By Stefan Abram
For those who dismissed bikepacking bags as merely a repackaging of the original cycle touring saddle bags from the likes of Carridice, this must be a delightful validation that everything is coming full circle.
But, just as with gravel bikes bearing their similarities to early mountain bikes – now right down to the development of front suspension – there have been some important developments and refinements.
So, let’s take a look at the specs and see what these bags have to offer.
Tailfin 5L and 10L Mini Panniers
One of the standout features of the Mini Panniers is the X Clamp attachment system. A traditional pannier tends to simply ‘hook’ onto the rack rails, which is mostly fine for road riding, but can lead to noisy rattling and increased wear when taken off road.
The X Clamp of Tailfin’s panniers combine a CNC machined body with stainless steel shoulder screw and nylon bushings to create a cam lever operated clamp which locks the bags onto the rails. When the time comes, the bushings are replaceable, with spares available from Tailfin.
The system can be used on any industry standard 8, 10 or 12mm tubes, so you don’t need to purchase one of Tailfin’s own racks – if you already have a rack you’re happy with, but do fancy the idea of a more secure attachment.
Sticking on the theme of eliminating rattling, each Mini Pannier comes with four additional T-Hook compression straps, which can be attached to the side of the packs either vertically or horizontally.
In their vertical orientation, these straps can be used to replace the roll top closure system while also acting as compression straps. In their horizontal orientation they act mainly as compression straps but can also be used to attach additional items to the front of the bags.
As you would hope, the bags are rated as 100% waterproof and with a Hypalon and Ripstop nylon construction, they should be durable too. But should you have any trouble, Tailfin operates a 5-year, no quibble warranty, more details of which can be found here.
The weights of the bags stand at a claimed 310g for the 5L version and 380g for the 10L, which is quite competitive for a pannier. In addition to the off-road functionality, this could make them quite attractive to road faring bikepacking who want to bring a few more luxuries but don’t wish to go full cycle tourist.
The 5L and 10L Mini Panniers are available to be bought individually at Tailfin's website, with the 5L version costing £60/$85/€70 and the 10L one costing £80/$110/€95 – which is quite expensive for a set of panniers.
Addressing the question of value head on, Tailfin says “We believe the value of these packs is well beyond the precision machined components, 100% waterproof packs, outstanding reliability and the simple fact that they just work for bikepacking. The value of our packs also lie in the warranty, ease of repair and our renowned after care service.”
We’ve called a set in for review, so stay tuned for that.
Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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