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 the Low Rider hydration pack hub page. This article and all the articles in this section are courtesy of CamelBak.
Mark Weir, Ben Cruz, and Kirt Voreis don’t just ride. They push body, bikes, and gear to the absolute limit. Whether it’s racing hard or venturing deep into the backcountry, these three accomplished pros require 100 percent performance and reliability. That’s especially true for their hydration packs, which must carry both food and drink, and the requisite tools, spare parts, and extra clothing required for full throttle adventures. To find out more about what Weir, Cruz, and Voreis carry with them, as well as what they look for in a hydration pack, check out this enlightening roundtable discussion.
Question: Generally speaking what do you look for in a hydration pack?
Mark Weir: For me it’s all about comfort, usable space, and pockets I can use on the fly. Protection is good, too.
Kirt Voreis: Comfort and mobility. I like slimmer packs that don’t fishtail around on my back. Also I like a pack that has great ventilation when on my back.
Ben Cruz: Cargo space, accessibility, water capacity, comfort, and protection.
Q: The answer is probably obvious, but why a pack instead of just bottles?
MW: Bottles only carry water. That’s not going to fix your bike when it blows up on the trail.
KV: That and I don’t have to reach down to my feet to get a drink of water. It’s also about protection. If I crash on my back the pack will be much softer than just a jersey.
BC: You have to be prepared. There is never enough space in your pockets to carry two bottles, tools, and food without looking like an over stuffed sausage.
Q: Okay, so what is the essential gear that you always carry in your hydration pack?
MW: Shock and tire pumps, spare tube, goggles, spare gloves, jersey, wind breaker, tools, spare screws, spare parts, money, knife. I also always bring tire glue and dynaplug tire plugs. The glue for cuts and the plugs for holes. Blue shop towels also can go a long way, and I have a space blanket and whistle if s**t hits the fan. All my spare gear is packed in Ziplocs, and if it’s real cold those small disposable hand/foot warmers. If I know it’s going to be an epic, I’ll bring more food, a light, and maybe my pistol if I’m going way out. My CamelBak is like my man purse.
BC: Basically the same thing. I always make sure I have a tube, pump, spare derailleur hanger, Powerlink, and a multi tool. Those are the essentials to making sure a ride doesn’t get ended prematurely due to a mechanical. If I know it’s going to be a long ride I’ll toss in some extra food and a little bottle of lube. I never heard anyone complain about a little dash of lube on a dusty ride.
KV: It’s all the basics, flat repair, tools, and Clif Shot blocks. If there’s a chance the weather is going to get ugly, I’ll add a windbreaker, extra gloves, rag in a Ziploc for cleaning lenses, and a flask for a quick warm up.
Q: Talk about a time when your hydration pack truly saved your ass.
KV: I still remember that foil wrapped chorizo burrito that saved the day. Besides food and water, most of my saved-by-CamelBak moments are from getting flipped onto some rough terrain. Too many to remember!
BC: It was just a few weeks ago actually. I was about 10 miles from the nearest access road and nipped a rock. Sheared off my derailleur hanger and bent my chain. I would have had a long walk ahead of me, but instead it was a 20-minute trail side fix and I was back at it.
MW: Riding in Kenya I cut a tire real bad, but I had pieces of cut inner tube, tire glue, and a pump, and it saved me. That was no place you wanted to be stuck, but my CamelBak had my back.
Q: Talk about the benefits of the new CamelBak Skyline 10 LR. It’s a pretty unique pack.
KV: Being low slung, the weight sits over your hips more and not over the center of your back. That helps when climbing to keep the torso from swaying.
MW: Yeah, it’s a great pack. It keeps water low and stable on your back, and compared to traditional packs there is way less flop from side to side when loaded. On super steep downhill trails you will never get this pack sliding up your back and pushing your helmet down over your eyes. The waist straps are wide and give the pack great support without having to be super snug. That’s good for all you belly breathers out there.
BC: I’ll just say this: I feel naked without a pack on. Never ride without one.