Over the last few seasons we’ve been exploring alternative ways to carry our trail riding essentials. We’ve tried utilizing seat bags, stuffing jersey and short pockets in addition to strapping tools to our bikes. While many of these solutions have been worked, our favorite solution has been a waist pack.
Waist packs, AKA bum bags or fanny packs, often get a bad rap as a fashion faux pas, most often adorn by cargo short wearing tourists. However, if you can get over the fact they’re waist packs, it’s hard to dismiss their functionality. My favorite waist pack to date is the Palos 4LR Waistpack from Camelbak.
The Palos has enough space to carry the equivalent to two water bottles and your basic riding essentials, all without the restrictive feel of a pack. Unlike a typical fanny pack, the Palos includes a fluid reservoir and the ability to hydrate without the struggle to remove a bottle. It also is significantly friendlier on your body in the event of a crash.
We found the best aspect of the pack to be the storage capacity. The Palos stows your gear securely via a number of compartments, each of which is secured with a zipper. An envelope closure is utilized for a side pocket, which is perfect for quick access to energy food.
An integrated tool roll simplifies the act of locating tools for trail side repairs and puts the essentials within easy reach. The wide variety of pockets makes it easy to keep organized and includes a key clip and room for a phone in the outside pocket. The overflow storage even lets you attach armor to the outside of the pack. (I found myself stashing my jacket there when it got warm)
Secure storage is often our main reason to select the waist pack over utilizing our jersey pockets. We’ve lost a number of rather expensive tools while using jersey pockets which simply up to the task of aggressive off-road cycling, much less impacts with the ground.
On top of it all, the bag has an impressive hydration capacity of 1.5 liters. I’m horrible with measurements, so I prefer to think in terms of water bottles. The included bladder roughly contains the equivalent to two water bottles, which combined with a bottle on my frame, gives me quite a bit of range. (jersey pockets, you have been out matched!)
The Palos wears much like the Lumbar pack series, and inherits many of the design features, including the side pockets and 1.5 L bladder. It also adds the magnetic tube catch first seen in the new Skyline LR, which helps manage the drink tube. It takes a few rides to get used to it, but I found myself clipping the tube back without having to look down.
On the trail
I’ve been wearing it on rides ranging from 1-3 hours in length; first ride impressions were great and continued getting better over time. And the best part? No more sweaty back on warm days.
Like the Lumbar Series, carries the weight low on the hips, helping to lower your center of gravity, and aiding with stability and balance. Lumbar compression straps are smartly designed into the pack, allowing it to be cinched snugly and minimizing pack sway.
Nothing sloshed around and it didn’t feel as much like a bag strapped to my waist as much as an extension. Had it been loose, the effect of sudden weight shifting in the hips could cause oversteer and easily throw you off. I never had that issue, even ripping tight turns or whipping the bike around on jump lines.
I run a fairly minimal carry when utilizing this pack. If you like to tote a lot of stuff on rides, you’ll want to keep the straps cinched tight to avoid sway. However, I find this consistent of all the packs I’ve run. If I’m headed out on a back country mission, I’ll swap out to a back pack for more options for carrying gear, as I adjust my ride carry accordingly.
The Palos works great for sessions at many of our favorite spots and rides ranging from 1-3 hours. I’ve used it for shuttling gravity runs as well, but recently acquired a Camelbak Kudu, the enduro-specific model from Camelback that also features spine protection — safety first!
My only beef with the Palos to date? The bold color choice. Obviously not a deal breaker for a lot of riders, but we would like a grey/black or neutral color option, so we could get one to coordinate when riding our other bikes and kits. However, I liked it enough chose the color of a recent bike purchase to match it.
The Camelback Palos 4LR sells for $75.00.
Check it out a Camelbak.com