Like many American high school students in the 80s & 90s, I discovered comedian George Carlin. Unlike many American high school students of my generation, it wasn’t from his originally infamous (now merely famous) “Seven Words” bit. Instead, it was from his 1981 comedy album, A Place for My Stuff.
How I came to be aware of this album’s existence is lost to memory. In my extremely conservative household, such things were not listened to, let alone laughed at. Yet, I both regularly listened to and laughed at Carlin’s musings, especially the “Have a Nice Day” and “Fussy Eater” sketches. “Fussy Eater” continues to spring to mind anytime I try feeding either of my children something they’ve not had before. Or had before and didn’t like. “Fussy Eater” is definitely a euphemism for “big pain in the ass.” There’s not a parent who’s ever served a meal to their child who won’t back me up on that.
But it’s the title sketches from the album that are of what I write tonight, given that was on my mind as early as February when I first started toying around with returning to inline skating.
Now that I’m full-on back into it some three months later, I figured it’s share what I’ve got. I’ve settled on three options for stuff (chiefly) whilst skating:
- Hydration pack
In that original post, I mentioned Spibelt, which I’ve been using for running since I scored it in my swagbag at the 2011 Austin Marathon. Sure, it’s a slimmed down fanny-pack, but it gets an important job done for when pockets are simply not available—like on running shorts and such—yet you still need a place for your stuff. To quote Carlin:
Only the stuff you know you’re gonna need: Money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pen, smokes, rubber, and change. Well, only the stuff you HOPE you’re gonna need“A Place for My Stuff” by George Cariln
Okay, so that’s not exactly what I stash when I go skating (most days it’s just the iPhone, but iPhones—let alone cellphones—weren’t exactly commonplace when Carlin recorded this), but you get the idea.
The Spibelt is an adjustable, elasticized belt with a 2-piece plastic buckle (like a race belt, if you’ve ever done a triathlon) and a zippered, expanding pouch for stashing your stuff.
At 20-ish dollars for the basic model, it really is quite the useful and cost-effective accessory for running and has transitioned quite well to inline skating. Sure, some of the shorts I wear for skating do have pockets, but the mass of the phone causes imbalance when the legs get to moving for more intense efforts. The Spibelt alleviates this imbalance while also keeping my phone (and [on occasion] keys) safe & secure.
It gets hot in South Texas.
Even in the “winter” months, it’s been known to creep into the 80s, and the mid-90s in “spring” are not unheard of. Summer is its own beast and staying hydrated can become somewhat of a burden were it not for hydration packs.
Like with inline skates, the company that popularized the product has become synonymous with all products in this niche category, but not all inline skates are Rollerblades, nor are all hydration packs Camelbaks.
Sure, I’ve used Camelbak hydration packs in the past, but the two I’ve had were just…lackluster in the proverbial bang for the buck. I don’t remember the exact models (the first was from 15-ish years ago, during my first foray into mountain biking, and the second was from three or four years back from my return to mountain biking), and, sure, they were some of the lower-cost versions, but I don’t feel it’s unreasonable to ask for even a cheap hydration pack to be easy to keep clean. Camelbaks are certainly not that.
But, rather than bemoan the shortcomings of the one brand that failed me, I’ll draw focus to the one that hasn’t: Orange Mud.
Orange Mud makes a variety of gear for trail runners and mountain bikes. I first came to be aware of the company after scouting an Xterra triathlon course when a buddy pulled out his Orange Mud Wrap to help change without the need for a private changing room. The Transition Wrap 2.0 was basically a big towel with a zipper and hook that’s useful for changing or even draping over a carseat to keep it clean(er) following sweaty or otherwise dirty activities, such as trail running and/or mountain biking. Despite my preference for Sport Kilt products for changing (and general comfort) after intense exercise, The Wrap offered carseat protection without me having to change while also being absorbiant.
A few months later, another buddy turned me on to Orange Mud’s hydration options for trail running, what they called “running packs.” These would store a full-sized water bottle or two, with additional storage for nutrition, keys, phone, and so on. Where Orange Mud products shined over similar products like Fuel Belt was their comfort. Fuel Belt was worn about the waist (like a belt—get it?) and stored between one and four 8-ounce flasks, was not just the full-sized bottles they would accommodate but especially in their comfort. They’d sling over the shoulders for easy access to bottles without breaking stride and would still feel like they weren’t even there, even 5, 10, or 20+ k into a run. So, when I was due for a new hydration pack for mountain biking, Orange Mud was a natural, well, fit.
