May 29, 2014

I'm Beginning To Feel Like An Endurance Rider

Well...not really. But I am beginning to acquire more endurance-y things which makes me feel closer to belonging, so that counts, right?

We used a cantle bag that S had (in red too which was awesome!) to carry water and such during the RnT. I have not used a pack on Gem before for many reasons and so this was a little new for both of us. She didn't mind it one bit. But I wasn't so keen on it. In theory I have always not liked packs. They are just one more thing to rub on my horse and potentially cause a problem. Plus I just don't like the idea of making Gem lug around my water for me. Logically it doesn't make a bit of difference if the water is on her or me since the overall weight she is carrying is the same, but I am more than capable of wearing a pack as well and she already has a metal bit in her mouth, the bridle, the pad, the saddle, etc... Why should I get to have on my comfy shirt and favorite riding tights and be all light weight and free while she is loaded down with crap?

The bag sat ok on her and didn't cause rubs but it bounced around a ton and I really don't think it would work at all for 50 miles. I know I would be sore if I had a pack banging the small of my back for that long. The other issue was access to the water. Since the pack was behind me, I would have to twist around, unzip and pull out the water bottle and then repeat to replace. How many times do you think I did this from the saddle? None. I drank when I was on the ground preparing to mount back up and that was it.

I had toyed with the idea of using my running water belt, but it just didn't seem like it would be all that comfy while in the saddle.

Enter a camelbak. The perfect solution to easy water access that I could wear myself. The tube provides instant access to water with the use of only one hand while still looking forward to prevent getting lost (ha!!) and no zippers are required. The problem? I didn't have one.

But as happens in life, the stars aligned and REI had a big sale two weeks ago for members. I dragged the hubby and W over and tried on every single camelbak type pack they had to offer. Which amounted to probably 12-15 different packs in 3 different brands.

I had 3 things I was looking for:

1) 2 L minimum bladder
2) Waist belt, preferably wide
3) Extra storage areas so I can carry things myself without loading packs onto Gemmie

After trying on several I finally found the perfect pack that met all my requirements and then some. It is Camelbak brand in black and pink and is meant for cycling. It has a 2 L bladder which is located in the lumbar region leaving the entire top portion open for storage. The waist belt is wide and padded and with the water bladder being located at the waist, it is very comfortable and secure. The arm straps have some pretty wimpy padding, but are felt lined to help prevent chafing of the neck (a common complaint I have run across).  Since it is meant for cycling, it also has a hook on it for a helmet. While I won't use this feature while riding (I like my helmet firmly on my head, thank you) it could be neat to hook it on at a vet check or while running. The big bonus is the addition of two zip pockets along the waist band.

These will come in very handy because while the pack allows me to shove quite a lot of crap into it for use, the actual use part is pretty limited since it will require me removing the entire pack to get to anything unless I somehow manage to grow gorilla arms before my next ride. This pack has two decent sized pockets to hold essentials such as my cell phone, granola bar, e-lyets etc...that may be needed at the spur of the moment while riding. I can then fill the back up with things I could need in an emergency (ex: vet wrap) or at a check (Gemmie treats, rider card etc..).

I have some pictures, but they are crappy so I am avoiding posting them.

I did get to test it out on a nice conditioning ride this past weekend, so review #1 is up next!

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