This is the first in a series of articles from our Alps editor, Scott (give him a follow on Instagram: physiobikefit) about gear and bikes for bikepacking
Bikepacking is the ideal way to explore by bike, whether by road or trail. The bags are attached to the bike in such a way as to keep the weight centred maintaining the integrity of the bike’s handling and ability to ride the toughest of tracks. Scott will be talking bags and gear over this series of articles, starting with these cockpit bags from Revelate Designs.
A company whose DNA is in adventure and bikepacking, Revelate Designs have been at the forefront of bag design and manufacture for the past 10 years. Originally manufactured from their base in Anchorage, Alaska, founder Eric Parsons has years of bike touring experience behind him across tough, high mountain ranges with cumbersome touring gear which led him to design a lighter and more versatile bag system. His constant thoughts and ideas and athlete feedback constantly feed into new designs and the current range offers bags from the durable, to the super light weight to speedier access. Their standard Feedbags and Gastank have adorned the front of my bikes for bikepacking and mtb stage racing for the past few months.
The Feedbags are an unobtrusive and ideal way to carry food for lengthy days out in the saddle. Indeed, a great reminder to eat regularly too as the food is right there in front of you! Something I often omit to do, but these bags make grazing more accessible. Sitting in the redundant space between handlebar and stem, they have the capacity to be filled with all sorts of your favourite munchies for out on the road/trail. An easily accessible and functional drawcord (even with thick gloves) keeps your goodies from bouncing out. Even though the material is water resistant Feedbags aren’t waterproof of course, the top being open, so it is best to put your favourite MnMs or dried fruit in a plastic bag to stop them from becoming a sticky mess when it rains.
As well as food, the bags are also just the right size for water bottles, ideal for upping water carrying capacity. Both 750 and 500ml work well, although for offroad riding cinch the cord closed a little to avoid losing bottles on rougher descents. An Alpkit Ti 400 mug will slot in snuggly too if out on multi day adventures.
The bags aren’t just a simple deep pocket, 2 mesh pockets on opposing sides are a simple yet effective additional feature for stashing small bites, such as gels or ‘fun size’ snack bars. Quicker to reach than delving into the depths of the bag when foods are smaller. Or ideal for stowing wrappers until you find an appropriate bin.
Attaching the Feedbags is straightforward. With 3 attachments points, the bags fit with solid accord to the bike. With the thick strap around the handlebars, a strap around the stem and a 3rd strapped around the fork crown, these bags don’t budge. If using 2 bags, use one of the supplied velcro straps to bind both around the stem, neater and less strap clutter. I would highly recommend taping around the fork crown to protect the paint and material surface. Duct tape or a few rounds of insulation tape will suffice, but check occasionally that the tape hasn’t been worn through.
Their top tube bag, the Gastank, is an original design, but no less functional or reliable and remains the mainstay amongst a few design options. It compliments the Feedbags with versatility to carry items beyond food. Attached via 2 straps, a thicker one going around the top tube and an adjustable height strap around the steerer. A soft ‘bumper’ is supplied so that the bag doesn’t sit hard against the stem bolts, a simple, yet neat little feature. The height of this strap can also be adjusted via the sewn on daisy chain, depending on the location of stem spacers. The stitched-in main strap avoids sideways shifting of the bag when fully loaded as does the stiffer structure. Not as light as some softer bags, but there is no bulging when stuffed full. A further, useful small feature is the internal velcro strap. Close it to have 2 separate compartments, ideal to stop items moving around or fill one with goodies, the other with mini tools. Or keep open for larger gear such as battery packs.
2 water resistant zips allow full or partial opening, a neat feature especially if it is raining. Opening and closure is easy one handed. Although not made to be fully waterproof due to being stitched, no need to panic when the heavens open though as it does a superior job of keeping items dry for a good few hours, even under heavy rain. I had my phone in there during a heavy storm at Ironbike during a long, demanding descent so didn’t want to stop until the stage finish. The phone was dry!
Revelate offer neat and well thought out bag designs and these are no exceptions. They balance lightweight and durability, using materials which will take years of use and abuse, or go super lightweight with new bags manufactured out of Dyneema materials. It isn’t just there overall designs which make Revelate Designs’ gear stand out, but also small, yet highly functional features on all of their bags. The Feedbag and Gastank are a super practical option for food and anything you may want to carry on longer rides and multi day adventures.