Bikepacking. It’s not a new thing, but it certainly is growing at a rapid rate in the UK. No longer the preserve of leather skinned, bearded men with panniers, long distance cycling and bikepacking has become an activity enjoyed by all.
Increasingly, we see more and more bikes released to allow the rider to commute monday to friday, and then travel off the beaten track at the weekend, think PlanetX London, or Specialized Gravel to name but two of the more mainstream options. But what else do you need? Well, whatever you like really but essentially just a light sleeping bag, a bivi, and a few cold ones for once you’ve got comfy for the night.
Obviously your jersey pockets won’t get you far so you’ll need some frame bags too to carry your kit. There are numerous companies out there, with the likes of Apidura considered the leaders in this area. Whilst the quality is very good, the price is certainly high for someone new to the scene and wanting to get started. Fear not, Altura have entered the fray with the set of Vortex bags. And not just tentatively, they stepped in with a full range of well designed options, made to last and offering performance to match the fantastic pricing.
Various options are available from compact to regular seat packs to frame packs and bar bags. Made from 190D Nylon with TPU waterproof coating material and waterproof zips your kit should remain dry in even the heaviest of downpours. Each bag has several locating loops for the velcro straps to secure to, meaning you can use it to bikepack on your mountain bike or pop it onto your gravel bike to carry bits when riding casually.
I rode the Altura range and compared it to some of the Apidura range which at twice the price should have offered all the bells and whistles the Altura stuff was missing, but it didn’t. In a blind test I would be hard pressed to ascertain which was the ‘premium’ brand and actually preferred the sturdier feel of the fabric on the Altura bags. It should be noted that not all the bags fitted my cross bikes frame well, with the smaller frame bag feeling a bit lost and being better suited to an mtb bike with smaller triangle but the numerous strap position options meant I could still fit it securely and have no problems during some spirited off road riding.
To be honest though, I’m just searching for a negative so I don’t sound too gushing about what is essentially a really rather good range of kit in a growing market. Sure, there are those who will want a wider range with some larger bag options, and they may come in the future, for now though, most people will be more than happy with the current offerings and at less than half the price of some competitors, I don’t think you’d find a better option anyway.
Available from Wiggle and Evans, priced from 29.99 to 59.99 the Altura Vortex range is available now.