Just In – CamelBak Chase Bike Vest

by Brian Mullin on September 2, 2017

The new Chase Bike Vest takes its design queues from running vests and is based off their Circuit Vest running pack. The Chase has been tailored to be a cycling specific pack with functional pockets on the main body and shoulder harness, a 1.5-liter reservoir, and its built with tougher materials for robustness. Having decently sized pockets on front and back helps distribute weight more evenly for improved stability and comfort. The mesh back panel and shoulder straps are soft, conformable and comfortable and offer exceptional ventilation. The vest rides higher up on the back than a regular pack, so it doesn’t utilize a waist belt and instead uses dual sternum straps for stability and security. Additionally, with it high on the back location and it’s short length you can still access your bottom jersey pockets.

For further information refer to www.camelbak.com

Features

The Chase Vest hydration pack is extremely comfortable, light and conformable, and features their 50 oz Cruz reservoir, which sits in a zippered pouch at the back. The vests design means it up high on the back for stability and comfort, and it conforms to the shape and oddities of your back for a great fit. The svelte Chase weighs 330g /11oz, and is softly padded on the back and shoulders, and is constructed of light and durable materials using a Nylon Dobby fabric. The pack uses their 3-D Vent Poly Mesh material on the back panel and shoulder straps which offer multi-directional ventilation and superb comfort. For stability, it utilizes an adjustable dual set of sternum straps that provide the ability to customize the fit and tune the load carrying attributes.

The 4L pack has a 2.5-liter storage capacity with excellent organizational pockets on the main body and the front harness. It comes in two color schemes, Black and Burnt Olive/Lime Punch and retails for $100.

Storage

The zippered top loading main compartment has two mesh organizational pockets with a key holder. Behind the main is the zippered hydration pocket which holds the 1.5L / 50oz Crux reservoir which securely hangs off a small piece of webbing. On the top of the pack is a long vertical sleeve with stretchy mesh sides which is ideal for apparel and other soft items. At the bottom is a horizontal slot that can also hold apparel and on one side is a small zippered pocket that is perfect for a multi-tool and other small items. Each of the shoulder straps has a set of decently sized pockets to hold various entities. On one side is a zippered pocket that opens clamshell style and has an internal zippered mesh pocket on the front and a long slot at the back. On the other side is a top zippered pocket with an adjustable elastic closure along with a front stretchy mesh pocket. All the pockets and compartments combine to give 2.5L or 150 cubic inches of storage space, although the front and bottom sleeves add some additional volume.

The front harness pocket are also compatible with their soft Quick Stow flask, which provides extra water carrying capacity for the pack.

Crux Reservoir

The 50 oz/1.5 Liter Crux Reservoir has the normal CamelBak lengthwise rectangular shaped bladder, and it securely hangs off its top T-hanger on an internal piece of webbing in the packs back compartment. I appreciated the ergonomic on/off valve with its 45-degree bend and the attached Big Bite valve worked quite nicely, and was easy to draw, and didn’t leak. The screw cap for the fill port takes only a quarter turn to open or close, and it does not get stuck and require brute force to open. The fill port has a wider diameter hole for easier filling, cleaning, and drying, and has a handle that facilitates holding onto the reservoir during pouring and opening/shutting the cap. It has an auto shut off quick disconnect, named the Quick Link, which allows you to disconnect the drink hose, which facilitates cleaning, filling and drying.

Impressions

The Chase Vest is a very light pack that nicely sits high on the back for stability and comfort. The 3-D Vent Poly Mesh material on the back panel and shoulder straps was extremely stretchy and comfortable, and the open weave design with the large perforated holes offered excellent ventilation and assisted with moisture transference. I never felt as though the pack ever got my upper back damp, even on the hottest days. The Chase is highly conformable and flexible and fits like a glove on your upper and mid back. The pack itself is extremely light, and I never felt the weight, even with the water and the additional gear, though when the reservoir is full, it pushes slightly on your back until the water volume decreases slightly. The adjustable dual sternum straps help stabilize the pack and offers the ability to customize the fit and fine tune the load carrying and compression of the main body.

Due to the small storage capacity and space within the pack, you do need to be very judicious in what you bring, so I had to be cut throat and not bring the usual assortment of stuff, such as a shock pump, etc. On my bike, I have recently installed a small frame bag (Ibis Pork Chop), a tire pump clip and a tube mounting system (Wolf Tooth B-RAD) which has freed up carrying some bulky items making it easier to deal with the packs diminished space. The sleeve on the front and bottom offer some extra storage space to carry a thin rain jacket, hat, gloves and other small apparel items. The Chase is definitely for riding mean and lean, but it is surprising how much stuff the tiny pack can carry, greatly due to the layout and design of having decently sized pockets on the back and the shoulder harness. The Chase is small enough that I could fit it under my rain jacket to protect it during a rain storm, though I couldn’t fully zip the jacket shut, it did at least cover the pack and me from getting drenched.

The 1.5-liter reservoir offers enough water for short rides, but if you drink a lot of water or are doing longer rides, you’d either want a water bottle on the bike or carry a soft flask on the back or front harness of the pack. On extended forays where I know a water supply would be available (stream or lake), I’d bring my small MSR TrailShot Microfilter which only weighs 142 g (5 oz), and I’d place it at the top of the reservoir compartment. The Crux reservoir and the bite valve worked just fine, and I liked the on/off valve switch though sometimes getting the screw cap aligned properly to prevent it from leaking was troublesome.  On extremely steep terrain I would sometimes resort to placing the drinking tube under the sternum straps to keep it from bouncing around and getting in the way, especially when doing technical maneuvers.

In the main compartment, I tended to carry a first aid kit, a SPOT locator, and my phone and in its mesh pocket, I’d place tire repair stuff, including levers, patches, CO2 cartridges, and inflator. On the left side shoulder harness pocket, I’d put my camera and wallet, gel packs and small items in its internal zippered mesh pocket. On the right side, I’d toss my keys, wallet, small items and maybe a water flask for longer rides. In the single bottom side pocket, I would place a multi tool, repair stuff, and other small items. In the front mesh stretch sleeve, I’d put warm gloves and hat, a rag and sometimes carry a jacket, though I tended to place my rain jacket horizontally in the lower bottom slot.

Sometimes on big drops or in ultra steep, bumpy terrain, the pack would bounce just a bit, but it wasn’t overly annoying and quickly returned to its static position. Most of the time the pack stayed glued in place on your back, and the weight distribution was well balanced, and it never felt heavy. When it needed any fine tuning, such as when the water level in the reservoir decreased, a slight tightening of the sternum strap compressed things inward for a more secure and stable loading. I did notice that when you scrunched your shoulders forward or had the front pockets overly stuffed with items that the harness edges would cause some discomfort on my chest and under the armpits, though usually adjusting the sternum strap alleviated the problem.

Final Thoughts

The Chase Bike Vest has become my go-to pack for this season, and its lightness, comfort, excellent ventilation, and conformability were greatly appreciated. The Chase just disappears on your back and carries its small load in an evenly distributed manner. Even with the small 2.6 liters of storage capacity, it holds a surprisingly decent amount of gear, as long as you’re judicious with what you bring it can get you through plenty of rides. The back and shoulder harness pockets provide ample room to carry items and the sleeves at the back and bottom offer the ability to bring a jacket and other apparel items, significantly expanding the carrying capacity. The 1.5 liter Crux reservoir provides enough water for most rides, though for longer forays you’ll need to bring additional water, either on the bike or a soft flask in the pack.

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