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ArroWhere Backpack Cover and Vest Review

As most of you are well aware, visibility can make a big difference in terms of the well being of cyclists on the road, particularly at night and other low light environments.

Enter ArroWhere ™, a company based out of Canada whose specialty is to produce “quality, high-visibility apparel and accessories that help improve the visibility, safety, and control users have when sharing the road with cars and larger vehicles or trails with bikes and runners.”

What sets them apart from other reflective outerwear and gear is their utilization of super bright 3M reflective material into the shape of an arrow to indicate to drivers in what direction to move to avoid the cyclist. The simplicity of its design contributes to the efficacy of the product, in my opinion.

Bikecommuters has had a good history with ArroWhere™ thanks to Jack “Ghost Rider” Sweeney who spearheaded this relationship back in September 2014 at Interbike.

Following which, ArroWhere ™ was gracious enough to let us review a high visibility cycling jacket

Khyle from ArroWhere ™ recently reached out to us to review another 2 items in their product line. Before I knew it, a fluorescent yellow cycling vest and bag cover were at my doorstep.

In so many words, I was an instant fan. The visibility of the products was intense, to say the least. The construction of both was robust and with high quality materials. They both felt like items that would last for many years of hard use.

The backpack cover (standard size 35L) fit relatively well over my Maxpedition Sitka gear slinger (I think the design of my single sling backpack made the cover a little less of a good fit as you will read later). It folded up to a nice small volume and was easily stowed in the backpack without taking up too much space.

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger

 

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Buttons came popped open at times.

Buttons can pop open at times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cover is held in place with elastic bands attached with snap buttons. The addition of the the upper zipper was well designed, making accessibility of the backpack pockets possible without having to remove the entire cover.

Furthermore, since it was made with waterproof fabric, it served as an additional barrier for waterproofing the bag (although I was unable to test out this feature since here is southern California, we are having a horrible drought).

But it wasn’t just a backpack cover; the versatility of the design made the cover useable on other items as well. In particular, I was able to put it onto my kiddo’s bike seat. It fit securely and did not come loose at all.

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This made riding with the kiddo feel a lot safer. We even took the cover for a trip to Catalina Island where we got around by bike 100% of the time. The cover was very reliable.

After about 4 months of use, I also noticed that it was quite stain proof and was easy to wash off. It looked like new; the visibility was not compromised one bit.

The only cons that I noticed on this cover were that the buttons securing the straps were not that strong, and during my rides they would at times pop open, particularly when I filled up my bag. I thought that a better design would replace the elastic straps with adjustable nylon straps and the snap buttons for standard plastic side release buckles. In this way, I feel that the cover could be used on bags of other sizes and would be even more versatile and secure.

Difficult to access the main side pocket with the cover was attached.

Difficult to access the main side pocket with the cover attached (note: the orientation of the cover is incorrect in this image, however difficult side pocket access still holds true in the correct orientation)

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger (Easy front access)

My Maxpedition Sitka GearSlinger (Easy front access)

It would also be nice to have some molle webbing on the cover to allow for attachments of lights and other accessories, while not covering the visibility of the arrow.

And finally, I thought that an additional zipper allowing side access to the pack would also be advantageous, and a feature that I feel would not compromise the functionality of the product. I say this because a single strap backpack can be easily accessed during riding by rotating the bag from the back to the front, where a side access zipper would allow access to the bag while riding.

The vest was also a treat to use. I personally love vests as they allow for more mobility and allow for better ventilation. Despite it being a vest, it was pretty warm and windproof. It was surprisingly comfortable and was designed with a good fit.

After riding in 70 degree weather, I will say it got a little warm in the vest, at least for me.

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Overall, I would recommend the company and the products. If you like riding with a backpack, the cover is a good deal and makes commuting that much safer by making you significantly more visible. It doesn’t take up that much space when stowed away in your backpack and is very light. Being the shape and size that it is, the cover can also be placed on other things as well such as a rear child bike seat.

Do good and ride well.

About the author: Andrew is a full time physician and enjoys bicycles, both riding on and writing on. He has been commuting since 2000.

Hoss Stallion Shorts Review

Cost: $59.99 from www.hossmtb.com.

