Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: Rivendell Sackville Bags Part 2!

It's time for Part 2 of the Rivendell Sackville Bags Review! WooHoo! In Part 1, I showed you the bags I'm using most often, the Medium SaddleSack and the SlickerSack/Platrack combo. In this second installment, I'd like to cover some of the other incredibly useful products from this great line. These are the ones I use slightly less often, which means not EVERY day, but frequently enough that I consider them to be invaluable tools.

Here's my disclaimer:  None of the products reviewed here were provided to me by the manufacturer or any retailer for evaluation. Nope. I'm not one of those famous bloggers who gets stuff for free. I purchased everything with my own money, and without any sort of special interweb journalist discount, so you can rest assured that the opinions expressed here are unbiased and come purely through my own experience ... good, bad, or otherwise. That being said, should any manufacturers out there wish to provide some cool bike-related products for ... ummm ... testing and evaluation ... I would likely be open to offering my honest review.

First, let's take a look at the Sackville ShopSacks. These handy bags are intended (and designed specifically) for use with Wald model 137 and 139 wire baskets. The Medium ShopSack fits the 15" model 137 basket, and the Large ShopSack fits the 18" model 139 basket.

Medium ShopSack & Wald 137 left - Large ShopSack & Wald 139 right
ShopSacks & Wald Baskets ... Brass Snap Hook attachment
The baskets can be purchased through Rivendell, as well as the Soma Fabrications Store (available here in both black and silver), and I'm guessing lots of other places for $20-$23. The ShopSacks will cost a bit more, but are well worth the price, as they are quite versatile both on and off the bike.

Either of the Wald baskets can be mounted to a front or rear rack with simple plastic zip ties, or with any number of creative applications of wire, Velcro straps, etc.  Once mounted to your rack, the appropriately-sized ShopSack just slips in and clips to the basket with two heavy-duty brass snap-hooks to keep it from moving about.

Heavy-Duty Brass Snap Hooks for attachment

Medium ShopSack & 137 Basket on my Surly LHT
This combination of bag and basket lets you carry all kinds of stuff. Although it was designed primarily as a grocery type tote bag, it comes in handy for carrying whatever you need for your daily commute ... clothes, books, lunch, personal items, and so on. It's made from Scottish all-cotton fabric and U.S. made military-spec webbing for the handles (per the Rivendell website). It goes on and off the bike in seconds, and stays put while it's there, keeping the contents secure with a nice strong zipper that has sturdy brass pulls. There's a strip of bright reflective material on one side that will be quite visible in headlights. The handles are sturdy, and long enough for a good grip or even to carry on your shoulder ... or if you prefer, you could attach another strap to the hooks.

Size-wise, the Medium ShopSack is a little bigger than a standard grocery bag, in that it is wider than it is tall, which makes putting stuff in and carrying it easier ... plus you can pack it more with heavier items, having no fear of a "bag failure". In practice, I find that I can usually put almost twice what I'd attempt in a standard grocery bag.

ShopSacks with standard grocery bag for reference ... but they actually hold  much more than it appears!
The Large ShopSack should really be called the "Huge" ShopSack, because that's just what it is. If you fill this bag with canned goods, you might need some help carrying it ... yes, it holds that much. It will hold an entire box of fire logs and a package of toilet paper. I know, I know ... why would I do that? Good question ... but one day I needed fire logs, the box was a great buy, and I had panniers and the huge ShopSack, so I bought them and loaded up with the rest of my groceries in the panniers. It all fit ... but I wouldn't recommend it unless your ride home is a short one.

Simple interior and WIDE opening for easy loading/unloading
While the cost may seem a bit high for what appears to be a basic shopping tote, I can tell you that it is much more than basic, and much more than just a shopping tote. I've been using one of the Medium ShopSacks for almost two years now, and it shows very little signs of wear. The zipper is still smooth and secure, the handles are strong as ever, the brass snap-hooks are still shiny and sturdy, and the fabric has only become softer with a bit of normal wear from scuffs and scrapes during regular use.

