Tuesday, July 20

Dead horses beware

I know the proverbial "they" say there is no sense (know cents for Thad) beating a dead horse. On the contrary, beating a dead horse makes all the sense in the world in comparison to beating a live horse. You get all the pleasure of taking your anger out on a large deceased equine without the risk of getting a retaliatory kick or having to deal with the guilt of being an animal abuser.

This is my blog, and if I wanna beat a dead horse I will do it. Not only will I beat a dead horse I will give it the full Shawshank treatment... the full Shawshank treatment. That horse won't be walking normal for a week, assuming it could walk, but it can't because it's dead.

The cycling specific hydration pack was invented by Camelbak. There's no arguing about that. Here I am wearing either a first or second generation Camelbak sometime back in the waaaay early 90's.

The bladder just went into a giant Koozie sleeve and was slung on your back with two tiny little straps that dug into your shoulders while a 70oz liquid Tootsie Roll bounced around between your shoulder blades. I think it's fair enough to say that all hydration packs are just a rip off of the original Camelbak. That is, of course, we don't want to give credit to the first guy who cut the bladder out of a goat, filled it with water, and slung it over his shoulder using a braided cord made out of wallaby hair. I guess maybe it's not the same thing unless the originator managed to fashion a hose outta the goat's upper intestine and maybe used the wallaby sphincter as a bite valve.... he probably didn't take it that far.

Jimmy the Gimp was the first person I knew that had a Camelbak. Jimmy always had the coolest stuff first. His Haro had the first Manitou on it, he ran Grafton brakes, and he had a full suspension bike years before the rest of us (a Doug Bradbury/Answer made frame with two fork legs for seat stays). That Camelbak was the coolest upgrade I could afford to keep up with the Gimps, so I got one too.

The first Camelbak had NO STORAGE whatsoever. You could jam shit down into the tubular Koozie, but it meant leaving out a little bit of water and it made for difficult access to your tools when you needed them. Eventually they came out with the Humpty Bak, which was just a tiny pouch held in by the velcro at the top of the Koozie (I've got one in the above photo). I could only fit a tube, a CO2 inflator, a multi-tool, and half a car key inside of it. Eventually companies other than Camlebak, like Two Fish, made sleeves for the Koozie with pockets for your tools and shit, and then the whole concept of packs with pockets took off and other companies jumped into the fray, and then here we are today arguing about who makes the best pack and who ripped off who's ideas (or is it "whom's ideas"?).

The Bell helmet I'm wearing in the photo was one of the first helmets with a retention device on the rear, the Reebok Pump. It worked well enough, and the idea of a helmet grabbing the back of your skull caught on to the point that you can't buy a decent helmet without a Roc Loc, GPS Fit System, Spiderlock Elite retention system, or whatever those copycats want to call their products. Don't we all benefit from the advancement of helmet technology brought about by the competition between helmet manufacturers? Sure we do, and we should be grateful or else we'd all have headaches from over pumping our Reebok Pumps.

So Camelbak, Hydrapak, Wing Nut, Osprey... you name it, they all have to give credit to one another for pushing their respective companies to make a better product. I've had a shit ton of hydration packs, and I've hated to majority of them, and even the ones I liked still had room for improvement. I hate wearing packs in general, but sometimes the ride necessitates it, so I gotta go with the lesser of all the evils.

I've had seven Camelbaks, one Wingnut, one Bell, one Ergon, one Hydrapak, and one huge pack made by some company I can't remember. I had a nit to pick with every one of them, but I still own four of them, although I hold onto two of them since my late father bought them for me to help with my 24 hour racing aspirations back in the day. Two of them are my current go-to packs, the 2006 Wingnut Assault and the 2000 Camelbak Blowfish. When I have to wear a pack I use either one of them pretty equally. What don't I like about either one of them?

The Camelbak Blowfish had to be vastly improved (by me) for me to continue using it. I added a two inch waist strap, a compression cord for extra clothing, and I rerouted the hose under the shoulder. I never modified the Wingnut, but it had/has its issues. I blew out a zipper after a few months use (a common issue on WN gear from what some of my friends have experienced), though the folks at Wingnut fixed it without a blink. The original bite valve was shitcanned and replaced with a Camelbak valve (I guess that is a modification, but whatever). The bladder lid was untethered, and would inevitably fall interior side down in the dirt when I tried to fill it in a hurry, like when I was racing, which is what I bought the Assault for to begin with. I like that you can fill the bladder without removal, but any pack that puts the bladder in the main compartment so that when you overfill the bladder (because you're in a hurry) you end up soaking your gear? Not so much. I also ended up mending the mesh straps quite a few times. A word to pack manufacturers: if you're going to use mesh on the outside of your water sacks test it thoroughly before you commit to a design. It was a weak point on more of the packs I owned than I can remember.

I haven't even ridden with my new Camelbak, but I already wish it had a two inch waist strap. Nobody does that, so I guess if I want it I'll have to make it happen. The other nit I have to pick is that it does not allow for under the shoulder routing of the hose without some modification. That's one of my favorite things about my Wingnut and my modified Blowfish. Under the shoulder routing allows the tube to come right up to a hands free drinking position with no leaks. It should be an option on all packs IMHO.

So argue all you want about who ripped off who's idea in my comments. As long as the breed improves in the name of competition I'm all for it, otherwise we'd all be wearing the 70oz liquid Tootsie Roll, driving Ford Model T's, and drinking the same kind of beer. Blatant copies without improving the breed? See the American light beer industry for an example of where that will get you. Look closely at the images of the Octane LR and the Wingnut Hyper 2.5, the Enduro, or even the Hyper 3.0. The only real similarity I see is that they all carry the weight lower than with a regular pack. Easy access pockets on the sides? Who isn't doing that nowadays? Hell, I did it back in 2006. As my friend Stabby once said "All movies are based on Beowulf. It's a fact."

Still not happy? Let's grab our fire tipped pitchforks and assemble in mass to storm the factories of the interlopers.

All comments are welcome...


Anonymous said...

Geez, I assumed I'd be tuning in to more ORAMM smack. This'll be my first and I'm doing it SS so I'm interested in that. Don't give a fvck about hydration pack Wingnut Hyper 3 is the best I've ever controverzee!

allan said...

Agreed. Competition improves the breed.

Anonymous said...

It's called a Koozie?? Cool sounds like I have a the best part of a chick on my back.

I have one and still use it, I love how it it just holds the neccesities...water!!


Anonymous said...

I thought everyone was ripping off Judas Priest.

wv - abesmo

Abe's mo able to ride 100 miles with a state of the art hydration pack.

Anonymous said...

I still have a couple of those camel backs, a half back and a hump back.

Great stuff for growing your own medicine.

kbark said...

I love my Camelback Classic. It holds 70oz, a couple of bucks and maybe a key if you're lucky. Sometimes you just don't need to carry a bunch of crap.

Greg said...

dude, is that a 96er? You are soooo cutting edge....