Better late than never, right? Here's my thoughts on the Wingnut. I've got a few rides in with it now, so I think I'm starting to get a feel for it.
First, the good. The back rides great. I've got it dialed in according to what Scott had to say in a previous email. It rides well and the wing pockets are perfect. That's the way jersey pockets on mountain bike jerseys should be, angled forward with lots of room. I feel I could easily pack enough food and such for a full day of riding with this pack. All I'd have to figure out is where to refill it at.
The swiveling bite valve is great. It's much easier to reposition it on the fly than a camelbak. It's one of those "why haven't they done this before" kind of things. And the detactable shoulder harness - perfect. One problem I've always had with my camelbaks are the shoulder harnesses serving as repository for salt. If it were as simple as unhooking the straps to throw them in the wash, they'd be there after every ride.
Second, the average. The position of this pack really throws into focus and saddle positioning issues you might not realized you had. Having all of the weight on the lower back focuses it on the saddle, which is causing me to re-evaluate its positioning. I'll be tweaking that a little the next few rides to see if those adjustments help.
Now, the bad. It might just be that I've used a camelbak for so long that my mouth doesn't know how to handle any other type of bite value, but I just can't get this one down. I think it might be because it seems to be made to work more with your front teeth and I always bit with the side of my mouth more. The "lock" on it kept partially engaging too. I could times I went to get a drink and it was at a trickle. A good tug to open it back up did the trick though.
Hose length is also an issue for me. I'm 6' and have a pretty long torso (proper TT length is around 24.75") so I may be the exception, but I don't like having to tuck my chin in to reach the bite value. With the bladder positioned for the best routing of the hose that I could come up with (the connector opposite the side the hose is routed out of), I needed another 6" - 10". I tried repositioning the bladder so the hose was on the same side that it went out of the pack. That actually got me the length I needed, but the sharp angle caused the hose to bind. Every time I would go to take a drink, I'd have to fiddle with the hose where it went into the pack to give it the flex it needed.
After the three rides I've taken with it, there's a few things I would change:
- Make the hose the same diameter as a camelbak so you can swap out the bite valve if you want.
- Offer extended hose lengths for tall guys. If I'm having issues with the length, I can't imagine what guys in the 6'3"+ range would do.
- Put the hose connection to the bladder on one of the corners instead of on the side at the corner. One of the off-brand packs already does this. With the square bladder design, this seems perfectly suited.
- Or, Put one of the swivel elbows on the bladder connector so you can redirect the hose without crimping
I really, really want to like this pack. It's super lightweight and seems very well built. The design rides really well and I didn't have any back fatigue on the few 1.5 - 2 hour rides I took it on. But... until I can get the hose issues resolved, I just can't see using it at a race. It takes too much effort to take a drink. Fiddling with the hose, working the bite valve, they all just add up to make it more of a hassle than it's worth.
I'll be giving Scott a buzz this week to see if he has any suggestions. I'll report back what comes out of it. I know there's a few of you who're running these packs, so if you've hit any similiar issues, feel free to offer suggestions.