So, after separating my shoulder about 1.5 months ago, it was clear to me that for my daily commute, I would need to ditch my usual backpack/messenger bag to get my shoulders free and, at least somewhat, able to heal.
After [not much] research, I came across Revelate Designs' stuff via Surly's website, and took a chance on their 'Tangle' (top tube) bag , since they offered no full size bag for my Cross Check. After waffling about whether to get the small bag, and retain the use of my bottle cages (and wonder if it would fit my frame) or grab the medium bag, for more storage space, I settled on the medium bag, and it arrived, via the LBS, in an unsurprising one day (thanks to QBP's eastern distribution center and fast processing). Incidentally, the shoulder brace took almost an extra week to meander it's way from Minnesota, but that's neither here nor there.
One of the biggest reasons I went for the Revelate Designs bag, aside from being endorsed by another company that I trust, was that it was hydration system compatible, as you can see. The bag itself measures 19.5"L x 4.5" H, and when stuffed to the gills, just abouts 4.5" across. I'd figure it can easily hold 3 liters of just about anything, and it's maximum seems to be just about 4 liters. It has multiple secure attachment points, with sturdy cam-lock buckles. Each buckle/strap combo has enough to go around about a 4" circumference, more than enough, in my estimation, to clear any frame you'd be putting it on. I did need to cut one of the large velcro top tube straps to avoid a cable stop on the top tube, but it left more than enough to securely hold the bag on the tube.
The bag has two compartments, one main/hydration compartment, and one smaller compartment (just about one quarter of the bag's total capacity). While the bag is comprised of water resistant fabric, and has two waterproof zippers, it would be prudent (and I haven't done this yet) to hit the whole bag, as well as the inside of the hydration compartment, with Tectron, as the hydration tube exit sits right on the top of the bag, allowing water to enter through there in a driving rain. If you need to keep something dry, use a dry bag or put it in the smaller pocket.
In the end, I'm glad I decided on the medium sized bag, as while I'm certain now that the small would have fit, the medium can (sort of) comfortably fit a 3 liter Camelback reservoir (the newer Antidote series). It is a snug fit--absolutely nothing I had in the rest of the bag could have been squeezed in with it...since it is what I have on hand, it's what I'll use for now, but a 2 liter reservoir might be more prudent. The downside? I have completely lost the use of one bottle cage (removed) and the other is only sort of functional on my frame--I am now strongly considering a side-entry cage, to carry more water or electrolyte mix, etc. Without the reservoir inside, you could easily pack a change of lightweight clothes (no shoes) and maybe a real lunch (sandwich/granola bar/pudding cup, whatever).
With a 3 liter reservoir inside, the smaller compartment can fit:
-a Blackburn Mammoth Stage 2
-a 'road' patch kit (which could definitely fit in a smaller container)
-multi tool (Crank Bros Multi 17)
-a bag of snacky snacks.
As you can see, no room for a tube. There is some room for improvement as far are what's in the tool kit (smaller patch kit, levers) but in the interest of completeness, the smaller reservoir would probably allow me to sneak a tube in. There is just barely, with the rest of the stuff in there and a full bladder, room to squeeze my keys in. The wallet and phone would clearly have to ride with me.
All in all, it's definitely been a worthwhile investment for me, fitting my needs almost to a T, but only time will tell how much I will like the bag. A word of warning, though: my frame does not have a particularly narrow Q-factor, but my knees can already almost hit the bag when it's full. They just barely miss.
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