The expansion zip under the Fabric Contain Large saddlebag – waterproof like the main zip – frees up serious extra space to create a very versatile pack. It mounts securely, doesn't rattle and looks as good as a large bag can, thanks to that satin/matt black finish. The only niggles are the price and the way it interferes with post-mount lights.
Inside the Contain you find a tough lining, a large mesh pocket and twin elasticated pouches: they're perfect for stashing tyre levers/CO2 canisters on one side and an inflator/multitool on the other. There's a secure hook for latching keys stitched just inside the opening, too.
Add a spare tube and there's still easily space for a second; I fully expected the pack to rattle like this, but happily even the most frostbitten roads didn't shake it out of silence. The pockets, stiff zips and the natural damping of the folded-in expansion keep it quiet.
That's lucky, as the saddle rail straps don't wrap all the way round, so there's no way of cinching the bag up tighter. They also look perilously narrow, but in use they were nothing but secure – the third fixing around the seatpost keeps it on the bike even if they fail.
There's no reason to think they will, though you may forget to do them up post-puncture – the Contain is not easy to unzip when snugged up against the saddle. Still, it's best to have the zip on top and out of the firing line of the back wheel, so it's hard to call that a negative. The whole thing is sturdy and well made.
Unzip that expansion (which appears the only real difference between this and the Contain Medium) and impressive extra volume appears – enough to take a jacket or, say, a delicious Cornish pasty (don't judge me). Fabric claims a total of 1.3L. There are also loops for tying yet more gear/pasties underneath, though with two at the rear and none at the front you'd have to bodge up any lashing.
Run wide open, the pack interferes even more with long, post-mount-only rear lights, which – although not a problem unique to the Contain – is worth bearing in mind. It just doesn't leave much space. There's a reflective strap for smaller, clip-on lights, and it's tight enough to keep them pretty secure.
The zips aren't 100 per cent waterproof if really hosed by heavy surface water or, erm, hoses, but they're good enough to keep out general splashing. It's worth leaving it open to air after a downpour/cleaning to avoid orange tools, especially as the main body is fairly splashproof but not waterproof, and eventually becomes sodden. Note that I only found tiny scattered droplets inside rather than pools.
The Contain is stylish in a very low-key way, and as stealthy as such a capacious pack can hope to be, which will please many. If you don't carry more than two tubes and associated fixings, there's the 1L Medium for £5 less (at 0.4L the Small, which Stu tested, only takes one tube).
It's not hard to find saddlebags for significantly less than £30. The Zefal Iron Pack XL-DS holds 2 litres, for instance, and is just £17 (though it is twice the weight). Also easily sportive-capable is the Passport Frequent Flyer Seat Pack at £12.99, though it lacks the expanding versatility of the Contain.
Meanwhile, if it's style you're after, there are still options, such as the unusual Upso Stirling at £25 – a recycled, British-made roll that's sure to get you noticed.
Yes, the Fabric Contain is a good and useful pack that performs just as you'd hope, but it's not doing anything exceptional to justify that high price.
A stylish expanding pack that securely carries the essentials and lots more besides, but it could be cheaper.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric Contain Large Saddle Bag
Size tested: Large
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?
Fabric says this is for anyone looking to: "Pack ride essentials and protect them from the elements," which sums it up neatly. It doesn't protect them totally, but does keep things dry to a decent standard.
This Large version (Small and Medium available) is "Ideal for carrying an inner tube, tyre levers, multi-tool, puncture repair kit, keys, cash and more. A rear safety light can be attached to the reflective loop on the rear."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fabric lists these features:
- Weatherproof zip
- Reflective loop attachment
- Secure attachment to saddle rails
- Secure velcro side straps
- Volume: 81in3/1.3l
- Length: 176 mm
- Width: 99 mm
- Depth: 112 mm
- Weight: 114g
Roomy and secure, though you need to loosen the rail straps to easily open the zip. The seatpost strap at least keeps it on the bike if you forget to tighten them back up...
At 114g, it's around what you'd expect for its capacity.
Twice the price of many bags with almost all the same features.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can take two tubes, puncture repair stuff/a CO2 inflator and a multi-tool with room for a packable jacket/arm and leg warmers to spare. Tucks into the bike pretty neatly for its size.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good shape, versatile and visually unintrusive for its capacity.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Velcro doesn't wrap right around to cinch the bag tight. Size means it can interfere with rear lights.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Saddlebags at this price (or above) aren't rare, as our recent reviews show, but they're a lot rarer than significantly cheaper ones.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This pack works very well, looks good and feels built to last, but with so much competition it's very hard to justify the price. At £15-£20 it'd be an 8 – for its actual RRP of £30, it's a 'good' 7.
About the tester
I usually ride: GT GTR Series 3 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mountain biking