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My Experience with Frame Packs/bags compared to Rack/Bags = Favor rack/bags

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My Experience with Frame Packs/bags compared to Rack/Bags = Favor rack/bags

Old 03-05-15, 10:10 AM
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Bill1227
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My Experience with Frame Packs/bags compared to Rack/Bags = Favor rack/bags

There has been a lot of buzz about frame packs the last couple years. I was interested,optimistic and had to try it myself.
Along the way I often noted in "comparison" or "versus" threads that they were comparing a frame bag set up to a rear rack with heavy,large expedition touring panniers on it rather than the very common early 90's, much lighter, be it MTB Touring to single track friendly dry bag strapped on a rack. Although I did take mental note of this difference, I still wanted to try frame bags.




HERE IS A BREAKDOWN - COST/VOLUME/WEIGHT - COMPARISON OF TWO MOST COMMON SIMILAR VOLUME (packable and water capacity) SET UP'S. Each carry about 100 ounces of water - the frame pack via a bladder (100 oz) the rack and bag via bottles of water (4-25 oz bottles / 2 in cages and 2 on the rack with dry bag)



Frame Pack Set up - Large Saddle Bag & Tangle Frame Pack for 100 oz bladder/tools
Versus
Rack and Bag - Rear Rack, Dry Bag, Typical under seat saddle bag for tools , water bottles (2-25oz Camelbak in frame cages & 2 same strapped with dry bag on rear rack.

The rack & bag is what I own and use curretly by choice the other as compared is what I tried. (along with feed bags,gas tank)

FOR ME A NON RACER THE RACK AND BAG SYSTEM I HAVE USED SENCE THE EARLY 90'S WAS A CLEAR WINNER BUT, THIS IS PRESENTED CAFE STYLE FOR YOU TO DECIDE.

THE BREAK DOWN -

Revelate Designs Viscasha Seat Bag/pack -Price $129 - Capacity 14 liter - Weight 13.8 oz

" " Tangle Frame Bag Medium - $68 / 4.5 L. / 9.0 oz

---------------------------------------

Planet Bike Eco Rack, - $30 / 55# load capacity-compared with one 20L dry bag for test, has room for two 20L dry bags if compression type - common light tour set up / 22.8 oz

Topeak Aero Wedge Saddle Pack Sz Large - $28 / 1.97 L / 5.81 Oz

Sea To Summit Lightweight Dry Sack 20L - $23 / 20 L / 3.2 Oz

FRAME BAG VERSUS REAR RACK AND BAG CAPACITY VERSUS WEIGHT VERSUS COST / 100 OZ WATER EACH


PRICE TOTAL - FRAME BAG $197 / RACK & BAG $ 81 = DIFFERENCE $116 / 145 %

CAPACITY - FRAME BAG 18.5 L / RACK & BAG 22 L DIFFERANCE 3.5 LITERS

COST PER LITER CAPACITY - FRAME BAG $10.60 / RACK & BAG $3.60

WEIGHT - FRAME BAG 22.8 OZ, 1.4 #s / RACK & BAG 31.8 OZ, 1.9 #'S (3.5 liters more capacity) RACK & BAG 1/2# MORE NON ROTATION WEIGHT - VOLUME-CAPACITY / DIVIDED BY WEIGHT - FRAME BAG = 13.2 RACK BAGS =11.5



These two are most common set up's and chosen because they equal similar capacity. For me the better choice was obvious = rack


Odd & End Notes from my experience and research shared to save others time/cafe style.

* Revelate Designs = Made in USA (means something to me!) , very good quality, good company - nice to see
* Some report frame bag saddle packs swing a bit while riding rough stuff. My strapped down rack,bags,bottles don't move an inch
* A rack acts as a mud/rain guard, I also add a flap. Something I have always appreciated. Panniers can be added. Lights easily mounted. They protect debris flung off my tire from wearing out my bag as soon as an exposed bag. I can easily take my dry bag off the rack and carry / tote it if needed. Not so with the seat pack. Its also easier for me to stuff my dry bag, off the rack, than the frame seat pack on. As noted above two dry bags can easily be secured to a rear rack (common ultra lite tour set up over panniers). This additional 20 L capacity would rock the numbers above greatly. Yet, above chosen for comparison because of similar capacity and single track trail worthyness comparison.
* I found with frame packs as I mounted and filled smaller bags (feed bags,gas tank) the equation example above became substantially worst as the bags have very little capacity, high price for volume and some (though minor) weight and or air resistance. I thought I would really like the Mountain Feed Bags, ordered two and ultimately returned them after set up in house. Perhaps if I raced.........
* I did not test the sweet roll/frame bag. It looks "sweet" and on paper, specs, volume,etc. appears it may be the best of the bunch if one needs such.
* Some like the looks of frame bags, think they look cool, as compared to racks & bags or panniers - I didn't/don't personally. I had a hard time liking the look at all.
* A frame pump can be stored in a Revelate Design Tangle Frame Bag, because of its horizontal nature,length besides tools. I do/did use a frame mounted pump as compared.
* Full suspension bikes, fat bikes before rear racks were available that fit, marathon racers (yet, I note in the G.Divide race the majority using frame packs have to use a back pack as well / limited capacity) and/or personal preference. Its nice to have choices and one can certainly mix match - example a sweet roll front with rack rear. Also some prefer to drink from a bladder rather than bottles and the Tangle frame pack gets the bladder off their back , still others hook a tube up to water in a pannier or direct to bottle in cage.


