Press Camp 2017 gear preview: bike bags, packs and hydration

The nice thing about Press Camp is that most of the companies attending are actually showcasing new product. A few things stood out to us on the pack, travel and hydration sides of things from Camelbak and Thule. Here are the highlights:

Camelbak Quick Stow Flask

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The thing that grabbed my attention from Camelbak was one of the simplest, least-expensive items displayed at Press Camp. The half-liter Quick Stow Flask is simply Camelbak’s bladder material with a lockable bite valve, an insulated option, a hole for hanging the flask to dry and packability. This little thing will fit in all kinds of bag corners. Take it on tour for extra water storage or stick it in a rear jersey pocket: it will be much more comfortable than a bottle as it will conform to your spine and can be more easily stowed when empty.

Available in October, the non-insulated version will sell for $20 while an insulated version (Quick Stow Chill) will sell for $28. Note that Camelbak said not to use the hole in the bottom for clipping the flask to a pack or otherwise; it’s strength was not tested for banging around on a carabiner while full of liquid.

Camelbak Reservoir Updates

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Camelbak’s reservoir line got an update that was about five years in the making. Flow rate was increased by 20 percent thanks to a larger tube and a 45-degree (not 90-degree) angle on the bite valve. The bite valve has a new on-off flow switch that’s self-explanatory. Also updated is the handle, which is easier to hold and slips into pockets on the updated packs for security and stability.

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The best update, in my opinion, is the cap. If you have ever had an entire water bladder leak out all over your car/back/wherever, you know how annoying some of them can be to properly and securely close. Camelbak came up with what they call a “pickle-jar” closure. Just put the cap on, turn and it’s sealed—no fiddling with alignment required. It really is that simple.

Camelbak MULE Lowrider

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Camelbak’s lowrider packs situate water in a squat, square-shaped bladder that keeps the weight lower on your back. Most commonly seen in mountain biking, they’re also comfortable for touring and road riders who like packs for lengthy excursions.

Previously, the lowrider packs were rather small. Camelbak previewed a new, 15-liter Mule LR with 3 liters of water capacity and 12 liters of gear capacity that will retail for $150. That added room means this bag could be a good choice for bikepackers—stick some clothing or a sleeping bag in with your water and free up more room for gear in your bike bags.

These bags have some serious engineering in them. The plethora of adjustment straps, widgets and pockets take some getting used to, so this bag won’t be for those who just want a cavernous, unfussy opening. But if you like to stay organized and keep the bag well-fit to your back, this will be one to check out. A rain cover, tool roll pouch and waist strap pockets are included.

Thule Bike Bags

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Thule is expanding its line of bike bags. In addition to its panniers, Thule is adding a waterproof, roll-top handlebar bag. This one has a clear plastic map pocket on top and a simplified mounting system for attaching the bag to the handlebars.

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The bag easily clips off if you need to take it with you. The mounting system also doubles as an adjustable cell phone holder. A roll-closure saddle bag made of the same waterproof material will also be offered.

 

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Brooks expands luggage line with Expedition bags

Brooks England is of course best known for its bicycle saddles, but in recent years the brand has expanded well beyond with all manner of accessories that perfectly match the classic style of the bikes that so often bear its saddles.

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Norfolk and Suffolk panniers

This pair of front and rear panniers might look like they’re made from a classic cotton canvas material, but they’re actually a lightweight and waterproof synthetic. The material is Bluesign certified, meaning it is manufactured in an environmentally responsible way. They all feature an external pocket as well as stretchy side pockets for water bottles or small items. The Norfolk front panniers hold 10 to 13 liters of cargo each and the Suffolk rear panniers hold 18 to 22 liters. They are built around the Ortlieb QL2 attachment system that features an integrated handle for carrying them off the bike. They are each available in three colors: black, green and dove. The Norfolk sells for €100 each (which is about $109) and the Suffolk is €120 each ($130).

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Isle of Wight saddle bag

A classic saddlebag for tools and tubes, the Isle of Wight is made from the same synthetic material as the panniers with genuine Brooks leather accents. It has twin zipper access in each of the three available sizes: 0.8 liters, 1.2 liters and 1.8 liters. Also available in black, green or dove it is made in Italy and sells for €50 to €60 ($54 to $65).

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Isle of Skye handlebar bag

Rounding out the package is the Isle of Skye handlebar bag, also made from the Bluesign waterproof material. A great option for carrying the basics with you on the bike and easily taking them with you off the bike, the Isle of Skye attaches with the Ortlieb KlickFix system. The detachable shoulder strap means you can detach it from your bike and take it wherever you need to. It holds approximately 9 liters of gear and retails for €145 ($158). It is only available in the dove color.

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First Look: Green Guru Athena Clutch

I’m always searching for a ways to look fashionable, yet remain practical on a bicycle. Those two things are often difficult to mesh. Purses are especially troublesome; if they’re not stored in a pannier or strapped to a rack, they’re simply in the way. For evenings out on the town I’m guilty of filling my boyfriend’s pockets with accoutrements, so I can leave my purse behind.

Gree Guru Athena Clutch—WEB (4 of 6)

Enter the Athena Clutch, a cycling focused clutch design by Kyla Burnet of Green Guru, the Boulder based maker of bags and accessories. As with all of their products, the Athena Clutch is made from repurposed materials; the slim, lightweight, design is crafted from a brightly colored banner on the exterior and a fabric lined interior, with two pockets. A large magnetic flap and zipper closure keep the elements at bay and reflective accents help with visibility.

The clutch hand strap, made from a bike inner tube, runs tightly across the back of the bag and the tube’s tackiness makes the clutch easy to hold on to off the bike. Two reflective hook and loop straps clip to the bag making it easy to attach the clutch to the bars, top tube, or rack, and suitable for use with any bike.

Gree Guru Athena Clutch—WEB (6 of 6)

In addition to carrying my smartphone and a small wallet, I managed to store a tube, patch kit, and tire levers without too much effort. I own very few bicycle focused products that I use while not biking, so I love coming across a product that is suitable for a well-rounded lifestyle. When I look at the Athena Clutch I see a trendy purse that happens to work very well on a bicycle.

Gree Guru Athena Clutch—WEB (5 of 6)

The Athena Clutch is prepped for production but Green Guru needs your help launching the Athena line, which will be 100% constructed in Boulder, Colorado. Take a look at their Kickstarter campaign (ending October 13th!) and receive your own Athena Clutch for a pledge of $58 dollars or more.

 

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