This is a fanny pack for someone who refuses to wear backpacks. Which is a bit ironic, because it basically is a backpack.
With 4 liters of cargo capacity and a 1.5-liter bladder, the Palos boasts a higher volume than some bags that do have shoulder straps. You can load this thing up with all the essentials for a mid-length ride, and the almost-overwhelming collection of pockets will allow you to keep it all organized.
The water reservoir is housed behind a divider in the large main compartment, while outer pockets on the hips–one with a zipper and one with an envelope–style closure–allow for quick access to tools, a phone, a miniature banana or whatever keeps you rolling. The flap at the rear of the pack opens to reveal two additional mesh pockets, and there’s another small zippered pouch on the outside of the front panel.
The hydration hose loops from the pack around to the front, creating the appearance of a small hula hoop. It connects to the belt with a handy magnetic clip, which, although diminutive, is easy to use while riding–once you get the hang of it.
Unfortunately, getting used to riding with the Palos didn’t come as easily. There was an annoying amount of movement when the pack was loaded up with a full reservoir, a multi-tool, a tube, a tire lever and tire and shock pumps. Even mildly bumpy trails caused bouncing, which in turn seemed to cause the belt to loosen. Despite my repeated efforts to tighten both the internal compression straps and the belt–even to the point of discomfort–I was never able to get the Palos to remain snug and stable.
The Palos could be a great option for riders needing to carry both extra water and lightweight-but-bulky items like waterproof jackets, but when it came to carrying heavier ride essentials, I couldn’t help but wish for those missing shoulder straps.