Lots of choices. ............

The photo below is the rack and saddle bag noted/used in the comparison above. However it is a different 20 L dry bag of mine ( I have had this yellow one at least a dozen years) It shows up better than black. Also this photo only has one 25 oz water bottle straped on rather than two , etc. but, you get the picture/idea. Two bags are easy to run But, compresion or dry bags with a de-compress valve make it easier for two. More water can be strap'ed on than just two bottles also. Finally, when/iff not in use the dry bag is just neatly rolled up, folded over itself, buckled to itself and strapped down to the rack top in a very neat,tidy,small,tiny fashion till needed again

Could use more grammar editing but I ran out of time ~

PHOTO ATTACHED HERE


Additional Photos of actual 20 L dry bag (black) compared above in folded/clip'ed stored on rack - for when not in use - as noted above. On Mountain Touring Bicycle / 29er


PHOTO 2 ATTACHED HERE

PHOTO 3 OF YELLOW 20 L DRY BAG SAME / BETTER CONTRAST

Attached Images
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Old 03-05-15, 02:50 PM
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I agree with a lot of you comments about frame bags, especially that some of the smaller volume bags are very poor value for money, they just seem like very expensive ways of carrying Mars bars to me. But I'd still like to avoid racks if possible as they are heavy and many limit the bike options. There are ways of mounting dry sacks to a bike without using a rack or you could use an old fashioned large Carradice type saddle bag and a handle bar bag. If you can keep the Relevate type bags to just a saddlebag, handle bag bag and maybe a frame bag I still think they are a perfectly good solution, but carrying capacity becomes an issue. This is where the 24L expandable capacity of the Carradice Camper longflap is attractive.

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Old 03-05-15, 03:30 PM
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Thank you for your careful thought on the topic and passing this on.

I am considering making a frame pack for one simple reason. My next tour I expect to use a suspension fork. While it is possible to put a rack on it (mount the rack to the skewer, I think Old Man Mountain is the brand), I would rather not have that much unsprung weight on the front. Thus, if I forgo the front panniers, I will be looking for some other place to put some of the volume that was in those panniers. I have sewed camping gear before, so sewing one does not scare me. If I make one, it would almost fill the triangle, not just the top part of the triangle.
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Old 03-05-15, 04:34 PM
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Thanks for a very complete comparison of the two systems. I have experimented for forty years with various ways to lighten my touring load. The traditional rear panniers on a rear rack and a handlebar bag gradually led to two front panniers only and a dry bag stuffer on the rear rack. Then new choices appeared.

In 2007 intrigued by pictures of frame pack options, I ordered a dry bag stuffer Cordura cover from Carousel Design Works for my rear rack top. The quality and materials led me to order a saddle bag. Again with excellent design, materials and execution.

As CDW floundered I learned of Epic now Revelate Designs and ordered a partial frame bag. Excellent on all counts. I have been mixing and matching my old pannier equipment with frame pack elements since then. This has been mainly due to limitations of frame packs when used without a back pack for supplemental capacity. I cannot abide weight on my back due to heat and sweat problems.

Currently I am using my longtime favorite rear rack top dry bag setup instead of my CDW saddlebag; full frame bag; Revelate handlebar bag and a small set of front rack panniers with 8 liters per side. This combination provides sufficient capacity for extended tour segments without services mainly extra water and food. The total weight of the bags and small panniers is 2.5 pounds not counting the racks-- 4 pounds total with racks and bags. This mixed combination of pieces suits my touring needs both on and off pavement.
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Old 03-05-15, 05:12 PM
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Excellant replys and thanks for comprehending that I was not out to dis-credit the use of frame bags at all. On the contrary I too was intrigued but, after hands on comparison of a couple compared to my old stand by, it was six to one and a half dozen the other, except for the cost $ differance, in my case.

"making my own frame bags" - thats great ! I enjoying tinkering,building and am a very avid fly tyer / fisherman so I "get it". I much prefer to tie and create my own fly's.

"large Carradice saddles" - in function their weight specs out as much as a rear rack and lite weight 20L dry bag with a bit less capacity. In reality, I love the old school craftsmanship, design,look and ultimate easy assesabilty. If I get a certain nice steel frame retro bike some day - thats whats going on it

"mix and match" - absulutely.



