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Keeping Your Gear Dry While Beach Riding on Your Fat-bike

Fat-bike riding on the beach is one of my favorite things to do. Carrying gear while beach riding presents a few issues that are not as big a deal in more traditional bike packing. The main issue, of course, is water. Not only is it wet but suspends particles like sand really well and that stuff can find its way into the smallest chinks in your gear’s armor.

I tried frame and seat bags for a long time and suffered with wet gear as a result. Unfortunately, all the frame bags I’ve used are not waterproof. They are decently water-resistant and that serves well in most situations but the constant spray of water on the beach is simply too much for the bags. If the material is waterproof, the seams aren’t. Yes, I could use waterproof bags inside the water-resistant bag but that is inconvenient and, in the end, there is still water inside the main bag that I don’t want there.

After my last trip to Michigan, the extended beach riding there, and a frame bag full of wet stuff I decided to try a different approach. Namely a rack and waterproof panniers.

Frankly, I really like a bikepacking setup like a frame bag, large seat pack and associated ditty bags for trail and most other trail uses. The feeling of the bike and the narrow width of the bags inspires confidence while riding and there is ample storage capacity but on the beach dry gear trumps great bike handling a bit. Plus, while there are exceptions, the vast majority of beach rides we do are not as technical as a trail ride where the rack/pannier might be a disadvantage.

Here are a few details about my current setup on my offset Northpaw that has been working well.

Planet Bike Versarack Disc

  • Works well with offset or symmetrical fat-bike frame designs
  • Oversized 10mm, 6061 tubular aluminum rod
  • Length of the top of rack is 15.5 inches, width is 5.5 inches
  • Spacing between lower attachments is 8″
  • The Versarack weighs 675 grams
  • 30lb capacity
  • Retail $36.99

Get it here from one of our sponsors – Bikeman

SKS Grand M.O.M.

This clip on rear fender works well on its own and also mounts nicely under the Versarack. I used a small nut and bolt at the back of the rack to secure the rear of the fender to the rack. Works well!

Get it here from one of our sponsors – Bikeman

Seattle Sports Rain Rider Waterproof Pannier

OK, I’ll admit it, at first I was drawn to this bag because of the orange color that compliments the New Tucker Orange of my Northpaw but upon further examination the Rain Rider is a well thought out bag. A large main compartment, zippered exterior dry pocket and radio frequency-welded construction combine to make this pannier bag a usable size and waterproof to boot. The Rain Rider’s symmetric design allows it to be used on either side of the rack. The PVC-Free, urethane-coated nylon offers excellent protection, while side and top compression straps keep your load snug.

One of the first waterproof tests I gave the bag was a load of beer cans and an 8-pound bag of ice inside the pannier. It passed with flying colors, keeping the beer cold and the water contained. In fact, even overnight, I had no leaking from the bag. If it can keep water in, it can keep water out!

Further testing on the beach with a more typical load also confirm that these bags keep your gear dry.

  • Specifications
  • Height14 inches
  • Width 12 inches
  • Depth 7 inches
  • Volume 1100 cubic inches
  • Weight 1 lb. 5 oz.
  • Retail $79.95 Each

Get it here – Seattle Sports Rain Rider

I’ll give you a further report a few months down the road! See you then.

I bought all this gear with my own money and was not coerced into giving anything but my honest opinion of the gear tested.

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5 Responses to Keeping Your Gear Dry While Beach Riding on Your Fat-bike

  1. Ted July 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    I am leaving for my sand ride this Sunday. Riding from sleeping bear to saugatuck with fat bikes and using alpacka rafts to get around the water crossings. Any advice other than waterproof bags?

    • Gomez July 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      There’s a Federal Wilderness Area called Nordhouse Dunes just North of Ludington State Park that doesn’t allow bikes, but your packraft could be a really creative solution for that. Try to schedule your passage through busy public beaches to non-prime times or walk your bike through the most congested pockets. The busy beach areas are generally pretty short. Beach-volken are just not expecting to see bikes…..little kids are especially distracted and unpredictable as they dart back and forth from the water to the sand. All it takes is for one yougster to get injured and we’ll be banned from riding the beach for the next 20 years….basically just use common sense…..like don’t get sand in your chamois cream. Have a great time and take lots of pictures!

  2. J2Hizzly July 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Super secret trick to waterproofing your ‘water resistant’ bags to be revealed soon. Stay tuned.

  3. J2Hizzly July 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    p.s. That belt drive is Sawheet!

  4. central district cyclery July 15, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    I’ve been using dry bags strapped to the handlebar with a Mercy Leatherwork sling system and a small drybag in a salsa growler mount. Works well for weekend beach jaunts.

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