Apidura Saddle Bag for Bikepacking

From Bikepacking mag:

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Apidura has turned the heads of many long distance ultra cyclists across the world. A company based out of London, England, the folks behind Apidura have established a brand that strives to create rackless packing systems that will optimize bike handling and weight distribution for your trip – whether it be pavement, gravel, or trail, Apidura has proven to succeed, and has many athletes to back that up.

The company was built on experience. Apidura was born after owner, Tori Fahey, completed the Tour Divide in 2012.  A race like the Tour Divide is never something that is thrown together. It takes months to plan your rig, what you will carry and what bags you will use. No matter how much you train with your set up and dial in the intricacies, you might end up running into issues, or things you wish were different about the gear you chose to bring along. Tori took the 2,700+ miles to reflect on what could be more efficient about her bags, and how they could be designed differently to help with weight distribution, or ease of use. Thus, Apidura came to be.

The company as a whole has a focus on creating bags that are ultralight, durable and functional – but what really strikes me is their mission, which is to promote “unencumbered bicycle touring so that cyclists can spend more time enjoying the ride.” That is really what it is all about, right? We want to feel as close to being on a empty bike as we can while riding on a loaded rig. Not only does it provide the most efficiency, but comfort as well.

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We had the pleasure of testing the Apidura Saddle Pack (regular) on an overnight fat bike excursion to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The pack is designed using a 4-layer laminated xpac fabric for the main body which provides superior waterproofing, and is lightweight and durable. This pack also holds an excellent shape when empty. Apidura uses a hypalon fabric, which is ultra durable in high abrasion and high stress areas, and will help protect against friction or puncture. The straps which connect the bag to the seat post are extremely durable and easy to yank on. They also stay in place very well through rough terrain. It is to be noted that we were testing a sample pack versus the commercial production pack. The difference here was in the buckles – they were different than what you would see on a purchased pack from Apidura. The commercial production packs use Woojin Lion Buckles (below right), which are significantly more durable to tension and strain than the buckles on the pack that we tried (below left).

Wooljin Kross Buckle - less sturdy buckle on pack we tested

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The regular size pack is relatively large. Although the strap systems allow the pack to compress very well,  it is still rather deep.  I was riding on a small frame Surly Pugsly, and was cutting it close with about an inch of clearance.  I did try this pack on a small frame Rocky Mountain Element, and was not able to use it with the rear suspension without rub.

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I was able to fit my entire sleep system in the saddle pack with plenty of room to spare. As we were just going on an overnight and the distance was not too significant, I decided to pack for comfort. In the bag I packed a Grand Trunk Hammock with ropes and carabiners, a Big Agnes 20 degree down sleeping bag, a Marmot Bivy, and finally a Big Agnes Clearview mummy sleeping pad. I was able to fit all of this while still compressing the bag down as far as the straps would take it.  This illustrates how high volume the bag actually is. Again, aside from the minimal clearance while using this pack on a small frame, the bag performed exactly how it should and I did not have any rub on my rigid fat bike. If you are riding on a small frame, I would suggest going for the compact bag option, especially if you have a full suspension bike. This will ensure a good fit with plenty of clearance.

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While we were riding back to the car after our overnight trip, one of the sample pack edition buckles broke from tension. The buckle was connected to the left strap which connects the bag to the seat rails. It was sagging lower than the day before, so we really yanked on it to gain more clearance.  While doing so, the male side of the buckle snapped and was rendered useless. We were able to tape it up and be on our way. Although this is not idea for the long haul, as mentioned above, Apidura had used a less durable buckle on their sample packs, and are using a much stronger buckle for their commercial production bags.

Overall, the Apidura Saddle Pack was extremely well constructed. You can tell there was a lot of thought put behind the construction of the pack.

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