I settled on the Endurance Pack 2.0, featuring a 2-liter bladder and storage for lots of stuff. It would fit the bill for hydration while also fitting all I would need for excursions on either bikes or blades: fluids & a place for my phone & keys. It features a similar shoulder harness setup which makes their bottle quivers so comfortable and awesome. But it was only after receiving & beginning to use the Endurance Pack 2.0 that I learned just how awesome it was.
Where Camelbak products “feature” a threaded cap closure which was not only inconvenient to fill—and leaked on me on more than one occasion—they were also a hassle to keep clean, requiring additional purchases of Camelbak-specific products. The Orange Mud pack, on the other hand, was the proverbial breeze.
Rather than a threaded cap, Orange Mud makes use of locking slide over a folding flap for quick & easy access for both filling & cleaning of the bladder. And the drinking tube & bite valve have a quick-release lock for even easier cleaning of both without the need for special tools. I use a spare 500 mL water bottle for keeping the bladder propped open for airing out after a wash.
Even with two liters of fluid, the Endurance Pack 2.0 feels light and comfortable when skating. Arm rocking or other movements don’t disrupt its sitting position or balance, thereby keeping the my balance—and safety—in perfect check. And there’s plenty of space for however much stuff I would want to bring on a distance-oriented skate including the meh-rathons I anticipate doing come summer.
Shortly after getting my Rollerblade Macroblade 110 3WD, I knew I would need a place to store them. It had to be a place that couldn’t be easily accessed by my perpetually
nosey inquisitive children, but was easy & convenient enough for me to access, so a bag on a hook seemed the best option. A skate bag would also allow me to more easily transport the skates in the car, should I want to venture out on the greenways connecting the parks in nearby San Antonio.
But wow are there a lot of options for skate bags.
After asking about & looking at what others were using in an inline skate group I frequent on Facebook, I happened upon Rollerblade’s Pro Backpack LT30 over at Inline Warehouse—where I happened to have a substantial store credit, so score.
I’d used a similar model for my last Rollerblades back in the 90s, and it held up remarkably well and made for efficient storage & transport of my skates when not wearing them, while also serving as a convenient commuter pack whilst skating. (Sure, the LT30 is no Chrome Citizen, but it serves a very different purpose for very different storage than does the Citizen; the aforementioned ancient Rollerblade pack worked great during myskate commute days in Corpus Christi.)
The LT30 ups the ante a bit from the previous pack I had by featuring more durable and more weather resistant materials on the exterior, in addition to internal storage pockets for sundry stuffs on the interior. There’s also an attachment for securing a helmet on the outside, though the cross-piece seems to have become more pliable with use, necessitating looping the piece through the helmet and using the cross-piece to loop through its twin straps to keep it securely in place.
The pack’s straps also each feature a ring loop for fastening a carabiner or similar attachment for keys, flash drives, bottle openers, or what-have-you. A buckled strap allows the shoulder straps to be fastened together to prevent shifting while skating—and to great effect. In my 10k outing about town, everything stayed put and I stayed comfortable, despite all the stuff I had stored in the pack’s interior.
When not in use, the LT30 hangs nicely 0ut of the way (and out of reach of little
monsters children) on a hook in the garage while securely storing the skates on the outside of the pack and my myriad gear on the inside. About my only complaint is the lack of any ventilation from interior to exterior; sweaty pads tossed in the bag and zipped inside develop a most malodorous aroma quite quickly.
Despite this one shortcoming, I really like the LT30 as a skate bag. It’s spacious and functional for holding skates and everything associated with the activity, along with room for stuff not even remotely related. I’m not sure what, but I am sure it would fit.
At the point I wind up adhering to my own guideline of n+1 for the correct number of skates to own, I’ll likely end up adding another skate bag or pack, as well. Until then, however, I’m quite content with the options I have available to me while out & about on blades; the Spibelt & Endurance Pack 2.0 for hydration are functional well beyond my own needs, with the LT30 in reserve for road trips or group meet-ups…should those ever become a thing for me, post-pandemic…should post-pandemic ever become a thing.
Thanks for reading.