rubber
Product Review/Intro

STRAP IT ON! Gear to Help Ditch your Backpack (etc.)

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae
Date May 31, 2018

We Mountain bikers seem to be either hanging on to what we've been doing for ages or making wholesale changes. Getting rid of the hitchhiker on our backs has been a big trend over the past couple of years, and it's not as easy as it sounds. "Be prepared" is the motto of the Boy Scouts but it's also woven into the ethos of mountain biking. Most of us ride with enough tools and gear to fix the repairs that can be anticipated, like punctures, broken chains and spokes, and bent derailleurs, as well as bits to MacGyver the unexpected snafus. Fixing everything from a shattered rim, a broken lever clamp or a saddle that's been ripped from its rails is all possible with the right gear in your pack. 

I used to be one of those riders who had tools to fix most anything but I began slimming down even before I escaped the strap monkey. Now' it's even more crucial to efficiently carry what I need and jettison the rest. Luckily we live in the age of ingenuity; no problem is too far on the fringe or too insignificant thanks to startups staffed by fresh-faced entrepreneurs jaded by the Silicon Valley experience. Let's start with tube storage.

Muther

The strap is nice and sturdy and the ample velcro makes the Mutherload easy to use. 

strap IT ON! Gear to Help Ditch your Backpack (etc.)

Just pull it tight, wrap it back on itself and you're golden.

Backcountry Research makes a strap with colour matched accents for the make and model of bike I ride; a Yeti Turq frame; the Mutherload Frame Strap. That would have been enough for me but it's even functional. On my SB5.5 the tube holder fits right in front of the bottom bracket junction, but you could also mount it on the top tube. The strap holds the tube to the bike but but little elasticized loops, with rubberized sections, keep it in place. There is more than one way to configure the strap to do the job, but only one way to make it look perfect, so I chose that one. There's a lot of velcro so you can cinch it down and once it's on there I forget about it. Or at least I do now. The Mutherload Strap is made in Bozeman Montana and it will run you 20 USD. 

Strapped

Everything goes together so well you can even strap some CO2 cartridges and tire levers on top. Or you can in theory; I haven't tried this yet. 

Enve sent us home with a couple of cool products after a launch in Monterey before Sea Otter. One of them will likely make you laugh when you see it. It's called the Tubesock, and that's exactly what it is; a sock for your tube. Whether you are throwing them in a backpack or waist pack or strapping it to your frame, tubes can take a beating and get covered in mud or dust. The Tubesock slides over to both protect it and keep it clean. It also looks much cleaner on your bike. I never thought much of it when it was given to us (thanks ENVE!) but now I love it. Tubesocks do not come in pairs and they cost 4.80 USD

impressed

If you had asked me before trying this, I don't think I would have thought much about the idea...

tube sock

but as it turns out I really like the Tubesock. This one is ENVE-branded but you can choose between a few colours. Or you could just cut up a sock of your own - or get a child's sock and use it as is. 

If you have a Specialized you've got a nice chunk of storage in the SWAT locker as well as a water bottle cage, but the rest of us have to figure out how to haul spare clothing and a few tools. My solution has been to wear a bum bag. Unfortunately my bum bag has to carry water as well because the under downtubee bosses Yeti adds to the frame are useless to me because I bust bottle cages on logs or rocks on the very first ride. Every time. I've also lost pumps I tried to attach there. 

Mission Workshop has begun making what they call a 'Waist Pack' but even from a super hip company it's really just a bum bag. A very nice bum bag, but still... Like other Mission Workshop bags, the Axis Waist Pack is waterproof, made from sturdy materials and made in the US of A. There are some dividers inside but nothing groundbreaking. The waist strap is nice and wide but it doesn't have auxiliary cinches to really lock things down. This is NBD if you aren't carrying much but if you toss a water bottle or other heavier items in there I'd be worried things would bounce around too much. 

Axis

The Mission Workshop Axis Waist Pack has a secondary zipper pocket inside and it weighs 225g or 8 oz. without the multi tool. It'll cost you 120 USD.

