Tuesday, November 30, 2010

U-lock carrying: Well Hello, MOLLE!

Waist pack Modular Deployment Bag w/ U-lock

I prefer to carry my U-lock, and everything else that needs to be carried on a bicycle for that matter, on my rear rack. A backpack just gets too sweaty and uncomfortable, and anyway, once you try a rack, you'll never want to carry stuff on your person again. 

But, let's say that you have one bike with a rack, and then other bikes without racks, bikes that will probably never get racks, and you still need to carry a U-lock. OK, use the mounting bracket that came with the lock on one of the bikes. Assuming it doesn't break, which they all seem to do sooner than the locks themselves, which is twisted, you still have other bikes without racks or U-lock mounts on them. Also, I don't feel like buying more U-locks since I only need one at a time.

In addition, let's say that either that you like waist packs (like me), or would at least be willing to try them. I realize many people have tried them, and dislike them, so this approach would not be for them.  Or, for whatever reason, you don't like racks or brackets, and just want to carry the U-lock on your person, because that's how you roll. Then this may work.

I picked up this waist pack, which is a modular deployment bag in military surplus-speak, for less than $20. I was attracted to it because it appeared to be well-built, is just a little larger than the waist pack I currently use, and because it looked like it had multiple places for mounting a blinky light firmly, which is one of my pet peeves with my current pack, and for that matter, every other bicycle-related carrying bag or pack I own: many of them have what appears to be a place to clip or mount a blinky light, but which in practice ends up pointing it down toward the pavement, or up into the air. But this pack looked different.

Like most current military bags used to carry stuff, this one includes the PALS webbing from the MOLLE system. "MOLLE" stands for MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, and PALS stands for Pouch Attachment Ladder System. The PALS webbing works by weaving strips of webbing between the ladders on two things you want to hook together. When woven tightly, it's super-strong. I have a non-military backpack with shoulder straps hooked to the main bag with a woven webbing ladder, and you would think they were sewn on. When I saw this waist pack, I figured that it would be nice to be able to hook stuff onto it.

Anyway, I was just staring at the webbing, wondering what those PALS might be good for, and thought, hey, wait a minute! I grabbed a U-lock, and voila, those outside webbing loops are just the right width for a U-lock. It fits snugly. It's not totally clear in the photo, but the webbing is sewn down in sections (the ladder), so that the U-lock shackle just slides through, but not side to side. For additional securing (not that it needs any), it's possible to snap the carrying handle straps over the lock. Personally I would just leave them routed under the lock, which is where they were in the first place, but I wanted to show the super-secured configuration, too. The last thought is, a mini U-lock might work just a bit better, and is really all I need anyway.

There's PALS webbing on the backside of this modular deployment bag, too, which could be used to weave it onto a larger bag, or to bungie it to a rear rack, once you got tired of carrying a U-lock around on a waist pack. There's even webbing on the side, er, energy bar pouches, which could also mount side-facing blinkies, if I wanted. But, heck, I would just be happy if the main blinky points backwards, and in a fairly effective direction. It looks like there's a spot for that on the ladder. I'll let you know. Get up. Go ride.

That's one securely mounted U-lock


  1. Cool! Its always fun when you can find something that ends up being an even better bargain, or serving more purposes, than you originally thought. And I agree, theres never the right spot to put on lights and reflectors, the more choices you have, the better! :))

  2. Can it carry a cable along with the lock? It looks as if it might.

  3. Black and nasty!
    The other thing I require is the cinch straps.
    Or is that clinch straps?
    Black straps!

  4. Steve, yes it can, same configuration as the second photo, with the cable looped four times and the ends locked in to the tops of the U. Kind of blocks the primary blinky location, though.

    limom I believe the PAL webbing ladders offer a huge number of cinch strap opportunities. They are limited only by your imagination (I shudder).

    PaddyAnne, if/when I design something for the bike it will have so many spots to properly mount lights and reflectors that insurance companies will offer discounts for using it.

  5. Sweet! I am all for finding secondary / additional uses for fanny packs.

  6. Hmm looks Tactical.

  7. Fortunately Dan, no one is going to characterize the rest of my get-up as "tactical", so this is just a nice accoutrement to the ensemble.


Please feel free to comment here, almost anything goes, except for obvious spam or blatantly illegal or objectionable material. Spammers may be subject to public ridicule, scorn, or outright shaming, and the companies represented in spam shall earn disrepute and ire for each occurrence.