Review: Camelbak Palos

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The mountain bike world is divided into two types of people: those who love bumbags and those who’ve never tried them. The former camp are definitely well in the minority, but with more bike-specific options being offered, there’s no reason not to give your upper body the liberation it’s been craving all these years.

CamelBak aren’t newcomers to the fanny pack game. I’ve tried both their jogging and paddling packs previously, with some success, but their specificity to those sports didn’t make them ideal for riding. Other riding-styled bumbags fitted better but didn’t offer water carrying capacity, essential if you truly want to ditch the backpack.

The Palos has a 1.5l reservoir and a better fit against the back with a flat, firm padded panel and a wider belt to prevent digging into tender flab. Carrying water low lets the weight sit in the small of your back and on the hips, without pulling your neck and shoulders backwards or sliding forward and hitting the back of your helmet on steep descents. The hose wraps around the waist belt and attaches with a magnet, making it easy to locate for a drink although it takes a bit of practice to nail the re-docking.

There’s more than enough storage for most of the stuff you’d carry on a day ride in a pack, with a large main compartment and a fold-out flap with zippered pockets that easily holds keys, phone, tools and a tube snugly. The flap can stash a jacket, and you’ll never suffer from sweaty-pub-back-patch again.

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But forget all the actual useful advantages; most people are more worried about looks. Well, if you think a bumbag looks worse than a backpack, then you probably prefer Quasimodo’s profile to Beyoncé’s.

Brett Kennedy

*More info on the Palos can be found here...