UPSO STIRLING SEAT PACK
The UPSO Stirling seat pack is made by Carradice, using recycled materials. The body is crafted from old Lorry tarpaulins, the zipper tags from reclaimed fire hose. Better still, the design also permits several, secure, mounting options.
Our UPSO Stirling Seat Pack was a funky white and green, but there are a wealth of other, solid and two-tone colours to choose from. Given its heritage, I wasn’t surprised to find standards of construction are top notch
Made in Lancashire, by hand and on solar powered sewing machines, stitching is uniformly precise and the bag feels bomb-proof. As I said in my opening paragraph, there are several ways of mounting, post being default. Simply slip the “toe-strap” around the saddle rails, then follow up with the generous lengths of heavy duty Velcro.
Universal, at least in terms of post diameter, it needs 3 inches of exposed, which shouldn’t be an issue for most, correctly sized machines. Persuading ours to play nicely with a Cane Creek Thudbuster took some lateral thought and cost an extra minute but that’s all. Tethered tight and filled to the gills, there’s no hint of annoying sway and the lid’s woven nylon tab offers a similarly secure mounting point for blinkies great and small.
This is the same story for handlebars, although, old school 25.4 diameters required a bit more patience. Staying up front a minute, at 20x9cm long, it’s really unobtrusive. Unless you’re been drastic with a hacksaw; lights and other gizmos won’t present be competing for space.
Cages are more of a lottery. I’ve had some success with the big, PET type designed to swallow 1.5 litre coke type bottles. Going the waterproof tool caddy bottle route, running the Stirling up front and a big SQR type bag behind, would give enough scope for weekend touring. Without spoiling a bike’s clean aesthetic.
Opening the zipper (which is pretty easy in gloved hand, thanks to sensibly proportioned tags) reveals a single compartment. Not quite Tardis like but with efficient packing, I’ve managed Pedros’ Trixie wrench, two standard 700x28-35c tubes, three composite tyre levers and a micro-jacket, in case the otherwise balmy weather turned bandit.
Oh and there are elasticated retainers, claimed to grip tools and prevent that irritating percussion, over less than pristine tarmac. Though subtle, in practice these seem very effective - a least, things have been blissfully quiet when ported over to my Univega’s bars or post and tackling unmade roads.
Sure there’s been the odd, very minor rustling but nothing most of us will notice, let along get irritated by. There was a bit more, when I ported it over to a cage. Thankfully, the thick tarp and sensible loading prevented it tapping the frame tubes, wood-pecker fashion.
Water resistant is good, rather than great. Sustained, close range blasts from a garden hose forced some water through the stitching around the zipper. Otherwise, ours has shrugged at stormy tip downs and less intense, yet very persistent rainfall. Insulating my tool stash with a micro jacket added further peace of mind.
The toe strap clip is fashioned from stainless steel, so no danger of that succumbing to winter’s worst. Should you be unfortunate enough to lose/misplace it (as I managed!), or fancy something swankier, then any bog standard pattern will do nicely.
Playing Devil’s advocate, £30 isn’t cheap. There are some very big, “aero” wedge bags capable of swallowing a whole heap more for similar money. However, the stirling is surprising versatile, very funky and built to last.
Verdict: 3.75/5 Rugged and funky saddle pack with decent storage space. However, a waterproof zipper would be welcomed.
PUBLISHED JULY 2017