From the Hoss website:

Features & Benefits

  • Classic boarder short, may be worn with or without included chamois liner
  • Lightweight and durable microsuede polyester shell for quick drying comfort
  • Detachable Cytech multi-layered chamois constructed from high-density open cell foam with permanent antibacterial protection
  • Adjustable micro-fit waist band via Velcro cinch straps
  • 4 functional pockets with secure closures
  • Front zipper and drawstring closure
  • Overall, I was very pleased with how the Hoss Stallion short performed as my everyday commuter shorts (back before it got too cold). The thing I will praise about this short over and over is the fit and the versatility. First things first…

    the Fit
    This short has what I think is the ideal fit for a cycling short, no matter what type of riding you do. The board-short style is made to sit on your hip bones which provides a fit that will withstand the constant motion of your legs while pedaling a bicycle. A zip fly and a tie-string ensure all the security you need in a pair of shorts. If you wear these shorts where they are meant to be worn, there will be no riding up and no chaffing. The short is also cut so that the back comes a little higher, with a little help from a stretchy mesh segment, which prevents the incredibly unattractive “plumber’s butt” that so many girls and hipsters in tight jeans are subject to. Additionally, as I mentioned in my First Impression, the length of these shorts is great – long enough to reach just beyond my kneecaps when I stand up (and I am 6′ 2″) and long enough to NOT show your whole upper thigh that you never got around to shaving (roadies know what I’m talking about there).

    (thanks for the photo, Lance)

    The short is baggy enough to provide plenty of freedom of movement yet not too baggy that it flaps in the wind as you speed your way to work.

    One final detail that really impressed me with these shorts is the velcro adjustment straps located on the waist. There are two straps that allow you to customize the fit of the short by adjusting how snug they fit around your hips. This shows me that Hoss really thinks about their product and how to fine tune it – something I greatly respect in a company.

    As far as the sizing goes, if you are on the upper limit of a size, I recommend opting for the next size up, because the sizes tend to run a little small.

    the Versatility
    The other thing that impressed me with the Hoss Stallion is how it can be used for more than a cycling short. The baggy chamois liner can be removed from the outer shell. While you would not necessarily want to sport just the baggy liner like you would with any other pair of cycling shorts, this feature is helpful because you can rotate through the cycling short you wear underneath and just wear the Hoss Stallion shell everyday. The liner that comes with the short is plenty comfortable but after one day of riding a guy needs to wash these things. After the first week, I never re-attached the liner, but put it into a rotation of a few pairs of cycling shorts that I would change and wash while I showered after each day, and wore the outer shell everyday. I only had to wash the shell once a week and it never showed signs of being too dirty or smelly.

    When meeting a friend for coffee one afternoon after work, I rode my bike to the coffee shop and went into the restroom to rinse off and put a clean shirt on, but was able to leave my Hoss Stallions on and not even worry about cramping my style – which is impeccable by the way 🙂

    This short comes with 3 zipper-secured front pockets and one rear velcro pocket that are very practical. All pockets are located on the front of the legs, 2 on one side and 1 on the other. The pockets are not big, but extremely functional. They are perfect for dropping your keys, cell phone and a compact digital camera into. On cooler mornings I could actually cram my arm warmers into the larger pocket when I took them off – which kept me from having to unstrap my backpack. The pockets are compact enough that your keys don’t jiggle around or bounce back and forth, which is another nice touch.

    the Technical Stuff
    Hoss advertises that the chamois liner has “permanent antibacterial protection” – whether or not this is true seemed irrelevant to me because as I said, after one ride, it is really a good idea (for you and anyone around you) to clean your bike shorts. Maybe the antibacterial protection keeps the shorts from developing problems in the long term. A simple wash with soap and water while I would shower seemed to do the job every time.

    The outer shell is indeed made of quick-drying fabric. Even if you wanted to rinse the shell off in the evening, it would be sufficiently dry if you hang it up overnight. It impressed me how easy the shorts were to maintain and keep clean, even after I wore them 5 days a week.

    the Drawback(s)
    I really only noticed one flaw with these shorts: they got a bit staticky. As I have said, I would wash the liner by hand after every wear, but I would put both the liner and shell in the washing machine about once a week with the rest of my laundry. I usually hang dry all of my cycling clothing and often times some static would build up when getting dressed in the morning…a very minor flaw in all reality (in fact almost any clothing will do this). There are two very simple solutions for this issue: 1) put them in a dryer with a dryer sheet (even if only for a few minutes) or if you prefer to hang dry your cycling stuff 2) once they have dried, rub the inside of the shorts with a dryer sheet or spray with some sort of anti-static cling product (if you are married, ask your wife, she will have some).

    $60 can seem like a hefty price to pay for a pair of commuting shorts, but I am confident that it would be the only pair of shorts you need to buy. One pair will get you through an entire week – and doesn’t require that you do laundry every night.

    All in all, I was very impressed with the Hoss Stallion short and give them two finger-less-gloved thumbs up for any bike commuter.