A DIY Longflap Saddlebag for Minimalist Bike Touring
Created with classic styling, this longflap saddlebag is like a Frankensatchel, timeless waxed canvas cobbled with modern materials and a few extra useful features.
A while back I ran across photos of Nick’s setup and was inspired to abandon panniers and try this minimal style of packing for our next bike tour. I generally find that a slimmer bikepacking setup makes for a more pleasurable ride than the wide payload of panniers, especially on single track and dirt, which is where my heart lies. On our last tour I simply carried too much stuff. I also had too much space, which naturally gets filled if available. So I decided to give the saddlebag method a try and make it the heart of my luggage setup.
It’s astonishing how much can fit in a saddlebag of this size. The Carradice Camper claims a generous 24 liters and this bag has about 23. Within its cavernous recesses I can basically fit all of my clothes, a Macbook Air, a toolkit (tubes, tools and spare parts), a pair of binoculars, toiletries, and an assortment of cords for electronics. The ‘longflap’ can also be employed to cinch down additional items, usually tube-shaped, such as tent poles, a rolled jacket or compressible pack.
I thought about simply using the Carradice Camper longflap, but I wanted to create something of my own, with a couple more features and slightly different specs. Similar in size to the Camper, but with a few extra bells and whistles, this longflap saddlebag was built to take a beating. The planning and construction process took a while, longer than I’d care to admit, but was a learning experience, and I am pretty good at the helm of a Singer as a result.
- 22.5” wide X 8.5” long X 10” deep
- About 23 liters capacity
The saddlebag is made from #8 cotton duck, hand waxed with Otter Wax. Here is the material list. Note: I estimated most of the measurements, after the fact, so if you are interested in making a similar bag, order a little extra… or feel free to ask for more details. Most of the materials were purchased from RockyWoods.com and links are below.
- #8 Cotton Duck (from http://www.bigduckcanvas.com)
- about 2’ square of 500 denier coated CORDURA® Nylon Fabric (as a reinforcement layer on the ‘longflap’)
- About 1 x 3’ of 200 denier coated Oxford Nylon Fabric (for the cinch cloth).
- 3-4 spools of Dual Duty thread (craft and button, which is the thickest I could find)
- 8-10 feet of 1” nylon webbing (purchased from Rocky Woods)
- Approximately 20 feet grosgrain or bias tape
- 16 x 1.5” leather, or tough pleather strap. I used an old belt.
- 11 D-rings
- 4 – 1″ Side Release Buckles
- 1 – Ellipse Cordlocks
- About 60” 1/8″ Black Nylon Round Cord
- One can of Otter Wax Heat Activated Fabric Dressing
Here are some detail shots. Pay no attention to the stitches, I’m slowly getting better.
How to Make a Long Flap Saddlebag (in pictures)
Actually, this isn’t a how-to at all, just a few snaps of the process and measurements of the various panels. If you would like to attempt to make one of these, give me a shout on FaceBook and I’ll be glad to help with any details.