PASSPORT CYCLES BIKE PACKING SEAT PACK

498g Medium £59.99

The Passport Cycles Bike Packing Seat Pack Medium is an inexpensive but well-designed seat pack. Solid post straps and rubberised grip area ensure its more stable than some other budget competition. However, I would have preferred somewhere to neatly park the exposed strap lengths.

Pros: Generally rugged, well designed and made, for the money.

Cons: Water-resistant rather than proof. Strap parking would be welcome.

Materials/Construction  3.5/5

The spec is pretty good to be honest. The medium has a 7 lite capacity (the large is 9). The main fabric is 210 denier nylon. Being as this genre of bag is also designed to double as a mudguard, I was pleased to find an easy-clean 500 denier nylon base. The roll top closure features a row of slots, so you can mount an LED light.

Open the roll top closure and you’ll find a fluorescent yellow liner - means kit is easily spotted, especially in poor light. There are two external zippered pockets riding shotgun either side of the main body. 

These are designed for keys/wallet and other valuables that you might want quick and easy access. An adjustable, elasticated cargo net is designed to securely capture a light jacket (such as the 7Mesh Cypress Hybrid Cycling Jacket and similar overspill. Talking of straps, in my experience these can render luggage in chocolate teapot territory, especially larger, post mounted designs.

I was pleasantly surprised to find not only two beefy Velcro types, sensibly spaced to displace the load, but a rubberised back provide some additional grip.  Straps and logos also feature discrete but sensible amounts of retro-reflective detailing and the rear, roll top channel has hooks for mounting an LED at the desired height.

Mounting 3/5

This is straightforward but requires a little practice before it becomes a swift, seamless process. Start by Tethering the saddle rail straps and pulling them snug (but still allowing a little play). Once you have it hugging the saddle in a graceful curve, attach the straps and draw them tight, until you’ve eradicated any sway. Fill in the usual fashion, bearing in mind these are designed for lightweight, bulky items, not that sort you’d whack inside a saddlebag/SQR system, then draw the roll top closure tight. Now tidy any excess straps wherever you can, which can be a little tricky, given here’s no obvious parking points.

Test Bike/Compatibility

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve gone with my Univega and fixed gear winter trainer. Aside from being my four seasons’ defaults, they also present some potential challenges. My Univega hails from the late 90s when seat tune sizes were much less uniform. In this instance, we are talking 26.6mm, which is narrow and would test the tenacity of the straps and sway.

My fixed gear winter/trainer runs a suspension post, which can also present compatibility hassles and indeed, rule some luggage out. These may also give better insight as to whether the medium, or large versions are the best fit, for you and your machine(s).I’ve had no problems with foot/leg clearance when dis/mounting (which hasn’t been the case with bigger models). I’m also pleased to report no issues with the Redshift Sports Shockstop Suspension Seatpost  or the Cane Creek Thudbuster ST .

Storage/Capacity

Weight distribution is important, regardless of luggage types. However, its particularly so when filling up big, bike packing luggage. Put heavier components within the frame-fit bag and lighter stuff in the seat and bar bags, so as not to induce annoying sway, or spoil handling, especially when you’re tired.

This is also a factor if you are considering using bike packing luggage for commuting. Seven litres is for some folks a little on the small side, given we are talking bulky items. However, with expansion, I’ve managed change of clothes, cap, washbag loafer type shoes and spare tubes-shoes at the bottom closest the seatpost. 

 

Forgoing the shoes and going minimalist on the clothing front ensured small tent and mat would fit. Provided you have packed carefully, a micro jacket should just slip inside, although I have resorted to the external cargo net on overnight stays. I have used the zippered sides for a multi tool, tyre lever and change.

Stability 3.75/5

 Laden as described and with the straps bound tight (strangulation, on my Univega), I’ve been delighted by the absence of sway, even when I have been powering along climbs, out of the saddle, confirming these double straps and the rubberised shim are genuinely effective. The song remained unchanged along dirt roads and tracks.

I was initially concerned the untethered straps might catch my inner thighs, but this has also been a moot point. Same story with my fixed gear winter/trainer and the Redshift Sports Shock Stop Suspension Seatpost. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice sleeves made from defunct innertubes. 

 

These undoubtedly help matters but were instated to protect their finishes when using SQR brackets. The long narrow profile has been equally convenient, whether I’ve been sweeping through winding singletrack, or indeed town, filtering through small gaps in traffic (which is not always the case, with a small pannier).

Waterproofing 3.25/5

The bag is very waterproof, in the everyday sense-I noticed some trace dampness inside, when subjected to a two-minute garden hose torture test, so wrap clothes within a decent waterproof jacket, or use a dry sack, on very wet rides, or longer adventures.

The heavier duty nylon base is another good defence against rain and spray thrown up by bikes without mudguards. It’s also easily wiped down, although the main fabric is less convenient than some glossy, rip-stop nylons. A quick blast of bike wash, or dab of concentrate, such as Juice Lubes Dirt Juice Super Concentrate Bike Cleaner , worked into a lather with a soft bristled brush has dismissed the lion’s share of grime. 

Durability 3.5/5

 

To date, despite the usual everyday carelessness, the fabric and straps are still in rude health with no hint of bobbling/fraying to date. Thorns and other, prickly foliage have snagged in passing but not left any calling cards three months down the line.

Value 3.25/5

£59.99 is what might be termed the upper end of entry level and an extremely competitive price point, which is great news for you and me. The Alpkit Fiana has a 12 litre capacity, is made from 490d nylon and twin post straps for £39.99. Topeak Backloader comes in three sizes (6,10 and 15litre- £54.99-£74.99) a maximum 5kilo payload, built in “air release” system for a more compact load and features a waterproof inner dry sack (10,000mm waterproof rating). Merida Travel Saddlebag large comes in at £64.99, features a whopping 21.25litre capacity, maximum 5 litre payload, lightweight, waterproof ripstop nylon construction.  

  

Summary

All told, Passport have produced a competent, bike packing bag that won’t break the bank. Packed carefully and paired with a frame fit bag, the medium suited my bike packing needs, which admittedly boils down to a night, or two away, rather than epic outings. It has become my default for general riding too, since I can pick up odds n’ ends en route home etc Yes, there are some very minor trade-offs/compromises. I would’ve liked a fully waterproof compartment and somewhere to park the loose lengths of straps. Depending on your frame’s capacity, the 9 litre may be a better choice for longer escapes. However, the medium is stable, easy to adjust at goes unnoticed in the most positive sense.

Verdict: 3.5/5 Cheerful entry level bike packing baq with minor compromises.

 

Michael Stenning

 

www.ison-distribution.com

PUBLISHED AUGUST 2020

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