Product Review: Green Guru Gear and Saddle Bags

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Green Guru. ©Cyclocross Magazine

Green Guru. © Cyclocross Magazine

by Josh Liberles

Where do bike tubes go when they die? Well, if they’re lucky, they head to Boulder, Colorado, for a second life as a part of super-cool, bomber Green Guru gear. Green Guru has specialized in building products from used-up pieces – including wetsuits, bicycle tubes and vinyl billboards – for several years, and the company has continued to refine its products along the way.

I’ve been testing two of Green Guru’s offerings, and have been very impressed by both. Although they serve quite different purposes, they share a rugged construction and a well-thought-out design.

The sternum and removable waist strap keep the pack in place, and the inner tube bottom protects from the elements. ©Cyclocross Magazine

The sternum and removable waist strap keep the pack in place, and the inner tube bottom protects from the elements. © Cyclocross Magazine

Ruckus Backpack
Green Guru’s Ruckus backpack is a great candidate for those in the market for a multi-purpose bag. The exterior is made from re-purposed bicycle tubes while the interior is lined with 100% recycled PETE fabric (polyethylene terephthalate, often used in soda bottles). Nylon straps keep the bag cinched to your body, with adjustable shoulder, waist and sternum straps.

The interior features pockets galore, some zipped for security and some open to let larger items poke out. Should this serve as your commuter bag, there’s a laptop section, a loop to hook a tail light on the back, reflective straps to help with visibility and even a “secret” pocket beneath the mesh that helps to dissipate a rider’s heat designed for a hydration bladder.

The Ruckus backpack's inner tube and recycled PETE construction make it "green," as does its durability.  ©Cyclocross Magazine

The Ruckus backpack's inner tube and recycled PETE construction make it "green," as does its durability. © Cyclocross Magazine

Although Green Guru also makes messenger bags, it has been a welcome relief to have two shoulder straps dispersing the load, and my left arm no longer goes numb when I’m toting a heavily packed bag. At 20″ x 16″ x 8″, this is a larger bag, and at 3 pounds, 8 ounces it’s no lightweight. But the cinch cord at the top of the main internal pouch adjusts the volume when you’re carrying less stuff, and the extra heft makes me confident in its durability. A large “storm flap” with inner tubes on the exterior and more PETE fabric inside Velcroes and buckles securely in place, and seals the deal, making the Ruckus weather-proof. After some early testing to make sure things stayed dry in there, I’ve thrown my laptop inside with nary a worry.

Use it as a gear bag and/or to tote your laptop and work clothes on your commute. ©Cyclocross Magazine

Use it as a gear bag and/or to tote your laptop and work clothes on your commute. © Cyclocross Magazine

As a race bag, it’s adequate for a medium packer, but if you bring triplicates of everything, you may still need to go bigger. However, if you ride to races and want to keep your stuff dry along the way, this will fit the bill. I had no problem stuffing two pairs of shoes, a skinsuit, a few pairs of socks, winter jersey, vest, insulated jacket, rain jacket, an extra kit and some basic tools in there. The trade-off with a backpack as a gear bag is that there’s more sifting through your load to find that pair of socks or gloves lurking at the bottom. If a big gear bag is what you’re after and being able to ride with it less of a concern, Green Guru also makes a larger “Duffster Duffle.”

Printing and embossed sizes from the tubes add character. ©Cyclocross Magazine

Printing and embossed sizes from the tubes add character. © Cyclocross Magazine

The exterior cleans off quickly – especially the inner tube portions – should you leave the bag course-side while you race, and although I’ve only been able to test the bag for a few weeks so far, I’m confident in its durability. The only concern I have, and something I’ve been unable to test thanks to the cold snap in the Pacific Northwest, is that I suspect my back will be sweating up a storm in the hot summer months despite the thick mesh layer there, which should bring at least some relief.

MSRP: $139.95. Made in USA.

The Shifter Saddle Bag combines great functionality, a weatherproof construction and a new purpose for used up materials. ©Cyclocross Magazine

The Shifter Saddle Bag combines great functionality, a weatherproof construction and a new purpose for used up materials. © Cyclocross Magazine

Shifter Saddle Bag
At the much smaller end of the bag spectrum is Green Guru’s Shifter Saddle bag. Small compared to a backpack, yes, but it’s perhaps the perfect size for its function. There’s plenty of room for a tube or two, a few CO2s, a multi-tool and some tire irons, and the stretchy nature of the inner tube construction means you could probably stuff even more in, should you want to.

Despite its ample storage size, the Shifter is streamlined and stays out of the way of your pedal stroke. A wrap-around neoprene strap from cut-up wetsuits goes through a rider’s saddle rails and Velcroes securely together underneath the bag. The stretchiness of the neoprene and the ample Velcro area mean that even if you normally have a tough time fitting bags to your setup, the Shifter should mount up easily and will stay securely in place, even off road. Recycled PETE fabric make up the rest of the bag, as interior liner and webbing. A reflective loop on the back provides a little visibility, and is also a place to clip a tail light.

The zipper is a thicker, more industrial model than I’ve seen on most saddle bags – and there’s nothing worse than a bag’s zipper failing mid-ride (or losing the contents inside as a result!). Even though the Shifter is made in the USA and eco-friendly, it’s price-competitive with most saddle bags on the market and its size and design move it up to among the top on my list.

Dimensions: 7.5″ x 3.5″ x 3.25″
MSRP: $24.95. Made in USA.
More info: greengurugear.com

 

 

Cyclocross Magazine, Issue 22, Print and digital subscriptionsHave you subscribed yet? You're missing out if not. Get all-original content and your cyclocross fix throughout the year with a subscription and Issue 23 back copy, with features on Lars van der Haar, Jonathan Page, Elle Anderson and more!
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