I copped a lot of flak from fellow MTB riders when I started using the original Camelbak in the early 1990’s. I drink a lot while riding – no water, me engine no go – and though the original Camelbak was a fairly lame looking thing it was a hands free hydration godsend and the start of a great solution to the problem of carrying enough water, food and stuff on longer rides. I loved my original Camelbak so much I’ve kept it all those years!
Camelbaks and many copy cat products have become the standard means of hydrating across many sports and activities, which is just as well for unicyclists as fitting water bottles to unicycles isn’t really a convenient project. Camelbaks have also become far more functional, and well, cooler looking too!
The relatively slow speed of off road unicycling can often mean you are a number of hours away from the next available water. During the summer months this becomes a bigger problem as you drink more water, more often, and there is even less of it around. I was finding my rides were becoming limited by only being able to carry 1 litre of water in my Camelbak Rocket.
In mid 2008 I spent several weeks investigating what was available, my main requirements being a 3 litre bladder and the ability to carry a reasonable amount of food and other junk as well. The 3 litre bladder immediately excluded many options, a good thing given the huge number of Camelbak style products now available.
I settled on the Camelbak M.U.L.E. (which apparently stands for Multi-Use Long Expedition) as it ticked all the boxes. A 3 liter bladder, a good harness system, comfortable to wear and numerous internal and external storage areas – ample room for all the stuff you need on a day ride without being too large a pack.
10 months on and the M.U.L.E is doing the job. I removed the waist belt but apart from that the only trick has been keeping the bladder gunge free. There are several methods, mine is to storing the bladder (emptied of water) in the freezer after each ride.
A typical look at how I pack the M.U.L.E:
- 3 litre water bladder full
- House/car keys in the zipped IPOD pocket
- Tools in bladder size zipped pocket, map if needed
- Lightweight wind/rain shell, Gorillapod, apples/bananas in large open back pocket
- Snack bars, energy gel, money, camera in small back zipped pocket
- Scraps/rubbish in small open back pocket
Just like gloves, a ride without the M.U.L.E doesn’t feel right. I’ve still be known to run out of water on longer rides over summer, but generally the M.U.L.E lets me carry enough stuff to enjoy 1/2 to full day rides no problem.