Bikepacking off in the wilderness of Colorado has always been a dream of mine. I recently joined the Steamboat Rambler Ride, which consists of 150 riders, covering 200 miles with over 20,000 feet of altitude gain in 3 days. The ride was massive and one that I will remember for a long time.
The ride itself was supported, but we all had to be self-sufficient. We were expected to carry enough water and food along with spare parts to tackle any possible mechanical issues. My 2016 Specialized AWOL Poler edition came with two front panniers accompanying the Pizza Rack. At first, I was going to use the front panniers that came with the bike. However, we were warned to be as light as possible as we faced plenty of uphills. With the empty panniers weighing just a tad over 1 kg, I felt that I should look for a lighter alternative that can fit all of the equipment that I needed to carry. A frame bag came to mind, so I went to search for the right one.
The world of bikepacking is already filled with plenty of brands making bags with a variety of models to fit almost every imaginable setup that a rider can think of. When I started Avantur, I wanted to transform myself and educate the public on how we can more creatively create products to be sustainable within the biking industry. With this in mind, I didn’t want to buy another bag, and I wanted to use the repurposed materials.
Before the trip, I was already in contact with XSProject, a social and environmental organization that focuses on transforming consumer and corporate waste into products. They use leftover consumer packaging like detergent bags and old advertising materials such as billboards and banners to make everything from simple shopping bags to toiletry bags. I wanted to partner with them to make a line of backpacking bags from the materials that they had been sourcing to make their existing products.
Upon telling the story of my Colorado bikepacking trip, XSProject was delighted with the idea, and off we went to make a mockup of a frame bag. It only took two tries, and the experienced bag maker was able to give me a fully functioning model. Not all materials are repurposed items as it was hard to find the right length zippers and some other materials needed to complete the bag. Even with this restriction, we were able to use repurposed materials for the majority of the bags. Utilizing the bright silver colored inside part of many consumer packaging bags, we were also able to design the bag with built-in reflectors for better visibility. A big thank you to the members of XSProject for putting out 100% effort in making this bag on time for my trip!
What can fit into the bag
Here is the list of equipment that I was able to fit into the frame bag:
- Montbell Puffy jacket
- Outdoor Research Rain jacket
- 2.5L Camelback water bladder (equivalent to about four water bottles)
- Sawyer water filter
- Platypus 1L water bladder for the water filter
- Energy gels
- Sunscreen lotion
- Anti-mosquito lotion
- Fluff Bar honey, VCO soap wrapped in beeswax
- Toilet paper
- Emergency blanket
- T9 Boeshield bicycle lube
- Stan’s Notubes Sealant
- Two inner tubes
- Park Tool patch kit
- Anker power bank with a USB cable
- A few zip ties
- Small pocket pliers with foldable knife
- Crankbrothers multi-tool
- Topeak digital tire pressure
- Blackburn Plugger Tubeless tire repair kit
- A roll of electrical tape
- Small Abus bicycle chain
I was quite surprised at how much gear I was able to fit into the frame, thus allowing me to keep the heaviest items in the center of the bike and making the bike really stable. The frame bag comes with two sides. The larger right compartment is filled with water, water backup, fluff and rain jackets, inner tubes, toilet paper, lotions, and soap. The left side of the bag has a smaller pouch that is great for my multi-tool, tire lever, and other tools. Keeping the smaller items on the frame bag made it easier to get things in and out. With the frame bag taking the majority of the smaller items, I was able to pack the other bags, such as the seat pack bag, together with larger camping items. Overall, I was very happy with the frame bag. It came out of the Colorado trip and handled some riding around California unscathed.
Following this test, we will soon offer custom-sized frame bags for those who are interested. I do have to say the bag looks great and stacks up in terms of weight at 490g, less than half of the weight of the two front panniers. As a bonus, it’s also water-resistant.