There is one bane of my commuter biking existence. I love to bike to work, I have for my last three jobs. But every time I come back to the same thorn in my side. How do you carry your stuff to and from work? I don’t change clothes so a back pack is to big. But a little shoulder satchel slides all over the place. (Try picking up speed and having you bag slip from your back to your front with each pedal stroke, so annoying!) But I have finally found the perfect solution. Say hello to The Mule! With a price tag of $85.00 some might think it is to much for this little pack. Let me tell you it is worth every penny if you are a commuter. CamelBak says it can carry three liters of water and nine liters of cargo. (That is a lot of liters, but honestly how do you measure cargo in liters?) On my scale which is by no means accurate it comes in between 7-8 lbs. That is packed full. Nearly overflowing with water around 3 liters of water, Eclipse hardcover (we are talking 629 pages of large type), a pair of work shoes (so you can switch out of your clipless), keys, blackberry, wallet, day planner, meds and one peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Grandma Sycamores Sunflower & Honey bread. Obviously the weight is going to vary by the kind of sandwich you choose.
No, SaraLee isn’t paying me to advertise I just think it’s the best cheap bread.
You can clearly see this baby will get you there and back again with ease, While this bag is not actually female specific it still works well because the straps can be moved around for comfort, and it’s got style. Mine is a great kelly green with black, white and grey accents. It comes in five different colors but this is by far the best looking.
Another side note is it grey or gray? I can never seem to remember or more likely it is because I’m told different each time. I think this is something we will have to take a poll on. Without cheating and looking it up online how would you spell it. 1. Grey 2. Gray. I’ll find out the answer and get back to you after the polling.
I ride with the Mule to and from work every day, sometimes twice if I’m not to lazy to bike home for lunch. So we are looking at 3.45 miles every day 6.90 if lunch is included. So just under four miles with a quarter mile climb and eight hours staring at a computer wondering what I am doing there, which for me requires about 1.34 liters of drinking water per day. That still gives me a couple of hours of actual ride time if I fill my pack to the 3 liters it can carry. At that rate I could make it up to Suncrest and back after work and still have enough water to get me to the car. Now, of course this is going by my water consumption but it gives you a pretty good idea of how much water it can hold.
One thing I’ve learned biking every day is how important it is to stay hydrated even when you are sitting in front of a desk. Don’t wait till you feel thirsty it will wipe you out on the ride later.
Someth ing nice I’ve found with my Mule is that the water stays surprisingly cool. I’ve used other Camelbaks and the water gets hot. Maybe it is because the Mule has so many layers between the water and the sun. The bit valve has a conveniant shut-off valve. Of course the only reason I have come across to use it yet is when you are trying to string it through the fabric straps that keep it attached to the strap. They are so small that you squeeze what ever water is in the bit out. There are a couple of other little things you don’t notice at first but are great perks. The straps that go around your waist can be completely removed (they are held on by velcro straps). But the one that I loved the most was perfect for people that are smaller like me. When I use bags I have to pull the straps tight to get them to have a snug fit but then I have these stupid ends bouncing around and hitting me while I ride. The Mule comes with more little velcro pieces to wrap up the ends o f the straps. Brilliant, why didn’t I think of that?
But not everything is butterflies and unicorns with the Mule, although it mostly is, I have had a couple of issues. The water while it stays cool has the worst plastic taste I have ever had, anyone who has used a cheap water bottle knows how gross this is. I thought at first it was because I was lazy and only rinsed it out before using it. After that first ride I couldn’t take it so I dumped the water and washed it soap, and all. Unfortunately even after all of that it still tastes disgusting. I’m going to try rinsing it again. Maybe it is still too new. That is one mark down. The other problem is how the tube hangs. Because it is not on a clip, it just slides through fabric pieces on the the shoulder strap, it hangs to long and bangs into my right knee every time I pedal forward (on my road bike that is). I’m sure you can see the annoyance. bonk, bonk, bonk. I’m not sure how to stop it just yet but at the same time it isn’t so bad that I’ve done anything about it. Another mark down. Lastly the water pack likes to slip to the bottom of the bag unless it is very full. Luckily Jon was very smart and noticed there is a little yellow string you can latch the top of the pack to so it doesn’t slip down. Ingenious, still it’s a little hard to get the water pack on and off the hook. But there are a lot of other things I love about it. I mentioned already how great it is for commuting. Now I’m about to find out how great it is on the mountain. I’ll get back to you on that one tomorrow.
I give it four stars and a lighting bolt!