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Touring with a Saddlebag Instead of Panniers?

Old 10-14-19, 04:33 PM
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J.Higgins 
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Touring with a Saddlebag Instead of Panniers?

Prepping for my Spring tour, and examining bag options. I don't truly love the panniers I have, in fact they are merely adequate Chinese Ortlieb copies. So I'm thinking of upgrading to a Velo Orange Handlebar bag and a Carradice Camper Longflap saddlebag. Has anyone here ever run this gear combo? Other than a diminished load capacity (which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing), and possible top-heavy balancing-act, what's not to love? I could really use some guidance form the Collective.
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Old 10-14-19, 05:04 PM
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Do a Google search on "bikepacking". You will discover all sorts of gear and methods to pack without using racks and panniers. It's very popular for mt. bikes and gravel, etc.... where it's problematic to mount panniers or weight is an issue.

Biggest problems are 1) You generally can carry more gear in traditional panniers then with h-bar, frame triangle and rear seat packs. 2) Because of the limits on volume, it drives you to buy very light gear that can fit inside of the h-bar/triangle/seat bags. New sleeping bag, minimalist tent, sleeping pad, clothing, etc.... all adds up, dollar wise. 3) The carried load sits higher on the bike with the bike handling differently. Panniers do optimize the way the load is carried.

It all comes down to how much crap you need to carry and will it fit.
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Old 10-14-19, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Do a Google search on "bikepacking". You will discover all sorts of gear and methods to pack without using racks and panniers. It's very popular for mt. bikes and gravel, etc.... where it's problematic to mount panniers or weight is an issue.

Biggest problems are 1) You generally can carry more gear in traditional panniers then with h-bar, frame triangle and rear seat packs. 2) Because of the limits on volume, it drives you to buy very light gear that can fit inside of the h-bar/triangle/seat bags. New sleeping bag, minimalist tent, sleeping pad, clothing, etc.... all adds up, dollar wise. 3) The carried load sits higher on the bike with the bike handling differently. Panniers do optimize the way the load is carried.

It all comes down to how much crap you need to carry and will it fit.
I've got a bikepacking setup. its okay, but for a coast-to-coast tour, I'll need more space. Just wondering if I should just buy some Ortliebs. Eff it. I'll buy a pair. Wouldn't be the first time I blindly spent my cash on something.
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Old 10-14-19, 05:14 PM
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Saving the weight of a front and rear rack is no small thing; plus you'll be forced to carry less stuff. Carradice bags from the UK are pretty reasonable right now as the pound is down due to Brexit. SJS cycles has good prices.
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Old 10-14-19, 05:21 PM
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There are worse things to blindly spend money on than Ortliebs, especially if you already have experience with a cheaper knockoff. Even if you never do much touring with them, they are useful for grocery runs, commuting, toting kid's projects to school, etc. If you are trying to be car free or just use your car less, good panniers are essentials.

There is a regular poster on here who sometimes runs one of the big Carradice saddlebags though. Can't remember who it is but I know I've seen the picture of their rig. Seems like a nice setup.
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Old 10-14-19, 07:17 PM
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You might want to also consider a frame bag for some more volume in addition to the bags you cited.

I have a Carradice Nelson Longflap, that is a bit smaller than the one you are looking at. I also have a Pendle saddle bag that is even smaller. I have no experience with the Velo Orange handlebar bags.

I wanted to add some structure to the Carradice bags, initially I put some cardboard in them, that worked pretty well but I wanted something a bit stiffer and more water resistant so I bought some coroplast at Home Despot. I am very happy with that choice. I cut a rectangle and bent it into a U shape so that the corroplast stiffens up the front (nearest to the saddle), bottom and rear. I used a pizza cutter to put creases in the cardboard and also later into the coroplast to aid in bending it where I wanted it bent.

I used the Nelson Longflap on my Pacific Coast tour. The bag sat on my panniers for support, thus I can't really comment on what it is like to carry that large of a bag unsupported since you would not have any panniers. I suspect you would need something to support the bottom of the bag.

My saddles do not have the loops for the straps, but I use a Brooks Conquest on most of my bikes, that is a sprung saddle. I run the leather straps through a loop on the springs. I had almost nothing in the bag on my Pacific Coast trip, but would fill up that bag after grocery store re-supply stops.

I ordered my Carradice bags from the UK years ago, I do not recall which seller I bought them from but I got a much better price than I would have paid from a USA seller. With Brexit messing up the value of the pound, you probably can get good prices by ordering from the UK.

