It didn’t shred when I shredded. I review products I like, I prefer products that are built to last forever, and I like buying from the USA. A lot of the product reviews on my site are positive because I’d rather write about something that gets me excited, as opposed to a whiny passive-aggressive rant aimed at an invisible corporate enemy. Inside Line Equipment’s Default Backpack has been on my back every day for years, so when Eric sent me out his new Seat Bag for testing, I was happy to oblige. Eric doesn’t pay me to write anything, but he did send me this for free (just in case you’re on shill-watch).
I used the seat bag for about six months. My fender kept it dry-ish when I rode in bad weather, so it still looks good, even though light-colored fabrics tend to pick up the most grunge. The color matches my jersey and bar tape (the jersey was a happy accident, the handlebar tape was narcissism). It’s got a certain utilitarian aesthetic that I like. There are no zippers to wear out, no extra stabilizing straps, no plastic reinforcement, no sewn-in padding, no piping on the borders. It’s just a cordura pocket with a huge swath of velcro and a buckle. Nothing extra, nothing wasted. It seems to suit the trend of high-end boutique bicycles and custom jobs that I’ve been seeing under local riders. The master frame builders in the United States sweat and labor over tiny details around joints and head tubes until each bike is a work of art. Strapping a cheap Lezyne bag under your saddle seems sacrilegious.
I really like the buckle on this thing. It’s a self-locking buckle, so there’s a tiny spring-loaded “latch” that bites into the strap when you release it. I tighten the strap down (like any other strap) and then release the little latch, and the bag stays PUT. Zero adjustment after thousands of miles, and frequent clips/unclips whenever I leave my bike locked up. When I get back to the bike, I strap it in and go. The minimalist aspect means the pack doesn’t stay put as well when it’s empty. You’ll have to put your punctured tube in if you want to keep it from flopping around under you. That’s not the end of the world. There’s no organization. You can, however, order an XPac version of the seat bag with a secret zipper pocket for a spare $20.
There’s not a lot to say here. Absolutely no fraying, damage, etc, but why would it? It’s underneath my seat. Still, I’ve seen some punished seat bags so the durability is definitely not something to ignore. Repeated exposure to salt and UV definitely wears out fabric over time. If it helps, I’ve had the ILE default bag since May 2013 and I haven’t even begun wearing through it. Two winters of constant commuting, six days a week. This seat bag is sewn from the same fabric, so at this rate, my hipster children will be using it to look cool on their hover-bikes someday.
Here’s the rub. A $35 seat bag is a hard pill to swallow, especially if your diet consists of mass-manufactured Nashbar specials. I attribute the increase in price to the following qualities, which resonate with some people (but not all):
- You get something handmade, carefully, which creates a certain level of quality assuredness.
- You get something produced in the USA, by an American. You’re someone’s livelihood.
- You get something unique and special, built to last a lifetime.
I care a lot about these things. I’d gladly pay $35 for what would cost $20 if it were mass-produced on an assembly line in Malaysia. I tell myself that I’m buying Eric a six-pack for making something so great with his own two hands. Something I can pass down to my kids so they can act like hipsters with retro-gear on their hoverbikes.
But mostly, I do it because I care about what values my dollar votes for.