Tailfin's AeroPack S is one of the best rear luggage options for serious bikepacking (and commuting) ever tested. It is expensive but its simplicity, ease of use and pleasing design make you forget the price within the first ride.
Rock solid with no impact on riding
Ease of use/practicality
Compression straps can slip when really wet
By James Bracey
Tailfin's AeroPack S provides a neat solution to luggage storage without reverting to bulky panniers or unstable seatpacks and offers compatibility with even lightweight carbon road frames without traditional frame fixings.
Sometimes a brand comes along that thinks a little outside the box and represents a genuine alternative to the status quo. Tailfin is one such brand and the AeroPack S is one of its products that is helping it to garner a solid reputation for innovative thinking.
In its simplest form the AeroPack S is a luggage carrying alternative to a pannier/rack bag or the more fashionable large capacity bikepacking seatpack. It consists of an internally framed roll-top bag and an articulated dual legged support attached together to form a single unit.
Tailfin produce two AeroPack S versions with the only difference being the material the support rack is made from; either a cheaper but heavier aluminium version or the lighter carbon version I have on test. The AeroPack S is the lightest system Tailfin produce with a one piece design, it also produces the X variation which has extra supports for the fitment of additional panniers.
The complete guide to bikepacking bags and accessories
The genius of the AeroPack S is in its simplicity and ease of use when it comes to fitting, loading and riding. It's important to follow the installation instructions carefully when first putting it together (Tailfin produce a really comprehensive video that will help) but once it's all set it's without doubt the quickest luggage system to fit and remove.
Key to this are the effective quick release mechanisms that hold the rack and bag in place. You can opt for a replacement quick release, thru-axle or Fast Release frame as mounting options - all have additional spurs that act as the mounting point for the rack and are unobtrusive to the point that they can remain on your bike permanently. These are then compatible with the unique wraparound Fast Release drop out, which attaches to the rack: simply release the mechanism by pulling the pin, close the dropout around the mounting pin and push together until it clicks - rapid, secure and pretty fool proof.
Of course if you want to mount the AeroPack in a more permanent way, to prevent theft, then Tailfin has an option to bolt the rack to your bike in the same way a 'normal' rack can be fixed.
Taking care of securing the rack and bag at the front is a cam-lock strap designed to wrap around the seatpost or seattube of your bike. This is simple to adjust for differing diameter tubes and has a security catch to give an extra level of reassurance against accidental release.
The bag itself is made of fully waterproof material and I can confirm that it is good enough that I have never had an issue with water ingress - I normally err on the side of caution and use dry bags inside all packs but I haven't needed to with this. Even when loaded with everything I need for a multi-day trip there is enough roll-over material to provide sufficient sealing against even heavy rain. Two waterproof zips run along each side of the bag, one gives access to a small side pocket suitable for a pump and a few smaller items whilst the other opens into the main compartment allowing you to gain access to essential items without needing to undo the whole bag and expose the contents to the elements. This is really neat and certainly helps - as long as you pack the bag accordingly.
Tailfin list the bag as having a 20 litre capacity and the whole system is rated to carry up to 9kg. The dimensions are capacious enough to swallow larger, bulkier items such as cooking pots and even up to a 13" laptop. The top loading nature enables you to pack in an intelligent and efficient manner but it's always good to pack things tightly as harder objects can rattle against the frame, even with the rubber covering fitted. I normally reserved the pack for carrying cooking kit, food and spare clothing when on trips and it would be more than capable of storing enough for a good few days away from civilisation.
My only gripe with the system came when using it on a particularly wet trip. Over rougher trails the two compression straps would inevitably slide off the top of the pack and end up dangling down around the rear wheel. This continued to occur no matter how hard I tightened them, on one occasion the strap was pulled into the rear wheel and ended up ripping the guide sleeve on the underside of the pack. Ideally the strap needs a locking mechanism for the buckle to stop it working loose and a grippy rubberised bottom to help keep it in place. EDIT - After conversations with Tailfin itis recommending that the straps are crossed over the top to hold everything in place.
Other than the issue with the compression straps the AeroPack S performed flawlessly and the rapid pack and fit it allows has made it the most admired piece of luggage I have ever used. Personally I would opt for the more economical aluminium frame version as it offers more mounting points for a small weight penalty but if fast and light is your thing then the carbon one would be perfect. It is expensive but if you priced up a decent rear rack (something like a Tubus) and top quality rack pack it actually isn't too far off the price and with far more versatility.
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