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Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Bikepacking Bags on 06/23/2012 11:59:55 MDT Print View

So I am finally making the dive into bikepacking with the purchase of a Salsa Fargo 3. It is on its way to my apartment now, and I am already thinking about the rackless setup I would like to make. I'm thinking that a handlebar bag, frame bag and a couple of feed bags like those Revelate Designs makes would carry my UL setup I use for backpacking. I may eventually try my hand at a seat pack so that I can ditch a pack altogether, but that will take some planning, I think.

I'm really just working on the fabrics I'll use for these pieces. My priority with fabric choice would be price, durability and then weight. One thing I have noticed about these products is that they are made with some seriously tough fabric. A lot of the reinforcements seem to be made using ballistics nylon or fabric such as 1000D nylon. I know fabric like VX21 is tough, but also costs quite a bit more than similar denier oxford nylon.

So here is my question, are these products being over built to work in any situation customers can come up with, or is the constant rubbing against the frame enough of a factor to make reinforcements of this caliber necessary? These products are all very popular, so I figure they must be doing something right, but I just wanted to hear anyone else's experiences with fabrics for these uses.

Stuart Wright
bikepacking bag material on 06/23/2012 12:09:10 MDT Print View

As with everything there's always going to be a trade off between weight and strength. Even quality bags made from tough material can quite quickly wear through with even a small amount of rubbing against frame, forks, etc. The materials used to construct bikepacking bags are chosen for very good reason. Obviously cheaper, yet still tough fabric is going to weigh quite a bit more.

Greg Wheelwright
(gdw) - F
Bikepacking fabric on 06/23/2012 17:02:49 MDT Print View

The gear from the folks with experience isn't overbuilt. The fabrics used in bikepacking gear needs to be able to withstand repeated rubbing and the occasional crash if you ride singletrack and want it to survive multiple trips. XPac and ballistic/cordura fabrics offer the best bang for the buck and are proven performers. They're tough, waterproof, don't stretch, and are relatively stiff which makes the gear made with them durable and easier to pack. You can try lighter fabrics but the weight savings are small and not worth the extra cost.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Re: Bikepacking fabric on 06/24/2012 06:39:41 MDT Print View

I appreciate the responses. I figured it would swing that way, so I was already looking into sources for the tougher fabrics I think may work.

I am thinking cordura for reinforcement of the high abrasion areas and XPac for the panels. I guess the next question is, how much is enough? Should I be going for the 1000D Cordura, or will the 500D be strong enough for the situation? As for XPac, I have a large amount of VX07 in stock, but I am thinking this is probably not as strong as I want. So for the XPac I was thinking of using some VX21 or even WX40 (film in).

This is the kind of knowledge that you can really only get by using the materials and know what stands up to the abuse, so I am hoping that someone who has already done some testing with this can help out. I'd rather save money by buying nice materials once and getting it right, instead of trying a couple of times because I bought the wrong stuff.

Greg Wheelwright
(gdw) - F
Use heavier fabrics on 06/24/2012 07:21:09 MDT Print View

I prefer VX-42 with 1680 ballistic nylon reinforcement where it contacts the frame for most framepacks, gas tanks, front carriers, and larger saddlebags and only use VX-21 on smaller framepacks and saddlebags. You could use VX-07 but it just seems too fragile for long term use and wouldn't handle a crash in rocky terrain as well.
Use #10 zippers on the large openings of your framepacks if you want them to last.

John Canfield
(jcanfield) - F

Locale: Cascadia
bikepacking bags on 06/26/2012 18:51:01 MDT Print View

I disagree about the need for VX-42, 1680(!) and #10 zipper. These all make a pretty burly setup, which is likely more than most will need for a frame bag- or any bag for that matter.

#8 zipper will be plenty strong for 99% of applications, as will lighter materials such as VX 07 for body mains. It is important to reenforce rub points, but 1000d is more than plenty! This difference adds up!

However, to each their own! We all are comfortable with different things.

FWIW, Mystery Ranch makes the best "heavy weight" backpacking bags in the world, and they mostly 500 denier Cordura.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: frame bag materials on 06/27/2012 08:21:38 MDT Print View

Good luck Chris. Frame bags are fairly simple to make. I made a seatbag, which sorta worked, but it was ugly as sin. A much more complex project.

I've found 1000D ballistics to be a great fabric for the edges of framebags. Key to longevity is removing and taping over (electrical tape) any bottle bosses. Also a bit of padding along the seat and down tubes is a good idea (I sew yoga mat directly to the fabric). I have a four year old framebag using this approach that is still going strong.

VX-21 I've found quite sufficient for side panels. I've never worked with VX-07, but the added bulk of the 21 seems like a good idea. The waterproofing of the Dimen.-Polyant fabrics is very nice here.

The key to zipper life seems to be cleaning them when needed, and having plenty of velcro along the top tube to support it and avoid any stress points.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Thanks on 06/27/2012 19:49:42 MDT Print View

For all the thoughts and suggestions. I had been leaning towards the #8 zipper and 1000D Cordura with VX21, so it was nice to have some support for that. Although I made end up with some WX40 from DIYGearSupply, if I get it while the 2nds are still on sale.

I also already have some scraps of old yoga mat from other padding that I planned to use on the seat and down tube to help save the frame a bit.

I think I will see how the frame bag and handle bar bags handle before I try to tackle a seat pack, but it is definitely something that sounds exciting to make. Plus, because of the drop bars on the Fargo, I will probably carry less on the handle bars than most.

Greg Wheelwright
(gdw) - F
zippers on 06/27/2012 21:08:58 MDT Print View

Deleted. PM sent.

Edited by gdw on 06/27/2012 21:22:52 MDT.

Andy Amick

Locale: Colorado
Seat bag options on 06/27/2012 21:34:08 MDT Print View

Chris, if you want to have a seat bag but not ready to make one from materials, you could always try one made out of the corrugated plastic political signs. I've made a couple of these for my bikes and they have help up quite well.

Yeah, they are a little bit hokey, but they work and with a little paint, they don't look bad.

All it takes is some corrugated plastic, zip ties, velcro, and some patience. If anyone is interested, I can post the link to my latest project.