I Think I May Have Nearly Enough Backpacks

A “Hey, I’m On The Radio!” Note from Fatty: I’m on The Story with Dick Gordon today. You can listen to it on public radio stations or listen to it online here (the Listen Now link is at the bottom of the page, and the direct link to the MP3 file is here).

I am not a reckless consumer. I consider all my purchases carefully, and do my best to do without if I can make do with what I already have. Consider, for a moment, my bicycles. Clearly, the Superfly 29″ fully rigid singlespeed and the Waltworks 29″ fully rigid singlespeed are very different bikes — one has a carbon frame, one has a steel frame. And they have different cranks, too.

Similarly, my Orbea Orca and Trek Madone serve very different purposes. One, for example, is a high-end, featherweight carbon road bike. The other, meanwhile, is a high-end, featherweight carbon road bike.

I have shown similar restraint in my acquisition of bike clothing. I have, at this moment, thirteen pair of bib shorts, which is not even enough to get me through two weeks, unless I do some laundry. As for jerseys, well, while it is true that I have dedicated an entire bedroom in my house to holding all the jerseys I own, I have worn many of these jerseys more than twice.

As a final example of my prudence in bike-related gear selection, allow me to show you a photograph of the paltry number of hydration packs I currently have in my possession.


Sadly, this selection of seven packs is diminished from the number I should have, because I loaned my college-attending niece my Camelbak HAWG — the Camelbak I used when I rode the Kokopelli Trail Race — a year or so ago, and have not seen it since.

Also, I am not including my CamelBak VeloBak in this photograph, because it is a strange creature, neither fish nor fowl. I am not sure whether it belongs in my jersey room or in my hydration pack nook. Also, I have not yet worn it outside, fearing I will either draw derisive comments from friends or be captured and imprisoned as a member of the Borg Collective.

Really, though, my hydration packs are only a subset of my backpack / messenger bag menagerie. Here is the more inclusive collection:


Ten. Plus of course the permanently-loaned HAWG and the peculiar VeloBak. And also I think I have one more CamelBak MULE laying around somewhere — probably stashed in a bin somewhere, and still holding about 40oz of apple-flavored Cytomax I mixed back in 1998, before it occurred to me that apple-flavored Cytomax is the most vile stuff on earth. Especially once it’s gone warm in a water bottle.

Wow, I just had an involuntary shudder at the recollection of a sports drink.

Now, I expect there are a few of you who may believe I have too many packs and bags, especially of the hydration pack variety (between eight and ten, depending on whether you count lost, stolen and Frankensteined hydration packs).

To which I reply: pish-posh.

Each of these packs / bags is a critical and often-used item in my cycling life. Which I will prove right now.

The Crumpler Bumper Issue

Crumpler sent me this pack , hoping that I would write about it. Which I am, now. And it’s a really great bag, I think, although I have not yet ever actually used it. Still, take a look:


Yeah, I’ll bet Crumpler is thinking right now, “Hey, we should get Fatty to do our product shots for us. He’s that good.”

The truth is, at $65 (and up, if you want fancier colors), this is a good price for a hydration pack that holds a lot of stuff. Or at least I assume it would hold a lot of stuff.

The thing is, though, it’s really rare for me to have a bright orange drinking tube that I’m reticent (yes, I’ve used both “reticent” and “menagerie” in today’s post — FatCyclist.com is your one-stop fancy vocabulary shop) to use it, ever. Because once you’ve used a hydration pack’s bladder even once, no matter what you put in it — like, even if you were drinking rubbing alcohol from your hydration pack, which would incidentally be a very bad idea and I am not recommending at all — it’s going to start growing mold and algae and probably fungus and other miscellaneous flora.

Which is cool if you like to think of your hydration pack drinking experience as akin to sipping from a mossy stream.

But I don’t.

So the Crumpler sits unused. Someday, though, I’m going to put some stuff in it, and go for a ride, and then I’ll give this pack an even more authoritative review, if that’s even possible.

Or I’ll give it to someone who wants it, maybe. Like, maybe my niece will give me back my HAWG if I give her this.

