I don’t like riding packs… Who does? They’re big, clumsy and get in the way. Yes, I appreciate the need for them at times – big days out in the hills and for any genuine mountain adventure they’re certainly needed for food, hip flasks, spares, jackets, etc. But 90% of my riding isn’t in the mountains or the middle of nowhere – it’s on my local hill where I can practically see my house, or it’s one descent from a pub. Even with a lot of my day-to-day riding being so close to civilisation, I still want to be able to carry a drink and the essential mobile phone for when disaster strikes.
Enter the USWE Airborne 2. It’s basically a small 2L pack for carrying water and not much else. It’s lightweight (just 314g), with a 1.5L bladder and a small phone pocket, and that’s about it. There are hi-vis reflective patches and twin ports for the hose so it can be routed either side, but the main thing point for me is the fit. It uses USWE’s ‘No Dancing Monkey’ harness design and sits high up on your back between your shoulder blades. Even fully laden with phone and water it’s barely noticeable when riding up or down, with the crossover harness doing a great job of keeping it in place. It actually fits that well and is that unnoticeable that I’ve not even been taking it off when sessioning local downhill tracks or digging in the woods where I’d usually abandon all but the essentials. It’s not the biggest (although I did manage to force a gilet in it one day after mistrusting the weather forecast), nor is it overly featured (the phone pocket isn’t even waterproof), but for me it’s the perfect pack for 90% of my riding.