Content and photos by Cameron Millard Several years ago I began planning a bikepacking trip on the Colorado Trail. At the time, only a few options seemed to exist for bike packs. Unexpectedly, I heard that someone from my hometown of Leadville, Colorado was starting to produce bags. It turned out to be Lane Condell and Monty Wilson, a couple whose talents combined to create a highly functional and refined gear for bikepacking. Monty is a skilled home builder and all-around crafty guy. Lane, his partner, is an experienced seamstress who honed her skills at the famous Melanzana clothing company in Leadville. After a successful try at the complicated and finicky craft of bike pack construction, Monty and Lane formed Oveja Negra Threadworks and have been in non-stop production for over two years. I used all five of their production bags for my successful Colorado Trail Race finish last year and couldn’t have been happier.
A new year has found me with a new mountain bike and some more ambitious bikepacking goals in mind. The new whip, a Rocky Mountain Element, doesn’t fit a production framebag. At first I wasn’t sure if a custom frame bag was worth it – after all it would probably outlast my carbon fiber bike frame. After some reflection, I came to the conclusion that packing weight into the center of the frame is key to balancing the bike and getting weight off the back. Upon further inspection, my frame actually has a lot of room for a framebag. I caught Monty as he was preparing to move to a new location in Salida, but after discussing materials and taking a template of the bike (with FS frames it is ideal to design the bag with the frame present but this isn’t absolutely necessary), Monty delivered the new frame bag a month later. He can usually turn around custom projects faster but I told him not to rush.
The new frame bag fits perfectly. It completely fills all available space without being obtrusive. It cleverly incorporates the shock itself as a connection point but doesn’t impede movement of the suspension. The material is constructed of light but tough Dyneema X-Pac Dx40. As I mentioned, this pack will likely outlive the frame it was made for. Additional features include a zipper to a smaller pocket as well as a main compartment zipper, and a port for a hydration hose. This last piece is important to me because I like to use the framebag for carrying a water bladder. It gets the weight low and centered, and allows for hands-free hydration without a backpack. The framebag fits a 3 liter Platypus bladder with some room to spare. As with all their materials and construction choices, the zippers are top-notch. The bag holds it’s shape well and is very securely attached to the bike.
This framebag is a key piece of gear for my upcoming bid on the Colorado Trail this year. I’m also thinking of using it for longer rides like the Vapor Trail instead of carrying a backpack. So far the framebag fits and works perfectly. I have installed packing tape to avoid rub marks on my frame, something unavoidable with framebags. I will also use an Oveja Negra seatpack, top tube packs, and their harness system to carry a Sea-to-Summit Drybag.
Oveja Negra Threadworks recently moved production to Salida. Monty is in the process of renovating an old building in Downtown Salida for a production facility and storefront. They continue to produce a number of stock items and can completely customize any piece of bikepacking gear you can dream up. Expect a custom framebag to run $140-$180 depending on what you want.