terms of comfort and capacity.
- just 1 zipper per compartment
- limited capacity with the hydration bladder inserted
Tester Julian and Felix
Test duration 8 months
Price € 79
More info Manufacturer’s website
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Words: Julian Schwede Photos: Peter Walker