Fix

Volume is 2.5 litres. No word if this collaboration will make it to market but it's something you could do for yourself by purchasing the All Out Belt from Fix Manufacturing. Just remember to take it off before your next Tinder date. 

A bonus included in this particular bum bag is the deployable multi-tool from Fix Manufacturing. The company introduced a belt buckle that stored a multi tool (actually three different ones for different sports) late last year and someone had the excellent idea to  tweak it for use on the belt of the Axis bag. With 17 tools, if you include the 'tire lever' and spoke keys it packs a decent punch and only lacks a chain tool from where I sit. 

Fix Manufacturing

The tool snaps into place and doesn't bang around once you are on the trail. It's also the quickest deploying tool I've seen. The mounting buckle doubles as a bottle opener as well. 

Fix

The 17 tools included in the Wheelie Wrench; 2mm thru 6mm hex bits (including 2.5mm), T10 and T25 Torx bits,#2 Phillips screwdriver,Slotted screwdriver, Tire lever, 8mm box wrench, 10mm box wrench, 15mm open ended wrench, Spoke wrenches, Bottle opener, Payload Pocket™ compatible.

Lezyne has a few ideas brewing to get gear off your back and onto your bike. One that caught my eye was the Drive tool that. The tool itself isn't revolutionary but being able to strap it to your seat post (if you have enough showing) or elsewhere, is pretty trick. You can strap Lezyne's Tubeless Repair kit on as well. 

flay

The tubeless kit has a sturdy aluminum case and rubber to fix a few flats. 28 USD with the aluminum case or 20 without. 

drive tool

The Drive tool isn't comprehensive, but for many riders it could do the job. 

strapped

The impression I got from Dillon at Lezyne was that this product is a work in progress. 

The last item on my list isn't about storage or repairs, it's about frame protection. Trail debris and riding on the tailgate of a pickup can bruise your frame pretty easily. I've taken to plastering 3M protective tape on my frame but it's not really enough for the downtube. Fortunately Lizard Skins makes carbon-look armouring that is incredibly tough. In fact, despite the look, it's made of leather. It's nice and thick and the shock absorbing qualities should protect your frame against most impacts. 

carbon leather

The Carbon-Leather frame protection kit comes with several extra chevron shaped pieces that I used on another bike. 

carbon leather

The shuttle protection gives some peace of mind, but watch out for your buddy's brake levers on your top tube.

A few companies are using this product as the original equipment frame protection which means shipping them from the U.S., where they are made, to Taiwan for the install. It's a bit like shipping watch parts to Switzerland from Kazakhstan; things don't generally move in that direction. 

Lots of the ways to sort this stuff out don't cost a penny. Let's hear some of yours...

Comments

Vikb
+3 Zapp oudiaou keenconn11
Vik Banerjee  - May 31, 2018, 5:23 a.m.

I get a very concise [ie. zero words or pics] article when I try and read this.

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niels@nsmb.com
0
Niels  - May 31, 2018, 6:50 a.m.

Fixed!

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DemonMike
0
mike  - May 31, 2018, 12:23 p.m.

Yeah so did I at 5am this morning.

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StraightLineFernie
0
StraightLineFernie  - May 31, 2018, 7:30 a.m.

Always wanted to visit Bozeman, Utah!

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mtnfriend
0
mtnfriend  - May 31, 2018, 11:44 a.m.

That seems worth fixing, Cam.  Utah is great, but Bozeman is in good ol' Montana.  Cheers!

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - May 31, 2018, 3:05 p.m.

lol. It didn't sound right when I wrote it!

Thanks!

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Vikb
+1 Cam McRae
Vik Banerjee  - May 31, 2018, 7:50 a.m.

I've been enjoying packfree riding since last year. Can't see myself going back unless it's a tour. I did use a fanny pack last year for longer rides to carry a bit of extra water. Since I drank that water first by the time we started pointing down it was gone and the fanny pack disappeared from notice so it wasn't a bad solution.

