If you missed our First Look Video, check it out here. Otherwise read the full review below.

I ride with a frame bag nearly every time I get on a bike, be it a 500 mile trek on the Colorado Trail, a 5 mile fat bike ride after work, or just a commute around town. To me it is the best bike accessory available. You can store all of your day ride necessities, as well as the kitchen sink when you are on an extended trip. Best of all, it’s located in a space that is not used all that often, outside of water cargo. I truly have a hard time not justifying a frame bag, and I encourage the use even if you are not bikepacking.

Which leads me to one of the most classic bikepacking inventions, the Revelate Designs Tangle. A half frame bag that comes in 3 different sizes to fit nearly any hardtail, and even some full suspension rigs. So, why is the Tangle so popular? Simply because of it’s convenience. You don’t need to make a template as you would for a custom frame bag. It comes in sizes that will fit your bike, and depending on some rigs, you can then use the rest of your frame for a cargo or a water bottle cage or two.
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I’m not going to say custom frame bags are obsolete, because I think there is a time and place for the perfect fitting bag, but I also think there is a time and place for the Tangle. Back in February of 2013, I purchased an early version of the Tangle to fit my Specialized Stumpjumper hardtail. I was planning on using it for some bikepacking trips including the Arizona Trail Race 300. Prior to purchasing the Tangle, I exclusively used a saddle bag, handlebar bag and the dreaded backpack. It worked, but what I wanted to do was get the weight of my back and on the bike. Being new to bikepacking, and someone that has very little patience, I was seeking out something that would fit my bike, as well as ship relatively quickly. I had been using Revelate bags prior to this point, so the Tangle was a natural fit.

I still have that old Tangle, which sits at the bottom of my bag collection still in tact and fully functional. It sits there because bags evolve, and parts improve, and that’s exactly what Revelate Designs did when updating not only the Tangle, but all of their frame bags. 

Features

Zipper – Zippers fail, zippers get stuck, zippers get filled with grime and stop working properly. This is why the new Zipstretch™ construction is really awesome. Revelate Designs upgraded all of their frame bags with the Zipstretch zipper design, where the fabric above the zipper stretches to assist pulling bulky loads.This zipper construction is truly an awesome innovation by Revelate, and we have found it to be a cinch to pack this bag with a large load or awkwardly shaped items. The water-resistant zipper now comes with beefy teeth which also aid in opening and closing, but do not stretch out or absorb grit like the previously used YKK zippers. The new zipper design not only comes on the main compartment side, but also the smaller pocket size.  The zipper pulls are another upgrade, and make for easy opening and closing.  Connection Points – Revelate Designs has been using urethane-coated webbing straps for a while, and we really like these. Not only do they not absorb grime or water, they grip to the frame much better than regular Velcro. The only thing you may need to do to them is trim the straps, but if you plan on using it on future bikes, maybe just double back them through the handy rubber strap holder, as all tubing is different. The seat tube and down tube use the urethane straps while the top tube connects via three Velcro straps. The two rear straps are sewn into the bag, while the front Velcro strap uses a daisy chain so you can accommodate different top tube bags, certainly a nice feature since we use a variety of top tube bags. Structure – The body of the bag is made out of an X-Pac and ballistics nylon exterior, 420 denier diamond ripstop lining and some closed-cell foam on the frame contact points for protection. While this combination of materials might seem insignificant, it is important to note that this bag has seen quite a few day rids, as well as a few bikepacking trips and has shown no significant sign of wear and tear. The stitching is professional and sensible, with bar tacks at critical stress points, a standard we are used to with Revelate Designs.revelate-designs-tangle-00718
Interior – The main compartment and small side compartment are divided by a red ripstop lining which gives a nice contrast and visibility when looking for items inside the bag. Sewn in on the underside of the bag are two loops and two one wrap straps. While these are made for a hand pump, we found it convenient to throw tent stakes here. The main compartment also allows for a hydration hose port at the tip of the bag. We used this only on the rarest of occasion, however, it was one of the easiest frame bag hydrations ports we have used as the big opening really made things user friendly. We still find ourselves exiting the hose through the zipper often, and with the large zipper hood on this bag, it proved to accommodate that well.

Large zipper hood.