I stopped to make some lunch in this photo, the bag is the Nelson Longflap. You can see how the bag sits nicely on my panniers for support, which worked well for me but not really an option for you.



At one point, we bought a LOT of food, the long flap came in handy, you can see how full the bag became with that extra extension on the flap. The bag is as full as it would get.



The photo below shows my Pendle on my folding bike. Note the white straps on the flap, those are leather toe clip straps that I can use to strap more clothing or other items onto the outside of the bag. I also used a toe clip strap instead of the Carradice strap on the seatpost. You can't really see the straps through teh saddle spring loops that the bag hangs from, but you can see that the bag hangs nicely on that bike. But, that bag is much smaller and lighter than you are considering, so where I did not need any support under the bag, you might. The sheet of corroplast I had in the bag in the photo below is the reason that the bag holds shape well without sagging.

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Old 10-14-19, 07:25 PM
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I just noticed on a different thread that someone posted a photo of his bike with what looks like a Carradice bag and large handlebar bag, photo at this link:
Am I a fool for touring with road/race bike?
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Old 10-15-19, 04:04 AM
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Thanks for this. Its exactly what I needed to see! I think I'll get the same setup minus the front Ortliebs. I'll just go with lighter panniers and the Nelson in the rear.
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Old 10-15-19, 07:24 AM
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Carradice also sells a bag support for these big saddle bags. You can see some of the offerings on the Carradice site here.
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Old 10-15-19, 08:05 AM
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I think I'll do the Coroplast mod and just allow the rear rack to support the saddlebag. The front bag will have a decaleur rack. Once I assemble my kit, I may need the panniers after all.

I'm changing up a few things this time around. I just bought a new stove. I haven't used one (for touring or hiking) in years. Until now I've been satisfied with simple no-cook meals, and cold-brewed coffee. My old Trangia and whisperlite have just been lying in a plastic tote with all of my other gear. This time I want to eat better/healthier, so it looks like I'll be a-cookin'.

Last year I bought top of the line UL tent, sleeping bag, etc. Very light and packs small. I'm guessing that the bulkiest items will be clothing from now on. My old pair of Ex Officio trousers, such a good friend, is finally ready to give up the ghost. I've got some nice knickers and shorts, but I do need a pair of pants that are light and capable of looking good - not like a bum. Same with shoes, BUT I do not want to carry anything more than necessary.
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Old 10-15-19, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
I think I'll do the Coroplast mod and just allow the rear rack to support the saddlebag. The front bag will have a decaleur rack. Once I assemble my kit, I may need the panniers after all.

I'm changing up a few things this time around. I just bought a new stove. I haven't used one (for touring or hiking) in years. Until now I've been satisfied with simple no-cook meals, and cold-brewed coffee. My old Trangia and whisperlite have just been lying in a plastic tote with all of my other gear. This time I want to eat better/healthier, so it looks like I'll be a-cookin'.

Last year I bought top of the line UL tent, sleeping bag, etc. Very light and packs small. I'm guessing that the bulkiest items will be clothing from now on. My old pair of Ex Officio trousers, such a good friend, is finally ready to give up the ghost. I've got some nice knickers and shorts, but I do need a pair of pants that are light and capable of looking good - not like a bum. Same with shoes, BUT I do not want to carry anything more than necessary.
A friend and touring partner once called me before a trip to ask it we could leave a couple of days early, because he kept adding stuff to his gear.
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Old 10-15-19, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
Thanks for this. Its exactly what I needed to see! I think I'll get the same setup minus the front Ortliebs. I'll just go with lighter panniers and the Nelson in the rear.

The Nelson is considerably smaller than the Camper, but whatever one you decide on go with get the longflap version as it allows you to carry bulky items. It's useful when you buy large 2L sodas or a 6 pack of beer and need to get it to the campsite.


I use a Camper Longflap and an Ortlieb Classic Handlebar bag and have more than enough room for a tent, pad, sleeping bag and all my clothes in the saddlebag. I carry wallet, food, rain jacket, lock and all vital personal items in the handlebar bag and always take it with me when I leave my bike.


Carradice saddlebags where not initially designed to be used with supports. They mount nicely from saddlebag loops on the right saddle (usually a Brooks) and strap around the seat post. The key is to buckle the straps on the inside of the bag so that it can be pulled tight against the saddle to stop sway. See the section on "Mounting a Saddlebag" here.

https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/carradice.php



Last edited by nun; 10-15-19 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 10-15-19, 09:18 AM
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I do not know if I described the coroplast stiffener very well, I will try to remember to take a photo to post later.

