Going for a quick blast on the bike unencumbered by a bulky backpack is definitely one of life’s little pleasures. There’s no sweaty back or straps to chafe, never mind not being saddled down like a beast of burden. That said, it’s less joyful should you have a minor mechanical or puncture and find yourself faced with a long walk of shame home. That’s where this rather clever belt — think of it as a minimalist bum bag / fanny pack — comes in.
There’s enough storage space for spares, food, a pump and a specially designed water bottle in a holster that’s angled to allow you to grab it easily on the move. The waist strap is designed to integrate with Mavic’s Crossride shorts where it threads through the belt loops and it works perfectly well sat on its own too, thanks to the deep section strap that spreads the load across your waist nicely.
The pack is elasticated at one side to allow for a bit of movement when you bend forward or breathe deeply, and that makes it much more comfortable than many other designs out there that can dig in. The comfort is helped by the fact that the pack contours around your back, gradually deepening with a stiff structure that holds its shape and spreads the weight evenly around your lower back and hips, as mentioned above. That means it doesn’t need to be tightened down hard in order to prevent bouncing movement, unlike many other designs.
On the downside, this is definitely a pack for the minimalists. The main storage compartment can just about fit an inner tube, small bag of spares and a phone, plus a clip for your keys. The tapered shape is what limits what you can stuff inside to a fairly large extent, though should you forgo the spare bits (or tape the inner tube to your bike frame instead) then you can just about stuff in a very lightweight jacket.
The bottle is really easy to use and you can rapidly get used to popping it in and out of the holster, aided by the triangular shape that helps keep it secure. I didn’t have any issues with it popping free on rough terrain either. In addition to the main compartment there’s also a smaller zipped pocket that’s perfect for an energy gel or bar (other snacks are available), and another open compartment next to the bottle that’s perfect for slotting in a mini-pump.
Whichever way you cut it, the Crossride pack isn’t really up to the demands of a big, long ride, even if you supplement the 0.5L of water it carries with another bottle on your frame. It’s not supposed to be though. It’s absolutely brilliant for nipping out for an hour or two, safe in the knowledge you’ve got everything you need to cope with most issues. It’s also much more comfortable and unobtrusive than any other hip-pack that I’ve tried so far — quite possibly because Mavic has realised the limitations of the design and just stuck to something that’s lightweight and minimal rather than trying to mimic the capacity of a normal riding pack.