It’s everyone’s dream to buy product from a brand that makes their product locally and gives back to the community. And if you buy anything from Outer Shell, you best know that these guys TRULY do the work to give back to the cycling community.
Jim and Kyle are both superbly kind to just about everyone! Good vibes all around!
They know the importance of making people feel welcome and do so without judgement and with genuine kindness. If you need any sort of bag for your bike needs these are the guys you actually WANT to go in and see.
Outer Shell makes all bags (except for dry bags) by hand in California! Their offering range is for all carry needs whether it’s a day trip, small tools, or a full-on bike camping kit. They believe that you should be able to quickly adapt to your surroundings and biking needs. Thus the bags are designed to expand for your big trips, and then shrink back down for your minimal urban needs. It’s very easy to take these from mountain to street with a few folds and cinches.
Additionally they host ride events in the SF area, most notably their “Coffee Outside” weekly rides. I mean who wouldn’t want to get up early and ride to a sick ass abandoned bunker to drink freshly brewed coffee while watching the sun rise over the most epic view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge!
If you’re ever in the area you NEED to do this!
Back to the bags.
Back in the day Jim and Kyle were running their own small brands. Later they combined forces and merged into Outer Shell. I have a few early handlebar bags and tool bags from them that I absolutely LOVE.
But for this review I’m going to be focusing on their Hip Slinger.
Now for cycling these babies are a necessity if you’re doing a longer ride and
1. You don’t have any more room in your bike bags, or
2. Don’t have bike bags
3.Camera/gear needs on trail
I typically don’t like to carry anything on my back (even jersey pockets) if I don’t have to.
But I signed up for a very long self-supported race, and needed some extra carry capacity for food, tools and an extra jacket that just wasn’t going to fit in my handlebar bag and jersey pockets alone.
I’ve ridden with hip slings before and they all were often a tad too wide for my small frame. So when I realized I had to use a hip sling for this ride I wasn’t all that stoked. Luckily my boyfriend had this fanny pack and lent it to me.
It has a really unique roll-top closure that isn’t often on bags like this. This is great because the beauty of roll-top construction is its ability to tighten down to be the exact size of what you are carrying in your bag! No sagginess or flappiness if you packed light, and if you do need more stuff you can really cram it full.
These zips allow you to get into the bag’s interior pockets without undoing the roll-top.
I particularly liked this feature because I had my bag pretty jammed, and sometimes needed access to smaller items. It allowed me to quickly get to some items without having to do a whole open/dig/reorg/reclose process each time. So as you pack the bag keep in mind to place the items you may need quick access to closer to the pockets/zippers!
For me it was great to have something that wasn’t too wide for a smaller-framed person.
It makes a big difference since a wide bag will have to wrap around my body, which means if filled it will have a hard time wrapping around my torso and therefore not fit securely around. On a bike, a loose bag is torture!
Not So Good
Honestly the only main drawback on this bag was the width of the waist straps. It was just a wee bit too small for my liking and if you have it packed pretty full the strap digs in a bit at your stomach. But this could just be a preference thing.
The other part that I wasn’t a huge fan of was the main buckle closure being a dual cam buckle adjuster. For one thing, adjusting while riding would require some very steady coordination of unlocking the cam lever AND pulling the strap before it slips, then being able to hold it exactly where you want it while you also press the lever down to lock it in.
Whereas on a standard buckle you just need to either pull the strap end, or pull gently on the buckle to loosen. One-handed, one-motion movements are key while doing on-bike adjustments.
I’m definitely not as coordinated as most with being able to sit hands-free for too long on uneven terrain. So if you are more skilled this might not even be an issue for you. And you might even like this setup over the standard adjustment buckle.
It just felt like I was going to accidentally hit the cam levers or not close them down fully and have it come undone. Maybe I’m just a worry wart but the fear of that causing a crash just made me constantly stress it would happen.
Outer Shell uses PU-coated Cordura on the main body in some BEAUTIFUL colors.
Hypalon is used on the strap wings for increased durability and preventing bag slippage.
The back utilized an open airmesh. Personally I find airmesh in general to be abrasive and itchy but again this is just my personal preference for softer options.
Apart from the buckle most of the hardware is pretty standard plastic hardware, which I love! Easy to repair, lightweight, reliable and durable. What more do you really need?
Another smart move on the hardware placement is the main buckle, which is offset so that it won’t layer up or interfere with belt buckles and such.
Hypalon is used on the wings of the bag. The material works well to add a slight grip which for me helped keep the bag from rotating around to the front. If you are wearing a smooth jersey this can also be a really big hindrance, especially if you’re doing any kind of dynamic riding (mountain, gravel, etc).
I really don’t see anyone else doing a roll-top version of this type of bag.
So offering a fresh silhouette on top of their very clean and classic design look really is a huge plus! You could easily wear this bag for everyday use if you feel like being trendy. Cross-body “man purse bags” are soooo HOT RN.
Overall I really dig this bag! The two things I think I would update would just be on my cons list; the width of the waist strap, and the strap hardware.
I would like to see a wider strap as I feel it would not dig into my gut as much while riding. 32mm would be perfect!
And for the hardware… Even if that main cam lock buckle is solid AF, I still fear user error in cinching it down closed completely and causing it to fall off while riding. That little bit of worry isn’t fun to have while trying to enjoy a ride. So I’ll probably ask Jim to whip me up one with this update since I do love the bag itself!
Overall the Hip Slinger is a very fresh take on the standard fanny pack with its roll-top construction, and serves a multitude of uses on and off-bike.
Jim and Kyle are people with hearts of gold. LITERALLY. These two put a lot of love, sweat, and smiles in their bags and back into their community. If you’re in the market for any bike bags and want something with a truly timeless look that goes well with any biking style, Outer Shell is your stop!