By Eric McKeegan
Everybody has a bag addict in their life. Here are five gift options for yours.
Porcelain Rocket Albert – $225
Are you addicted to bags? Addicted to dropper posts? Addicted to bikepacking? Yes? To all three? Then Albert is the salve to slake your desires. A minimal metal frame is bolted to a pair of machined aluminum mounts sandwiched in the seat clamp with the saddle rails. A set of straps loops around the seat rails to keep everything cinched up tight. The pack and included dry bag are made by Porcelain Rocket; the 4130 steel frame is made by Hunter cycles, and the aluminum bits are machined in Canada. All this stuff is designed to make it possible to run a big seat bag and still use the dropper. I’m able to run this bag with a 29×2.3 tire and only lose about 10 mm of travel from a Fox Transfer. This bag is built for the daily abuse of true backcountry touring.
Green Guru Stand-By Travel Pack – $325
Travellers are pretty picky about bags, and rightly so. Each trip requires a different selection of clothes, gear, and increasingly, electronics. Green Guru recognized those needs and launched this modular bag system on Kickstarter in 2015. It consists of a main pack, a pair of lightweight ditty bags, a briefcase/messenger bag and an internal divider for a laptop and other business-type stuff than can be swapped to either the pack or briefcase. The modularity of this system means it can do quick overnights or weeklong trips without ever being too much or too little bag. Walk into the airport with one big bag, separate the briefcase to keep under the seat, stash the big bag in the overhead. With lots of straps and lashing points, the Stand-By can do double duty as hiking pack or deal with hauling the gifts you buy for the loved ones at home. The downside? Green Guru ceased production, so the used market is the only source. Or maybe you need to bug Green Guru to do another production run. And, no, you can’t have this one.
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 – $129
As much as I love bikepacking style bags, there is something to be said about the simplicity of setting out for an adventure with some gear in a backpack and a bike unencumbered by extra weight. The Trans Alpine can handle overnight trips with a minimalist sleep system, or longer trips with some bike-mounted bags. A standard rain cover and tons of pockets keep supplies neat and dry. The highly adjustable harness system is comfortable and secure, helping to prevent those dreaded bag-to-helmet moments on descents. Plenty of room for a 3 liter bladder, lightweight materials, a helmet holder and even a removable foam pad that doubles as a camp seat, the Trans Apline is specialized enough for bike use, but versatile enough for any outdoor activity.
Dakine Drafter 14L – $135
A mid-size hydration pack should be in every rider’s closet. The Drafter 14L is the perfect size for rides where you can’t get away with a bottle and a few bit strapped to the bike, but not so big as to be mistaken for an expedition pack. A low-rider bladder keeps the water weight down low, and plenty of pockets keep everything at hand. The mesh back panel creates a huge amount of ventilation, making this noticeably cooler than other packs of this type, but also less stable when really getting after it. I was easily able to stow lunch, a mirrorless camera, raincoat, tools, tubes and kneepads with a little room left to spare. For those not into the partytime “Painted Palm” motif, there are more standard black or blue options.
North Street Scout 21 Duffle – $99
Yes, it looks like a gym bag you had in 10th grade. But that gym bag was actually really pretty awesome, or at least it seems that way after using this bag for about a year. It is made in the USA with very sturdy materials, including a waterproof waterproof X-PacTM sailcloth liner and 1000 denier Cordura nylon exterior. There are a number of colors for both straps and materials to choose from, and two smaller sizes. The smaller bags can set up as handlebar or rack bags as well. The liner isn’t seam sealed, so some water can leak in after a long time, but it works well for short spells and helps to keep stink and dampness from seeping out of the bag after you’ve gotten your high-activity clothing sweaty. I was able to easily use this for overnight trips, or as a gear bag to fit shoes, helmet and clothes for an after-work ride. Simple, sturdy and effective.