Rewind to Issue #102 of Singletrack Magazine for Chipps’ review of the Camelbak Skyline LR.
Last issue we looked at Camelbak’s Palos 4L bum bag for the ‘fast and light’ crowd, the riders out for an hour after work and for those Enduro Johnnies. For those purposes, it’s great, but there are times – like most rides, where you need more gear than just a tube, some water and a CO2 canister.
The Skyline (and its women’s version, the Solstice) is a 10L pack with a 3L lumbar bladder. It builds on packs like Camelbak’s Charge packs, that bring the weight low and tight around the rider’s hips, rather than down the length of the back. Most of the pack’s weight sits on the hips, with the shoulder straps there for stability and to stop bouncing over bigger bumps.
The Skyline features a good size main compartment, with a loop for a pump and a pocket for the neat, supplied tool roll. This is something you can put your gas and spiky tools in and transport from bike to bike (or throw in a pocket if you’re out with a bottle and a tube). There’s a fleecy media/glasses pocket above that and an external flap for a jacket (or baguette). The waist straps also have handy space for a tool or gels too. Hidden behind the waist pockets are cinch straps to pull the water reservoir tighter in to your back as the volume reduces.
There are three clips at the back that will take armour. They also perfectly fit the chin bar of a Bell Super 2R between enduro stages. There’s a pair of helmet strap clips to hold your helmet in place when off the bike, and handy crosspiece between the straps allows for handy transport of the bag between car and home.
If you’re not a fan of the mega orange, then there are other more subtle (though not completely subtle) colours available. The women’s Solstice pack comes in different colours again, but that’s not just where it ends. It features more curved chest straps and is designed to sit more on the waist than the hips. As women testers of this pack found, there’s not enough grip to keep the men’s pack sliding up on curvy hips.
Setting the pack up needs to be done with care, keeping the shoulder straps slack initially and tightening the waist straps so most of the weight is taken by the hips. The chest straps can then be tightened so that they provide support but no major weight bearing. This arrangement works well, though the waist straps do need re-cinching every now and again to keep the weight in the right place.
While it looks like a normal hydration pack, it’s only when you put it on that you see how much lower and tight to the back the bag sits. It’s as if the top half of a normal pack has been sliced off. There’s still enough room for a pump, jacket, sandwich, tools and a couple of tubes, though it’s easy to reach capacity if you’re a ‘throw it all in’ kind of a packer. On the bike, the weight does a good job of disappearing. Even with 3L of water on board, the bag stays low and out of the way – great for steep stuff, low branches and riders that hate the feel of a pack on their shoulders.
With bags seemingly getting thinner and taller, here’s one that halves the height and keeps it low and stable. Not everyone likes bum bags either and this is a great halfway house. Unless you need to carry huge amounts of gear, give it a try.
|Tested:||by Chipps Chippendale for 5 months|