Utility belt.

19 01 2013

What is the first thing that springs to mind when someone says “utility belt” to you? Batman? Action Man/G.I Joe? the military?

Over the last few years I have tried to move away from carrying a ruck sack on short/local rides. The reasons are self evident – less encumbrance and a less sweaty back. However, there is no doubt it is useful to carry a few tools, spares and in some instances food and other items such as a camera or mini tripod. Even that inescapable sign of modernity the iPhone has to be packed somewhere.

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when I first started mountain biking, a bum bag (or fanny pack if your are from over the pond) was the way to carry your stuff. Along with global hypercolour t-shirts, Oakley frogskins and Axo pony boots, it was a sign of the times. If you were on your game, your bum bag would have a bottle holster as well.

Of course, if overstuffed, the weight around your waist was an issue as the straps could dig in, or the bag could slide around pretty easily. That banana for mid ride snack might get squished in a crash as well.

As the years went by and specifically with the introduction of Camelbaks (hydrate or die!) a ruck sack became de rigeur. Nowadays, I would say you don’t look the part unless there is an Osprey or a fluorescent rain-covered lump on your back. Mountain biking turtles.

But with sensible choices, all equipment can be stowed about your person and on the bike, negating the need for the ruck sack. Perhaps you will stow the tube, levers and a multi too in a small under saddle bag. A bar bag (the Revelate gas tanks and mountain feedbags are ideal) make space for snacks and your phone to be within reach when needed. Baggy pants and shorts mean a belt can be used to attach a small hip pack or two giving stable, accessible places to keep the camera, your keys and maybe an extra layer of clothing.

I tend to use a Patagonia webbing belt, a small Pac designs pouch and perhaps another Timbuk 2 or Wingnut auxiliary pouch. Occasionally I also attach a folding saw in case of deadfall or low branches. However, you can buy ready-to-go versions such as the Lowe Pro street & field utility belt.

As is so often the way, what goes around comes around. Bum bags have become utility belts.

For those truly interested and/or bored I will list my 2-3 hour max/not-isolated destination ride kit:

iPhone in clear zip lock bag.
Canon S95.
Mini tripod.
1x Park tyre lever.
1x lightweight continental inner tube.
1x Genuine innovations Mountain pipe.
1x Genuine innovations folding multi tool – well worth a look – as the bits fit well and they are small, light and offer plenty of leverage.
1x food (flap jack, energy bar, Clif bloks).
Sometimes a Gerber folding saw.
1x water bottle.

1x Patagonia Houdini jacket if rain is a possibility.

That’s it.
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5 responses

19 01 2013
Grant Doig

Well, I’m certainly interested. I can’t really use a camelbak much so I’ve had to develop a similar approach to you but using jersey pockets and bottle cages on the bike.

Everything is spread out evenly between the three jersey pockets bar housekeys and multitool, which each go in a shorts pocket and the spare tube is taped to the bike.

I tried using a small saddle wedge for a while but the zips just got bunged up with trail debris and died.

21 01 2013
d

fag belt

22 01 2013
AdamM

I’m going the same way, Jon, in not wanting to use a Camelbak or similar on shorter rides (which all of mine are). A bottle is enough for drinking, I rarely need any food, but rather than a belt I’m experimenting with a Jandd frame bag. If that ‘almost’ works, then it’ll be time to buy a sewing machine and make exactly what I want.

23 01 2013
While Out Riding

I’m feeling a strange resurgence towards the awkwardly titled Bum Bag. Keep it light enough and it’s barely noticeable. It’s handy for a light thermal and a waterproof shell. I found a Camelbak bum bag in an REI Scratch and Dent sale. $10 seemed a reasonable price to experiment…

23 01 2013
Stephen

Same here, reverted back to small bum bag, hardly noticeable, no sweaty back, bottle on frame bad-bing-bad-boom, single speed jones heaven.

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