28 September 2009

Interbooty 1: Bags, bags and more bags

It's the week after Interbike and things are slowly returning to normal here at bikefix HQ. The drive out was a minor epic, bookending three epic days of walking around a good-sized convention hall filled with all things shiny and carbon. Because we're such suckers for a cool bag, bags will be the focus of our first Interbooty post.

Something that caught my eye on day 3 was Topeak's inflatable Air BackPack. Not an obvious product, but those of us who do any amount of traveling (with or without a bicycle) can appreciate a lightweight (1.5lb) bag that packs down into a 9x5in cylinder but still has some structure and back protection for bigger loads. Shame they couldn't take advantage of the mini pump riders carry regardless to trim it down even further...

The guys over at Hydrapak had a number of cool bags and very cool water/gel bottles, which we'll have on test soon. What also caught our eyes was the Quantum Clip now shipping with the company's very nice bladders. An improvement on the mechanical and Velcro hose management we'd seen before, the Quantum Clip uses a pair of very strong magnets to hold the rider's bladder hose out of the way while riding but allow it to come free for drinking. Very simple and effective and perfect for the more type-A riders out there...

The hydration accessory that I've seen mentioned the most so far is one that took me a while to warm to. CamelBak's Flow Meter is a little digital device that sits in the hydration tube line and measures how much liquid passes by. Neat, yes, but for me the real value comes when lookingat the time remaining screen (how much longer do I have before there's no more water) and the Flow Meter's ability to be programmed with a rider's hydration target, letting them know if they're ahead or behind where they should be. Despite the widespread use of hydration packs, I still know loads of riders who come home from long desert rides with a nearly-full bladder- this $30 doodad should help (though I can't help that an optional audio reminder might help when dehydration makes thinking difficult). Also from CamelBak were a couple of neat looking multi-sport packs, the Octane 24 and Octane 18x. Both are quite lightweight and the second is expandable by way of a sort of zippered corset. It looks to be a very versatile bag and could see folks comfortably into cooler weather (the bright colors will be nice come hunting season too).

For those of us inclined to haul big loads, upstart Mission Workshop were showing their new Vandal expandable pack. Handmade in the US, it was an impressive piece of work, adjustable for various load types and sizes (split firewood was one example). It was a bit complicated looking but certainly impressive...

Finally, there was a very pleasant German cycle tourist named Martin who'd been plucked from his 'round-the-world ride to come to Las Vegas and talk about Vaude's packs. The coolest thing there (available across the company's line) was their ultralight self-healing fabric. While it obviously won't heal when cut, Martin repeatedly punched a ball-point pen through a bag off the wall, which healed itself when rubbed. Pretty cool. The company was also showing a piggyback Solar Recharging Station, which looked quite nice when attached to their bags' helmet holder attachment points. It comes complete with adapters for a whole host of electronics (iPod, phones, etc)- as it should for $180...

www.topeak.com
www.camelbak.com
www.missionworkshop.com
www.vaude.com

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