So often I had read rave reveiws in recent years that I had to try for myself. Also, its human nature to be excited about something one just paid a pretty penney for. The above is simply a reality "gut check" on paper, specification comparison.
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Old 03-05-15, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill1227 View Post

"large Carradice saddles" - in function their weight specs out as much as a rear rack and lite weight 20L dry bag with a bit less capacity. In reality, I love the old school craftsmanship, design,look and ultimate easy assesabilty. If I get a certain nice steel frame retro bike some day - thats whats going on it
Yes the only drawback of the Carradice Camper is the 2lb weight. The Super C saddlebag is a bit lighter, but not much. If the weight could be reduced to around 1lb it would win on all fronts IMHO.
I would not consign Carradice saddlebags to use on just vintage steel bikes. I put one on my Cervelo RS and it works really well. The Carradice bag wins for convenience, accessibility, easy to carry off the bike, it's well organized with a big central compartment and the side pockets are useful for tools, tubes and food and the long flap means that bulky items can easily be carried. It costs me an extra pound, but it's a compromise that I think is worthwhile for the added utility. Get me a bag that's of a similar design that works as well and weighs 1lb and I'll buy it.
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Old 03-06-15, 05:01 AM
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It's not always about weight to volume ratio though. For rough stuff, single track, and even for some folks who road tour with really lite gear, bags can and do make perfect sense.

Same goes for weight to cost or volume to cost. One could compare a giant set of panniers made overseas and a Walmart rack to Revelate or Porcelain Rocket kit and its just not a fair fight.

I find that frame bags changed the game for me. But I seek out places off the beaten path. I am considering a rack if I get a pack raft so I can add water to my trips. But there again I have to look at how the rack will affect the bikes ability to be strapped to the raft.

Anyway, yup, as everything bikes you have shown that YMMV, RYOR, run what you brung, different strokes for different folks, etc.

This is from a similar discussion on a MTB forum. Not mine:

Bearable Lightness v2 by Michiel Kuit, on Flickr

For the author he uses bags because he rides lots of single track. He noted that if he was doing lots of pavement or dirt roads he'd likely use rack + bags. Either way, it's important to ride what works and what makes you happy.
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Old 03-06-15, 07:31 AM
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I've struggled also with these decisions and thanks for the input. One of my criteria is pack weight/max payload, which is why I ditched my old HB bag. Another strange one for me is I ride pretty knock-kneed, so I don't even want to try frame bags. Another is ease of access, so the dry bag on rear rack doesn't work very well but that's a minor one. Another is durability, when leaning the bike against stucco walls and such or heaven forbid, a fall. Initial cost is definitely a major concern since I don't have a paycheck coming in and the old rear panniers still work just fine.

So it really comes down to lots of personal decisions, but having some hard numbers helps. Thanks again.
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Old 03-06-15, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by bmike View Post
It's not always about weight to volume ratio though. ...
Interesting point. Last summer when prepping for a tour, I was trying to reduce the volume of my stuff so I could take smaller bags. A Thermarest was lighter but an air mattress was less volume so I took the heavier more compact air mattress.
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Old 03-06-15, 08:43 AM
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For me, it's been about bulk and then weight. Even with panniers bulk makes it hard to pack.

I need to get a true summer bag - but I've been working on the bulk (with weight as a secondary motivation) since I started bikepacking. Things slowly evolve.

I hope to be using a combo of bags and a front rack on my 'road' bike this year. Low rider salsa rack and ortlieb panniers up front. Tangle bag, anything cage and then either an ortlieb or Revelate seat bag.
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Old 03-06-15, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by bmike View Post
It's not always about weight to volume ratio though. For rough stuff, single track, and even for some folks who road tour with really lite gear, bags can and do make perfect sense.

Same goes for weight to cost or volume to cost. One could compare a giant set of panniers made overseas and a Walmart rack to Revelate or Porcelain Rocket kit and its just not a fair fight.

I find that frame bags changed the game for me. But I seek out places off the beaten path. I am considering a rack if I get a pack raft so I can add water to my trips. But there again I have to look at how the rack will affect the bikes ability to be strapped to the raft.

Anyway, yup, as everything bikes you have shown that YMMV, RYOR, run what you brung, different strokes for different folks, etc.

This is from a similar discussion on a MTB forum. Not mine:

Bearable Lightness v2 by Michiel Kuit, on Flickr

For the author he uses bags because he rides lots of single track. He noted that if he was doing lots of pavement or dirt roads he'd likely use rack + bags. Either way, it's important to ride what works and what makes you happy.
Great graph. Rack Mode 6 for the Carradice Super C and the Tubus rack looks great, but I think it's for a pair of big panniers so sort of a different beast. Panniers have really good weight to volume ratios.....something to do with surface area changing as r^2 and volume as r^3..... So where would a rackless Carradice Super C saddlebag come on the graph

Super C saddlebag weighs 880g and has a 23L capacity = 38g/L

So it comes in being very similar to Rack mode 4 and the first bikepack mode.

