Some years ago bike packing was nothing but a very upright position, bulky Ortlieb panniers and a handle bar bag with a map on top. This did not really catch my attention in terms of getting forward. Bikepacking.com
have a good read about the different philosophies of cycling.
What are prejudices for? Right, at least many of my former prejudices had been given some time to think about and most times, they lost their tag „prejudice“. Same about bike packing. For my first long ride I used a backpack from Deuter, the air race . It was the old version (could not find other images, quickly), with a brilliant net touching your back, so there was enough room for the sweat to leave the body. The newer air stripes version does not really catch my attention, anymore as it lays down on your bag. Reading Deuter’s website just now, I see that the newest models have a mix of the two former worlds, net and cushions. After riding more than 400 kms in under 24hrs on a single speed, my shoulder were blue from wearing the back pack, that did not contain more than two bidons, some food, tools, patches and a rain jacket. This was my last ride with a backpack and I dived into the new world of custom bags for the bicycle. Now it was clear to me that there must be a separate world of cycling. A kind of cycling that I was dreaming of for quite a while. And yes, what I am diving into from now on, comes very close to my dreams of combining sport and freedom.
When smart cars had been presented to the world in 1997, their slogan from these days is still one of my all time favourites. Reduce To The Max. rttm. Maybe you say it is odd to link to an automobile company from here, but decades agao, my heart supported this brands’ attitude strongly, as I love watches as well. Another write up about this motto, I found here, by chance. But in German. For my passion of riding far, this motto is present for anything, any detail, any decision, any whatsoever.
So finding huge bags was easy but to really jump into it and find out differences of products was one thing. More interesting was to find out what was really required by myself. Which equipment wants to be carried by myself, for me. This is the key question before really getting into special bags. The good thing about this recognition was to be clear from the beginning that anything was possible and that the limit was in my own imagination, only.
My first attempts had been an ortlieb bag that was fixed to the seat post together with a simple top tube bag from topeak (), connected to the stem. These two bags accompanied me to my first long ride in Germany, on a roughly planned route to the north. That time I had the idea to ride to Rostock at the Balitc Sea, app. 700kms from where I live. Why not, who can ride 4xx kms, can also ride a little longer. I had to pay respect to the power of nature. Not loosing this respect also is a very important thing for long, free and independent rides. But more about this in a future feature about endurance cycling itself, or better about endurance riding how I am looking at it.
Having learnt some lessons from this ride and also from the bags I used. I headed over to revelate who had a really good selection of bags for my purposes. As I also customized a bike, specifically to my needs, same happened to the bags. I decided to go for the bigger sized frame bag, not only for the M-version. It is slightly too long but until today, I did not change it until today. Might be it is similar to the ceiling lights that you do not install properly right away, when you move into a new apartment. Revelate did change the zipps and these bags and as I already fixed/stitched another riders tangle frame bag, I guess I would not get one with these bulky zipps. In addition I got a top tube bag to stem (gas tank) and a top tube to seatpost (jerry can). Of course, the biggest bags of all was the seat bag (viscacha) with a small bag (spocket) on top.
Actually I was not really happy with that seat bag, as it did not really remain in shape and hung down towards my wheels. Until today, revelate is the supplier that offers the most options for different saddle bags on the market, as far as I know. I met many different options out on the road which I was not clear about, when I made my decision. Also I have to say that I do not like a fully packed top tube. Consequences from my maximum loading options was that I rarely used the small bag, tied between top tube and seat post. Also I was looking for a waterproof seat bag, as I did not use waterproof bags inside the huge bag, which would also have been an option. Luckily Ortlieb got infected with the bike packing virus. Most probably thank to Gunnar Fehlau (https://www.pd-f.de, https://www.candybgraveller.cc, https://overnighter.de, etc.) was the most influencing host for Ortlieb.
As a next step I changed to Ortlieb as they presented a handle bar bag as well as a saddle bag. Fully waterproof, not only water resistant. This bag is a true monster but else it was exactly what I was looking for, even though there are other riders that were not happy with using it (e.g. Torsten Frank). Only the ties (towards the saddle) show strong signs of wear and soon I will contact Ortlieb about this issue. Other than that I only repaired one little hole in the structure of this bag. Riding with these three bags, I am totally happy when I am out. After almost two year of strong use and contact with my knees, the water resistance of the frame bag got less. I gonna look for a silicone spray and see if I can minimize my issues this way. The stuff you carry with you and the way you pack it into your bags will always have an influence on your happiness. Many rider use bags in bag concepts to organize their belongings. It all goes down to your personal preferences combined with the willingness and capabilities of your selected items!
If you have any advice, please let me know about it.
For winter riders, revelate even has huge “gloves” that are fixed to the handle bar called williwaw pogies. Artic cycling hello.
Apidura is probably the brand with the best known marketing and also a lot of people are using these bags. I know they also have a huge range of options but they never really came close to my selection.
There are so many suppliers out on the internet, find out about your requirements and you will definitely find what you need. Mostly experience and knowledge only arises when using the stuff.
I had the idea to list some manufacturers but this market is exploding. So linking to other peoples’ lists makes life more simple.
The greatest thing for me would be to sew my own stuff, but this takes time, a good machine and proper materials and consumables and testing testing testing. To me, every bag that I have found until now has something, that does not make it a 100% bag for me. As mentioned above, don’t get too much, but the things you go for, should meet all of your requirements.