Review: Two Tours with the Tailfin V-Mount Packs


Review: Two Tours with the Tailfin V-Mount Packs

The folks over at Tailfin have been steadily adding to the array of options in their collection of waterproof cycle-touring bags over the last couple of years. Another addition to their growing list of offerings comes in the form of the newly announced V-Mount packs. With 1.7L and 3L options, these bags are designed to mount to virtually any bike, even if you have no dedicated mounting points, thanks to their remarkably simple v-mount system.

For the last 9 months, I’ve had a chance to thoroughly put them through the rigors of touring in the South American Andes and offer up a few thoughts on who they might work for and who might want to look elsewhere, just in time for their launch.

Materials and Design

Like all of Tailfin’s products, the V-Mount packs are made from very durable and waterproof Hypalon and ripstop nylon materials, with a burly 420D fabric in all of the high wear zones, and welded construction. In 9 months of combing down rutted roads and scraping the bike up against walls or on its side, I have not had any notable wear spots developing and feel confident they will last for years to come.  

The real magic of the V-Mount packs comes with the simplicity of the mount itself. It uses tried-and-true TPU straps in combination with a V-shaped piece of aluminum that has a rubbery cover that slides overtop of it to create a super durable, grippy, and secure contact point with the bike. These mounting points can also be moved up and down on the pack just in case you have to maneuver the straps around other objects on your frame while an internal aluminum frame on the mounting side helps to further increase stability.

The V-shaped design of the mount does a really nice job of keeping everything stable, as long as you don’t go crazy with the weight (Tailfin recommends about 3kg max load), while the soft, rubbery surfaces grip the frame well, minimizing your risks of scratches and wear marks if that’s something you’re worried about. Just make sure you don’t misplace the rubbery mount covers while removing the bag!

When I mounted the 3L version on the fork of my Surly Bridge Club, I was very impressed by how well it stayed in place over any terrain I threw at it, despite this being one of the trickier mounting locations for bags like these. I only had a tiny bit of clearance between the tire and the bag, and even after bumping it into rocks or against the wall outside of a local shop, the thing stayed put remarkably well. I used the positioning of my Widefoot Liter cage next to it to further stabilize the bag, which made it virtually budge-proof even while aggressively digging through the bag with it mounted on the bike.  

It is important to note that mounting bags like these to your fork (especially without adjacent cages to act as an additional stabilizer) comes with inherent risk as there is no fixed hardware preventing the bag from going into the wheel, and in fact Tailfin recommends against using these bags on forks entirely.  If you’re taking the risk of mounting any type of bag like this to a fork, I would stay well below the 3kg load limit and check the security by hand regularly to avoid any mishaps. It only takes one mistake to do some serious damage to your wheel and/or yourself.  The intended use for these bags is along the down tube or inside the frame where there is no side-to-side risk involved. On the fork is just how I sometimes decided to use mine. Your mileage may vary.

It can take some fiddling to get the bag mounted up securely due to the positioning of the straps, especially if you have other things mounted on the same tube of the bike as I tend to. For example, when mounting to the underside of the down tube, a large frame bag is inevitably going to get in the way of where you’re trying to wrap the TPU straps around. For me, this required undoing one of the velcro straps of my frame bag to give myself a bit of extra room to work with when mounting it up.

In situations like this, where mounting space is tight, I opted to use the 3L bag to store items that were easy to pack with the bag mounted to the bike. For me, this included my full tool kit, spare Tubolitos, sealant, replacement parts, and a first-aid kit. It helped to pack those items into small bags that could be organized outside of the V-mount bag and then slid in and out with ease. This way, I never had to worry about removing the bag from the frame.

While the rear straps can make it tricky to mount on cluttered frames, one huge benefit of this style of mount as compared to traditional cargo cage bags is that your items aren’t being squeezed tight by the straps, which makes it much easier to add and remove items with the bag mounted to the bike. Say you throw a puffy jacket in there and you want to pull it out for a frigid descent, you don’t have to worry about re-tightening straps around a half-empty bag in the meantime, which makes it much more practical for items that you want to access mid-ride.  

On the other hand, you won’t want smaller/heavier items bouncing around inside the bag freely, so the lack of straps keeping the bag compressed means you’ll need to be more aware of how those types of items are packed.

Who are they for?

The V-Mount packs provide an easy and secure option for adding accessible storage to just about any bike that exists, regardless of what kind of mounts are present on the frame. You’ve got a Full-Sus carbon rocket ship with no mounting options on the down tube? Need a few extra liters of overflow space on your touring rig and you’re all out of cages? No problem. For day rides, it’s a nice alternative (or addition) to a saddle-pack or handlebar bag, and the lack of hardware needed on the bike means it’s relatively easy to switch back and forth between rigs depending on the day.  

The 1.7L option will be nice for a small toolkit, particularly on road or gravel frames where the Q-factor can be quite narrow (if you’re mounting in the frame or on the down tube). Keep in mind that due to these Q-factor considerations, the opening of this 1.7L version is quite long and narrow, so fishing things out can get tricky while mounted to the bike if you put small items near the bottom.

The 3L gives a bit more room to breathe — and dig your arm into. It’s ideal for storing bulkier layers or gloves on any type of ride, or an expansive kit of spare parts and tools while on tour. It also fits a Nalgene bottle (with room to spare) if you need some extra H2O, though I definitely wouldn’t recommend this kind of weight on the fork. Keep in mind that the width on this one could cause some rubbing issues on road/gravel frames, depending on where you mount it. 

If you need a bag that comes on-and-off the bike more rapidly, particularly for items you’ll mostly be pulling out at a campsite at the end of the day, something like Tailfin’s Cargo Cage Packs or one of the countless other cargo cage options on the market will probably work better. Then again, you’ll need some sort of mounting solution for cargo cages if you go that route.  

The Specs

The 1.7L version weighs in at 210g and costs $75 (or £60 / €75) including the TPU straps.
The 3L version weighs in at 277g and costs $85 (or £70 / €85) including the TPU straps. 

What I like

  • Super stable and simple mounting system
  • Very durable materials
  • 100% waterproof design
  • Multiple sizes for different Q-factors and storage needs

What I didn’t like

  • Can be fiddly to mount on a cluttered bike frame
  • The 1.7L version can be tricky to get items out of while mounted
  • The rubbery mount cover could get misplaced.

Final Thoughts

Tailfin’s V-Mount bags nicely fill a gap in their lineup for folks that are lacking dedicated mounting points. I found the system to be remarkably stable and well thought out, with materials built to last years on the road. There are some other options like the lighter and Made-in-USA Revelate Joey bag (the Tailfin is made in China), though that bag doesn’t quite compete with the side-to-side stability of the V-Mount, and the sewn construction means it doesn’t have the fully-waterproof design that Tailfin is known for.  The bag is a little bit pricy, though the competition is in the same ball-park, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend taking a look at the Tailfin if you’re in the market for this type of bag.

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