Upso, the new brand from British bike bag supremo Carradice, is all about the upcycling (see what I did there). All the products are made in Lancashire, using locally sourced lorry tarpaulins as the base fabric, combined with other recycled bits and pieces. The result is a quirky but attractive range, with the Upso Stirling Seat Pack being tough, good looking and generously sized.
It's nice to see something a little out of the ordinary, particularly in the somewhat mundane world of saddle bags. A range made entirely from recycled lorry tarpaulins is one of the most innovative I've heard of in a while and the fact that the other components are also upcycled and the bag is made in Lancashire using solar powered sewing machines all stacks together to create a really nice idea. (Like the idea but need something bigger? Check out Jez's review of the Upso Potters Pannier here.)
But it's not just a good idea, the Stirling Seat Pack is a generously proportioned bag, easy to mount via a toe clip strap and Velcro strap (provided) as a traditional seat pack, or with an extra Velcro strap (also provided) as a compact bar bag.
It can even be mounted in a bottle cage, although it's a bit of a tight fit for all but the most voluminous, but as such makes a good tool 'roll' and small pump holder for the winter when perhaps less water will be carried.
Talking of which, the zip is water resistant – and pulls using bits of firehose – and there's a logo/light tab at the top.
In use, there is plenty of space for tools, snacks and even a lightweight windproof, with a bit of room to spare. There are also a couple of elastic straps within the bag to secure something like a small pump.
Looks-wise, it might not be the most high tech, but I think the design is quirky and attractive and far from at odds with all but the most spangly of carbon machines.
The fact that it's made in Britain from recycled materials and looks just that little bit different makes up for the slight premium in price, I reckon. It's roomy and versatile too.
Innovative, cool, ethical, effective and versatile, plus it's made in the UK
road.cc test report
Make and model: Upso Stirling Seat Pack
Size tested: Height 20 cm Diameter 9 cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at any cyclist looking for a versatile saddle pack with a difference.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Main body made from up cycled lorry tarps
Water resistant zip with zip pulls made from fire hose
Toe clip strap fastener
2 velcro straps
Made in Britain
Really well made and very rugged.
Does its job very well.
This is not going anywhere in a hurry!
Not the lightest but no heavier than other very durable seat packs.
At the more expensive end of the spectrum but it's made in the UK, it's quirky and original, and it has a really great up cycling story, so worth the premium. Plus, as it mounts in a number of ways and has a very basic shape, it's versatile too.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, up cycling story, made in Britain, durability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely, and looking at the other Upso bags as options too.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a fully functional and genuinely good seat pack, but that's not all. It has a great recycling story, was manufactured in the UK, and has a versatile and durable design. What's not to love?
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.