Being a cyclist makes it easy to accumulate too much stuff. Helmets, cleats, bottles, kit, glasses, gloves, GPS, iPod—and that’s only for on the bike. Start adding all the extra hardware (tires, tubes, cages, pumps, spare wheels, extra stems and bars, that drivetrain you took of the old three-speed), and it’s a recipe for one disastrous garage.
A few months ago after one of my grips broke just minutes before a ride, I set on the garage in search of a spare like a honey badger on a beehive. Thirty minutes later, with no grip to show for the time spent, a garage like a scene out of Katrina, and one missed ride, I decided I needed to organize.
Enter the Mountainsmith Modular Hauler 4, a simple, ingenious bag system comprised of four 26-liter zippered rectangular totes that nest in what looks like an open-top duffel. Each cube is lined with foam so it stands up on its own for easy access to your gear. The soft boxes also have handles for lifting stuff in and out as you need it. Genius, I thought, as I marshaled all the odds and ends around the garage into four neat piles that were then deposited into each tote. Garage neat, problem solved, although I wish that Mountainsmith had provided slots for labels for even easier ID’ing. One other niggle: Though the compression strap keeps the main bag somewhat intact, the outer bag needs a bit more structure of its own to keep it from flopping all over the place.
But the real genius is the Modular Hauler’s utility as a race bag. Getting to the start line of an endurance event without losing a glove or forgetting that pre-race gel is often more stressful than the race itself. But last weekend, the kit went in one bag, food in another, helmet, cleats, and hydration pack in a third, and lights and electronics in the last. And when I showed up at the start, it all came out in methodical order. I was ready and waiting long before the gun.
The Hauler 4 sells for $100. There’s also a smaller, three-cube system for $90, which doesn’t hold as much but is easier to heft around as one large unit. Additional basic cubes sell for $22 each, while the $40 cooler cube is a must for packing perishables.