Camelbak Chase Vest: Quick Review- by Grannygear
Sometimes you need to carry more stuff than normal with you on a ride. The trick is in figuring out how to do it. There are ways to expand your carrying capacity on a bike such as bags and racks. Or, you can carry the extra items on your person. As a long time mountain biker, I am very used to riding with a hydration pack. It is just what you do on a mountain bike as there are limited options for frame mounted water bottles on many models, some having no mounts at all, and the nature of mountain biking kind of requires a bit more preparedness on remote trails.
But on a gravel or road bike, I really would prefer to have my back unburdened with a pack of any kind. It just feels odd and annoying, riding so low and ‘forward’ with anything on your shoulders. So I have a Tangle frame bag that lives on my gravel bike and that, combined with a bar/stem mounted Mountain Feed Bag or two, is pretty good for carrying my bundle (and jersey pockets of course).
However, what if you need more than that? Or, what if you would prefer not to have a Tangle type bag at all? Then what do you do for a more epic, self supported day on the roads of the far countryside? Well, I suggest you consider a Chase Vest from Camelbak. After using this on a mini-epic ride, it reminds me of the Most Interesting Man in the World and his take on beer…”I don’t always wear a pack while gravel riding, but if I do, I prefer the Camelbak Chase Vest”. It’s a compelling piece of work. Let’s take a look at what we have here.
It’s a mini pack in height in that the overall package sits above your jersey pockets so you do not lose access and storage ability. Most MTB packs are longer than the Chase Vest as MTB jerseys typically do not have three pockets like roadie versions. The Chase Vest also is very meshy in that the back panel is completely perforated where it sits against your back and the shoulder straps are the same. The shoulder straps are also pretty wide so they do not dig into the body. So far, so good.
Pockets. We have lots of pockets, pouches, and zippers. It reminds me of a Suess rhyme: One pocket, two pocket. three pocket, four…five pocket, six pocket, pockets by the score! (apologies to the Good Dr.). I counted twelve pockets/pouches/compartments on the Camelbak Chase Vest, not including the water section. Twelve useful ones too. The CRUX water reservoir holds 1.5 liters of your favorite liquid. That is not a big amount, but it is a bit more than three typical water bottles and that is worth quite a bit when you are going long.
My first experience with the Chase Vest was a 7 hour ride into the backcountry on seldom traveled roads. It would be at least 4 hours (almost all of that climbing) till I could resupply water and there was to be no food resupply at all. As well, I was leaving under cloudy skies, climbing into the grey coolness, then returning in sunny weather. I needed water, food, and clothing options. I packed the Chase Vest with all the water it could hold, some snacks, my phone, my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, and reading glasses. Clothing and more food was in my Tangle bag and I had 2 bottles on the GR 250.
It was really a good experience. Great, actually. My phone fit perfectly in the right side shoulder strap pouch, the one with the bungee tensioner. My eyeglasses were in the left strap pouch. Handy. I basically forgot the Chase Vest was there when I was riding and that is often the highest compliment an accessory can receive. I was never uncomfortable. i could have used my jersey pockets if I had wanted to. I had enough water and storage to carry mini-epic level stuff. Color Grannygear happy. Whatever that looks like.
So while we may poke fun at things like gravel specific socks and shoes, etc, the Camelbak Chase Vest is a gravel worthy product even if it is in the MTB category on their website. I will not use it for every gravel ride, but when the day is going to be long and lonely, I will most likely have the Chase Vest strapped to my back. Nice work, Camelbak.
MSRP is $100.00 and it comes in the color shown and basic black.
Go ahead. Go long. The Chase Vest dares you to.
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Note- The Camelback Chase Vest was sent to Riding Gravel at no charge for test and review. We were not bribed nor paid for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
About The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.