I did use a Porcelain Rocket downtube bag on my Knolly to carry all my tools/pump/spares last year. That worked really well.

Knolly Endo --->  https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4418/35540597914_c38a8b72a0_k.jpg

Buying a new 29er this year I got a Guerrilla Gravity Smash. With mounts for two water bottles and room inside the frame for a bag I'm now totally bag free unless the rides start pushing 5hrs+ in the summer.

GG Smash ---> https://farm1.staticflickr.com/981/42048172211_92c5001037_k.jpg

I love the lack of stuff hanging on my body. But the key for this working is:

1. it can't compromise my ride

2. it can't compromise my ability to fix normal mechanicals

At this point I wouldn't even consider a bike that can't fit a water bottle in the frame and a bag under the down tube. The GG has spoiled me with two bottles and a frame bag.  Not sure I'll be able to beat that going forward.

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dorse
0
The Big Picture  - June 5, 2018, 2:28 p.m.

Nice bikes. On most of the trails I ride those water bottles would be gone or I would be stopping to pick them up. Back pack works for me. lighter in summer heavier in winter. If there is a chance of rain I have a rain jacket. Even a dry shirt on occasion.

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cmg
0
Michael Goplen  - May 31, 2018, 8:46 a.m.

where can you buy lizard skin in canada?

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - May 31, 2018, 9:15 a.m.

I bought that protective strip at Coastal Culture in Whistler.

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K
0
Kyle Rosten  - May 31, 2018, 8:59 a.m.

Raceface makes a decent wrap too. Or at least did. I’ve had mine for a couple years. Basic though. Holds a tube and multi tool. Still need to run a cage mount for the mini pump.

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nouseforaname
+1 Andrew Major
Nouseforaname  - May 31, 2018, 9:16 a.m.

All that and no mention of One Up?

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - May 31, 2018, 9:52 a.m.

All of these were products we have never featured before, but yes OneUp is doing some great things in this category including EDC.

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andy-eunson
+2 mike Cam McRae
Andy Eunson  - May 31, 2018, 9:21 a.m.

I remember the first camelback. It was great. No more running out of water during long xc races or loosing bottles on rough courses. Then a year later came a small pack that the camelback went in with a small outside pocket. Then a bigger pack that you stuff more into. Next thing you buddies are riding packs large enough to carry jackets, food and extra lights on night rides. Like a frog in boiling water we didn’t realize how heavy this stuff was getting on us. Bigger is better, more carry is better. Since I stopped wearing large packs and actually ditched a pack altogether I am much more comfortable. All these strap on things are great. Nothing rattles, no large seat bags rubbing rear tires with the saddle dropped on full suspension.

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shoreboy
+2 fartymarty Endur-Bro
Shoreboy  - May 31, 2018, 9:27 a.m.

To play devils advocate, im going to have to say I have no interest in strapping/mounting extra weight to my frame. I like the added protection (for those inevitable falls) and versatility of a pack. Where do people put their armor when going packless? Do you wear it the entire ride?  I guess Im going to have to accept that im just not enduro enough for a bum bag and ENVE tube socks.

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Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - May 31, 2018, 9:30 a.m.

Nothing wrong with wearing a pack if that makes you happy. I put my pads on in the parking lot and wear them the whole ride. I did that most of the time when I wore a backpack.

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shoreboy
0
Shoreboy  - May 31, 2018, 9:36 a.m.

Yeah there is definitely no right or wrong, whatever makes you comfortable/happy is the most important.  The few times I have ridden without a pack it just felt weird to me.  Kind of like getting in the car and driving without a seatbelt on.

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 mike
Cam McRae  - May 31, 2018, 9:54 a.m.

I went full enduro for pads a few years ago - knees only for rides where I'll be pushing it and no knees other times. When I'm climbing I just push them down to my ankles until party time.

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DemonMike
+1 Cam McRae
mike  - May 31, 2018, 3:11 p.m.

Yeah full dh is no pads no gloves just a fullface and neckbrace

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DemonMike
0
mike  - May 31, 2018, 12:40 p.m.

