Outdoor Adventures: Pack it up
Whether cycling or hiking, you’ve got to carry your stuff. With all those straps, zippers and compartments, there can be some dizzying pack choices. But sometimes there are packs that just ease everything in. Here are a few I’ve been stuffing lately:
Grocery shopping and bicycling have come a long way. The backpack was once a choice means of transporting those express-lane items from store to kitchen. But it often became bulky and heavy, especially during the days when tomato soup and tuna fish was frequently offered on the menu. Plus, and this is absolutely true, it became somewhat uncomfortable when lobster was for dinner and those tenacious crustaceans decided to shift about while in the backpack. But along comes the D2R Shopper Pannier from Detours ($55, detours.us) and the experience shifts to a new level.
The bag has an ingenious addition to a pannier – a handle. Sure, you can use a regular pannier to do what this bag does, but this saddlebag is a mobile shopping bag. Easy on and off the bike rack, the bag goes with you right into the store, making you clean and green. With some 1,300 cubic inches of space and capable of a 22-pound load, it can carry quite a few staples, depending what they are. Flat while on the bike, the flat bottomed bag expands when filled. There’s a reflective stripe so cyclists are visible should shopping come near desk. The small zippered inside pocket’s also a good place for a wallet and keys. Not shopping? Use it for the commute or to go to the post office. It’s so green, too. The best part? If lobster is for dinner, they can rock all they want.
When it comes to biking, the handlebar bag is a rolling treasure chest for quick fixes. For those on a bike tour, it contains those must-get-to necessities – sun screen, bug dope, snacks, phone, map, tools, light jacket, baseball cap, wallet, sunglasses, etc. Commuters use them for small essentials that might save them the effort of putting on a bike rack or using a backpack.
The bags also offer versatility. They can be waterproof and, with a strap, can convert to a convenient shoulder bag like Detours Sodo ( $78, detours.us) handlebar bag. The Sodo comes with a bracket mount system that’s fairly easy to install and allows the bag to lock into the bracket. Unlock it with the push of a button. The bag fit nicely on a straight handlebar also equipped with an odometer and features two large zippered pockets covered with a waterproof flap. That’s a great place to put your phone and maps, though it was maddening at times to have to fold the maps down to size to slide in.
The bag’s interior is compartmentalized with mesh and zippered sections for everything from spare change to keys (there’s a clip) and other items you may want to stash away from the main bay. On the outside, there are places for water bottles and, should you need it, a rain cover. The rugged bag was a fine place to hold my digital SLR and baseball cap during benign rides on paved rail trails.
There are two words that come to mind after spending time with the Red Rock 25L ($79.95, mountainsmith.com) by Mountainsmith: light and durable. Let’s throw in a third – versatile. The backpack is the mule of the outdoor world, and that world can be in the woods or on the sidewalk. The sharp-looking daypack comes with four spacious zippered pockets of varying sizes. Phone’s good in one and laptop in another. That’s key. The pack was a boon during a handful of flights as a carry-on bag, too, that held some snacks and a water bottle in one of two outside slots. The top handle proved convenient. On the trail, the waist and chest straps aided in easing the load. A surprise plus is the yellow interior. The bright backdrop made finding stuff (once I remembered which compartment it was in) a breeze. The pack was a comfortable fit for 6-foot tall me, but a bit too big for my 5-foot tall hiking honey who still looked good wearing it. Then again, I used it and carried her stuff.
(Marty Basch can be reached through onetankaway.com.)