There is a world of choice when it comes to choosing a backpack for riding in. And it is easy to get lost amongst the options that are around, especially when you consider all the different things we can carry in a bag, even narrowing it down to what you’d want to carry in a bag when mountain biking.
Coxa Carry feel they have a unique feature though, with a harness system that aids stability of your payload when riding trails, or just riding to work. Coxa Carry use a back system that secures from over the shoulders and upwards from below the arms – the feeling isn’t dissimilar to strapping into a ride at an amusement park. But the idea is your shoulders are far more free to move, and the bag moves less as well. When you think about how much you should be moving on your bike, being free to do so really helps with your bike handling no matter what sort of terrain you’re in.
The four point harness sits just below your sternum – and you don’t feel it when riding.
We were sent the Coxa Carry Coxa 5 to test over the past few weeks. As you might suspect, it’s slated to have 5 litres of storage in one main compartment, with a large wrap around mesh pocket that can be accessed from the sides, two hip belt pockets, and a top zip compartment.
The top section is pretty large, easily big enough for a phone and wallet.
The Coxa Carry comes with a 2.0 litre hydration reservoir, and it’s one that opens completely at the top. The benefits here are obvious: easy filling and cleaning, and being able to put ice cubes in. Closing it with the sliding clasp is no harder than a screw top. It slides into it’s own sleeve.
The rest of the bag is a fairly cavernous space – best suit to bulky items more than lots of small spare parts. The total bag weight with the included rain cover and bladder is 780g. If you left the rain cover at home you can save 50g. The Coxa Carry also has a nifty little LED light built in, that is easy to switch on while on the bike – although you might not know if you’ve switched it off later – you’ll need to ask a buddy.
Fitting up the Coxa Carry R5
While you don’t need a degree, backpacks that use a full-wrap harness do just take a little more prep to put on, mostly when getting set up. The straps are super long, obviously to suit tall Scandinavian cross-country skiers and multisport athletes. An internal strap adjustment should be done first, essentially adjusting back length to suit the size of the rider. Then it’s a case of making sure the bag sits up onto your waist and getting it all cinched in, and in my case, coming up with somewhere for the extra straps.
Once on, I found it sat really well, and the mesh pocket comes into its own given you can reach around into it while riding. One bug bear with many ‘stable’ packs with similar designs, like USWE bags or even the Camelbak Chase Bike Vest, is having your jersey pockets covered and hard to access. It’s an issue on mid sized bags more than small ones, but having side access to this mesh pocket, and the wing pockets, negates the need to find something in a jersey pocket.
Depending on your dexterity and flexibility, you should be able to grab a lot from here.
Gels would sit here just fine.
All strapped in, it’s actually pretty cool how free your whole upper arm and shoulders feel, as the weight of the bag stays much more centered lower on your back than some other brands that really hug it inwards to your upper chest. No wonder it’s aimed at cross-country skiers as well – the range of motion is fantastic. But, one of the biggest comments by any women who saw the bag were simple. “No woman is going to wear that.”
And that will be personal choice. The Coxa Carry 5 isn’t setting out to revolutionise the market, and some will like it, some won’t.
On the trail with the Coxa Carry R5
When riding, The bag was just fine to get along with. The valve of the hydration hose tended to get a bit of a dribble from time to time, and the harness lacks a final stow point for the tube. You’d be best to cut it short so it didn’t flap around too much. Obviously it comes long enough to suit a variety of riders.
The Coxa Carry R5 did sit really well, and the back padding and ventilation can’t do the magic job of eliminating a sweaty back, but overall it did ok. And when I was riding, there was very little to think about. Set it, ride, and forget.
I did find putting it on and off a chore. With four clips, you need to undo one, but probably two to take it on and off, and then make sure the velcro section is secure. For most hydration systems of a similar size, like a Camelbak MULE, you still have two buckles. But you can pull that on and do the buckles as you ride and it still sits in the same place. The Coxa Carry R5 takes a little more faff. It’s not much, but if you tend to stop a lot and get things out of your bag (like a phone or camera) then you notice it very quickly, as do the people you are riding with.
So who is it for? I think the Coxa Carry R5 suits multisport endurance athletes. Those who run, swim, ride, ski and paddle. Anyone who sets off for long distance adventures and need to take spare gear will love this. The large volume for the weight will swallow extra bulky gear and you can keep essentials at hand. For a pure mountain biker doing shorter rides – I’m less sure. But if all-day epics where stopping is by necessity and your storage demands require low weight, stability and versatility – then the Coxa Carry R5 is right on the money, especially when the bladder is so fast to fill, and the built-in light means getting the most out of daylight can still have an element of safety.
The bag sells for $229 in Australia, and they are available via Summit Global.
Photos: Cahn Butler