I’m not certain whether it’s the fact that there are less moving parts, or if it’s the size that I really like – but this bag suites me. Porcelain Rocket markets the Charlene as a good bag for day rides, commuting, or randonneurs. I have found this bag to be the perfect fit for my entire sleep system, thus taking it with me on multi-day adventures. Inside this bag I typically carry a lightweight Big Agnes Clear View pad, a Nemo Equipment sleeping bag, and a lightweight bivvy. With all of this inside, I can only squeeze in two rolls of the closure system prior to buckling and cinching down the straps. With a stated volume variability from 3L to 5L, I can safely say that my sleep system is maxing out at 5L. As with packing for all bikepacking purposes, the uses of the bag are really going to depend on what you are bringing with you, and those preferences vary by person.
The Charlene has a more traditional saddle bag design and application. The durability of this bag is in the materials and construction, using 500D and 330D Cordura, with semi-rigid HDPE stiffener in the nose of the bag, and the use of DuraFlex buckles in all four points. Major stress points are bartacked for additional reinforcement, and the overall bag feels pretty bullet proof. We have been using this bag now for over a year, and the integrity of the product has not faltered at all.
Stability. There are some saddle bags that have it and some that do not. There is always the potential for user error in that a bag doesn’t get installed correctly, but regardless, I would say in a bikepacking set up stability on your rear end is the most important. There is nothing worse than sway at every turn or movement. I can confidently say that the Charlene is stable and ‘sway-less’. We have used this bag on a variety of terrain including chunky singletrack, Utah jeep roads and gravel. Running a dropper post? The Charlene is compatible with dropper posts using the Wolftooth Valais mounting solution.
The Charlene is available online on porcelainrocket.com for $125, with a variety of color options.