Mountain Bike Pack Load – Heavy…

2 05 2013
My MTB backpack load...

My MTB backpack load…

Some people worry about gaining or losing 100g off their mountain bike. I ride with the equivalent of a small child on my back and my bike is heavy as well! I just keep telling myself it’s a great training aid and some day this will all pay off when I am sponsored by Santa Cruz and living the dream. 😉

Rear view...

Rear view…

The pack is a 15yr+ old Camelbak Transalp. At the time this was heinously expensive and I had doubts about buying it, but once I actually started using it I fell in love and it’s only costs me a couple quarters a month to own.

Side view...

Side view…

I’ve tried a bunch of newer uber packs over the years, but nothing has displaced the Transalp from my regular rotation. It carries its weight well and is comfortable for all day efforts. It has something like 30L of capacity split up between a few storage areas and has lots of external temporary storage if I need to really haul a ton of stuff.

A little saggy in its old age...

A little saggy in its old age…

Despite loads of use it hasn’t let me down yet. There are some areas of minor wear and tear, but nothing that has compromised its functionality. Besides being a bit faded and dirty it still looks pretty good.

It can get sweaty...

It can get sweaty…

If I was going to complain about it I would tell you that my back gets sweaty and that the waist belt is unpadded. I’ve tried some of the new packs with mesh backs and space between the pack and my body to let airflow between them. I haven’t come across one that was comfy and that airflow space takes away from the pack’s storage space. The unpadded belt means this pack is happiest with a medium load. You can carry lots of heavy stuff, but you’ll know it’s there.

What you can’t see is a rain cover tucked into a small pocket on the bottom of the pack. Very handy when the rain starts to fall unexpectedly.

It's all about the DSLR...

It’s all about the DSLR…

The main reason I carry the Transalp on trail rides is so I can haul my DSLR. It’s bulky and a tad heavy so I need something bigger than your typical hydration pack to bring it along. The DSLR stays inside its padded case in the main body of the Transalp. That gives it a reasonable amount of impact and vibration protection.

I usually also carry a small point and shoot on the waist belt in a padded case. Sometimes I don’t have time to stop and deploy the DSLR, but I want to document something. I have fallen onto my small camera during some crashes. So far I haven’t broken one. **fingers crossed**

H2O and tools...

H2O and tools…

I use a 100oz Nalgene bladder for most rides. The Transalp can fit two of these bladders for epic camel capacity, but I can’t recall ever needing that much water.

I carry the following tools and spares:

  • Topeak pump
  • shock pump
  • multitool w/ chain tool
  • tire levers
  • patch kit w/ 2 tubes of glue
  • spare tube
  • tubeless tire plug kit

The ziplock bag holds an ultralight Patagonia wind shell and a LED headlamp for emergencies. I try to remember to recharge the headlamp batteries every 3 months or so.

If I am going on a really long really remote ride I would add in some zipties and a small roll of electrical tape. Possibly a couple kevlar emergency spokes.

F/A kit...

F/A kit…

I carry a small first aid kit for repairing any human crash damage. I got to use it in Moab when one of the guys I was riding with punched a tree during a high speed crash and received a partially severed tendon for his trouble. The 4 ER doctors I was riding with didn’t have a bandaid between them so this kit came in very handy 2hrs from help [with a car pick up].

This all goes in the small pocket...

This all goes in the small pocket…

In the smaller pocket on the back of the Transalp I carry:

  • map
  • cellphone in waterproof case [assuming there is any hope of getting service to call 911]
  • some snacks
  • wallet [assuming there is any place to use it]
  • eye drops [if it’s dusty]
Hauling the Transalp and smiling...

Hauling the Transalp and smiling…

Although I can’t say the heft of this pack is unnoticeable. It’s mostly when I pick it up after a rest break or photo session that I’m aware of how heavy it is. I can ride technical terrain with it and still smile and I never feel like I’m being held back terribly. The DSLR photos are so much better than my point and shoot cameras that I am always motivated to carry it after processing images from both types of cameras.



4 responses

2 05 2013

A small child on your back….yep! I have a Camelbak Trinity, which is strikingly similar to the Transalp. Very comfy and roomy–1700cu in I think. You carry a lot of the same stuff I do, though I can’t wear my Trinity when I ride (recumbent) so it all goes in the Bacchetta bag.

I too got to use my road rash kit recently when I stopped to help a family whose child had crashed badly on the MUP. Fair bit of blood and fears, but nothing some tape and a 4×3″ gauze pack couldn’t handle. Pretty ironic that 4 ER docs didn’t have a bandaid between ’em on your ride!

2 05 2013
Brian E

FYI, Just a few items I carry for bigger rides: Disposable poncho, Space blanket, duct tape wrapped around a pencil, paper, ibuprofen, cigarette lighter that works in the rain.

2 05 2013
Steve J.

Ortlieb Bent pack: Vic says ” I don’t get sweaty”
Trans Alp Vic says ” If I was going to complain about it I would tell you that my back gets sweaty”

Ha ha! Gotcha Vic.

I’m just glad to hear you really are human like the rest of us! I suspected that all along of course!

2 05 2013

@Steve – mountain biking is like a running race and city riding is like hiking…so my sweat output is radically different between the two. I don’t wear my Ortlieb Velocity pack MTBing. If I did I’m sure I’d get sweaty wearing it. I think the foam on the Ortlieb provides better ventilation as well.

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