I have never been much of a fan of backpacks on bikes – or, more to the point, on the rider of a bike. I’m somewhat old-fashioned like that. The horse carries the gear and I am left unencumbered to ride the horse, so to speak. Backpacks are best-suited for hikers, soldiers and glassy-eyed pilgrims seeking God on the road to Jerusalem.
That said, there are times when I have hoisted a load onto my back and set forth. These times have been on dirty adventure rides where I needed to have constant access to drinking water lest I perish, or when the bike I’m riding simply cannot have gear strapped to it – yes, I am looking at you MV Agusta.
So yes, there are times when I add a weight to my already overburdened riding-back.
And when I do that, the backpack better be nice to me. It had better be comfortable, carry water without leaking, and essentials (like toilet paper, wet weather stuff, a camera, a knife, phone charging gear, the Bible, and medicinal herbs) essential to my well-being in case I am marooned in the desert when my Adventure bike’s electronics emit smoke and cease to electronic.
This Ashvault item from the Flying Solo Gear Company is just such a backpack. It has a bladder and a sucking tube to refresh you as you watch the vultures circling. It can carry a bit of gear, and it has a back-protector.
I am unconvinced the back-protector is an essential item, since most serious riding both on- and off-road sees me with a back-protector in my jacket. And in your jacket and snug against your spine is where you want that back-protector. Having it inside a back-pack is either doubling up, or having a back protector in an object secured, rather more loosely than the one in your jacket, to your back. So it’s a bit like mum’s chicken soup when you’re sick, I’m thinking. It may not help, but it probably won’t harm you, either – especially if the gear inside the pack decides to access your spine in case of a tumble.
The manufacturer declares it will not snag in case you crash (a claim I cannot confirm or deny), but it appears well-made enough not to dissolve in an incident. The zippers are quality, the segmented internals are solid and well-thought-out, and the entire unit is pretty watertight. You may even observe it having 12l of water being poured on it like it was some kind of hot bikini girl here.
It also comes with an external helmet holder – a good idea that saves you from carrying your lid in your hand when you’re sightseeing away from the bike.
The shoulder straps are mesh, none of them hang loose flapping at you maddeningly, and the backpack is shaped in such a way that it tends not to interfere with your body position in a racer’s crouch.
The designer of the Ashvault is a determined young lady who has spent many miles and many months testing her own product by riding around Australia.
It’s competitively priced against its opposition and if buying from a small Aussie company is your thing, then there’s that consideration.
I like it. It’s a well-made, quality bit of gear. My review is based on a denim-coloured prototype. I am told the production version will be a fetching grey colour, rather than the denim-inspired glory you see in the images in case you’re colour-coordinating your shit, you weird bastard.
HOW MUCH? $165.00
WHERE CAN I GET IT?
By Boris Mihailovic