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Backcountry Research Camrat Strap review

16 Jan 2019

A neat alternative to a saddlebag that's on to something

Cyclist Rating: 
• Super-light • Very neat • Good looking alternative to saddlebag
• Wet and muddy spares

Unless you’re one of those riders who feels no shame in reaching for the mobile every time you fall foul of the puncture Gods then you’ll need to consider how and where to carry your spares.

That’s not as easy as it might at first sound, especially for the style conscious roadie who may not wish to hang unsightly (because let’s face it there are very few that aren’t) bags from under the saddle (not to mention that being a blatant contravention of Velominati Rule #29 – no posterior man satchels on road bikes)

That leaves jersey pockets as the obvious place to stash your essentials, but this too is fraught with conflict. Space is usually at a premium, once you’ve crammed in your phone, gels and or bars, pump/gas canisters, cuddly toy, microwave oven, electric kettle and often at this time of year a jacket in case the heavens open.

Buy the Backcountry Research Camrat Strap from Evans Cycles

And let’s not get started on the likely aero repercussions of having pockets as heavily laden as a donkey en route to Everest base camp.

I’ve seen some interesting methods to try and solve this conundrum, mostly involving gaffer tape or, possibly slightly neater, an old toe strap, in order stash tubes and the like on seat posts or under saddle rails etc.

Neither is a great look, though, and both run the risk of your vital spares ending up bouncing down the road and into a ditch. Which, incidentally, always happens when you’re speeding downhill making it doubly hard to find them once you’ve turned around.

So, what’s the answer? Well, I believe Backcountry Research is really onto something with its nifty straps, designed and built in Bozeman, USA.

Less is more

At first glance it might look like a glorified Animal watchstrap (remember those?) but actually it’s a cleverly thought out piece of kit that enables a gas canister and a couple of tyre levers to be neatly bundled together with a single inner tube, and securely (and I mean securely) fixed either under the saddle or around a frame tube.

Further to me showing my age with reference to Animal watchstraps, anyone also remember the Krypton Factor? Google it if not. The Backcountry Research Straps would also have been the perfect test for the game show's contestants.

Yes, it was a bit of a puzzle first time around, and I had to go against my male instincts (to never, ever read instructions) and resort to the instructional video on the Backcountry Research website.

Thankfully the video makes everything very clear, and once I’d done it a few times it’s actually pretty obvious.

There are some immediate benefits to the Camrat strap. First, it encourages you to take less stuff. You can only fit the essentials.

Second, it provides instant access, with minimal faff, looks neater and weighs considerably less than a seat pack too.

Strategically placed rubber grippers not only help with a secure and rattle free fit against the frame or saddle but also conveniently stop the bundle from scratching anything.

For more visits Silverfish

I’ve now used the Camrat strap on many rides, and in a variety of conditions, and it has not once let me down. It seems it does indeed live up to the company’s intriguingly chosen strapline: “holding your spares down tighter than a bull’s butt in fly season”. Nice.

If there’s a downside it’s that your spares do get soaked and a bit covered in grime on particularly grotty days, but equally it’s a cinch to just clean and rinse it as you do your bike.

But even this has a positive spin. It means you’ll likely check the condition of your spares more often and thus never find yourself reaching for a tube that’s been hidden away in your seat bag for months and is now full of holes.

Buy the Backcountry Research Camrat Strap from Evans Cycles

I encountered one or two saddle rail/seatpost combos that were not ideal for mounting the Camrat strap (and one where it was impossible), but for the vast majority, fitting should pose little or no difficulty.

In conclusion, if sixteen quid sounds a bit steep for a strap to hold your spares on with, then look at it this way; it’s surely money well spent if it’s freeing up pocket space whilst storing essential gubbins faff-free, without committing a style faux pas, or indeed breaking any Rules.