People have been strapping dry bags to their bikes since long before the word “bikepacking” joined the cycling vernacular. It’s a simple way to add a bit of storage capacity but that extra space comes with obvious drawbacks. Typically those drawbacks include bag shapes that aren’t especially bike-friendly and instability if the bags are not meticulously secured. I’m not a huge fan of my cooking kit flying into my wheel or having bags constantly shift out of position on a rough downhill, so functional and stable bags are essential to me.
Today, Tailfin has introduced its take on the traditional cargo cage bag and TPU strap in expanding its range of bike bags. While there is no shortage of companies offering up their versions of similar pieces of kit, Tailfin thinks they’ve got the right combination of ease of use, durability, waterproofness, and stability to put theirs at the top of the heap. To test that theory, for the last few weeks, I’ve had a chance to put a set of these bags and straps through the wringer while touring the rough and muddy roads of the Colombian Andes to see if they seem up to the task.
“Speedy” Cage Packs
The first things that jump out at you when looking at these bags are the two little hooks on the front of the bag. These flexible TPU bits are part of their “speed hook” attachment system that lets you guide the bag onto the cargo cage without having to fully undo the straps, and lets the straps support the bag in position while you tighten them down. They also double as a handy place to keep loose strap ends controlled, and are compatible with a wide array of TPU straps, if you’re like me and have a mountain of straps from various brands out there.
Tailfin’s cargo cages have slots that line up perfectly with the spacing of the speed hooks, but I also used some Widefoot cages with no problems, and I would imagine that most cargo cages out there will work as well, even if things don’t line up 100% perfectly.
If I have one criticism about the strap integration it’s that tucking the last little loose end into the cargo cage slot to keep the look neat and tidy is a bit tricky as it is a tight squeeze with the rest of the strap looping through. So, I often found myself tucking the strap end into an adjacent slot because it was faster and easier, resulting in a sloppier appearance. A tiny bit more size to the cage slot there on future iterations would make the speed hook system a touch speedier while keeping the look nice and clean.
Along with the speed hooks, integrated loops are featured on the sides of the bags which allow for another method of securing them to cages, just in case you value ultimate security over speed.
As with all of Tailfin’s offerings, the bags are made of a durable waterproof material with welded construction. While a few weeks on the road isn’t exactly enough to test long-term durability, the initial impression combined with Tailfin’s track record for not skimping on materials or sacrificing build quality to save a few grams gives me confidence that these will last. At first, I thought the speed hook itself might be a weak point in durability, but so far, the uber-flexy TPU material of the hook appears to a beating without a problem, no matter how many times I scrape it against a wall or haphazardly yank the straps out.
Size and Shape
With sizes of 1.7L, 3L, and 5L, these bags tackle a variety of applications, from tool kits to sleeping pads and beyond. I tested out a 3L on my downtube, which housed all of my tools, spare parts, and first aid kit that I bring on tour. The squared-off shape of the bag keeps it from bulging out and interfering with the crank, which can be a problem with round bags with this kind of capacity.
Mounted to the AeroPack legs I had two 5L bags which I used mostly for layers, gloves, jackets, and the occasional empanada. One nice touch that is specific to the 5L bag is the air release valve, which allows you to roll it down nice and tight with ease (just try not to smush your empanadas).
I’ve been a Voile strap addict since I first got my hands on one, so when I say I have a mountain of them, it’s not much of a stretch. Tailfin’s take on the tried and true TPU strap aims to make a few adjustments that make them even more bike-friendly.
One tweak on the traditional design that I liked is the angled latch interface that creates a system where only the strap is touching the gear instead of the buckle itself, which can rub against bags and bottles as contents shift and create problems in the long run. It’s a subtle tweak but a noticeable one.
Left: Tailfin, Right: Voile
The integrated TPU strap guide is another small but nice touch as it leaves out the hard plastic bits that tend to rub against bags or bottles. My pre-production strap guide was a bit tight to thread the strap through but I’m told that this has been improved on the production versions.
If you are looking for a bag that will be waterproof and versatile across a range of mounting options and cages, the Tailfin bags and straps are a very nice option. The mounting system is a bit less fiddly than some other choices out there and the variety of sizes gives you many possibilities. However, if you’ve already got a Tailfin rack or AeroPack with pannier mounts, I would lean toward choosing their mini panniers in either the 5L or 10L size. There isn’t much of a weight penalty and the bags are even faster to take on and off the bike. Not to mention it’s a bit easier to access the contents without removing the bags. Still, the versatility of a cage system cannot be denied, which makes these a very worthy entry into the space.
Volume: 1.7L (115g), 3L (154g), 5L (183g)
Material: Hypalon and Ripstop Nylon
Price (without straps): 1.7L £30 €40 $40 — 3L £35 €45 $45 — 5L £45 €60 $60
Price (with pair of straps): 1.7L £40 €50 $50 — 3L £45 €55 $55 — 5L £55 €70 $70
TPU Cargo Strap
Lengths: 40, 50, 65cm
Price (per strap): 40cm £7.50 — 50cm £8.00 — 65cm £8.50
Price (when bought with Cage Pack): £10 per pair
For more info, head over to Tailfin.cc