I suit up at the start and wear it the whole ride. You get good fitting pads and you forget they are on . Yeah it can get hot in the summer heat waves , but I prefer some added protection , and I hate putting on or carrying wet pads . Put them on and leave them on LOL . Same deal with my helmet , I full face and wear it 99% of the ride . It,s a Urge so the jaw has a opening and I get water through that using a bottle .

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nouseforaname
+1 Andrew Major
Nouseforaname  - May 31, 2018, 1:51 p.m.

If it's a long climb/ride, I wrap my knee pads around my hip pack. RF Ambush with full velcro. If it's long enough that I need extra water \(2h plus\) i take a pack so I can carry water AND pads \(and food\).

For bicycle touring it was reckoned that panniers used a third of the energy to travel with\* compared to a pack on your back, as the weight is supported by the bicycle. I wonder how that translates to an MTB where the bike is ridden much more 'dynamically'. 

\*That was a book written in the 70's so maybe they didn't use computers for that math...

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - May 31, 2018, 1:56 p.m.

Agreed, I would rather keep my bike as light as possible even though your COG is lower with all your stuff strapped to it.

I have been using a Macpac Module \(large\) https://www.macpac.co.nz/clearance/equipment/large-module-bumbag.html for the last 9 months and can carry up to 1.5 litres of water, battery for night lights, all the tools I need, a tube and little bottle of Stans \(because the last thing I really want to do is put in a tube mid ride if it can be avoided\).  It's a lot better than a backpack as it stays low on your hips and you don't get a sweaty back.

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Timv
0
tv  - May 31, 2018, 9:45 a.m.

can you use electrical tape instead of these straps?

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - May 31, 2018, 9:56 a.m.

Nope.

Of course you can, but you can't re-use it or easily pull it off if you need to whatever reason.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - May 31, 2018, 9:57 a.m.

I forgot to mention that the Mutherload also works under your saddle if that's preferable for you. I like keeping weight as low as possible and things are well protected near the BB.

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DanL
0
DanL  - May 31, 2018, 11:33 a.m.

I've been using the Backcountry Research undersaddle raceStrap for about a year now. I have a 29" tube, two levers and 2 CO2 inflators strapped in tight. It's been through all 4 glorious seasons on the shore and works well with my dropper.
I'm sure I could try to fit a multi-tool there if I really wanted to - I really like the design as it's near invisible but I know I have enough there to sort out my tires. Set and forget.

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DemonMike
0
mike  - May 31, 2018, 12:16 p.m.

$120 for that little pack , no thanks . I bought a High Above and it was worth every penny .

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - May 31, 2018, 3:13 p.m.

Mission Workshop is expensive but they are made domestically and guaranteed "forever" in their words. I have a backpack that is amazing as well. I like the High Above packs too and the story is similar but the company is much, much smaller! And TBF the HA packs are 100 USD so it's not like the difference is huge.

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DemonMike
0
mike  - May 31, 2018, 5:06 p.m.

No link to the Mission pack ? I see one for the multi-tool buckle .

My HA pack is a limited edition , I paid more for it than the Mission pack , it has a billet buckle and is also waterproof. By far the best fitting hip pack I have worn in 25yrs of riding.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 1, 2018, 4:13 p.m.

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DemonMike
0
mike  - June 4, 2018, 9:08 a.m.

I have the HA pack that is a similar size and features to the Mission pack . It,s a limited edition model so it has some features the regular models don,t have. If you would like to do a comparison I could loan it too you for a few days/week.

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Mbcracken
0
Mbcracken  - June 1, 2018, 7:25 a.m.

I run a SpeedSleev Ranger for rides under 2 hours.  http://www.speedsleev.com  Holds 2 Co2 canisters, 29'er tube, two tire levers, a tool and some zip ties.  My bike\(Tallboy\) also fits a good size water bottle.  Rode with it all last winter and it kept everything dry and clean while on my saddle.  Longer rides, I use a backpack for loads of water.