As noted above, Carradice makes bag supports which might be useful if you decide to skip the panniers. One more option is one of those racks that clamps onto a seatpost. Such racks are not designed to hold a lot of weight, but they could help support a load.

Also, I saw an interesting DIY bag support on a bike a few years ago, took a couple photos of it. The bag support was intended to be used for a bikepacking bag but could also support a Carradice, if necessary. I would have built it a bit differently, but it does get one to start thinking creatively.



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Old 10-15-19, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I do not know if I described the coroplast stiffener very well, I will try to remember to take a photo to post later.

As noted above, Carradice makes bag supports which might be useful if you decide to skip the panniers. One more option is one of those racks that clamps onto a seatpost. Such racks are not designed to hold a lot of weight, but they could help support a load.

Also, I saw an interesting DIY bag support on a bike a few years ago, took a couple photos of it. The bag support was intended to be used for a bikepacking bag but could also support a Carradice, if necessary. I would have built it a bit differently, but it does get one to start thinking creatively.



When mounted and packed correctly Carradice saddlebags don't need support. You can certainly use a support, but it's just another thing to carry and worry about and if you can ditch the support you make it easier to mount the bag on any bike. The one issue might be clearance between the bottom of the bag and the wheel which is why Carradice makes the "lowsaddle" versions. So if you are thinking about using a saddlebag try it without a support first.
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Old 10-15-19, 10:24 AM
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I used a Carradice Camper Longflap for a long time (commuting) and light touring (hotels, no camping for a 4 day trip); more recently I've been using (German) Ortlieb bags. (Largely due to changes in bicycles, and misplacing the Carradice during 2 moves; I'd really like to find it.)

The Carradice has good capacity for a saddle bag, but is still smaller than a set of 2 Ortliebs, so I'd recommend a rack to let you carry a sleeping pad or some other items outisde the bag. (And keep the bag stable). Mounted in the center of the bike, the saddle bag did not cause any issues with handling.

As expected, the Ortliebs are great in the rain, but I also found the waxed Cotton in the Carradice effective at keeping my things dry.

If the Carradice has enough capacity for your trip, I think you'll be fine either way.

Last edited by AngeloDolce; 10-15-19 at 12:18 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 10-15-19, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by AngeloDolce View Post
The Carradice has good capacity for a saddle bag, but is still smaller than a set of 2 Ortlieds, so I'd recommend a rack to let you carry a sleeping pad or some other items outisde the bag. (And keep the bag stable). Mounted in the center of the bike, the saddle bag did not cause any issues with handling.
Items can easily be strapped to the outside of a saddlebag, but it's not really necessary if you use modern light weight equipment and some compression sacks. Poor bag stability is often caused by incorrect mounting to the saddle. FYI here is my camping setup, almost everything in this photo has come out of the Tardis like interior of my Camper Longflap.

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Old 10-15-19, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Baboo View Post
A friend and touring partner once called me before a trip to ask it we could leave a couple of days early, because he kept adding stuff to his gear.
That still happens to me on the road. All the time. 🙄😉 Just this morning, I hit the grocery store and a thrift store, and added about 10 pounds! 😮 But the extra large yogurt is gone now, and I'll probably eat the grapes today too, so it's not that bad. 🤔😉
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Old 10-15-19, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Baboo View Post
A friend and touring partner once called me before a trip to ask it we could leave a couple of days early, because he kept adding stuff to his gear.
Lol! I know how that goes! When I left to hike the AT my whole kit, not including water, was pretty heavy. I didn't weigh it, but it got lighter as I went. I sent home a lot of stuff. One of the things I sent home was that big heavy Katadyn water filter that was built like a tank. Lessons learned! I also sent home my sneakers and my extra clothing and just simply tons of stuff I didnt need. Hey man, it was 30 years ago come to think of it. So many light pieces of gear now. So many $$$ for them as well.
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Old 10-15-19, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
Items can easily be strapped to the outside of a saddlebag, but it's not really necessary if you use modern light weight equipment and some compression sacks. Poor bag stability is often caused by incorrect mounting to the saddle. FYI here is my camping setup, almost everything in this photo has come out of the Tardis like interior of my Camper Longflap.

I'm impressed with what you fit in the Carradice, but I refuse to believe the table fit in there too.

More seriously, I found the Carradice easily held a 6qt pressure cooker or a 4 qt cast iron pot when shopping locally; not ideal distributing weight in the bag, but great for cooking at home.
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Old 10-15-19, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by AngeloDolce View Post
I'm impressed with what you fit in the Carradice, but I refuse to believe the table fit in there too.

