So now that I've started to collect more and more gear (it's a curse that weights heavily on all triathletes) I decided to look into getting a new bag to carry it all. The $10 bag I picked up from Wal-Mart a year ago has fallen apart and actually kind of smells funny too. As with all my new interests I started with a search on the internet for transition bag reviews and suggestions. Unfortunately I couldn't find too much out there. I found several forums where people talked about how much they loved whatever pack they owned but none of them really went over the features of their bags. I decided to take a different approach and went to my local tri shop (All 3 Sports) and looked through what they had in stock. After spending some time with the sales rep I was between two bags, the TYR Alliance Team Backpack II and the Louis Garneau Race Day Revo. On first impressions I really liked the Louis Garneau. It look nice and clean with a certain amount of class that the TYR was missing. Regardless of the fact that it was "pretty" I really needed something with function and the sales rep swore by the TYR. He was right I could hide a small child in the TYR, but I wasn't convinced I need that much room. Needless to say I went with the Louis Garneau since, well lets be honest if you're not wining the race you might as well look like a pro while you're setting up transition.
The first thing that really catches your eye about this pack is the external helmet holder. This is part of the functionality that I love. It frees up a ton of room inside your bag that would other wise be waisted if you helmet was in there. It also keeps it secure against the bag so you don't have a helmet dangling off the side of your pack hitting you in the legs as you try to juggle your bike, all your numbers, and your pack.
After that you come to the wetsuit pocket. It's huge!!! And it's mesh so your suit dries off pretty easily. It's actually big enough that on race days I throw all my wet clothes in there with my suit so they don't get the inside of the bag all smelly.
There are two fairly large side pockets that I use for all my nutrition and then I put all my race day items like numbers, maps, and such in the other pocket for easy access.
There is also a pocket on top which I use for keys and other small things. Needless to say this thing has pockets all over it which really helps to increase its' storage area.
Now on to the main compartment which I must say is actually pretty impressive. It expands to hold a lot of stuff and has more pockets on the inside to keep your running and cycling shoes separate from the rest of your gear. On race days I'll have both pairs of shoes, two towels, a full change of clothes, and all those extra items you need like deodorant and body glide shoved into this big compartment. There is also a spot for your sunglasses but since I'm always wearing mine I've yet to use it.
I'm sure by now you've seen some red tags on the bag with a white picture on them. These are basically suggestions on what to put in each pocket. It's a nice add on in case you want some help organizing yourself, but some of them are kind of ridiculous... the water bottle tag makes me laugh every time I see it.
I only have two complaints with the bag. The first is that there is only one water bottle holder on the outside of the bag. I know that on longer races I can have 3 or 4 bottles so it would be nice to at least have one more on the outside of the bag. The other is the sternum strap, it broke.
After it came off and I inspected it a little further I saw that it actually isn't sewn on but it's "clamped" on. I'm sure I could have gotten it back on after it came off, but of course this happened at a race and I lost it.
Something just of note is that the material feels really thin and that it might rip easily. I haven't had it rip yet so it's not a complaint, just a concern. Overall I'm very happy with the bag and I would suggest it to anyone looking for an inexpensive way to free up their hands on race day. It's a great pack and I hope that it will give me many more seasons of use.