After years of working as a bike courier in Sydney, my spine had conformed to the use of a single-shouldered messenger bag. Now that the majority of my riding is commuting, I use a backpack, but always searched for a pack that combines solid construction with accessibility to its contents. Finally, I’ve acquired one that combines those facets: Brisbane Outdoor Gear’s Spare Camel.
The first backpack to replace my Crumpler messenger bag was a Poler Rucksack, which served me faithfully for a number of years. That’s a good stretch, for a bag that is worn daily. Finally, I needed to start looking for a replacement, and then I came across Dave Bell and Brisbane Outdoor Gear. Dave’s a local (Aussie) who’s dedicated to designing and manufacturing rough portage.
Being a small business man, Dave stands behind every bag he makes. He’s the guy on the end of the phone and answers every communication nearly instantly, whether it’s through the BOgear Facebook page or enquiries through the website. And being the designer, he’s more than happy to modify the layout or colours of your bag to your request.
The BOgear range includes bike bags, duffle bags, hardcore messenger bags, tool rolls, key rings, foot retention systems, hip pouches and a multitude of pouches and rigging straps. I invested in the Spare Camel backpack and now I’m looking forward to travelling overseas with a matching bike bag. I know both will last forever.
The first thing that impressed me about the Spare Camel, a legal carry-on 30L size pack, was the use of industrial strength zips. The zip is usually the first part of a bag that will fail after thousands of actions, but these YKK zips will, in comparison, last for millions of openings. There’s none of the catching experienced by a smaller zip.
The second thing to impress me was the pocket layout. There are three internal pockets created by a mesh layer, which I use for essential daily items that I need to carry everyday but don’t need to access hour by hour, like my Leatherman, business cards and Paul Components bottle opener. The pack opens flat but can swing under the arm for easy side access.
Two outside pockets, both zippered as well, house items such as keys and wallet. There’s a sleeve that can fit a 17″ laptop or A4 documents. The straps are contoured and adjustable, padded with 10mm of high density EVA foam. Apparently, the Spare Camel can carry a carton of beer, which I don’t doubt. It’s built to comfortably carry similar loads on a daily basis.
I’ve now been cycling with the Spare Camel for a good few hundred kilometres and I wasn’t expecting such a high level of comfort. It sits solidly upon the back and peripheral vision is excellent. I may hit Dave up for a breast strap to decrease lateral sway but that is a minor personal preference. A hip belt upgrade is an option.
The Spare Camel is constructed from 1000D Cordura, which gives me the assurance that this bag will last a lifetime. Have a look at BOgear’s Instagram feed to see how many colour combinations are possible. I’m now kicking myself for going for the full black option. Maybe I can opt for a technicolor Royd Bike Bag to make up for it.
In summary: while other bags are designed around the season’s latest styles or trends, the Spare Camel is constructed to last for years. It’s the Land Rover Defender of backpacks. Dave is a standup guy who offers unmatched customer service, ensuring your bag becomes your ultimate piece of kit. I’m looking forward to travelling together for many years to come.