WEBO is a small cottage company created by a BIPOC queer woman, Eliza Bui, who specializes in backpacking accessories like fanny packs, wallets, and of course, this review’s subject, the Shoulder Pouch.
Eliza was inspired to start making lightweight backpacking accessories after a trip to the Grand Canyon. WEBO is a nod to thru-hiker slang for westbound, and is characterized by a graphic designer’s eye for clean lines and bold colors.
Testing Locations: Grand Canyon, Superstition Mountains, Guadalupe Mountains, Arizona Trail, Grand-Staircase Escalante, Sawtooth Mountains, and the Sierra Nevada.
Gear List: https://lighterpack.com/r/og53ix
- 0.95 oz/ 27g
- Dimensions: 7"T x 3.25"W x 1"D
- Made of X-Pac VX07 (Black, Red) or X-Pac VX21 (Blue)
- Quick-access lycra pocket.
- Clip attachment with elastic on back
- One-way YKK water-resistant zipper
What I typically carry in my WEBO Shoulder Pouch. From top down, and left to right: sunscreen stick, permits or maps, headlamp, phone (for pictures, maps, music, and notes), whistle, chapstick, headphones, and sunglasses.
Pros of the WEBO Shoulder Pouch
Roomy & Accessible. "This bad boy can fit so many candies inside of it!" Despite only having 22.75 cubic inches of space, or 0.37 Liters, you have enough room for a bunch of stuff you may want to deploy at any moment. I like to keep my sunscreen, UPF lip balm, titanium ultralight whistle, wired headphones, and my phone (stored inside a Ziplock bag for protection in case it rains). Later in the day, after lunch, I’ll move my headlamp up to the pouch. When necessary, I’ll also keep my paper map or permits there. And whenever I’m not using them, I keep my sunglasses in the lycra pouch. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you can also fit about 25 Lindt Lindor chocolate truffles comfortably in the WEBO Shoulder Pouch.
Lycra Pocket. This is something I think I didn’t need or would use. In fact, at first I thought it was a negative attribute. “My stuff is just gonna fall out, AND they added weight!?!?!” What a young fool I was then. The pocket has actually been incredibly helpful. Anything I need quick access to, I can just pull out of there, easy. Most of the time, my lip balm and sunglasses live there. My ID or permit will also be moved there, if I need them that day. To this date, nothing has fallen out from it.
Clips Securely to the Shoulder Strap on Your Pack. The pouch is held to the pack securely using an elastic band and a tough lightweight clip that fastens around a daisy chain. It’s simple, but works very effectively. I’ve used other pouches that work with velcro straps, or with simple strings and knots. Neither stayed secured to one spot, and had a tendency to flip and dance around the shoulder strap over the course of a hiking day — especially when throwing the pack on and off. WEBO came up with a stellar solution that works with most backpacks.
Waterproof, Easy-to-Use Zipper. The little things are what gives life its zest, and the WEBO Shoulder Pouch is no different. Eliza, in their infinite wisdom, made the zipper waterproof, meaning you can store your phone or maps in there during a downpour and have them come out the other side dry (note, I still put my phone in a Ziploc for insurance). It would have been easier and cheaper to use a traditional YKK zipper, but the use of a waterproof zipper is both utilitarian and appreciated.
Additionally, there are little fabric tabs on each side of the shoulder pouch that serve a dual purpose. One, you can hang or attach things to them using carabiners. Secondly, they also work as a structure for you to hold on to, making opening and closing the zipper easier. Truly, It’s the little things.
Punches Above Its Weight. For just 27 grams, you get a boat load of utility. A shoulder pouch, like this one, keeps your essential items close to the body, while still allowing for maximal mobility.
A lot of hikers opt for a fanny pack instead of a shoulder pouch to keep essentials close — or pair a fanny pack with a shoulder pouch for extra amounts of convenient storage.
Personally, I don’t like using fanny packs. I get their appeal, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t like wearing things around my hips when I hike. I almost always opt for backpacks that don’t have hip belts, which is why the shoulder pouch is the perfect option for me.
Support Inclusivity with Your Dollars. WEBO was founded by Eliza Bui, a queer BIPOC woman. Any number of statistics point to the disenfranchisement experienced by the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities — not to mention the endless hurdles encountered by female entrepreneurs, but here’s a few to paint the picture.
Women-founded companies get only 2% of venture funding despite owning 38% of the businesses in the country. And, the trend is worsening. In 2022, all-women teams received 1.9% of funding, compared to 2.4% in 2021.
More than 120 bills restricting LGBTQ+ rights have already been introduced in the US in 2023 — following a record-breaking 278 bills targeting LGBTQ+ people in 2022, of which 20 bills became law.
Nearly half of LGBTQ+ youths have seriously considered suicide, with rising rates of suicidal thoughts during the last three years.
- 60% of LGBTQ+ youth who wanted mental health care in 2022 were unable to get it.
- Businesses owned by people of color tend to have weaker banking relationships, experience worse outcomes on credit applications, and are more reliant on personal funds.
Besides voting for what you believe in, where you spend your money is nearly as important. Money talks.
One Small Access Point. This is true of all pouches, but you only have one small access point to get to your stuff. So stay organized. I wish the zipper wasn’t just set over the top, but could be pulled about halfway to three quarters down the inside of the pouch. That would give you a detailed dissected viewpoint of your contents, rather than a superficial bird's eye view. It would also give you easier access to smaller things. With a more open zipper, your stuff would still be held in place by fabric, and would thus not be at a high risk of falling out. Like I said, this isn't just a WEBO issue, and could also just be seen as a personal preference. Definitely not a deal breaker.
The WEBO Shoulder Pouch is a lightweight accessory for your backpack that adds an amazing amount of storage for those items you always want within reach, like a phone and sunscreen. When you purchase a WEBO product, you also get the additional satisfaction of supporting a cottage brand owned by a BIPOC queer woman.
Rafael is a freelance writer and adventurer based in the Mountain West. You can find him trail running, backpacking, or sampling the best tacos during his free time. Follow all his adventures over on Instagram, or read more of his work over on his website.