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  1. #1
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    Bags and accessories quality?

    Some of my associates stand firm on the need to have the high end and expensive bags but I don't see any use where I have to depend on stuff like I did when I was a river guide. What is good stuff that doesn't break the bank?

    I'm even more curious to know because some associates feel Ortlieb is good not enough but my Back Rollers have been great or at least all the quality I perceive needing. I've had their dry bags long ago and quality was fine.

    All of my bikepacking plans are for relatively short trips and day trips. I'm looking at seat bags, handlebar bags and frame bags.

    Basically, do you really have to be spending a lot to avoid a rattling, wiggly, or unreliable? A good perspective might be I enjoy our basic but quality as well as our high end bikes. Kind of a Deore vs XTR or higher scenario.

    Thanks for any input.
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  2. #2
    noob bikepacker
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    in my world I would rather spend $200 once, than $20 10 times for something...I always try to buy for the long haul. That being said, some of the stuff I use is not bike-specific. For a while I was using an old dry-sack from when I hiked the AT back in the 90's as my handle bar bag. It did not look "fashionable", but I could submerge it in water and nothing in it got wet. It finally died a few years ago. I think I paid $50 for it at Benchmark back in 93.

    I think you just do what is right for your situation. I personally am looking at Bedrock bags to replace or re-outfit some of what I need...I am also looking at a local place that makes bike courier bags to do some things for me as well.
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  3. #3
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    Might help to know what you consider to be expensive. You mention Ortleibs as the "good enough" option, whereas I consider them to be high end. I'm sure there are more expensive bags, but I find Ortleib to be well-made, reliable, and functional, so I haven't looked very closely at more expensive options.

    If I'm parsing the first sentence correctly, you're saying that reliability is not as big of a deal because the stakes are not as high as when you were a river guide? My feeling is that reliability is always a concern. It's especially important in bike-packing gear, because most of that gear is made to utilize every possible part of the bike for cargo. If one of my panniers fail, I can probably find another way to attach that gear to the rack. If my seatbag fails, and I have no rack, where does that gear go? It doesn't matter how long or how far I'm traveling. Even if it's an over-nighter, I still don't want to leave gear by the side of the road.

    Basically I don't know what "expensive" means to you, but I feel like I've often spent more than necessary by buying cheap, and upgrading later. It may be a reasonably way to go, though, depending on your circumstances. I started out touring with cheap, wire baskets. They worked, but had limited capacity, and were heavy. Upgraded to cheap panniers. They had a lot of capacity, were lighter (still not light), and were fiddly to attach in a reliable way. Finally sprung for some Ortleibs. Still not light, but waterproof, high capacity, and great attachment system. At every step of the way, I bought what I could afford and was happy to have it because it got me on the road. But at every upgrade, I felt like I had made a good choice. Now my philosophy is to try and decide what my "final" upgrade will be, and just save my money for that. It's cheaper in the long run. But getting on the road now with what you can afford has a lot of value, too.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
    Might help to know what you consider to be expensive. You mention Ortleibs as the "good enough" option, whereas I consider them to be high end. I'm sure there are more expensive bags, but I find Ortleib to be well-made, reliable, and functional, so I haven't looked very closely at more expensive options.

    If I'm parsing the first sentence correctly, you're saying that reliability is not as big of a deal because the stakes are not as high as when you were a river guide? My feeling is that reliability is always a concern. It's especially important in bike-packing gear, because most of that gear is made to utilize every possible part of the bike for cargo. If one of my panniers fail, I can probably find another way to attach that gear to the rack. If my seatbag fails, and I have no rack, where does that gear go? It doesn't matter how long or how far I'm traveling. Even if it's an over-nighter, I still don't want to leave gear by the side of the road.

