matthew cusanelli mec bikepacking 24

MEC Mountain Fountain 5L Hip Pack and Provincial Insulated Handlebar Bag

Photos Deniz Merdano

MEC Mountain Fountain 5L Hip Pack

A hip pack? Don't most of the cool cats fit all their ride necessities onto their bike so they can avoid yet another dreaded anchor on the body? Sounds tempting, but if the price of an EDC kit and storage box equipped enduro rig is weighing you down, or if you want to carry even more, a hip pack is an excellent addition and there are plenty of affordable ones to boot.

The MEC Mountain Fountain 5L hip pack is made from durable, water-resistant recycled nylon fabric that's lightweight and easy to keep clean. The spacious pack accommodated a jacket, lots of extra snacks and a pair of gloves in the main compartment, with my wallet and keys on one side compartment and a hex key and flat repair kit on the other. When returning from muddy rides, all it needed was a quick clean before hanging it to dry. The padded air mesh back panel made for a snug and comfortable fit and I seldom had issues with lack of air circulation. When fully loaded this is one of the most comfortable hip packs I've worn. It fit right with minimal adjustment.

The adjustable webbing has plenty of length and boasts elastics to keep the extra webbing from flapping around. Stretch water bottle pockets with pull tabs hold standard-sized water bottles. I wouldn't say this worked great and I wouldn't buy this pack to stash a bottle on a regular basis. While it works, it's just tight, a bit uncomfortable, and the security elastic made for some faff when removing or putting the bottle back in. The choice to make the pack bottle compatible seems like addition to the already finished design rather than a ground up consideration. The pack was compact and stable, even when full. Credit to my curvy hips for keeping it in place. The Mountain Fountain is available in two colours: dark olive or black. For the price, this pack is pretty darn feature-laden, and combined with the peace of mind of MEC's customer service, warranty, and return policy, there's a bunch more value added to an already fine product.

MEC Mountain Fountain 5L Hip Pack // 60 CAD.

Provincial Insulated Handlebar Bag

The body of this handlebar bag is 200-denier recycled nylon with a TPU coating, rendering it water-resistant and able to shake off rain. This also made it easy to wipe clean when it did get muddy and ensured it dried out quickly when saturated. The bag is slim and does not interfere with the drops or the other accessories on my handlebar. It mounts to your bars with TPU straps running through webbing loops. I really loved that the bag used gear straps as opposed to velcro. The gear straps are easy to install, cinch down nicely and have a slight amount of elasticity to ensure the bag mounts solidly and does not bounce or vibrate when riding off road. The bag can be secured to the head tube to avoid unwanted movement, though I never found this to be a problem. As a bonus, if ever lost, replacement gear straps can be bought at almost any outdoors store. In this case, I like the peace of mind that I can use the gear straps for other applications when not using the bag as well.

8mm of foam insulation on the back and bottom and 5mm on the top, front and sides succeeded in keeping snax™ damn cold. I put a large flexible cold pack on the bottom, followed by a 6-pack (or four tallboys, horizontally) and could ride to the beach and crack open an ice cold Crispy Buoy two hours later with much enjoyment. Say it in a Borat voice with me please...very nice!

There are stretchy mesh side pockets for stashing small and light necessities. I frequently used it for my packable windbreaker. The zippered flap opens wide for easy loading of drinks. There is capacity for 6 cold ones, and I never had an issue with the zipper binding even when the bag was stuffed full. Despite this being the main design intention, the Provincial Handlebar Bag is not just for use with drinks. The insulated nature meant I could quickly rip to the butcher ahead of dinner or put my camera in it with peace of mind that some of the vibrations would be damped by the insulated walls of the bag. A webbed handle made the bag easy to carry.

Most importantly, this bag facilitated what was hands down the best date I've ever been on. Perhaps I was the common variable here but I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the bar bag. For a mere 70 bucks, you too can have crispy cold cans aboard your bicycle all summer and a scientifically proven shot at a successful encounter with a potential love interest...very nice!

MEC Provincial Insulated Handlebar Bag // 70 CAD

Matt Cusanelli

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 155lbs/77kg

Inseam - 34"/86cm

Ape Index - The Original Slinky™

Age - 22

Bar Width - 780mm

Preferred Reach - 485-500mm

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+1 Kyle Dixon

Thanks for the laugh. Made the review worth the read. 😀


+2 BarryW Kyle Dixon

Thanks Barry! Had fun with this one. I will reel in the Borat references in future, possibly... great success!


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