If there’s one thing that all long-distance backpackers can agree on, it’s the importance of having proper gear to ensure a safe and successful trip in the backcountry.
After purchasing a new pack — one I loved; very lightweight, yet durable enough to withstand a long-distance trek through rugged terrain — I realized it was missing some features I wanted. There was no easy way to quickly access snacks, my phone, or even water. I soon got frustrated with being forced to stop and take off my pack every time I wanted to sip water, munch on a Clif Bar, or take a photograph.
CTUG Chest Strap Pocket Specs/Info
- Standard ~1.4 oz.
- Large ~ 1.6 oz.
- Standard ~ 6” x 3.5” x 1.5”
- Large ~ 7.5” x 4.5” x 1.5”
- Waterproof X-Pac (VX21)
- Nylon Webbing
- Lycra Mesh
- #5 Uretek water resistant zipper
- Siamese clips
CTUG Water Bottle Sleeve Specs/Info
- Standard: .7 Liter Smart Water Bottle (or similar)
- Large: 1 Liter Smart Water Bottle (or similar)
- Standard ~ 1.4 oz
- Large ~ 1.6 oz
- Nylon Mesh
- X-pac (VX07)
- Nylon Webbing
What I Love
Ultralight: Both the Chest Strap Pocket and the Water Bottle Sleeve weigh sub-two ounces each, so for all the ultralight backpackers out there, adding both of these products to your backpack won’t do much damage to your hard-earned baseweight.
Durable: The Chest Strap Pocket and Water Bottle Sleeve lasted the entire duration of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. The Water Bottle Sleeve showed absolutely no signs of wear-and-tear by the end, and it still looks brand new. The Chest Strap Pocket had some of its stitching come undone, but lasting an entire thru-hike is pretty impressive. It definitely looks slightly worn out, but still functions wonderfully, and I kind of like the worn look mine now has. I don’t see myself needing to purchase another one anytime soon.
Versatile: Both items are very useful for all types of adventures; whether it’s for a day hike, a weekend getaway, or a 2,000+ mile long thru-hike. Personally, I kept my iPhone 11 and my headphones inside the pocket, and placed my bars in the front mesh pocket. There’s an endless list of smaller, miscellaneous items that can fit in the Chest Strap Pocket; whether you need to carry your cell phone, headphones, battery pack, snacks, backcountry permit, car keys, chapstick, hand sanitizer ... you get the point. I recommend getting the large size to allow you to carry more items.
While the Water Bottle Sleeve works best for Smart Water Bottles (or similar 1L water bottles), it can also fit all sorts of other types of bottles; I carried a Gatorade bottle inside my Water Bottle Sleeve for a short period of time.
Water Resistant: The Chest Strap Pocket is advertised as being water resistant, and I found this to reign true. My very first day of my thru-hike, it rained on-and-off all day. I kept my phone inside my Chest Strap Pocket, and not a single drop of water seeped through. This was during light rain showers; but whenever there was heavy rain, I would place my phone inside my pack. The Chest Strap Pocket kept my snacks and headphones mostly dry in downpours.
Color and Style: Not only does the Chest Strap Pocket function well, but I also love the way it looks. Offered in a variety of colors, it splashes on some style.
What I Wasn’t Crazy About
S-clips: All of CTUG’s accessories feature S-clips — both on the top and the bottom of the accessory — to secure it to your pack. I think the S-clips are a great idea, but from my personal experience, they need to be broken-in first before they can easily be opened. When I first received my Chest Strap Pocket and Water Bottle Sleeve, I struggled to figure out how to open and close the S-clips. Once figured out, they were still a bit of a challenge and seemed very stiff; I had to sharply dig my fingers into the clips to pry them open. However, the more I opened and closed the S-clips, they seemed to get broken in and soon opened and closed with ease. Others might not experience this difficulty; this is just my personal experience.
Not a Perfect Fit for Every Pack: The Chest Strap Pocket and Water Bottle Sleeve are perfect fits for most packs out there. However, I own a Thule 35-liter daypack, and while these accessories can still strap onto this pack, they dangle awkwardly off to the side.
Good to Knows
- I had no issues fitting my iPhone 11 inside the Chest Strap Pocket, but in addition to the Chest Strap Pocket, CTUG also has a Phone Pocket. This can also be found on Garage Grown Gear’s site, if you prefer something that might be better suited for just your cell phone.
- Austin and Nathan, the founders of CTUG, are both long distance backpackers with engineering degrees, so it makes sense that their products are well designed to suit the needs of hikers.
Both the Chest Strap Pocket and Water Bottle Sleeve made by Chicken Tramper are ultralight, durable and versatile; three qualities that make them the perfect add-on accessories to your backpack. They helped me out tremendously during my AT thru-hike; giving me quick and easy access to my cell phone, snacks, water, and other miscellaneous items.