Back in May, I decided to make the conscious decision to ride more without a pack. It was becoming too cumbersome to carry as I’d got into the habit of filling it with more than what I actually needed. I found myself packing bobble hats and spare socks incase I wanted to keep warm mid-ride, and I won’t go into detail about the amount of food I was putting in.
So, I wrote a post about buying some bib shorts and ditched the pack. Since then, I’ve been happily out and about on the bike without a pack at all. I’d say I’ve managed to ditch the backpack on 90% of my rides and I’ve even spent full days in the saddle without any pack at all. How? It’s easier than you might think.
Firstly, the bib shorts are going down a treat. They’re actually much better than the padded shorts I was using before and were well worth the investment alone just for that reason. The addition of the three pockets on the back makes it easy to store some snacks (though I’ve yet to actually try to take a full meal – pasta? – in the pockets) as well as my car keys and some stickers for any folk I might bump into. The middle pocket is also big enough to hold a soft water bottle I picked up for less than the price of some of the Camelback bottles I’ve seen. The excellent thing about this sort of bottle is that the more you drink, the easier it is for the bottle to fit as it just folds away.
In addition to the bibs, I’ve bought myself a Fabric water bottle. They’re actually pretty clever as they don’t need a bottle cage, instead they just clip onto two over-sized bolts you screw in where the cage would be. I’ve had no problems with it at all (other than user error where I’ve not clipped it on properly or loosened the bolts by accident), even though I was somewhat dubious when I first made the purchase. Fitting it to the bike was a bit of a puzzle solving mission and I ended up having to buy a Shimano battery adaptor to allow me to put the bolts further up the downtube so that the bottle would actually fit in the gap. Once that was solved though it’s been plain sailing. This is my go-to bottle for anything where I’ll be ok with around a litre. Anything where I’ll be out longer than that and the soft bottle goes in the bibs too. Touch wood, I’ve been pretty good with the litre most of the time.
I grabbed a couple of backcountry research straps next. The ‘Mutherload’ sits on the downtube and holds a tube, 2 CO2 canisters and my tyre levers quite comfortably. Amazon had a great deal on a CO2 adaptor and canister combo that I grabbed eagerly having seen Andy inflate his tyre at Coed-Y-Brenin with nothing more than a twist. The ‘Race Strap’ sits under my saddle and holds my multi-tool. If these straps are good enough for enduro master Richie Rude, they’re plenty good enough for me. I’ve been impressed with the sheer volume you can cram into them and they’ve not moved at all, despite being stretched to full capacity.
Sure, I feel that the aesthetics of my bike are somewhat compromised and I’d much sooner be riding with just me and the bike. But I’d prefer to leave the bag in the car even more so I’ll happily put up with the extra clutter. Getting out without the pack is a great feeling and the weight on the bike rather than on your back really makes a noticeable difference. Jumps, in particular, are much more comfortable without the bag shifting around on your back and I don’t plan on moving back to the bag any time soon.
Viva la revolution!