    Basically I don't know what "expensive" means to you, but I feel like I've often spent more than necessary by buying cheap, and upgrading later. It may be a reasonably way to go, though, depending on your circumstances. I started out touring with cheap, wire baskets. They worked, but had limited capacity, and were heavy. Upgraded to cheap panniers. They had a lot of capacity, were lighter (still not light), and were fiddly to attach in a reliable way. Finally sprung for some Ortleibs. Still not light, but waterproof, high capacity, and great attachment system. At every step of the way, I bought what I could afford and was happy to have it because it got me on the road. But at every upgrade, I felt like I had made a good choice. Now my philosophy is to try and decide what my "final" upgrade will be, and just save my money for that. It's cheaper in the long run. But getting on the road now with what you can afford has a lot of value, too.
    I consider Ortlieb high end. My surprise was some associates who don't. I'm really looking for that threshold where you get decent reliability and durability and not the ultimate. I'm completely with you that a seat bag has to attach well, and where I wondered if Topeak is too mass market grade.

    Your saying "that final upgrade" is true too but I don't think every purchase has to be top end. Maybe bikepacking is too much of a small niche to have many choices. One where small businesses or a few are pretty much it.

    Thank you.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitflogger View Post
    I consider Ortlieb high end. My surprise was some associates who don't. I'm really looking for that threshold where you get decent reliability and durability and not the ultimate.
    There's always something better, or at least more expensive. I think generally there's a level where workmanship is not great, then there's a level where workmanship is fine, but maybe it's not so well thought out, and then you add features. The more features, the more money. And what features you "need" or what holds value for you is pretty personal. I had a set of Nashbar panniers that were fine. I had no qualms about the quality, and I had no concern that they would fail. They were very inexpensive, and I could have stopped there and could still be using them. But they weren't waterproof, which was a feature I wanted, and they were tricky to put on, at least keep on, the rack. And once they were on, they were a pain to remove. It was a struggle to justify the purchase of some Ortleibs because I had something the appeared to be fairly reliable and durable, but I wanted more features. Once I finally broke down and bought the Ortleibs, I had no regrets. They go on and off the bike with ease, adjust easily, and they are waterproof. I know there are more expensive bags with better/more/other features: lighter fabric, compartments, stylish, etc. Some of those features appeal to me, some do not. None of those features appeal to me to the point where I'm going to buy more expensive panniers. Ortleib is my threshhold. I would completely understand if someone else was perfectly happy with the Nashbars. It's too personal to draw a universal line between "good enough" and everything else.

    Quote Originally Posted by bitflogger View Post
    I'm completely with you that a seat bag has to attach well, and where I wondered if Topeak is too mass market grade.
    I guess we'll need some reviews of Topeak's bikepacking gear before me know. For my part, I find that they make good, well-thought-out products, but some items don't last as long as I think they should given their price point. However, the Topeak items I have that have broken have usually been replaced with other Topeak items, so I guess I figure the reliability issues are outweighed by the utility issues. Usually. When my commuter bag broke, it wasn't a big deal, and I was happy to buy another. When my basket dented with little or no abuse, it still functioned as a basket, so no big deal. When my portable pump stopped pumping, and I learned about it on the side of the road trying to fix a flat, that was a bigger deal, and I decided to try another brand. Now they've moved into bikepacking, and they're a smart company. They probably know that a good attachment system and reliability are key, but I'll wait for the reviews. My opinion of Topeak is to count on them to be clever, and count on them to be functional, but don't count on them to last. But that's one person's experience. When it comes to bikepacking, having stuff that's reliable and that lasts is important to me, and there are plenty of company's that have that reputation. I don't feel the need to be guinea pig for Topeak's line.

    Quote Originally Posted by bitflogger View Post
    Your saying "that final upgrade" is true too but I don't think every purchase has to be top end. Maybe bikepacking is too much of a small niche to have many choices. One where small businesses or a few are pretty much it.
    No, not every purchase has to be top end. But what constitutes top end is subjective. And what you want out of your gear is personal. Bikepacking gear is getting more mainstream, and some of the more popular gear-vendors are getting in on it: Topeak, Specialized, Ortleib. Some of that is likely of good quality, some of it we don't know yet. But I think they're still playing catch up with the cottage vendors who have been doing this a while. And it also depends on how sensitive you are to the price differences. I look at the Topeak offerings, and the prices don't look cheap. If I'm going to pay that much, then I might as well pay a little more for exactly what I want. At this point I've bought and rebought enough gear that I have a pretty good idea what my criteria is. I feel pretty confident, when looking at the options, of which items I'm going to be satisfied with, and which items I will want to upgrade later, and I try to avoid the second category and just wait until I can afford the upgraded version. I can't, however, make the same judgements about anyone else's gear choices.

