Testing the BLS VeloRacing gear backpack!
Words and photos: Mike Blewitt
Last year I used and abused the BLS VeloRacing Bag. It offered a way to store and carry my shoes, helmet, clothing, spares, food and even bottles or a small hydration bag to the trails or a bike race. It was a lot easier to deal with than a backpack and a couple of reusable grocery bags, which would often be my default option. But for this summer BLS (BlackLine Sprinting, from South Africa) released the VeloRacing Backpack. At 20L it is smaller, but still has the ability to have different compartments for shoes, a helmet and your kit. It's also nearly half the price.
All this functionality means you have 3 zippered openings. One up top, one on the front, and one on the bottom. Conceivably if you were in a real rush it would be easy to miss one and drop things as you took off to get to the trail head or event in time. But the idea behind the VeloRacing Backpack, like the VeloRacing Bag, is to make things a little more organised, and less rushed.
Packing up the VeloRacing Backpack
Compared to the bag, the backpack is a lot smaller. The only criticism I had with the bag was that really – it was aimed at XC and marathon riders. And that's fine. But given it's size it was unlikely to fit a large trail helmet in and some pads. As such, the backpack follows the same idea. It's a product aimed at the cross-country end of the sport, plus road, gravel or cyclocross riders. To be honest – it would do really well as a bag to take to the gym as well.
The three main pockets mean you can have stinky clothes post-ride (or clean kit before the ride) seperate from bike shoes, and your helmet. The main compartment did easily swallow some kit, a bottle, sunglasses case, some food, gloves and spares. There are two zippered pockets inside the main compartment for smaller items, which makes locating them far easier.
The sides and base of the bag are all lightly padded too, a nice touch to give you some piece of mind when you have your helmet in there.
With some smart packing, the bag is comfortable on the back, although that's not the pure design purpose. It's more about hands free carrying of your gear. If you were packing up your car for a trail ride or event, you can easily have the essentials on your back, and wheel out your bike and carry an esky or trackpump with your other hand. Chances are there is less fumbling, and less forgotten items.
You can't carry all the essentials, as while I could fit one or two small bottles in that would be at the expense of something like a towel to dry down with or for a post-ride swim. Similarly you wouldn't get a filled hydration bag in there.
What the BLS Backpack does is offer a handy way to organise your gear for a ride. And whether that's for racing, training, trail rides or something else, it's a specific bag that looks after your gear well and lets you get packed up easily ahead of time. It's proven to come up really well after a quick machine wash too! I'd like to see two mesh outer pockets, maybe just for bottles or something like that, but otherwise I think this is a handy bag. Not a must have, but a nice to have.
BLS ship globally from South Africa within the listed price, so this just might make a good gift idea for a cycling significant other.
– Handy organisation
– Easy to use and wash
– Great gift for those who have everything
– Can't fit everything for some riders