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  1. #1
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    Sunlite C-Sport Fortress Backpack/Pannier Reviews?



    Anyone have one of these?

    I'm most interested to learn if you bolstered/adapted/totally changed its mounting system. I didn't really trust it when I first saw it and yesterday on my way home from work it jumped ship about a block after I went over a bad patch of road. On my way in the night before I caught it with one hook off too. Probably used it less than a dozen times total (15 mile round trip commutes).

    I like the bag itself. The material is similar to classic Ortliebs but lighter, which I think is great because I always felt the Ortliebs were overkill. That thickness of heavy-duty rafting material just isn't necessary. The Fortress strikes a nice balance; although I still can't see it being punctured or ever wearing out, it is definitely lighter. I like the snap together buckles on the flap, but the velcro closure should be both longer and shorter. Personally I'm not a big fan of velcro but that's because it tears up the silk liners I usually wear under my cycling gloves.

    I'd like to somehow change/modify/replace the mounting hardware so I could be confidant with this bag, but have yet to have the lightbulb go off in my head of how exactly I want to do it. I'd welcome suggestions. Some of the factory issue hardware sets seem rather overpriced to me.

    I have yet to utilize the backpack capability the bag offers, but I may do so when some of my bike camping trips this summer include short hikes. I may be tempted to add a few outside pockets to it for the bag to better fulfill this role if I can fix its' rack securement. Finally, sewing some additional velcro to the tongue on top of the other fixes would make it a pretty awesome bag, especially if it turns out that it makes a halfway decent backpack as well.

    BTW, it looks a little bigger (wider mostly) in the picture than I feel like mine is IRL. Although, that said, it has the ability to go significantly taller.

    I have to say I love the color too. I have a weakness for safety orange as it is, and ever since I've spotted a few of the new orange colored Ortliebs I was lusting for those instead of my perfectly serviceable red ones.


    (Hope this isn't a duplicate post, multiple searches of permutations of the name of the pannier didn't turn up a thread about this bag.)
    Last edited by Medic Zero; 06-12-11 at 12:16 PM.
    ISO: 22" GT Rebound frame, year 2000 model

  2. #2
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    I just picked this up on a whim because it was on a super sale at my LBS. There was only one. I tied the bottom part to my rack with two zip ties, I understand your concern about the hooks. I'm not really sure what the buckles in the back are for, other than maybe the backpack attachment. There's also a bungee cord that hooks onto something but I'm not sure what it's for?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danagrams View Post
    I just picked this up on a whim because it was on a super sale at my LBS. There was only one. I tied the bottom part to my rack with two zip ties, I understand your concern about the hooks. I'm not really sure what the buckles in the back are for, other than maybe the backpack attachment. There's also a bungee cord that hooks onto something but I'm not sure what it's for?
    I totally forgot I started this thread! Thanks for dredging it up, I should post a bit of a review.

    First of all did yours not come with a backboard and some straps? These plug into the buckles on the back turning it into a backpack. If yours didn't come with these, I think I've seen them for sale seperately online, it might take a little work to track them down though. I'd check with the shop you bought them at, the person that sold it to you might not have realized they went with it and these parts are probably sitting around their shop somewhere.

    I don't find the backpack to be very comfortable, perhaps a smaller statured person would, but I'm a barrel chested 6'2" tall person and so it rides funny on my back. It's small, and it sits up quite high on my back.

    As a pannier goes, on the rare occasions when I actually use it as one I've taken to using a leather strap to secure the top of it to my rack as it has a nasty tendency to "jump ship". I've had it bounce off of my rack a number of times, the system it uses to affix itself to the rack just isn't secure enough for the very rough roads we have in Seattle.

    Another issue with these kind of convertible panniers is the fact that the backboard and straps take up a decent chunk of the carrying capacity of the bag itself if you are wanting to use it as a backpack when you get to where you are going. This isn't unique to the Fortress, there are a few other similar designs out there, but the Fortress is a little on the small side, which means the backboard and straps take up comparatively more of the available space compared to some similar designs.

    Most of the time I use my Ortliebs or my Basil pannier*, but every now and then I'll chose the Fortress (usually because of the color!). If a person were fairly small statured so the backpack fit them okay and didn't mind using some sort of additional strap to make sure it didn't jump ship while they were riding, then I could recommend the Sunlite Fortress. It's certainly waterproof, appears well made, and is attractive. My quest for the ideal convertible pannier (backpack or sling bag style) continues though.

    There's good reason these were on sale everywhere for a while and don't appear to be being made any longer. They're not horrible, but they're not great either.


    * Actually the way my commuter is set-up, most days I use a saddlebag (Zimbale 17L) and a trunkbag (on the front rack). Sometimes I need to portage more though and usually use my Ortliebs for this. On my touring rig the Ortliebs are my go-to bags, but it is still mid-overhaul so I haven't had occasion to use it as my back up bike in a while.
    Last edited by Medic Zero; 01-10-13 at 07:43 AM.
    ISO: 22" GT Rebound frame, year 2000 model

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    LBS had some last summer . put them on a traveler's bike to shift some of the load on the front wheel,
    he bought a front rack. too.

    there are more squarish shaped ones made now.. too..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-21-13 at 11:33 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    FYI, I happened across the backpack part of it being sold separately while doing some online window shopping:

    http://www.reditopedi.com/fortress-b...watrprof-panr/
    ISO: 22" GT Rebound frame, year 2000 model

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