San Util Designs Covert V3 Hip Pack Review


San Util Designs Covert V3 Hip Pack Review

The San Util Designs Covert hip pack caught Spencer’s eye during his visit to their shop in Winter Park, CO, last summer, and he picked one up to test. Below, Spencer digs into all of the details with this third iteration of the brand’s hip pack design in a long-term review. So, let’s get right to it!

Quick Hits

  • Price: $125 (bag only / no holsters)
  • Can use two bottle holsters for $25 extra each
  • Available stock in EPX200 fabrics and fully custom in a plethora of options
  • Weight: 203 grams to 240 grams
  • Capacity: 2L to 3L
  • Handmade in Winter Park, CO
  • Magnetic Fidloc closure flap and cinch-able collar
  • Compression straps on the bottom of the bag
  • Standard Nylon buckle and be customized to a Fidlock or Cobra buckle

I’ve been a fanny pack – errr, hip pack – evangelist for many years now. I wear one every day to keep track of my wallet, tools, phone, keys, etc. I first found them useful on bike tours, and then even more so when I found I could carry a camera in one. Safe to say I wear my fanny packs A LOT and have plenty of opinions. I feel like we are currently in a golden age of hip packs at the moment; there are options all over the place to carry whatever you may need on your hip and I’m here for it.

San Util’s Covert is a lightweight hip pack to carry your ride essentials, and even two bottles should you need them. I know summer is approaching most places, but it’s been double water bottle season in Tucson for a while now. Let’s dig in to some features of the bag.

For $25 extra you can get bottle holsters for your Covert. They attach via Malice Clips which are borrowed from the tacticool world. The bottles mount via Molle webbing on either side of the main pocket of the bag. The Malice Clips are a bit fiddly and I always needed to double-check the clip engagement once installed to make sure a bottle was ejected. Once engaged, I had no problems with them coming loose. The bottles are held in the holster via a zig-zag of shock cord pulled over the lip of the bottles. I was initially skeptical, but once again, never had a bottle shoot loose on me. It just worked.

A lap around the rock-strewn 50 Year trail in Tucson didn’t eject a bottle, so I can’t imagine what would. The San Util holsters strike a balance while not being too loose or tight, so the bottles can be unhooked and replaced with one hand while riding. Rather than solely relying on the tension of the fabric holster, a small amount of shock cord keeps the bottles secured in place.

The wings of the pack were a big update on the Covert V3. The wings have air mesh to keep your hips cool on hot climbs and they attach at either corner, allowing more ventilation and flexibility.

The Covert has a flap closure secured with a magnetic Fidlock buckle. The buckle is attached via a length of shock cord that is adjustable depending on your bag’s load. I had some issues with the shock cord attachment – it has some pros and cons, and I’ll dive into that in a minute. In addition to the flap closure, there is a collar you can cinch down to help protect your stuff from the elements. I rarely used the collar closure and used it as a pseudo-rolltop to be secured with the magnetic top flap. In a Colorado summer storm, I can definitely see wanting to cinch this collar closure tight to keep the weather out. For desert rambling, I like to be able to reach in with one hand and snag my stuff.

In Comparison

The closest comparison I have is the Wizard Works Oglah that I recently reviewed. They have a similar capacity, with the Covert being able to be overstuffed in a pinch due to the flap closure. Both packs use an air mesh on the wings and body of the pack, while the Oglah had more foam stiffening foam in the back. Both packs use shock cord to keep the bottles in their holsters. I had a nitpicky issue with the Oglah that all the holsters are sewn the same so using them on one side was a bit awkward. The Covert doesn’t have this issue as the shock cord and holster are separate. Overall the Oglah feels a hair more polished, albeit heavier, and the zipper is a bit of a deal breaker for me. The Oglah felt like it kept the overbuilt aspects of the larger Wizard Works Hobgob, while the Covert feels lighter but still appropriate for its capacity. The Oglah had a nice little ultra stretch fabric pocket on the inside of the main compartment – that is one thing I didn’t know I really wanted and now feels missing from the Covert.


  • Simple and lightweight
  • Removable holsters effectively hold bottles when needed
  • Customizable colors and fabrics
  • Magnetic and cinch closure instead of zipper
  • Made in USA

First and foremost, I love that this bag does not use zippers. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of zippers, so the magnetic flap closure and paracord cinch collar both get my seal of approval. I appreciate how simple the bag is; just one pocket and two holsters. If you don’t want one of the premade fabric colors and want to go ham on custom colors, that’s also an option for the Covert and many of the other bags made by San Util. In the end, there are a plethora of hip pack options, but it’s great to be able to support a small bag maker in Colorado.


  • Seam on the wings irritated my skin
  • I would prefer a roll top instead of a paracord cinch closure
  • The shock cord attachment for the magnetic buckle needed some finagling
  • I still don’t like Malice Clips

We have to really get into the weeds to find any issues with a great bag here. As I mentioned, I’m quite the hip pack aficionado, and, well, I’m gonna find faults. First off, there was a small seam on the top of the hip wings that irritated my skin. At the point the seam was finished and melted to prevent fraying created a small but sharp enough edge to annoy the skin on my hips. I tend to wear my hip pack under my shirt for ventilation,but if you wear yours over a shirt this should not be an issue.

For the shock cord closure, I simply added an additional overhand knot in the cord. Only having a knot on the inside (how it came) made the closure sloppy to use. Adding an extra knot made the opening and closing smoother. I talked to Adam about this issue and he was adamant about keeping the closure as-is so that the shock cord could be easily replaced if needed. Sewing the shock cord to the flap could also alleviate this issue, but it would make the bag less repairable. I think Adam is in the right here – if it bugged you as it did me, just add a simple knot.


The Covert is a simple modular bag that provides a lot of storage when you need it for those long days, especially water. When you don’t need as much storage, simply cinch down the jacket straps, remove the holsters and you have a slim hip pack  ready for a quick spin. The pack has some small faults and little quirks, but I appreciate Adam’s aim to make repairable bags. Pardon my nitpicks of what is quite a lovely hip pack.

If you are looking for a slightly larger, smaller, or even kids’ size hip pack, check out San Util Design’s whole line of products.