camelback 

Innovate or die A Whistler entrepreneur is taking the camel by the hump in an attempt to beat the high prices of high-tech "water retention systems." Camelback, the company that broke new ground on the sports scene when it created a water backpack to replace cumbersome water bottles, is getting a little competition from Whistler's Leigh Stocks and his one-man company Bullitproof Enterprises. Armed with an industrial sewing machine and serger, Stocks is sewing up his own version of the Camelback. Camelback, a company which tells riders to "Hydrate or Die," uses a system that includes a plastic bladder that slips inside a "Thermalback," which has straps on it. A combination of the bladder and Thermalback retails for just under $60 in most Whistler bike shops. Camelback has recently created the "Pakster" that slips over top of the Thermalback and can be used to carry tools, spare tubes, food and even a jacket. Local mountain bikers have embraced the Pakster — but there's a hitch. In order to use the Pakster you have to own a Camelback, because the Pakster doesn't have straps to hold a bladder. So, die-hard water bottle users interested in the Pakster will have to shell out over $100 to buy a Camelback and the Pakster attachment. "Shelling out a hundred bucks for a pack that holds water is a bit much in my opinion," says Stocks, who has been sewing fleece garments for years. "So I just bought some material and decided to design my own." The Camelback bladder is available locally for around $25 and Stocks is making his own version of the Pakster, dubbed The Hump, which he will be selling for under $20 — a saving of more than $50 over the Thermalback/Pakster system. The Hump will be available in a strapless version, for folks who already own a Thermalback and want the tool pouch, and a version with straps for those just getting into carrying water on their back. The Hump comes with a large pocket for food, tools and parts and a smaller pocket for cash and keys. On the outside are elastic straps for tying down a jacket and very cool safety reflector tape. Plans are in the works for a version of The Hump with a separate tool compartment on the bottom and clips for a small hand pump. Stocks has been using the prototype Hump for about a month and hasn't had any problems. "People spend all kinds of money to make their bikes really light and then you go and add water bottles and tool pouches and then you've got a 30 pound bike," he says. "The Camelback is great idea it's just that it's so expensive." The Hump is now available at Katmandu Consignment in Function Junction, but if interest is high enough Stocks hopes to have them available at most Whistler bike shops next summer.

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