Tailfin's Cage Packs offer a simple, stylish and very functional storage system in three sizes designed to be used with or without Tailfin’s Cargo cage mounting system. Overall the system and bag are very secure in use and the material is completely weatherproof making it a worthy consideration in the competitive best pannier bags category.
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While Tailfin makes its own cargo cages and these bags do fit them very neatly; they are not a pre-requisite and can be fitted to other designs, as well. For purposes of this test, I’ve fitted the packs on a mountain bike using Tailfin's Carbon Suspension Fork mount and large Tailfin Cargo Cages.
Tailfin Cage Packs - Technical details
The Cage Packs are available in three sizes, 1.7, (£30), 3, (£35) and 5-litres (£45). I used the 3-litre for the majority of the testing, as this suited my riding and bikepacking needs best. The materials are the same across all sizes, with the only difference being that the 5-litre pack features an air release valve to aid in packing bulkier items and an additional T-Hook compression strap.
The Cage Packs are designed to hold their shape, which allows for them to be placed in awkward locations on the bike, such as under the downtube, where the square-sided shape minimises any chainset and pedal interference.
The key difference from other brands is the attachment method that Tailfin calls the Speed Hook. The pair of hooks connect onto TPU straps, which are an optional extra but they will also work with other similar straps including Voile.
With most packs, straps are usually fed through loops or webbing straps on the bag or pack, and while this works, it is not the quickest way of mounting. Tailfin’s Cage Packs slot onto the TPU strap, and then simply secure around the outside allowing for much quicker unpacking and loading of the bike. The Cage Packs also feature additional strap mount locations, which could be used for other items, but are not required for use.
The Cage Pack itself does not have a weight limit, but Tailfin suggests that the limit of their Cargo Cage is 1.5kg per frame mount. This equates to 4.5kg for 3-bolt 'anything' cages or 3kg for a standard bottle cage-style mount. 3kg should be sufficient capacity to carry your kit in the places these packs are designed to be used.
Tailfin Cage Packs - Performance
Fitted to my mountain bike and riding rough technical trails produced no movement from the Cage Pack or rubbing on the frame or fork. Tailfin’s TPU straps feature a slightly altered hook compared to other straps which provide a very secure fastening.
I mounted the 1.7-litre bag to a cage under the downtube on a gravel bike, and there was still plenty of pedal clearance on either side. Both of the larger sizes would be suitable to mount to a fork, a rear pannier or a rack that has suitable mounting locations.
I tested the 5-litre pack on my forks with a four-season sleeping bag and it created a good overall set-up, allowing plenty of compression with the extra ability to expel excess air via the valve as you compress the pack.
The 420d fabric proved to be very durable, and also completely weatherproof. It stayed dry during test rides, so I used a high-pressure water hose to test and not even the slightest bit of moisture got inside. The toughness is backed up with a five-year warranty and a crash replacement service for anyone that might be unlucky enough to suffer any damage.
Tailfin Cage Packs - Verdict
A single Tailfin Cage Pack costs £30 for the 1.7-litre, £35 for the 3-litre and £45 for the 5-litre. The Tailfin TPU straps are not included as standard, but a pair can be purchased with any Cage Pack in a 'bundle deal' for an extra £10 (£7.50 each when bought separately).
The biggest competitor to the Tailfin Cage Pack is the Ortlieb Fork Packs whose design makes for an even easier mounting and removal, but whose mounting system is very different and won't suit all bikes. The Ortlieb bag in the 4.1-litre size costs £55, which includes the mount, and while it is more, it isn't an exact comparison. The Tailfin bag shares more in common with the Miss Grape Trunk bag, which is another strong bag but costs considerably more at £55 with no straps or mount included.
All sizes of the packs weighed within one gram of the manufacturer's stated weight, at 117g, 154g, and 184g respectively, which is reasonable, especially considering the durable materials.
Ultralight racers will opt for a more basic drybag/stuff sack, which you can find for under 50g, but will probably rip at first sight of a bramble. Compared to other bags tested, the Ortlieb Fork Pack is 275g complete with the mount, or 205g for just the bag. The Miss Grape Trunk bag weighs 100g, with no mount. To factor in a mount, the Tailfin Small Cargo Cage is 57g, or for an ultralight setup look at the drj0n bagworks strapdeck.
If I was looking for a pack that would be purely used on a fork for bikepacking, the Ortlieb Fork Pack would still marginally be my preferred choice, but it does not have the versatility of the Tailfin Cage Pack.
If you are looking for packs to use on a fork, with a downtube-mounted cargo cage or rear racks, the Tailfin Cage Packs have proven to be extremely tough with a design that makes them easier to use and load than a more traditional drybag setup and makes the Tailfin Cage Pack an excellent option although you'll need to budget for straps and mounts.