Oveja Negra is dedicated to making high quality frame bags for bikepacking by hand–right here in my hometown of Salida, Colorado. All the work–from conceptualization to design to sewing–is done in Salida. That means for me, purchasing Oveja Negra’s bags is the true definition of supporting a local business. In fact, above and beyond the manufacturing taking place here in the States, they try to source as much of the raw materials domestically as possible. A few types of buckles or straps are only available from overseas sources but as much as possible, the bags that Oveja Negra sells are truly “Made in the USA.”
While that’s all well and good, local production means nothing if the product can’t stand up to demanding conditions. While I’ve been using Oveja Negra’s bags on my enduro bike for years now–and those have proven to be absolutely bombproof–I decided to try a few other bags for their intended use: bikepacking.
First up is one of Oveja Negra’s newest products: the irreverently-named Chuckbucket.
The Chuckbucket is a handlebar snack bag that’s designed to accommodate up to a 1-liter Nalgene water bottle or a 40-ounce Klean Kanteen–meaning it has more volume than models from some competitors. The drawstring closure can be operated with one hand, on the fly, keeping your water bottle secured through the roughest of trails.
The bag can be attached on either side of the stem, making it possible to run two bags for double the fun. The exterior features a mesh pocket with a tough velcro closure. Finally, the fabric is X-pac® VX21 and Cordura® construction, with a 70d hex ripstop top.
Out on the Trail
When Lane at Oveja Negra told me that I had to check out the Chuckbucket, I was definitely game… but simultaneously, I wasn’t sure how useful it would be. I mean, I already had a Snack Pack top tube bag for easy access–did I really need a feed bag as well? But after taking the Chuckbucket on two bikepacking trips, running it on my fat bike all winter, and even using it for a few outings on my enduro bike, I realized that this was the frame bag that I’ve been needing in my life.
The beauty of the Chuckbucket is in the easy access to water without having to wear a hydration pack. With a liter of capacity (if not more, depending on the bottle), the Chuckbucket provides easy on-the-go access to fluid. If coupled with my standard two bottles in my main frame bag and a third bottle in my jersey pocket, the Chuckbucket increases my carrying capacity significantly for longer efforts.
With the ‘Bucket installed, I found myself drinking solely from the bottle held therein. The drawstring proved easy to use with one hand on the go–pull the string open, grab the bottle, drink, back in the ‘Bucket, pull it closed. A few times I neglected to open and close the drawstring, electing to leave it open. That’s fine for climbs and smooth gravel, but I my bottle rattled out several times on rough descents. Lesson learned.
While the drawstring proved effective, the system on the Chuckbucket is much more simplistic than one I checked out on a competing product from Revelate Designs at Interbike. The design from Revelate has an easy hook for the finger to open the bag, instead of having to grasp and push a button like on the design from Oveja Negra. However, the Chuckbucket I have is Oveja Negra’s first foray into this specific type of bag–they’re constantly refining their approach, and this is a great opportunity for improvement going forward.
While the mesh pocket is a nice touch for additional storage, the velcro is so strong that I could only use the pocket when stopped. Pictured in this article you’ll see a tube of chapstick in the pocket, but now I only use that pocket for things I don’t need to access frequently.
The Chuckbucket has proved so useful that I’ve even started using it on my trail bike at times. Granted, having a bag in this location isn’t always ideal for gnarly descents and technical handling, but the convenience is tough to beat! Couple the function with Oveja Negra’s thoughtful design features and high quality made-in-the-USA construction, and this might just be a bag that you need to add to your life too!
Thanks to Oveja Negra for providing the Chuckbucket for review.