  6. #6
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    I am looking for pretty much the same thing you are for short trips. I have not purchased yet but was looking at the very affordability of Alpkit products. I want to try them but would love to hear from someone that has them. Anybody have any experience with their bags???

  7. #7
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    Alpkit are well worth considering I have some of their stuff and it is very good quality for the money and perfectly functional. I have a handlebar bag and feed bags, plus one of their rear drybags. Its certainly on a par with my old revelate stuff and much cheaper. The newer revelate stuff is now waterproof but none of my stuff was. Frame and top tube I use BikeBagDude ..higher quality and higher cost but for me offer the customer support and custom function I wanted.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by triathloner View Post
    I am looking for pretty much the same thing you are for short trips. I have not purchased yet but was looking at the very affordability of Alpkit products. I want to try them but would love to hear from someone that has them. Anybody have any experience with their bags???
    I have done some more homework and the Alpkit vs Topeak weight issue isn't so big when you consider Alpkit selling dry bag separately and Topeak including it.

    Quote Originally Posted by tahic View Post
    Alpkit are well worth considering I have some of their stuff and it is very good quality for the money and perfectly functional. I have a handlebar bag and feed bags, plus one of their rear drybags. Its certainly on a par with my old revelate stuff and much cheaper. The newer revelate stuff is now waterproof but none of my stuff was. Frame and top tube I use BikeBagDude ..higher quality and higher cost but for me offer the customer support and custom function I wanted.
    Thanks for the input and another maker to look at.

    I'm going to divide parts of this first world problem in a few ways. Get something modestly priced and soon if only to satisfy rides and a teenage son who doesn't do hydration packs, something for a biking family to carry tools when their mechanic - me - isn't with them. Next is laying out the lighter weight camping stuff I have and figuring out capacity needed for a bigger purchase or commitment.

    One more twist is my Salsa fork's "3-pack" mounts and their rack items for it look like a good way to carry things. Lots of homework and things to think about.
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  9. #9
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    You won't hit a homer the first time, so proceed modestly at first and try stuff out a lot. Lots of variables, including the bike and terrain. Enjoy!
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  10. #10
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    I've learned some hard lessons over the years not buying the best gear I could afford and then having to replace it. "Buy once, cry once." Or, consider: what if the title of this thread were "bike and component quality"? I never considered the lower end bikepack brands, especially not the generic stuff made by larger companies. Customer support goes a long ways. You buy from any of the boutique brands, you're customer support will most likely be handled by the owner. So, if you outfit your ride with, say, Bedrock, Oveja Negra, Revelate or Porcelain Rocket, you're looking at $500-800+ for a bikepacking setup. If you're looking to save money, cruise the classifieds for used gear and watch the above websites for factory seconds. In that case, you could cut the savings down by 50-60%. I live in the same town as one of these manufacturers so I suppose I'm a bit partial, but I'm also really hard on gear and expect it to hold up. I have also freely loaned out my bags to friends across the country so they can experiment with bikepacking gear and all of them ended up buying high end brands: Bikepacking gear designed and made by hardcore bikepackers -anything short of that is comparatively junk.


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  11. #11
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    My take? Get what works for you. I have the Revelate medium frame bag. Works well, straps are well thought out, waterproof and functional. Off the shelf, perfect fit for my Karate Monkey. REI on sale, not huge money. My " handlebar bag" was a canvas 7 x 9x 22" bag from an army navy store, zip tied to my bar ends. Worked good enough, some wiggle, not waterproof, so I put stuff in there that could get wet. Are you riding 5-10 days a year or 40? Days from civilization or can hit town the next day. Harder yet is, how much stuff and how to carry, for me that changes every trip. Look for versatility. My take anyway. I did pick up a Topeak seatbag, 8 L I think, used from the REI garage sale, will report back after a trip.

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