Bad gear bags made us do it…
Exactly what the title says. We’re here, and you’re reading this, because lots of bad gear bags have been made over the years.
We didn’t intend to start a business when we went searching for a good gear solution. We just wanted something better than our plastic bins! Our list of needs wasn’t long, nor complicated. But not a single product came even close to meeting them. So, we’ve ended up here, now, with Parc and The Bag. We solved our own problem.
Why most “gear bags” or “race day bags” stink...
First, let’s back up one step. We’re already talking about bags, but really a bag is just one way to store and transport stuff. Just like a bin is. Or a box. It’s a solution to a problem. But is it the best solution? Well, let’s look closer at the problems.
The first, and biggest problem is the combination of bags, bins, drawers, pockets and closets that have combined to make a mess of our cycling gear. The gear that we use most often should not be in eight different places. We should not have snacks in the kitchen, arm and leg warmers in the closet, extra socks in drawers, tools in the garage drawer, gloves in a plastic bin and your extra tubes and multi-tool somewhere on a shelf. When our stuff is scattered like this, just getting out the door to ride means visiting all those spots, searching for and remembering to grab all these things. This is time that you’re wasting, stress that you’re accruing, and ride time that you’re giving up. This also means you’re leaving yourself susceptible to forgotten items that ruin rides. We’ve all shown up to ride without our shoes or helmet or other critical piece of equipment. It sucks!
There’s no need for this. If we store all of our stuff in one place, then it’s all there when it is time to ride. This seems simple, right? Yet, we don’t do it. So, our first principal for The Bag was that it has to be a one stop shop. We want to go to one place, get all the stuff we need and then throw a leg over our bike and leave. If we’re going by car, we want to go to one place, grab all of our gear at one time, and put it in the car without moving any individual items. We want to be confident that we’ve forgotten nothing.
Now if you use a bag or a bin or some other gear transportation, you know that without a single place for all of your gear you do a lot of packing. Retrieving your things from umpteen different places around your house, shoving them all into a bag or bin, putting them in your car, going to ride, returning, and undoing all the work you did hours prior. Then, that bag or the bin sits empty while you’re not using it, taking up space. To us, this is a nonstarter. We don’t like packing and we don’t like having unused single-use objects lying around the house. Why would we buy an organization solution for at home, and also buy a bag meant to take our gear out of our home? Why shouldn’t those be the same thing? Well, now they are. The Bag is equal parts home storage and travel bag.
If we’re gonna talk about home storage our next pet peeve was the lack of dedicated storage built for our cycling gear. We have plastic drawers, metal drawers, toolboxes, plastic bins, giant reusable bags, etc., but none of them were built for cyclists. The best solutions we can find for any type of cycling gear organization were small wall-mounted shelves meant for helmets, shoes, and sunglasses. Most incorporate a bike rack of some sort. So, with The Bag we set out to build cycling specific storage. What does that mean? That means that our big items like helmets and shoes are treated with the same respect as the tiny items like spare chain links, CO2 and spare tubes.
When we say respect we mean accessibility. You are only truly organized if you can access every item in your possession at any moment. This is especially handy when it’s race day, and you’ve raced back to your car before the start, because you forgot your gloves.
To enable this sort of grab and go organization we looked at all the gear we use regularly. Then we organized and built our pockets to hold that gear. You’ll see that The Bag has three cinched mesh pockets. These are “quick grab pockets” built specifically for the items you’re most likely to grab as soon as you get out of the car or every time you ride. This may include a spare tube, your computer, or your heart rate strap. You’ll see clear vinyl pockets - some big, some smaller. The volume on the smaller pockets was intentionally limited to make sure that nothing got lost in the bottom.
There’s nothing worse than what we call a “black hole pocket.”
You can probably guess from the name, but a black hole pocket is where gear disappears. You throw it in, and then you have to turn The Bag inside out to find it again. That’s not organization, and it’s annoying.
We put four mesh pockets on the inside of the lower large interior pocket. Those four interior mesh pockets were included because every time we filled the large pocket with our extra kit, our gloves and socks tended to get lost. We wanted to know exactly where each pair of gloves, our spare socks and shoe covers were. There’s no reason gloves should be getting lost amongst jersey, vests, arm and leg warmers.
All of The Bags that we looked at during our research phase failed these previous criteria in spectacular form. Black hole pockets everywhere! Small items were not given the same thought as larger items. No attention was given to how quickly you could access items. And across-the-board, every bag was designed to be used only when traveling.
The link between all these criteria, that allows The Bag to be truly innovative and unique, is the versatility of carry options. If The Bag didn’t have different modes, it wouldn’t be useful at home and on the road. It would also be a single use bag.
At Parc, our team has pretty much ridden and raced bikes however you can ride and race. We put all of that experience and the needs of each discipline into The Bag.
We remembered that during cyclocross races, all we wanted was a tidy way to haul our gear from the car to our team tent to set up for a day of racing. We left at the end of the day with muddy gear, needing a place to keep the wet stuff from contaminating the dry stuff. Because of that, The Bag has hidden backpack straps that are easy to deploy and comfortable to walk and ride with, in order to enable hands-free or on the bike gear transport. Keep your hands free for an extra set of wheels, your bike, your kids, your dog or your cooler. We also built The Bag to be resistant to the elements inside and out, with two interior pockets that are completely waterproof and the water resistant interior and exterior. If you’re lucky enough to race close to home and get caught in a storm on the way home, your gear would be dry. The reflective striping on the exterior and the light loop would keep you seen on the roads.
At our weekly after-work crit series, we’re usually pulling up with barely any time to pin up, warm up, and get to the start line. We don’t have time to dig around our car or a duffel bag for gloves, socks, sunglasses and water bottles. This is where the see-through pockets come in handy. We can quickly grab only the items we need, without any digging or searching or removing other items, and maximize our time warming up. When it’s time to leave, each item simply goes back to its home. At home, we just hang The Bag back in the garage, to race another day.
And lastly, you better believe we’ve been the ones out in a short sleeve jersey on a trail somewhere, when the weather shifted, or when we realized we made a bad apparel choice. In those situations, where you thought you’d be warm enough but aren’t, you need to make sure you have an extra layer packed. Our extra layers now live in The Bag, so we never have to go without. Because it takes no extra effort to pack these extra items, we don’t have to worry about making a decision at home whether or not the weather is going to cooperate. We simply “pack it all” as we say, and hit the trails for an epic day.
All together, we like to think that we created a “gear solution” or “gear system,” not just a bag. The Bag is built to be your unwavering companion, there for every ride and race. Like having a soigneur at your side, handing you what you need at all times. Yes, there is a small, simple joy in organization. But, it’s more than that. There is an enormous amount of joy in thinking about riding your bike, and actually riding your bike, instead of digging maniacally for those warm gloves you swear you brought.