Content and Images by Joey Parent I have always been a bit of a dirtbag, never wanting to spend money on anything that I didn’t absolutely need, or on something that I couldn’t make myself. I feel comfortable around a sewing machine, and have made a fair bit of gear over the years, including several frame bags of my own. This past summer I got a new bike before leaving on a pretty major bikepacking trip to Iceland. As it often does, life became busy and I did not have the time to sit down and make another bag. Fortunately, Wanderlust Gear was able to get me set up at the last minute before I left. 14853459702_039f33f5c1_z The Divide Frame Bag My bags arrived just a few days before I flew out, so I had little time to try anything out before getting on the plane. This made me a little nervous, but when I opened the box all worries were set aside. The first thing that I noticed was the quality of the bags. These bags were clearly on a different level than anything that I had ever even attempted to make on my own. The stitching is top notch and the small details are awesome. 14830808766_816923d109_z On the Divide frame bag, all the side panels are constructed from Dimension Polyant XPAC VX21 fabric. This is an extremely durable,  lightweight  and waterproof fabric. I opted for the camouflage fabric, which I think looks pretty rad.  Wanderlust offers a wide variety of colors and will make you a custom bag from just about any color combo you can dream up. 14667110470_403929a8a3_z All the panels that come in contact with the bikes tubing are made from 840 denier ballistics nylon. This is done to add abrasion resistance and to extend the life of the bag. To top it off, the down tube panel is lined with closed cell foam to help pad  both your goods and bike frame. 14851342954_b5d1678c69_z On my bag I had an additional flat map pocket added on. This is done with an added zipper on the non-drive side of the bike and an extra layer of nylon material on the entire inside of the frame bag. It essentially creates a huge flat pocket on one side of the frame bag. This is a really nice feature. The thing I like most about it is that it creates a lot of space to put unfolded maps. I find this really helpful when I’m on the trail and my map is unfolded to the section I want access to while riding. Instead of having to re-fold the whole map, I can leave it open to where I am and stuff it into the bag. At the front of the bag is a small pocket that hides the zipper pulls and prevents them from getting snagged while your riding. Another nice feature on the Divide frame bag is the hydration opening near the front end of the top tube. This allows you to feed a hydration bladder tube or bike light wiring through for easy access. I have yet to use this feature, but it is really nice for those who prefer to use hydration bladders. 14851342414_b57fb5a3d0_z (1) The Sawtooth Handlebar Bag The Sawtooth Handlebar Bag is more of a system than a single bag. The main body of the bag is a two-sided roll down tube. This is also made from Dimension Polyant XPAC making it very strong and durable. The material is waterproof, but this doesn’t mean the bag itself is water tight. It will keep off the splashes and light rain, but I did have some water come through after riding in the rain all day. 14853782805_06324f6a1c_z The main body of the bag is 7″ in diameter. Rolled up it can be as small as 12” or as large as 24″. This is a large compartment and much bigger than other similar bags on the market. For me, the additional space and adjustability make it great for a wide variety of trips. I can carrying a lot of gear on an extended tour, or roll it down when I’m just headed out for the weekend. This also makes it compatible with both mountain handlebars and road bars. The back of the main body has a layer of thick, abrasion resistant Hypalon material. This helps to keep the bag protected where it comes in contact with the with the cables, stem, handlebar, head tube and shifters. 14853782365_c5cbe31ac2_z On the front of the main role is removable zippered pocket. This is a great place to stash some goodies that you might want during the day. On the sides of the bag are two small elastic mesh pockets. These fit a SPOT quite well and also are a good place to throw trash from snacks. There is a thin divider in the back of the bag to hide additional maps or other flat items you might want to get out of the way. The top closes with #8 YKK water-resistant zipper. Again, this makes the bag resistant to splashes and light rain, but it will leak after prolonged time in the rain. The whole front pouch detaches easily from the main bag and can be converted to a small shoulder bag for side hikes or exploring town. 14860870575_47eed248db_z Conclusion I have really hammered these bags over the last 6 months and I have to say I am very impressed. Their first test was 3 weeks of riding in the rain and cold through Iceland. Volcanic sand and ash got into everything I brought and shredded a lot of my gear.  It actually took the paint on my Chumba Ursa straight down to the metal in several places. A few weeks after I returned home I headed back out and raced the Trans North Georgia Adventure where I put these bags to the test again. 15094454270_29eca90886_k   The bags have held up great and functioned flawlessly. The frame bag did everything that I expected of it and not a single thread popped loose. Even with all that grit getting into the zippers, they still worked great. I did manage to put a small hole in the ballistics nylon fabric where it hits the water bottle bosses on the seat tube. This was more my own fault than anything else. I packed my cook pot in the back of the bag on a particularly rough day of riding. The constant up and down rubbing combined with sand and ash finally wore a hole through. It is exactly the size of the water bottle bolt. If I had paid more attention when packing the bike this would not have happened. I probably should have just removed the water bottle bolts before the ride. 15094604647_909927e063_z The Sawtooth Handlebar Bag held up equally as well. With all the shock that this bag gets from bouncing around on the front of the bike, I was worried that the mounting straps might eventually break loose. I looked the bag over after finishing the TNGA and all the stitching was still rock solid. 14674153760_304e2834d3_z One issue that I encountered with the bag was that the front pouch would occasionally rub my tire on big hits. This only happend when I had the bag loosely packed. After I threw a few extra items in there to fill it up the issue was solved. This was likely due to the fact that I was riding a 29+ mountain bike with the bars dropped as low as they could go. In the end, I am very pleased with these bags; they are way better than anything that I could have made on my own. They were put to the test and held up amazingly well. After years of making my own gear and dealing with all the unforeseen issues, even a dirtbag like me couldn’t go back. Wanderlust makes a solid product at a great price. These bags are going to hold up to all the abuse you can throw at them and look great while doing it.  

6 Comments

  1. I have been looking at Wanderlust for several months now, and had already pretty much decided that I would be ordering Wanderlust gear for my Adirondack Epic Journey in August. Your review confirmed it for me. Thanks!

  2. Wanderlust Gear is the best. My divide Frame pack fits my Krampus perfectly as it was custom made and the bag has held up very nicely even when over stuffed. The velcro is so strong that I know the bag won’t shake loose and the zippers still work when they have completely frozen over during winter snow rides in Montana.

  3. I have the Wanderlust Beargrass Top tube bag, and an early-model Rattlesnake stem bag. I ride around Montana on roads, gravel, and trails. Both are well made and very handy, and I liked buying something from a smaller manufacturer. Plus, the customer service is outstanding! One of the strap mounts on the stem bag pulled out after a few months; when I contacted Wanderlust about sending it in for a repair, Paul said don’t worry about it. When he had another one ready in that color, he would just send it to me. And one day it just showed up. I can’t wait to see what the next bags will be!

  4. Thanks for the review man , was confused whether or not buy it looks like it’s a great deal 😀

  5. does the handlebar bag hold a sleeping bag? I am riding the divide in june “grand depart) and really like your bags , I will have a one man tent , sleeping bag , sleeping pad , I also need bags to hold water ? I would like to buy your entire arsenal for my trip , could someone get ahold of me , also my bike is a moots mountaineer ybb , thanks the names Marko

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