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PC17: Bag Balm introduces new sizes to keep cyclists, pets, and cows comfortable for centuries to come

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Bag Balm was probably one of the most unexpected exhibitors at PressCamp, but then again, that’s why they were there. One of those products you either know of, or have never heard of, Bag Balm got its start back in 1899 – literally through the hands of founder, John Norris. Like many northern climates in the U.S., Lyndonville, VT was known for its harsh winters which affected their cows as much as their people. With the help of a local pharmacist, John discovered the magic formula which kept the udders of dairy cows from drying and cracking. As it turns out, the salve was just as good for human skin, which inspired a small business based around a distinctive green tin and a formula that hasn’t changed in more than 100 years…

Created from just four ingredients, Bag Balm includes petrolatum  to moisturize, lanolin  to soften, paraffin wax to smooth, and 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfite at 0.3% which is an anti microbial and anti bacterial agent. No additional scent is added, but the Balm has a distinct smell that is naturally occurring from the ingredients. Sort of a vaseline consistency without being as greasy or sticky, a small dab of Bag Balm goes a long way which makes the tins last much longer than they would appear.

If you’re still with us, you’re probably asking, “but what does this have to do with cycling?” The answer comes in the form of chamois care, though not in the typical chamois cream sense. Bag Balm has been used for years by cyclists as a way to prevent saddle sores, mostly due to the anti microbial/bacterial element and how well it keeps the skin moisturized.

For cyclists like two time olympian Sky Christopherson, Bag Balm was the answer for intense training sessions at brutally high RPM. Stating that he heard of Bag Balm through Adam Laurent, Sky started using Bag Balm in 1995 leading up to the ’96 games. Sky said that training days often consisted of three different sessions per day – rollers, trainers, and velodrome, all at a very high cadence. Apparently a layer of Bag Balm on the areas which came in contact with the saddle was the only thing that kept the saddle sores away, which was especially an issue with the rigid saddle on the GT super bike.

Sky is far from the only cyclist to use Bag Balm to keep himself comfortable on a bike, but many people still have yet to even hear of Bag Balm – though that’s not so surprising. It’s not exactly intuitive that a cow udder care cream would be so useful for humans – and other animals. Part of what makes Bag Balm so prolific is its intense moisturizing effect. That same effect also makes it great for the paws of your furry friends which is why Bag Balm is now selling a 20z tube specifically aimed towards pets – though it’s still the exact same product. Bag Balm says it’s also great for any chapped skin including your lips, any skin that is calloused, cut, or chafed, and it’s even useful for new tattoo care. With so many uses, it’s easy to see why the product hasn’t changed in 118 years.

The only thing that has changed (slightly) is the packaging with new sizes, and the introduction of a Bag Balm Soap. The newest addition to the line is the On The Go tube which holds 0.25oz of Bag Balm in an easy to apply container for $3.99. Otherwise, Bag Balm is still sold in the 8oz tin ($9.99), 40z tin ($7.99), and 1oz tin ($5.99) as the 2oz tube for pets.

Bag Balm’s soap is the only product not made in their tiny factory, though it is still made in Vermont by a local soap maker. Available only online or at RiteAid, the soap is Lanolin enriched to provide a highly moisturizing lather that includes a rosemary mint scent.

 

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Collin Snyder
Collin Snyder
6 years ago

“With so many uses, it’s easy to see why the product hasn’t changed in 118 years.”

That’s incorrect. Pre 1972, bag balm actually had 0.005% mercury in it. The active ingredients actually read: “0.005% MERCURY FROM ETHYLATED MERCURY STEROLS, PETROLATUM, AND LANOLIN.”

These days, of course mercury isn’t the most desirable ingredient so they changed the formula. However, old timers swear that the stuff was magical. You would put the stuff on a chamois sore and the next day it would be 100% gone. Of course those people now have Mad Hatters disease (caused from prolonged mercury exposure) 🙂

The real problem with Bag balm is the fact that its petroleum based, it doesn’t wash out of chamois very well, thus you get a build up and it eventually ruins the chamois. The stuff causes the chamois to compress and not return (think of the chamois as a sponge, and the grease is causing the sponge to no longer spring back once you squeeze it).

A tasso
A tasso
6 years ago

What products don’t fall into the category of “you’ve either heard of it or you haven’t”?

Andy Pandy
Andy Pandy
6 years ago

It covers both ends! I use this stuff for a chamois cream and sometimes when shaving, especially when peeling after sun burn.

Frank
Frank
6 years ago

This is the best “shammy cream” available. Glad to see they’re getting it out there more visibly.

I always save it for long rides, over 3 hours, and for when I actually develop a saddle sore.

For saddle sores, I was taught by an old time to put on a big dab of Bag Balm on while your riding, put a tiny dab on the sore to treat it when you’re sleeping and keep things dry and aired out during the day. Heals things up every time.

Salve Johnson
Salve Johnson
6 years ago

This stuff is udderly amazing! Nice to see a packable size for multi day touring and bikepacking for those days when things just get rubbed the wrong way!

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