A couple months ago, my sister gifted me on my birthday with a few goodies from the local branch of Decathlon, the French sporting goods warehouse retailer. One of them was an interesting little yellow roll about two-thirds the size of my fist.
Emblazoned on its outside are stark black letters and a diagram announcing that it is, actually, an ultra-compact backpack. As is the norm with Decathlon, this is a house-brand product – in this case, from their adventure and hiking brand, Quechua.
The rolled-up package definitely reminds me of my Sportful Hot Pack 5 rain jacket, which itself rolls up into a ball and easily stuffs into a jersey pocket.
I thought I’d put it to a quick test. Given that I regularly go on long rides on Sunday mornings, the lack of storage usually prevents me from doing a bit of shopping and bringing stuff home, essentially restricting the things I can do while I’m out on the road. What if I could change that?
It just so happened that one weekend, I ran out of meat to cook. After completing my Sunday morning long ride, I swung by the local butcher shop to buy a kilogram each of ground beef and chicken breast fillet – which is admittedly an unusual stop for a roadie.
To get my perishable cargo home, I pulled out the backpack from my center jersey pocket. Deploying it was straightforward – you effectively vomit the backpack guts out of its roll form as you turn it inside out. A little drawstring is supposed to keep the roll form in place, but the backpack does that by itself well enough that the drawstring isn’t strictly necessary.
Once deployed, the Arpenaz Ultra-Compact backpack yields a single large zippered compartment. The material is fairly thin, although still feels substantial enough for light loads. The same material makes up the shoulder straps, though, so I would be hesitant to load this up too heavily, but it was certainly up to the task of lugging 2 kg of meat around the final 3 km to my house.
And…that is the test, really. I’m pleased to report it passed with flying colors. The chill from refrigerated meat aside, it’s actually rather comfortable to ride with. As an emergency light-duty loading solution, the Quechua Arpenaz Ultra-Compact backpack is the most unique solution I’ve seen, and at around PhP140, it’s a good-value addition to your existing backpack lineup. Keep your expectations in check, and this will be very useful for road cyclists out to run errands or light shopping.
I’ve since repeated the meat shop run a couple times, and I’ve stashed the rolled-up backpack in my center jersey pocket as part of my usual riding gear.
Needless to say: highly recommended.