There is something that is often missed though. On the graph I'd far rather use the systems that have lower volumes because the weight of your luggage is mostly dictated by how much you end up carrying. The temptation is to put lots of light weight bags on the bike and then fill them with heavy stuff. I've managed to carry all my stuff in a Sea to Summit compression sacks strapped to my bike. The weight was 312g for 30L which is 10g/L, but it wasn't very convenient.

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Old 03-06-15, 09:32 AM
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That cervelo is screaming for a custom frame bag. Bladder pocket and then you can tuck in the heavy stuff down low - cook kit or tools, etc.
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Old 03-06-15, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by bmike View Post
That cervelo is screaming for a custom frame bag. Bladder pocket and then you can tuck in the heavy stuff down low - cook kit or tools, etc.
Water is pretty much the densest thing I carry so having it in the cages works well. I have considered a frame bag, but as handlebar bag and saddlebag are enough room for my gear I haven't pursued it. Why add bags if 2 are enough and a frame bag won't carry enough to replace the saddlebag. A smaller saddlebag, handle bar bag and frame bag would be just putting more bags on the bike because I can. Every available space on a bike does not necessarily need a bag.
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Old 03-06-15, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
Water is pretty much the densest thing I carry so having it in the cages works well. I have considered a frame bag, but as handlebar bag and saddlebag are enough room for my gear I haven't pursued it. Why add bags if 2 are enough and a frame bag won't carry enough to replace the saddlebag. A smaller saddlebag, handle bar bag and frame bag would be just putting more bags on the bike because I can. Every available space on a bike does not necessarily need a bag.
well, it would up the convenience level for some items, allow you to carry more than 2 bottles worth of water (something i need to do), and might reduce the load in either the front or the rear. but if it works, i'm not going to tell you it isn't.
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Old 03-06-15, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by bmike View Post
well, it would up the convenience level for some items, allow you to carry more than 2 bottles worth of water (something i need to do), and might reduce the load in either the front or the rear. but if it works, i'm not going to tell you it isn't.
I did consider a bladder in the triangle in addition to the water bottles, but it's just another item that I'm not sure I need. 2x one liter bottles are enough for me when on the road and if I do need extra fluids there is room in my handlebar bag and saddlebag.....not the best place to carry it, but it works ok. I'm trying to reduce my gear so adding extra bags/bladders isn't in my plans. I am always looking for a lighter saddlebag option and looking to cut out gear.
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Old 03-06-15, 11:22 AM
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bmike,

your blog looks like fun. Your a bit north of me but, not that far. It was minus 8 degree F. here this morning

I get up that way now and then and purchased my row boat / Vermont Fishing Dory - from this company, up near you, last year.
Row boats, Packboats, Guideboats and Boat Kits | Handcrafted in VT .......great people.
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Old 03-06-15, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill1227 View Post
bmike,

your blog looks like fun. Your a bit north of me but, not that far. It was minus 8 degree F. here this morning

I get up that way now and then and purchased my row boat / Vermont Fishing Dory - from this company, up near you, last year.
Row boats, Packboats, Guideboats and Boat Kits | Handcrafted in VT .......great people.

I've wanted a guideboat for a long time... they are south of me on 7. Ride past them during the summer if I head south.
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Old 03-06-15, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
I did consider a bladder in the triangle in addition to the water bottles, but it's just another item that I'm not sure I need. 2x one liter bottles are enough for me when on the road and if I do need extra fluids there is room in my handlebar bag and saddlebag.....not the best place to carry it, but it works ok. I'm trying to reduce my gear so adding extra bags/bladders isn't in my plans. I am always looking for a lighter saddlebag option and looking to cut out gear.
i have frame bags on the Krampus and Pugsley. They stay on year round. I have a Tanlge on the Yuba Mundo that I move to the IF when needed. Had one on the Fargo that never came off. Such a handy thing.

But I don't use bottles anymore (aside from tucking one into the frame bags on the Pugs or Krampus for local riding). Nor do I hang with the club kids.
Want a custom bag for my IF. The bag I had for the Fargo fit. I might pick up one of the Revelate production ones this summer.

I get reducing kit. I'm there too. More to do! But I often carry full cook kit, water purification, etc.
And I can't seem to plan a trip when its warm and nice out. Always with weather and in the shoulder seasons.
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Old 03-06-15, 01:37 PM
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My cooking set is minimal; TI mug alcohol stove and collapsible silicone cup. It's good for tea, soup, pasta, stew etc. I've carried puritans in the past, but figure if I boil any wild water I'm ok
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