The Ventura Frame Bag Max is a waterproof bikepacking bag at a keen price point, offering five litres of carrying space in one main compartment and two smaller zipped ones, solidly built and at a price point that is seriously competitive.
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Built from a rugged, waterproof fabric, the seams are internally reinforced, making the bag feel sturdy, and also helping it hold its shape well. The fabric is a ripstop style one and has held up well to bramble pulls and various leans against walls and ground. There are a multitude of points to attach the bag to the frame, so you can avoid cable routing and so on - the bag is designed for a regular hardtail frame, so might not work with some full suspension designs
When mounted, using the Hook and Loop fasteners, it sat well on the frame - and I found I could adjust the straps easily, and it can be adapted to several frames if need be, just by moving the strap positions, but having one strap at each corner and then a few in the longer spans of fabric, worked best, spreading the load out. There are some meant to be small reflective areas on the bag, on the tabs but mine didn’t come with any - it’d have been good to see a little bolder approach here - especially at its a side on area, that can really add visibility. The straps are big enough to be easy to use with cold or wet hands, and simple enough not to be an issue when tired.
Loaded up, the bag did bulge slightly in the centre, which is sort of inevitable, and the only solution is to pack well, or there to be some sort of material in the frame to limit the expansion - which would compromise the space available. The drive side zipper pocket is the main space, and inside the bright yellow coloured lining, which helps to see what's inside to a degree, there is a smaller, zipped pocket to store small items - perhaps money or things that want to be kept super dry. The zips are pretty solid, not the waterproof style, but solid ones that will take some muck getting in them - they continued to open fine after a two day trip with clay based mud.
The non-drive side pocket features three netted pockets and key hook. It’s handy for gels, essential items - anything you want to get at frequently or easily. All useful stuff, that has the options to organise your kit or just cram it in anywhere.
Out riding with the bag, it works best loaded with some thought, as the bulge issue can make the bag knock your knees - but as its a bag located centrally on the frame, its best loaded up with heavier items which keep the centre of gravity and handling of the bike more reliable and consistent, and also that helps minimise the bulge effect. Most of making bags work is figuring out what is best packed where.
There is an air of simplicity about the bag, its also sort of chunky, but this does make it have a certain robustness to it, but I’d like to have seen a bit more refinement - there seems to be a lot of material in places, like on the zip cover flaps, but functionally all this does is provide more reinforcement and long term durability. I tested the bags waterproof capabilities with lots of stream crossings, prolonged rides in the rain, and also hosing down. The only water that got in was from the hose bouncing water up under the zip flap and seeping through
The key thing is the price here, its very reasonable and offers all the essential features of a frame bag - robust, waterproof and options on packing internally, plus the multitude of straps that can make the bag fit around frame parts. I’d like to have seen more reflective material, pull tags on the zips and just a little more refined cut.