Whether logging long miles on the gravel or mounting and dismounting a ’cross bike, many off-road riders swear by a good chamois cream to maximize comfort during – and after – a ride. There are numerous cycling-specific chamois creams on the market, but one that is a little more unorthodox is Vermont’s Original Bag Balm. Originally concocted in 1899 as a cure for chafed and cracked cow udders, the salve also has potential as a cyclist-friendly option for chamois comfort.
Vermont’s Original Bag Balm consists of four ingredients – petrolatum, paraffin wax, lanolin and a sulfate preservative – and comes in easy-to-recognize green packaging with a logo that features, of course, a cow. Bag Balm’s website highlights its benefits for cyclists, including a testimonial from former Team USA Olympian Sky Christopherson. Christopherson made his debut at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and has continued his Olympic involvement, including working with Team USA’s women’s track team.
Christopherson uses Bag Balm as a chamois cream, applying it directly to his body in commonly-chafed areas and has stories of how its lubrication has helped the women on the team cope with several training sessions a day.
Bag Balm’s thick consistency and lasting power in the harsh winters of Vermont make it an option for cyclocross racers looking for skin protection during winter races like those at 2017 Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford or when tackling long gravel epics like the Dirty Kanza 200.
Adding some running into your cyclocross training this year? Bag Balm can also be used to prevent nipple chafing and provide foot comfort during longer runs.
The product comes in a variety of sizes and packaging, but it is all the same product, whether you find it in a pet store (protect those paws), farm store or in a local drug store or big box retailer (Target, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Urban Outfitters among others) labeled for human use (Hand & Body). If you find yourself without your cycling-specific chamois cream and away from a bike store, you are not facing udder disaster knowing you can find Bag Balm at one of these ubiquitous chains.
Wanting to prove old Vermonters can learn new tricks, Bag Balm also recently introduced a moisturizing soap. The product is similar to Bag Balm and features a rosemary mint scent. The soap can be found at many of the same retail outlets as Bag Balm.
In the hot dry sun and altitude of Press Camp in Utah’s Deer Valley, we tried the ointment as a skin moisturizer and gave it a test as chamois cream as well. We did not magically transform into Olympic athletes, but Bag Balm did keep us comfortable on the bikes we were test riding and left our bike gear no worse for wear.
An 8-ounce tin of Vermont’s Original Bag Balm retails for $9.99, an on-the-go tube for $3.99 and the soap is priced at $4.99 for a 3.9-ounce bar. And if you are ready to commit to Bag Balm as your new chamois cream of choice, a 4.5-pound pail is available for $49.99.
Learn more: bagbalm.com
See our ever-growing collection of new product spotlights from the 2017 Press Camp here.
Andrew Yee and Zachary Schuster contributed to this article.