Moving over the to the pocket side, you will notice two large yellow pockets and a large flat compartment. The pockets are great for smaller items like a tool or phone, and the lager compartment holds a map nicely. Storing those items that you need in this pocket is great becasue they are not only easily accessible when you are off the bike, but also easy to access when you are in the saddle pedaling. The Fit – As mentioned above, the Revelate Designs Tangle comes in 3 different sizes – small, medium and large. You will want to make sure your bike fits in one of these dimensions before ordering.
  • Small: top length 17.5″, overall height 4″
  • Medium: top length 19.75″; overall height 4.5″
  • Large: top length 21″; overall height 6.5″
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    We used a cargo cage with the Tangle, and it proved to be a perfect spot for our cook kit.
Depending on your bike, the fit could be perfect, or it could be a little off, and that’s the upside or downside of the Tangle. The biggest issue we have run into is the webbing straps not fitting perfectly, or having one of them interfere with a cable stop. One thing you may want to be weary of is the width. If you are riding a bike with a narrow q-factor, like a road bike. Over stuffing the bag will lead to some leg rub. If you are on a 100mm bottom bracket fat bike, you will certainly not run into this issue as much. revelate-designs-tangle-06619
The other fit issues are with water bottles. The beauty if the Tangle is that it allows you to use a water bottle cage or two. We have found cages that mount lower, or at least have multiple mounting options, or cages that install bottles from the side are best. This is particularly nice for cages on the seat tube, as the bag can interfere with the mount in some occasions.

Final Thoughts
Revelate Designs redesigned an already great bag in the Tangle, with just enough bells and whistles while not over doing it. The evolution of this bag should be enough to grab your attention, if not purchase it. The versatility is a standout feature in this bag. While it might not fit perfectly on every bike, it will work in many occasions.  The bag comes in at 292g and $90 for any size or color combo. Back in 2013 the bag cost me $70, with the updated features including that new zipper, I think the extra $20 is very much worth it.

5 Comments

  1. I have one of the original Tangle bags. I use it regularly and it’s still going strong. You mention bottle cages that mount lower or differently to work better with the Tangle. Can you tell me who makes or carries these cages. I could use a couple of them. Also, who makes the cargo cage in your photo. Thanks.

    • I’m not sure what cargo cage is being used, but it looks to be an Anything Cage.

      Regarding the bottle cages, Lezyne makes a side loading bottle cage that would work well, and someone (can’t remember who) makes a sliding mount in order to lower your bottle cage (though a quick hack is using a rack strut).

  2. My Tangle bag is one of the originals. Used every week. Still going strong. The bottle cage issue can be circumvented by using a Mount Skidmore adapter: https://mountskidmore.com.au/shop/adapters/bottle-cage-adapter/ . I’ve also seen that King Cage now has a ‘dropper’ cage (not advertised yet, you might have to ask for it) that ensures the cage sits lower on the bosses.

  3. I still wear a pack on occasion, but once I got a Tangle Bag, the pack mainly stays hanging up at home! I love using it. The freedom of not having the weight of a pack on your shoulders ALL THE TIME, is great! A frame bag like this also forces you to be ruthless with what you’re going to carry on a given ride. Just what you need, and nothing more. Period. I carry a tire pump in the Velcro carriers at the top, and a spare tube folded up in the rear, and then a Platypus one liter ‘soft bottle’. I have a Mountain Feed Bag on the handle bar for a Camel Back water bottle to add to from the soft bottle as the ride goes on. That gives me about 72 oz. of water on a hot 3-4 hour day ride in summer. Pretty nice. The whole frame bag idea is just much better than a pack. Fortunately, the bag fits both my Specialized Rock Hopper, and my Salsa Mukluk frames!

  4. I really hate riding with a backpack. A few years back when my friends at the shop talked me into some bikepacking (it didn’t take much and I was hooked on my first time out) the first thing I got was a Tangle as I dreaded wearing a pack on a long trip. I call it the Tardis bag. It’s far too easy to pack too much in that deceivingly small bag. I actually like it better that my gen 1 full-frame Revelate bag.

    When it comes to commuting then between that bag and either a seat bag or bar bag I can pull off food, a full change of not so packable or light work clothes and more useless crap than I need for a work day with room to spare which is important if I stop on the way home to grab a bomber. It’s also a good food back to the desk hauler (fruit, burritos, sandwiches, canned drinks) if I need to dash out for lunch on commute days and want my food intact.

    Here’s my rambling point. If you have, or want to, replace or reduce car use for your daily grind then the Tangle is an excellent addition to your bike. It’s about as close to being able to hop in your car and carelessly toss whatever on the seat as you will ever get on a bike. It is simple and reliable and that’s what one needs to encourage that car offsetting activity day in and out.

    Oh, and yes, and it’s a very good bag for bikepacking. The interior loops next to the toptube are a godsend for tent poles, stakes and a pump. My most annoying things to pack and biggest reason for liking it more than my full-frame pack. My only grumble is it makes water bottle use a bit fiddly on my bikes.

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