Saturday, July 30, 2011

Product Review : MSR Dromedary Bag

MSR dromedary bag

Even today I see them. Long distance, or even round the world cyclists. At the back of the bike, held on by an elastic strap is the ubiquitous plastic water bottle. These pictures bring back bad memories for me.

When I was riding through Queensland, about ten years ago, I was pretty much a beginner at bicycle touring. I had a two litre bottle of water tied on at the back. I had about 30km to go for the day, and I stopped to fill up my water bottles at the front of the bike. Only one problem. The plastic water bottle wasn’t there any more. Somewhere in the last 15km of riding the bottle was sitting at the side of the road.

So I was left with only about a litre of water to get me through those last kilometres. Luckily it wasn’t a hot day, and I made it ok. There were no shops or places with water. In those days I didn’t carry a water purification kit, so I couldn’t just grab some from a river. So for that day I got a bit dehydrated, and it took me a few days to recover.

In the Australian outback, carrying water is a big deal. People die through lack of water. I’m planning to do some rides in these areas so I’m looking into how I carry water. I bought two 4 litre MSR dromedary bags, and I’ve been using them.

My first idea was to use the straps to attach them to the top of the pannier bags. So even if the pannier bags are full, I could strap them on top. I tried this, and it is not a great idea. Since 4 litres of water weighs 4kg, this is like having a loose 4kg weight floating about on the back of the bike. It’s not that the bags fall off, it’s just disconcerting having the weight loose. So now I put them inside the pannier bags.

Why bags instead of bottles? Space efficiency. They mould and fit within whatever space is left inside the pannier bag. Space is at a premium.

They are really easy to fill, and really easy to pour. There are three ways you can pour: a sort of drinking fountain style flip out, you can take the screw top off at the bottom for filling a water bottle. Or you can take the top filler off to pour the whole lot out. Having all these options is useful. I can’t fault these bags. They are tough and almost ideal for what I have in mind. I’ll be using them as my main water carrying method from now on.

I bought mine from but they are available from a wide range of stores.

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