Bicycle-specific gear bags over the years have primarily been built around two common formats. With few exceptions, they’re either a duffel bag or backpack of some sort, but enhanced with a multitude of pockets to help keep your stuff separated and easier to find. The new Parc Bag, on the other hand, is legitimately different.
Although it can be worn as a backpack, the ingenuity of the design reveals itself once you open it up. Essentially, what you have here is a giant toiletry bag, but instead of holding your toothpaste and shampoo, it’s sized and proportioned for things like clothing, sunglasses, repair items, and snacks.
The Parc Bag opens up like a book, and it’s designed to be hung on a wall, doorknob, or even behind a car seat with the built-in “headrest hood” and lower strap to snug the bottom half of the bag against the seatback. Inside there are two larger compartments for your helmet and shoes, plus a generous array of smaller pockets, nearly all of which are either mesh or clear vinyl so you can quickly see what’s inside. There are even a couple of elastic loops designed to hold a pump or massage stick.
In use, it’s as convenient as you’d expect given the design.
Provided you’ve got enough space on the wall or in the car to hang the thing (it’s a rather substantial 85 x 60 cm, or 33 x 24″, when open), the open format makes it quick and easy to get to all of your stuff, with almost none of the digging and hunting that you usually have to do with other gear bags. The clear and mesh pockets make quick work of figuring out what’s where, and the light grey liner material keeps smaller items from disappearing into a black hole, too.
Even the genuine YKK zippers are well thought-out, with double sliders on the larger pockets, and brightly colored, finger-friendly pulls.
The fact that the whole thing folds up into a comfortable backpack makes the Parc simple to lug around, which is particularly handy if you’re one to ride to the start of an event from home, or even if you just like to load up the car without having to resort to multiple trips in and out of the house.
My test bag was a pre-production sample, and Parc already has a few changes planned, including using properly waterproof liner material in both of the large compartments, a longer strap that will wrap around a wider range of vehicle seats, and more durable logos (the existing ones peel off pretty easily).
Hopefully, Parc is open to some other suggestions, too, if only for a future model.
While convenient to use, I’d say the Parc Bag is geared more toward road and gravel riding than mountain biking. Road helmets fit well, but modern mountain bike helmets with more coverage push the limits of the main compartments in terms of capacity. Speaking of which, I’d argue that the Parc Bag could stand to be a little more capacious. With a helmet in one of the main compartments and shoes in the other, there’s not a ton of room left if you like to bring a lot of extra layers with you. The design of the Parc Bag precludes it from getting much bigger in terms of footprint, but it could get a fair bit thicker while still easily staying within airline guidelines for a carry-on.
It’d also be nice to see some exterior pockets for water bottles. Even though Parc is planning to upgrade the main pockets with waterproof materials, bottles still often leak a little, and there’s a reason why most of us don’t like to put full ones inside our gear bags.
“We are still flirting with the idea of some simple webbing loops on the side, so you could clip a helmet, or additional gear,” said Parc Bag founder and creator Sam LeFabre. “Keeping the helmet on the outside saves tons of room for clothes. I’m absolutely thinking about round two already and what another version of this core bag may look like, but also thinking about MTB/DH/Enduro specific bags, triathlon bags, and maybe even a bag for the velodrome. Very excited to get these out there and see what people do with it. We’ll develop v2 from there.”
Fairly minor quibbles aside, this is one of the best bike-centric gear bags I’ve tried to date, and all things considered, it’s not horribly expensive, either. If you don’t need to carry too much stuff on your way to a ride, I’d suggest checking it out. But if you do, hopefully Parc Bag will offer a bigger follow-up sometime soon as the format is genuinely really neat.
Parc Bag is currently in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter where bags are being offered at hefty discounts, but projected retail price once things settle down is US$179.
Price: US$179 (international pricing and availability are to be determined)
Weight: 2.21 kg (4.87 lb)
More information: www.rideparc.com