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marcelfa
0
marcelfa  - June 1, 2018, 9:33 a.m.

still waiting for a Yeti strap that backcountryresearch said it would be available an year ago! Great product, but still can't keep up with the promises, maybe due to demand!

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DanL
0
DanL  - June 1, 2018, 9:49 a.m.

I ended up having to order mine from the UK.

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marcelfa
0
marcelfa  - June 1, 2018, 10:56 a.m.

link?

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DanL
0
DanL  - June 4, 2018, 9:56 a.m.

silver-fish have a few left

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tashi
0
tashi  - June 3, 2018, 9:57 a.m.

Hit up your local hardware store for velcro straps that aren't branded and cost 25% \(or less\) of what the OR ones do.  Or use a toe strap if you're old-school enough to have those laying around.

And yes, you will be mocked for buying a ENVE branded sock for your tube.  FFS, I know it's only a fiver but who doesn't have an orphan black sock around?

A key part of my packless setup is a cover for my mini-pump to keep the wet and mud out.  They're easy to make out of an old tube- cut a section a few inches longer than your pump, bind one end shut with a zap strap, turn inside out, trim the open end into a flap, slide the pump in, fold the flap over and secure with a rubber band \(the ones that come on tubes are black so they're basically invisible\) or strip of Velcro, and voila - no more dirt and water jamming the pump you have strapped to your down tube!  My pump fits nicely in a hybrid tube.

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fartymarty
+1 tashi
fartymarty  - June 3, 2018, 11:22 p.m.

Agreed on the cost.  I cut up an old 26" DH tube I had lying around to make a sleeve for my tube.  Stuff it in, fold it in half and cable tie up the ends and its waterproof as well.

The strap I got on ebay for next to nothing.

I went back to a hip pack for winter as I got bored of washing everything off after every ride.

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DemonMike
0
mike  - June 4, 2018, 9:06 a.m.

I just stuff the tube in a sandwich bag , roll it all up and strap it too the frame . Cheap and nasty way of keeping the tube clean.

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tashi
0
tashi  - June 4, 2018, 10:43 a.m.

Tube in a tube is a hot move - “Yo dog, we heard you like tubes so we put your tube in a tube”

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tehllama42
+1 tashi
Tehllama42  - June 3, 2018, 8:04 p.m.

The price range of these has me wondering if I should start taking my racing drone battery straps \(RJX Hobby 300mm ones run $1.20\) and running them in pairs.  Same non-slip silicone coating, they're actually fairly tough, comes in a kevlar reinforced variant, and with arguably better color options.  Did I mention the price?

The other part is that old MOLLE tactical gear \(varying quality ranges will do\) can be similarly attached... 550cord does wonders as well, if you're a captain of tying knots.  That said, I currently make do with an old Ares Gear fanny pack that holds my pump, tube, FAK, tire levers, phone, patch kit, multitool, spare link, tape rolls, and housekey.

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slyfink
0
slyfink  - June 11, 2018, 8:03 a.m.

I've been wanting to ditch the pack for years.  But if I have to wear a fanny pack, I just don't see the point.  I have three caveats that I'd need adressed before ditching the pack.  If anyone has suggestions, I'm all ears.  I have a Transition Patrol, so room for one water bottle.

1. need to be able to carry 1.25l of water.  It's what I go through on a typical ride.

2. need to be able to carry a proper pump (with a hose)

3. no fanny pack. 

I figure a tube strapped to the frame, a multi-tool and wolftooth pliers in a tiny saddle bag, a solid water bottle mount for the pump and bottle.  But I still can't figure out the 1.25l of water...  I'd need two water bottles...  are there any options out there I'm not seeing?

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - June 12, 2018, 12:15 a.m.

slyfink - fold up bottles?  https://www.amazon.co.uk/HydraMate-FOLDABLE-WATER-BOTTLE-Eco-Friendly/dp/B01HR02RNI/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1528787660&sr=8-4&keywords=collapsible+water+bottles. 

Assuming you can get 750ml in a bottle on the bike you still need to carry another 500ml.  Jersey pocket?

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