Are you tired of making a mess of your car floor as you change out of your muddy cyclocross shoes? Or have you bobbled one too many one-legged balancing acts as you attempt to get into clean socks and shoes? Sure, these are First World problems, but Portland-based product designer Dominique Aris thought there could be a better way to change shoes and clothes before and after sporting events. In 2010 he founded GYST bags with its X-Changer Pack system (XCP system) to simplify the process of changing clothes and shoes and keeping everything clean.
The bags are oddly named, with names like DB1-15 for our test duffel bag, and MB 1-10 for a messenger bag, BP2-10 for a backpack, but all feature the XCP system to help you change from Clark Kent into Superman even if you can't find a telephone booth. As for the GYST name, you could probably guess what the acronym stands for, but the official word is "getting your self (or stuff) together."
The GYST DB1-15 duffel bag is smartly designed in that it carries your essentials for race day, works as a duffel bag or backpack, and the bottom surface of the changing mats are reversed when stowed, keeping your car, house or garage clean when you put it away. The backpack mode is perfect for riding to the race, or riding to public transportation or your teammate's house. It's also an easy way to ride from your car to your team tent, with all the gear you need for the day.
The DB1-15 may have been designed with triathletes and their transitions in mind, but it's also a great accessory for cyclocross season. It's got four external pockets, two internal pockets, and a collapsible divider to separate dirty gear from clean gear. Based on its dimensions, the GYST duffel boasts 4550 cubic inches, or 74 liters of capacity, although it feels smaller.
Most importantly, the unique mats do their job in that you can step out of your dirty shoes onto a clean mat, and then change into clean socks and clean shoes without a balancing act or dabbing your feet or socks in the surrounding mud, dirt or puddle. There's actually two mats on the bag, and if it's wet and cold you'll probably want to use both. On dry dirt, we just used one:
The mats then hide their soiled surface by folding over and snapping into place with magnets and elastic straps. It's a strange design at first—ask your buddies to grab something from your bag for you after you collapse from your finishing sprint, and they'll likely give up, looking into mat flap pockets and seeing nothing. But you'll quickly get used to the unique system.
After a few initial uses, we really only have one complaint so far, in that we'd love a dedicated shoe compartment. The side pockets aren't big enough for large shoes, and while there's enough space in the main compartment, you'll want a plastic bag to keep the shoes from your other stuff.
As for the color, the camo and high-vis orange should please hunters and the Sniper himself, 2015 World Champion Mathieu van der Poel. You'll either love it or hate it, but if you hate it, you have a red/black and black/orange option as well, and both colors will save you money (they're $13-40 cheaper) over our $153.89 review bag in camo/orange.
One hundred fifty bucks is a lot to spend on a duffel bag. Thankfully, there are currently cheaper color options of this model, and if you're racing most weekends, the convenience, cleanliness and even water savings of the GYST DB1-15 duffel bag might turn this into a bargain purchase after a few seasons of use.
It's worth noting that Aris and GYST put an emphasis on the reducing environmental impact of its products and its users. The company's changing system is said to save water, in that the changing mat's dirty surface is kept away from everything else, reducing the need to wash the bag, and saving you from having to wash your car's mats. The company eschews PVC materials, saying they're harder to recycle, and touts choosing eco-friendly materials. GYST also opines on sportsmanship and doping, making its website an interesting read.
GYST not only makes bags, but also active eyewear, including a sunglass that converts into a goggle for those dusty or cold race days. Stay tuned for our look at (through) that product.
GYST DB1-15 Duffel Bag Specs:
MSRP: $153.89 (camo/orange), $140.15 (red), $111.41 (black/orange)
Pockets: 4 external, 2 internal
Size: 14 x 12.5 x 26 inches
More info: gystconcept.com (the company sells its wares through Amazon)