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.
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.
FeaturesZipper – 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.
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.
- 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″
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.
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.