Get that weight off your back and down low on the bike – We test & review 4 frame bags

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Not everyone wants to ride with a big ‘n’ heavy backpack, so we’ve been testing a variety of different options for the minimalist mountain bikers out there, including waist packs, frame bags and mini-packs. Here Antony takes us through four different frame bags. Over to Antony!

Frame bags have been around since the dawn of mountain biking, when a colourful isosceles triangle of pressed steel multifunction wrenches and loose jangling Allen keys were as essential as bar ends or toe clips. And again, like waist packs, they underwent a period in the wilderness, before long-distance off-road riders started to look for alternatives to racks and panniers, and bikepacking became a buzzword.

The frame bags in our test have all come from the bikepacking world, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use them for everyday rides too.

big bro steel rigid adventure camping mountain bike bikepacking wil calderdale
Frame bags are popular with bikepackers, but they’re just as useful for everyday riding too.

Keeping weight lower down, riding completely free of bodily encumbrances (unless your beer belly counts), and being able to strap a specific set of kit to a specific bike are all good reasons to consider frame-based storage. Long-distance riders will also appreciate them – if you need to eat on the move, it’s much easier to reach in front of you than behind.

For these bags, it’s assumed that your bike will be sporting a cage and water bottle too, although some of them also have on-board hydration potential.



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This article was originally featured in Singletrack Magazine. Keen to read more? Then make sure you check out all the stories and reviews in Issue #118 right here!

Review Info

Brand:Alpkit, Blackburn, Ortilieb, Revelate
Product:Possum, Outpost, Frame-Pack, Tangle
Price:£44.99 - £99.99
Tested:by Antony for 2 months

Antony de Heveningham

Singletrack Contributor

Antony was a latecomer to the joys of riding off-road, and he’s continued to be a late adopter of many of his favourite things, including full suspension, dropper posts, 29ers, and adult responsibility. At some point he decided to compensate for his lack of natural riding talent by organising maintenance days on his local trails. This led, inadvertently, to writing for Singletrack, after one of his online rants about lazy, spoilt mountain bikers who never fix trails was spotted and reprinted on this website during a particularly slow news week.

Now based just up the road from the magazine in West Yorkshire, he’s expanded his remit to include reviews and features as well as rants. He’s also moved on from filling holes in the woods to campaigning for changes to the UK’s antiquated land access laws, and probing the relationship between mountain biking and the places we ride.

He’s a firm believer in bringing mountain biking to the people, whether that’s through affordable bikes, accessible trails, enabling technology, or supportive networks. He’s also studied sustainable transport, and will happily explain to anyone who’ll listen why the UK is a terrible place for everyday utility cycling, even though it shouldn’t be.

If that all sounds a bit worthy, he’s also happy to share tales of rides gone awry, or delicate bike parts burst asunder by ham-fisted maintenance. Because ultimately, there are enough talented professionals in mountain bike journalism, and it needs more rank amateurs.

Comments (5)

    They may be fugly, but they’re useful!

    I’ve got the Blackburn one (in medium, it fits my Krampus like a glove) and it’s actually been fine on wet days, even in pretty heavy rain. So not sure why your test one was leaky.

    Ajantom, as I recall, the issue wasn’t rain, it was puddles. There’s a lot of stitching and an extra zip at the bottom of the bag, and that’s where the water seemed to be getting in. Then again, we’re in Calderdale, and we do get a lot of standing water up here…

    Ah, that makes sense. I always use a crud-catcher when its rains, so that probably stops water getting in the bottom.

    alpkit service second to non and their range of kit is amazing. They just made a frame bag to order so it fits my frame perfectly at really reasonable price and with wide range of options cant see how i could get better – superb kit

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