- Robust and solid construction
- Adequate space for essential tools, tent poles and other items
- Internal zipped pocket is a bit awkward to get to
- Bag interferes with water bottle on the bike I was using
- No adequate way to stow excess strap lengths
Passport Cycles produce a full range of bike packing bags at budget prices. The medium frame bag is a good looking workhorse that will be a decent adventure companion if not the most refined one.
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I tested the medium size bag (3.3L) with dimensions of 45 x 5.5 x 13.5cm, and found this to fit on the 54cm Sonder Camino AL I had on test well. The bag makes the most of the space under the downtube fitting snugly in place. In my experience frame bags can be a bit tricky to fit, with the individual dimensions of the bike you’re using dictating whether a bag will sit properly or not. (For info on the rest of the Passport Cycles bikepacking range click here).
The bag is constructed from 210D nylon panels with thicker 500D tarpaulin around the edges and should hold up to lots of abuse. The zipper is a water-resistant model and is welded into the side panel. I do find the decorative purple “strip” a little unnecessary – I am definitely a function over form person – but it is purely there for looks and adds potential points for water to leak into the bag.
Although the bag fitted into most frames I tried it on, I did experience some bunching on one of the bikes I was testing. It would be easy to give the triangular front a slightly “sharper” angle to better fit in the headtube junction Whilst this doesn’t really impact on overall functionality, it doesn’t look particularly pretty. Aside from this, the bag is constructed well, though perhaps with not quite the same level of refinement as a more expensive alternative. It has to be said that £35 isn't all that much for a frame pack though.
The bag features a bright green lining on one of the inside panels, supposed to make kit easier to find. This does help see into the dark pack but I would have liked to see this used on all the inside panels for maximum effect. Internally whilst all the seams are nicely finished and covered, it would be nice to see flatlocked seams instead for a more smoother inside.
The bag is held securely but I did find it a bit annoying that the headtube strap interferes with those of the matching handlebar bag. Just making the strap here a tiny bit thinner would improve clearances to make mounting it a little less fiddly. It would also be nice to have some way of tucking away surplus strap lengths to avoid interference with legs when cycling.
Inside the pack is an extra zip pocket to store valuables. I think this would have been more useful on the outside and on the opposite size to the main zip, rather than inside where it’s a little awkward to get to. This may be a matter of personal preference though.
The bag is perfectly sized to fit tools and tent poles – I like carrying the heavy stuff as centrally as possible. You can squeeze in some snacks an extra layer and I even managed to get my compact camera in there too. Depending on your requirements the bag is available in three different sizes.
Lastly its worth mentioning that the bag prevents the use of bottles in your cages, with the bottom of the bag fouling on the top of the bottle. Whilst this may be different on other frames, if I’m not using a full frame bag (where I would use a water bladder inside), I want to be able to carry bottles. Obviously, your results may vary, but it’s something to bear in mind and to try before you buy.
Overall, at £30 (for the small bag) there’s not much to complain about. Whilst this one may not have the same level of refinement as higher-end competitors, it does the job well and any issues mentioned do not really affect the overall function. For someone new to the bikepacking world, a set of these bags are perhaps not an absolute bargain given some fit and refinement issues, but likely the least expensive you will find.
- For more go to Ison Distribution.