RRP: £39.99

From: Pearl Izumi

There’s a definite trend in mountain biking, influenced by enduro racing, at the moment, to ride minimalist. Riders are wanting to ditch their hydration packs, grab a multitool, spare inner tube and pump and go shred some trails for an hour or so. It’s kind of funny because now having a water bottle cage on your top of the range enduro bike is cool and a selling point whereas just a few years ago, water bottles were not cool!

So this ‘desire’ (led by need or marketing?) has spawned a load of on-bike and on-person ways of stashing things like tools and hydration to keep things minimal, and the new for 2017 Cargo base layer from Pearl Izumi is one of them.

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The base layer is a tight fitting mesh material designed to fit unnoticeably under a normal loose fitting trail jersey and has three stash pockets on the rear for errr…stashing things in. The pockets are arranged similar to those on a traditional XC/road jersey but have tighter openings to prevent anything jumping out on bumpy trails. The pockets are all the same size however the right hand pocket also has a couple of loops sewn in to help secure longer items such as a mini pump or CO2 cartridge or tyre lever.

 

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Three rear stash pockets on the back

 

I decided to go for a small size to help keep anything stashed in the rear pockets more tightly stored against my back and it fits my slim proportions well. The slightly anatomical fit means it feels a little tight standing up straight but when in the riding position on the bike, it feels invisible. The invisible fit feeling is also helped by the extremely light weight and mesh material meaning body heat build up is not an issue.

I wore it for the first time at the first round of the Southern Enduro Series which was a perfect setting for trying it, as all stages began at the same spot meaning I didn’t need to carry my Camelbak with me and could down some water each time I got back to the top. I shoved a spare inner tube, multitool, tyre lever and CO2 cartridge in the pockets and pretty much forgot about them being there all day. Even when I went over the bars on Stage 2, everything stayed in place and didn’t fall out which was reassuring. This is a slight concern with going packless though and these type of stash vests…if you crash, you’ve got hard objects resting against your spine which could make an off a lot worse potentially​, so it’s something to be mindful of when considering something like this. If you crash a lot or race, then a stash vest with a back protector is definitely worth a look.

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Tools in one, spare tube in the middle and pump in the other. 

With the blissful mini-heatwave we recently had, I wore this under a short sleeve jersey for a few hours of riding around Grogley Woods. 17 miles and over 3,000ft of climbing in 27°C blazing sunshine and I didn’t bake in it. In fact, the it’s designed for warm weather riding with a temperature rating of 20°C  and it did a very good job of wicking sweat away from my body – the jersey was pretty damp in that heat at the end which I was surprised at as I felt completely dry, so it worked well!

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Two loops sewn in the left pocket for securing a pump or Snickers DUO (whatever’s more important)

Will I be ditching my Camelbak for every ride or race now I have this? Well no…but I’d like to as I’m really liking riding without a pack now! I don’t have water bottle cage mounts on my Rallon though so for longer rides and races, I’ll still need to carry water in a pack, but for short 1-2 hour trail rides or short loop races, with a soft water bottle shoved in, this will do the job nicely.

It’s also worth noting that Pearl Izumi also do a similar stash bib short with their excellent ELITE Pursuit chamois pad and thigh storage for energy gels.

Summary

Super light and practically invisible to wear even in hot temperatures, the Cargo base layer is perfect for taking the bare essentials with you when out for a quick blast on the trails.

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