Riding without a pack is something that is of increasing interest to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Osprey Raptor and it’s one heck of a pack. It’s been on some real journeys with me and it’s saved me more than once. After all, you can ram it full of gear and head out for a whole day knowing you’ve got water, food, tools and a spare jacket. I’m not going to get rid of it, it’s always going to be an option for longer rides. Recently, I’ve been filming for To The Trail and been on a few shorter rides with more regular stops. As the rides have been shorter, I’ve not really needed a pack and started to think about riding with just a bottle and a few essential tools. Not only is the length of the rides a big factor, but when you’re lugging camera gear around with you, there’s not really space for a water bladder and a whole heap of tools.
My first thought when considering riding without a pack was storage. It seemed an obvious place to start. I’m not a rider who would leave on a ride without being able to sustain myself should I have a mechanical problem – that’s happened once and luckily it wasn’t a long walk back to the car. I like to carry a spare tube always, a pump and some basic tools at the very least. Going packless, I don’t want that to change.
A few things went through my mind on this front. Jerseys with rear pockets were one option. I know roadies often wear jerseys with three pockets on the back and it seems to work for them. After a bit of a google, I found that Troy Lee actually do an option with three pockets. The designs are typical Troy Lee, which I love. The downside was that I’d not be able to use the jerseys I’ve already got to ride without a pack, and would have to wear this. If I didn’t have such a large collection of jerseys already, this would likely have been the option for me.
With the jersey a no, I figured I’d have a look at base layers instead. For the vast majority of rides I wear a base layer. The best one I could find was the RaceFace Stash. Three pockets and a large gap on the back for a bladder. It looks incredible and pretty decent value for money. The reason I didn’t opt for this (and I very nearly did) is that I don’t want to use a bladder. For sure, I could always remove the bladder and just use it as a base layer, but then… I found these.
Specialized bib shorts with SWAT. Essentially, they’re a set of bib shorts with the three pockets on the back. MBR gave them a 4.5 out of 5 in 2016. The reason I opted for these is that I’ve not got a decent pair of bibs anyway and I figured the pockets would move even less as they’re attached to the shorts bit of the clothing, as well as being held in place by the shoulders. At £65, they don’t seem a ridiculous price. Getting the right size was a bit confusing so I opted for medium and will hope that I’ve guessed right when they arrive.
If I was feeling a little more flush, I’d have bought the Race Face Stash Bibs. They’re very similar to the above, but they’ve also got space for a bladder. It seems a logical choice for anyone who wants to ride without a pack or a water bottle, but at just over £100 they were a little out of my budget.
As I move into riding without a pack, I’ll be writing articles, and making videos with To The Trail to show you guys how riding without a pack is going. I’m already well on the way and have a few more items in the post on their way, but I’ll save them for another post.
If you’ve got any top tips, please do share them with me, I’d love to know how you go without a pack!