Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Mtbr Guide to hydration packs, featuring the new CamelBak Low Rider line. To see all the articles, head over to our Low Rider hydration pack hub page. This article and the articles in this section are courtesy of CamelBak.
The property of gravity is arguably the greatest influencing factor on any mountain bike ride. It’s the proverbial wall that we must ascend when climbing. It’s the physical fuel that propels us down the trail. And it’s the center point that determines our stability and balance on the bike. Without gravity we would never know the joys (and pains) that define fat tire exploration.
We as riders have little control over the first two factors. Earth’s gravitational pull is what it is. Deal with it. But our center of gravity is another story. This, to a certain extent, we can control. But why does it matter so much? Let’s start with a quick video.
To further comprehend this concept, step outside of cycling for a second and consider the beautiful game. Whether you call it soccer or football, there’s no denying that many of the sport’s best players would never make it in the NBA. Indeed, from Pele to Maradona to Messi, you see a pattern. None stood over 6-feet tall — and all benefited from a lower center of gravity that gives them better balance and more stability than taller opponents. Simply put these tiny titans can change direction (and the direction of the ball) faster — and that is how goals are scored.
Now return to the woods and consider the traits required to navigate twisty technical trail. Exactly! You need to be able to change direction quickly at speed. And how do you enhance that ability? You lower your center of gravity. And while we can’t change our height (or required frame size), we can opt for equipment that gets that key balance point closer to the ground.
That can mean a lower bottom bracket — or a hydration pack that positions water and cargo weight on the hips, reducing weight on the shoulder harness, and more importantly, delivering a lower center of gravity with greater freedom of movement. And that is precisely what CamelBak’s line of Low Rider hydration packs achieve. By utilizing a lumbar-located reservoir and cargo pockets, water and gear weight is moved off your upper body and onto your hips.
This reduces the upper portion of the pack, allowing your back to breathe and move freely, and the lowered weight distribution delivers more G-forces in tight turns. Or put another way, your tires, bike, and body all stay closer to the trail, allowing you to rail berms like never before. Indeed, you gain increased stability for fast aggressive riding.
Of course there’s more to it than just weight distribution. Each of these full-featured (and award winning) packs have expertly placed, easy-to-access pockets, and a tool roll to keep gear organized. They also include helmet hooks and compression webbing for storing soft armor, and come with 7 liters of cargo capacity and an 100oz Antidote lumbar reservoir with magnetic tube trap for easy drinking and fast tube securing between sips. That reservoir is held in place by a cinch belt and webbing that tightens as water is consumed, all but eliminating unwanted sloshing. The Low Rider Skyline 10 LR and women’s specific Solstice 10 LR packs also feature XV back panels for improved ventilation.
And if your ride time doesn’t necessitate a full pack, you can opt for the Palos LR, a revolutionary reservoir-based waist pack designed specifically for mountain biking. With its 50oz reservoir and 2.5 liters of cargo capacity, it’s the perfect option for aggressive riders who need more than just a water bottle, but who don’t want to carry a full backpack. The Palos keeps water and cargo securely centered around your waist, leaving your shoulders and back free. And once again this lowers your center of gravity, meaning more stability, balance, and speed on the trail.
Who says you can’t control gravity?