I often wear a running vest when mountain biking, as I like quick, one-handed access to stuff sitting in the front pockets. This saves me from having to stop and take off my hydration pack every time I want a snack or want to snap a quick photo. I find running vests comfortable to wear, although they generally aren’t designed well for mountain biking — the vests tend to bonk into the back of your helmet when riding downhill and cover up your jersey pockets.
CamelBak has rectified all these problems with the new Chase Vest. The idea behind choosing a vest over a pack is that you can distribute the weight of your cargo between the front and the back, putting easy access stuff like snacks, gels, and your phone in the numerous pockets along the vented shoulder straps. One of the pockets is perfectly sized to hold CamelBak’s 1/2-liter Quick Stow soft flask (sold separately).
Built on CamelBak’s running vest platform, the Chase features a 1.5-liter Crux reservoir, leaving enough room for 2.5-liters of cargo in the main compartment. The reservoir comes with a Quick Link system that enables you to clean and refill your reservoir while leaving the hose routed through the shoulder straps.
The Chase Vest weighs 330 grams without water so it’s a bit lighter than your average hydration pack. Two sternum straps help you dial in a snug fit and the vest sits up high on your back so you can still easily access all your jersey pockets. This also means the weight of the water in the reservoir will be higher as well, so will most likely cut down on any lower back pain issues — a problem I know I have when wearing certain hydration packs.
The CamelBak Chase bike vest retails for $100 and will start shipping in January.