The CamelBak Mule

I don’t even know how many Leadville 100’s this CamelBak has seen.


Oh, wait a second. That’s not a Mule. That’s a Blowfish. Which means that my MULE is for sure missing. And also, it means that I can’t tell the difference between some of the products in the CamelBak line.

It’s easy for me to remember when I last used this particular CamelBak, because it’s still got the snacks from the trip. Specifically, it has graham crackers, fruit snacks, and granola bars, along with what I am sure is still perfectly drinkable water.

Though I am not confident what would happen after you drink the water.

Those snacks tell me that this was the CamelBak I wore when hiking to Timpanogos Cave with the twins last Summer. And since, if I remember right, the twins each had to pee into specially-made plastic bags containing absorbent silica gel during the tour of the cave itself, I’m a little bit nervous to investigate this bag further.

Though I would like to see if I could find some more of those ultra-ultra-portable potties. Those were handy.

When will I use this pack next? Next time I need to go on a ride on a geared bike, that requires around 100oz of water, a jacket that won’t fit on me or in my jersey, and a bunch of snacks that I don’t mind being a couple of years old.

Ergon BD1

This is the wackiest pack I have ever owned. The frame swivels and holds the pack off your back.


And the strapping on the back is perfect for holding a pair of snowshoes. Which is what I most recently used this for — The Runner and her dad hike to the top of a local mountain every month without fail, and I’ve started joining them on their monthly adventure in OCD-land.

Also, I kinda think this might be a pretty good pack for taking on the Great Divide Race. If I were ever to do such a thing, I mean. Which would be utterly foolish.

But it would give me something to talk about on the blog, right?

The CamelBak Pakster

This was the first CamelBak I ever owned. Dug and Bob (of the core team, not the Mackenzie Brothers from the Great White North) got it for me for a birthday present:


This is from back when dinosaurs used CamelBaks. Things were much simpler then: A rectangular envelope with a velcro closure at the top to hold the bladder, a zipped pouch and a mesh pouch to hold stuff, and a bungee cord to hold stuff that wouldn’t fit in the pouches.

Padded straps cost extra.

To my dismay and delight, this CamelBak contains an original Powerbar, peanut butter flavored. Which causes my mind to boggle for a few reasons:

  1. That I ever ate the original Powerbars at all.
  2. That anyone ate the original Powerbars at all.
  3. That it only crossed its expire date two years ago.

Does anyone have an “I ate a complete original Powerbar while riding a bike and lived to tell the tale” story?

Come to think of it, I wonder if the original Powerbars are still for sale, because it would be an interesting stunt for me to try.


Wow. They are. I’m going to buy one. I’ll report back with my results in the near future. Wish me luck.

The Camelbak Classic

Here I have the CamelBak Classic, which is the minimalist version of the Camelbak — it just holds your water, a multi-tool, and maybe one very small snack:


I actually only bought this because I went into REI looking for a bladder to replace one of my grody, moss-infested ones, and it turned out it was cheaper to buy this whole CamelBak and then rob it of the bladder than it was to simply buy a bladder.

Which makes this the saddest, loneliest, CamelBak that has ever lived.

The CamelBak Rocket

Of all the CamelBak’s I have, this is the one I’ve used the most:


The fact is, the Rocket may have been the best CamelBak ever made. The straps were nice and broad, the bladder was just right for a medium-sized ride, and you could get to everything in the cargo area with a single zipper.

Back before our singlespeed days, Kenny had and used one just like this.

And then we started riding singles.

And now, it’s rare to see anyone I ride with on any CamelBak at all, anymore.

Still, the CamelBak Rocket does have the distinction of being the stiffest pack in my collection — with years of sweaty minerals filtered through the nylon, it’s practically a board.

The Ellsworth

Um, I honestly do not know how I got this one:


And I didn’t know Ellsworth made hydration packs, either. It’s still got the tags on it, and is in “new-but-kinda-dusty” condition.

But I’m sure this will make an awesome riding pack for me, at some point. Or possibly a terrific birthday / Christmas / wedding gift.

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