Forget the Pack - The Story Behind Specialized SWAT Apparel 40

A sweaty back, a flopping pack and the annoyance of feeling hindered by weight swinging from their shoulders drove Specialized product developers to create a new form of MTB apparel.

The developers at Specialized were on their regular trail rides and naturally tried to find ways to avoid using a pack. They were cramming bottles into riding short and blowing out buttons. They were hand-sewing makeshift pockets into jerseys and doing anything they could to carry the gear necessary for a typical ride without a bag on their back. Ultimately they came together to move past the DIY stage and get a proper solution figured out for themselves and the masses. SWAT apparel, Storage Water Air Tools, was born.

Learn more about Specialized SWAT apparel like the bib and short liner pieces which serve double duty for comfort and temperature control as well as storage for items like water bottles, energy bars or cellphones.


Lear Miller for Vital MTB

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  • his dudeness

    2/19/2014 1:56 PM

    I see that it has it's merits on a ride up to 1.5-2 hours provided you are well hydrated before you start. I don't think this is designed to be a solution for longer (3+ hours) rides as one would get fairly dehydrated and also potentially need more nutrition than a gel pack or shot-blok style food can provide. In all honesty, screw looking goofy, we ride mountain bikes! We wear goofy clothes to begin with. I can't tell you how often I'll just go full roadie on a 1.5 hour ride because I know that all I really need is what I can carry in my back pockets, it's actually more often than even I'd like to admit. And I also can't tell you how often I come home from a ride with lots of stuff in my pack that goes unused, especially water.

    I'm not going to say that this new gear is the be-all solution. But it's certainly a step forward for those that value efficiency and a less-is-more mentality if the ride deems it so.

  • Mfro

    2/19/2014 1:24 PM

    Tools / Water / Air / Tubes would have been a more interesting acronym.

    This is nothing more than trying to create a solution to a problem that hardly exists. Bottles on bikes and packs on backs have been real and valid options, and in the pack's case, a very versatile option.

  • mrpowerjd

    2/20/2014 11:53 PM


  • liquidSpin

    2/19/2014 12:58 PM

    So a spare tube, chain popper, and mini tool set inside a small seat pouch and on your back snacks and a water bottle. Sounds cool. Only problem is:

    1 water bottle isn't enough for me. Especially on longer hotter rides. The other problem is crashing and landing on your back. I would imagine landing on that plastic bottle won't help much during a crash.

    CamelBak, Dakine, Opsrey and others do just fine. Also if you crash they add a nice cushion for your back.

  • iRossum

    2/19/2014 12:36 PM


  • scarface

    2/19/2014 11:41 AM

    if you don't show us the 27.5 prototype, imma send my personal SWAT team to make you do it. Say hello to my lil friend

  • Dogboy

    2/20/2014 7:58 AM

  • TBubier

    2/19/2014 10:54 AM

    Ugh. This looks terrible. If you wanna carry a bottle why not get get a bottle cage. Or I dunno just wear a better fitting hydro pack. I never notice mine when I am riding. Also, why is this called "Forget the Pack". Aren't they really saying forget the pack you already have and come buy our weird under garment pack thing instead? Finally if you wanna tuck your bottle (who still uses water bottles anyway?) into your shirt how about you just use an xc jersey. Lord know you don't care about the way you look if your on the trail tucking water bottles in to your shorts.

  • Chris Chapman

    2/19/2014 11:42 AM

    I've been riding in the Giro New Road line recently which utilizes a similar bib short pocket system and its actually been amazing for ditching the camel back for rides. However I totally agree that throwing a water bottle in there makes you look like a total goon. I use it for snacks, tools and tubes on shorter rides when only a water bottle in my cage is necessary but I can't imagine it feels good to have the weight of an additional water bottle tugging down at the shoulders of your bib shorts, at that point I would just throw the pack on. Also these pockets SUCK for electronics, being that they are attached to your base layer your phone and stuff will get saturated in sweat. Valiant effort by Specialized but nothing original or ground breaking about it.

  • bturman

    2/19/2014 4:54 PM

    Not every bike has a bottle mount. Personally I hate riding with a pack.

  • wydopen

    2/20/2014 9:11 AM

    I will not ride with a backpack..

    If I hydrate properly the day before one bottle is good for me up to about 30miles/5k ft of climbing...I throw a bar or two in one shorts pocket, phone in the other and have a pump on the downtube...When I wasn't in as good of shape I would down a bottle in 10miles..

    I have had to cut a ride short before when I mismanaged my water so this would be nice to have when going on huge rides..For me I would rather have a clamp on mount so I could attach a second bottle cage.. Something like that if you could mount to underside of downtube..

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