I thought I would share some thoughts on my new(ish) Carradice Nelson. For context... I have been commuting to work 2-3x a week since about September of last year. I started out on a POS hybrid bike with folding baskets on a rear rack. In November my Big Dummy came, and I had cargo space to spare!
Come spring (March), I used my overtime windfall to acquire a Cross-Check as a commuting rig. I wanted something that was easy to get on/off the bike as cargo space. Being used to panniers, I initially ordered some Carradice Kendal panniers. However, Peter White had a sale on Carradice at the time, and I thought I would give a roomy saddlebag a try.
Am I ever glad that I did! The Nelson has become my go-to commuting bag, and it handles just about anything I could want on the bike. This picture is a little old, as I now attach the lower mount-point of the Nelson to my rack instead of the seat-post, but here it is mounted to my bike. I have no trouble with leg strike, and when riding I don't even know that it's there.
Here it is from the rear:
This thing holds everything that I need, with a little room to spare. Here it is full just after I got home today. It's a little hard to see in the photo, but there is a nylon mount-point for a clip light, as well as a (visible) bright reflective patch. I have a dynamo tail-light, so the nylon mount goes unused for me.
If you needed to carry a big computer or a lot of files, this might not work for you, but here is a view of the interior, pretty full. There is a cinch-loop around the rim to keep everything in place. Also, for extra storage, you can lay something on top and buckle the top flap on one of the looser holes. This would be great for a rain-coat or extra stuff-sack full of clothes.
Left side pocket: Wallet, keys, razor, phone, work badge, extra room.
Right side pocket: Spare tube, REI small stuff-sack containing zip ties, velcro strapping, Topeak Hexus multi-tool, patch kit, Torx driver, etc (see detail photo below).
Main area: Large folding head-phones, tub of moisturizer, old garage-door opener (which hangs PERFECTLY on the wooden dowel), Kindle DX (the extra-large one; 10.4" x 7.2"), extra plastic bag, and a stuff-sack containing a towel, pants, shirt.
Here is the interior minus the stuff-sack and DX:
And here is the inside of the right-hand (tool) side pocket:
If I don't need the change of clothes, then I have room for quite a bit extra. If I need the extra too, then the stuff-sack with the clothes fits on top of the main compartment, with the top flap cinched down over it. All in all, it works VERY well, and looks good doing it.
The Nelson, like most Carradice products, is made of waxed canvas. I've already been through two rainy rides, and everything on the inside was BONE dry when I got to the end of the 30 minute long rides. And, trust me, anything on the outside was COMPLETELY soaked. I will probably need to re-wax the canvas every couple of years, but that's not a big deal.
Probably the only major down-side of the Nelson is that it doesn't come with a handle for carrying around OFF the bike. But I made one with 2 metal rings and a nylon strap for about 2 dollars, and simply slipped the saddle loops through the metal rings. Works great.
The Nelson is working so well that I'm seriously considering taking the Tubus Cargo off my cross-check just because I don't need it. I would recommend this bag to anyone that doesn't have super cargo needs.
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Thread: Amateur Review: Carradice Nelson