More seriously, I found the Carradice easily held a 6qt pressure cooker or a 4 qt cast iron pot when shopping locally; not ideal distributing weight in the bag, but great for cooking at home.
Ha😀 the table was at the camp site when I arrived.
It takes some careful gear choices and discipline to get everything required to tour and camp into a saddlebag, but itís not really difficult. I use a single walled tent, ultralight pad and a light weight 30 deg bag. I have once change of clothes and so my routine is to wash my riding clothes every night.

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Old 10-15-19, 03:51 PM
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It should be okay. I often use a front bag and a saddlebag for carrying stuff. Some bikes are sensitive to a front load, and some handle better with a front bag: it depends on the bike's geometry. I don't think a saddle bag has much effect on the handling, whereas heavy rear panniers might on some bikes.
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Old 10-15-19, 04:20 PM
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I took a couple photos to explain the corroplast stiffener better. The corroplast is a white rectangle in the photo, U shaped so it it up against the saddle, in the bottom and comes up on the back side. Sorry the first photo is out of focus. This is the Nelson Longflap. The cotton canvas is pretty stiff, but when you put some weight in the bag it will sag without some extra stiffener, thus I added the corroplast. As I noted above, I used a pizza cutter first to crease the corroplast where I wanted to bend it, that helped in keeping the bend to the exact place where I wanted it bent. It is essentially a form of cardboard, but made of plastic. And being corrugated, it bends and folds best in one direction. The second photo shows a couple of the creases pretty well.

Another cyclist once saw my bag on my bike, we were both riding at the time so he could not easily look at the bag from all angles, and he asked if I had a rack under it. I said no and asked why he thought I had a rack, he was commenting on the lack of sag in the middle of the bag. That essentially really explains what the corroplast sheet accomplishes, but that is all it accomplishes.

Carradice puts an extra layer of fabric inside as a liner, my two Carradice bags I have have different liner fabrics, the bag that Nun has in one of his photos above also has a different liner fabric.

You can see the extra length of the flap is folded and will be under the flap when the flap is closed, the extra length of flap is held in place with a couple snaps when not in use.

I have thought about getting out some needle and thread to add two D rings to the bag so I could add a shoulder strap, I might still do that some day.





There are some quick release systems out there too. It might take me five minutes in the morning to run the leather straps through my saddle spring loops to attach it when touring. I have thought of a few other options and might get around to finishing one of the projects I started.

I am in early stages of planning a tour this summer, and this thread has gotten me to thinking i might have to use the Nelson Longflap on the next trip.
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Old 10-15-19, 04:29 PM
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hey there NC, there is also a waterproof seatbag by arkel that looks like a carradice, look them up, might be a lighter, waterproof option.

for Ortliebs, the Plus models do weigh less than the classic material. Do a search for the ortlieb chart that shows the weights and voloumes of all of their products.

I still find it handy to have 4 panniers to have ample room for extra water and food.
Oh, and there are those more simple but light city panniers, no inner pouch and simpler but you cant attach a rackpack like I do.
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Old 10-15-19, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post


I have thought about getting out some needle and thread to add two D rings to the bag so I could add a shoulder strap, I might still do that some day.


I've done that and it works nicely so that I can easily carry all my luggage ie the Ortlieb bar bag and the Carradice, on my shoulder.







New Campers already have D rings for a strap.


https://www.carradice.co.uk/bags/sad...flap-saddlebag


I also have nylon straps attached to the metal loops on the top flap that are useful as a carrying handle as well as to strap items down. This makes train travel really easy. The bike goes in a box and I take two bags onto the train. For plane travel the Carradice Camper and it's contents usually go in with my bike...either in a bag or a box. In general my bike and gear are light and small enough to make lifting the bike up stairs or getting into elevators easy too. When I stay in a motel it's no trouble getting to a room and I will put a "Chain Condom" on to keep things clean.


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If the Camper is packed tightly it becomes self supporting and stiffeners or exterior supports aren't necessary, but if it is empty it will sag, so it's worth doing some testing. Also if the bag hits the tire a support will be needed, but there's good clearance between my Camper and the tire so I go "naked". Here's a side on picture of the set up and my gear







Last edited by nun; 10-15-19 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 10-15-19, 07:28 PM
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J.Higgins 
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I am in early stages of planning a tour this summer, and this thread has gotten me to thinking i might have to use the Nelson Longflap on the next trip.
Excellent! Its good to change it up every now and again.

Thanks for the detail on your coroplast modifications. I'll definitely do this. I've studied a lot of velomobile builds, and many are made from coroplast. Tough stuff, and cheap!
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