Sturdy zipper and heavy-duty brass pulls ... quality materials throughout
I've used this bag for grocery runs, carrying odd items on the bike, carrying miscellaneous audio/video gear to job locations, and as a carry-on bag for airline travel. It has performed so well that it is my "go-to" bag for ... well, for whenever I need a bag! We use one of the Large ShopSacks as a general purpose tool bag ... and beach-stuff bag ... and suitcase substitute. They're incredibly versatile, great-looking, and very durable. They will outlast any other bag of their kind, without doubt. When used for shopping by bike, they make life very easy, as you can take the bag in with you as your reusable grocery bag. No more extra plastic in the landfill, and no more flimsy store-brand reusable bags that break and wear out. Filled with stuff you buy, it then goes back in the basket for the ride home, then right into the house to unload ... and it is then ready for the next task.

Next up is a set of two bags that are possibly the most stylish of the whole line; the TrunkSacks. There are two sizes, Small and Large.

Sackville TrunkSacks: Small (left) and Large (right)

The Small TrunkSack is designed to be carried on a small front rack such as the Nitto Mark's Rack or Mini Front. The Large TrunkSack is designed to be carried on a rear rack, and will work with almost any type ... however, it is most perfectly mounted on a Nitto R-14 Top Rack. Attachment is simple, with a riveted leather panel that slips over the rack loop, and four brass snaps on leather straps that wrap around the rack rails. If your rack doesn't have a loop, don't worry ... the four snap straps are enough to keep it in place.

Riveted leather panel slips over the rack loop

Leather straps wrap around rack rails and attach with heavy brass snaps
The bags are closed with nice zippers and brass pulls, with leather storm flaps running along the sides to help keep water out in the event of rain. Although it's not technically waterproof, the fabric is quite water-repellent, and unless it's raining heavy, the inside should stay pretty dry. Keep in mind that I live in Southern California, though, so my expertise in rain gear might be the equivalent of an Eskimo instructing you on how to select summer beach attire.

There's some nice reflective material running all around the outside of the bag, which is very bright in nighttime conditions, as well as in the sunshine. The Large TrunkSack also has a leather loop for a rear light attachment ... a very nice little feature if you happen to ride after dark.

Leather light loop and reflective material for safety!
On the top of each bag are four brass "D" rings, secured with heavily stitched cotton. These can be helpful if you need a place to secure your jacket when you get too hot, or any other light-ish item that could be strapped on with a bungee cord. I've often clipped a shoulder strap on them as a way to carry the bag, since there's no built-in handle.

Sturdy brass "D" rings for strapping stuff on!
The inside of the TrunkSacks is very simple ... just an open space for whatever you want to put in. This is good, because it's not pre-configured with pockets or dividers that may not fit your particular needs. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that there is no padding to protect anything fragile. If you just drop in your keys and cell phone, they'll be free to roll around, rattle, and scratch each other at will. I have devised a couple of small modifications to help with this, and to make them custom fit for my application.

My small TrunkSack is generally used for any personal items I need for a ride ... phone, keys, wallet, garage door opener, handkerchief, small pad of paper and pen. To keep things from rattling around and give it all a little padding, I cut a piece from a bargain bin yoga mat to perfectly fit the interior space. The dense material adds some structure to maintain the box shape of the bag, and gives some padding for the contents. One yoga mat goes a long way for useful padding in lots of applications!

Small TrunkSack with Bargain Bin Yoga Mat Interior ... simple, effective, and cheap!
My Large TrunkSack was purchased to carry my Nikon DSLR, so it was an absolute necessity to add some protection for the camera. Sure, I could have just put some towels or an old sweatshirt in there, but that just isn't stylish enough ... and putting the camera in another bag inside this bag seemed tedious when I needed quick access. So after doing some measuring ... and experimenting with a few ideas ... going back to the drawing board and doing some research ... I stumbled across something that happens to work amazingly well and seems perfectly designed for this bag. Another bike bag company, Zimbale, makes a product called the Camera Protect Case that is designed for their saddle bag line ... and the 7/11 liter size fits the Large TrunkSack like a glove!

Large TrunkSack with Zimbale 7/11 liter Camera Protect Case insert.

The Zimbale insert nicely holds my Nikon with extra lens and extras.
With the modifications I've made, the TrunkSacks have been quite useful, and they are very stylish on the bike. They have a compact appearance, in spite of their interior capacity, and in my opinion, are the nicest looking rack-top bags available. They are quick to attach and even quicker to remove, and they are easily customized to fit a wide variety of applications.

Small TrunkSack in use!

Large TrunkSack in use!
Small and Large TrunkSacks ... stylish matching luggage for your bike!!

Well ... there you have it ... Rivendell Sackville Bags Part 2! Thanks for reading!!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a nice 'Sackville Baggins' you got there.