Suburban Assault


with 2 comments

Melted Ice

I admit it, I am horrible with remembering to stay hydrated when I ride. But, as consistant 100+ degree temperatures hit north Texas, my body is making it easy to remember.

My typical hydration method is a standard sized water bottle caged to my bike frame. It works, but there are some problems and limitations with that:

– Not convenient while riding – Sure, I’m capable of grabbing it and taking a sip while rolling, but I’ve been trying to keep all my focus on riding – while riding. Gotta stay alert, right?

– Limited Amount – For most rides, a single water bottle is sufficient, and I hardly use much (I did say I was horrible at hydration). However, on the longer, hotter commutes, there is barely enough to get me home. I find myself having to conserve when I shouldn’t.

– Hot Water – I’ll put refrigerated water and ice in my bottle, but 3 miles into my commute, it’s ready to hard boil eggs. I’ve seen insulated bottles, and I may still look into getting one.

The solution: Camelbak backpacks. Anybody who has been on a bike or done anything remotely athletic has heard of Camelbak hydration products. Camelbak backpacks provide more storage for water that’s easy to consume through a convenient ‘feed tube’. The packs also provide a good amount of insulation to keep your water cooler for much longer.

I have one of their earlier models from my mountain bike days, which is basically a neoprene-like pouch with some narrow nylon straps, containing a tall, plastic water reservoir with a feed tube. It keeps me hydrated, but is incredibly uncomfortable. The narrow straps cut into my shoulders while the pouch sloshes all over my back. Quite frankly, it’s so uncomfortable, that I prefer not to use it for long rides.

Well, Camelbak has come a long way since the neoprene pouch. They’ve since, redesigned their packs to be more ergonomic – with wide, comfortable straps, better ventilation and a water reservoir that better distributes it’s weight across your back. The packs are also multi-functional, with extra compartments to carry stuff.

So, for the sake of better hydration, I decided to upgrade. I picked up a Rogue on sale at Performance (along with some earned Performance Points, it was nearly half off).


The Rogue is completely awesome – and one of my best commuter accessory so far. It’s so comfortable that I barely notice that it’s there. With the exception of the bit that’s in the exposed feed tube, the water stays cool for my entire commute. The handy compartments are great for storing keys, tools and snacks – there’s also a slot for my U-Lock (although not spec’d for it). Even fully loaded, the balanced distribution of weight across my back makes it less of a burden than my messenger bag.

It’s not perfect. Having your water out of sight makes it harder to gauge how much you have left. For now, I’ll be carrying a spare bottle in the cage as a backup. Also, on my first long commute with the Camelbak, I over rotated on the hydration and got a little waterlogged. I’ll be sure to dial that down as well.

They’re also pretty high maintenance. Unlike a water bottle that can be tossed into a dishwasher, the Camelbak‘s water reservoir needs to be drained and thoroughly dried (when not in use – for extended periods of time) to prevent mold buildup. Fortunately, the newer reservoir has been better designed to make it easier. It features: “1/4 turn – easy open/close cap, lightweight fillport, dryer arms”…and…”easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening.” It’s a lot easier than the water reservoir in my old Camelbak pack.

Overall, the Camelbak backpack is a great investment. You don’t need to be a hardcore rider to use one – just the need to stay well hydrated.


Written by dickdavid

August 9, 2012 at 6:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. I think I’ll stick to water bottles and free, triple filtered ice water. Somehow the thought of a backpack in 110F weather seems unappealing.

    Steve A

    August 9, 2012 at 9:10 am

  2. I have used Camelbaks over the last 15 years for longer rides. They keep the liquid cool for about an hour in 100+ temps; longer than insulated bottles. I only put water in mine because sports drinks mean extra cleaning. There’s a drying kit with a plastic frame/hook to hold open the bladder for drying. It includes a brush to scrub the inside of the tube. The backpack design is reasonably comfortable in hot weather considering the trade-off for cooler water.

    Dave M.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm

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