When I got my Quiring Triple B bike this fall one of the first things I thought about was getting a frame bag. I love having a frame bag to stash gear in during any season but especially during the winter where having some extra warm gear can be a life saver. The problem was that I knew a stock bag wouldn’t fit and it takes a while to get a custom bag made. That started my quest to find a bag maker that could sew up a high quality custom bag in short order.
After reading forums, looking at a ton of websites and sending emails with questions to different bag makers I settled on Rogue Panda Designs which is based in Flagstaff Arizona. In no particular order, the reasons for this were:
- Great price ($120 for the dual compartment custom bag and $130 if there is an additional non-drive side pocket added)
- Quick response from Nick the owner of Rogue Panda Designs
- Super quick turn around time (ended up being about 2 weeks)
- Interesting measurement technique for fitting the bag (more on that in a bit)
- Lots of good comments from a variety of sources about the quality of his bags
Because I knew the bag would be a bit smaller than the Barking Bear Bag I have been using on my other fat bike, I also decided to get an Alamo top tube bag from Rogue Panda.
For those unfamiliar with how you generally get a custom frame bag made, There are 4 things you need:
- At least a 6-pack of beer (hydrate or die!)
- At least one take out or delivery pizza in a cardboard box
- A marker
- Some scissors or other cutting instrument
After drinking several beers and eating all the pizza you re-purpose the cardboard box from the pizza to do a “frame tracing.” Basically you cut out the cardboard so that it fits perfectly within the main triangle of the frame and note the location of any bosses and cable stops along with the tubing diameters. This isn’t that hard to do but does take some time, can be of variable accuracy depending on how careful the person is doing the frame tracing and adds time to the process because you need to send that chunk of cardboard to the bag maker before they can start making your bag.
When working with Nick, the custom bag process is very different from any other custom bag maker I know of and (unfortunately) doesn’t necessitate any beer or pizza. All you need to do is to take a picture of your bike with a ruler in the picture and then email that to Nick. He has provided very clear directions on his site for how to do this properly and it is something that can be done by just about anyone in a matter of minutes. You can add beer to the process if so desired.
The resulting product is a bag that fits as well as any custom bag I have seen. It fits perfectly within the main triangle and nothing interferes with anything on my frame. Build quality is excellent and Nick uses top quality materials throughout such as waterproof zippers and Dimension-Polyant Xpac fabric. A feature that I especially like is that he uses foam padding and ballistic nylon on frame contact points. For me this translates into a quieter bike because my tools, pump… basicly any hard object in my pack has foam between it and the frame tubes so there is less rattling and clunking over bumps. Straps are located in the perfect places so that you can open and close zippers with a single hand while riding.
The interior surfaces are light in color making it easier to find stuff in the bag. My bag had an upper and lower compartment which were separated by divider. The divider can be folded back (with velcro to keep it out of the way!) giving you a lot more flexibility fitting large object into the bag.
Another feature that I really like is the hydration port on the front of the bag. This allows you to stash a hydration bladder in your frame bag which is a great way to carry fluids on a bike. It keeps the weight low on the bike and off your back which can be really nice in hot conditions. There is a velcro flap that can close over the port to keep the bag sealed up when not using it.
The Rogue Panda Designs Alamo top tube bag was similarly impressive in build quality and materials. The interior is light colored, a waterproof zipper is used and there are stiffening panels on the sides to give the bag some structure/stability. Like the frame bag, padding is used on all contact points to keep things quiet. The bag easily opens and closes with one hand and is super stable on the trail.
On the bottom of the bag there is a daisy chain along the bottom giving you a lot of flexibility in where you place the top tube strap. The strap has a rubberized no-slip material on it to aide stability.
The front strap is sewn to the bag and more of the non-slip strap material is used to maximize stability. I have been really pleased with every aspect of this little bag and can’t think of a single thing I would want changed.
I have been using these bags for about a month now and am very impressed with their design and construction. Time will tell how everything holds up after a lot more use but there are no indications that I will run into any issues.
If you are looking for bags for any of your bikes I would heartily recommend checking out Rogue Panda Designs. Their website and ordering process is very straightforward. Nick was very helpful and prompt in answering any questions I had. The time it took to get my bag was far, far better than I ever imagined for a custom frame bag. The end product matches the quality of any other top end bag company that I have seen and there are lots of great features built into the bags. Lastly, the prices are very good so what is there not to love about a Rogue Panda?