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The Camper Long Flap is a saddlebag, part of the Carradice Originals range, and designed (you will not be surprised to hear) for lightweight touring and ultralight cycle camping.
Manufactured from 'cotton duck', a traditional fabric woven from cotton which is incredibly hard wearing and has an inherent water resistance, the Camper Longflap is the largest bag in the Carradice Originals saddlebag line.
Considering its 24 litres capacity, I was very keen to see if the bag would indeed carry everything necessary for a camping tour.
The bag is broad and shallow, with a single main compartment closed by a lid gaiter around the top, which allows for some expansion, and sealed over with the flap described in the bag's name. On the sides there are two additional pouches for smaller items, and the flap lid has 'D' rings affixed as tie-on points for additional luggage. The whole bag exudes old-style quality and ruggedness as all the flaps are held closed by leather straps and buckles, and high wear areas of the bag are protected by a double layer of material.
In testing, I managed to fit a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, stove and light weight pan set into the bag with room for spare clothes (albeit not many!) and a wash kit without even extending the drawstring gaiter. This left plenty of room for a sleeping mat to be strapped down under the flap. The side pouches were left empty for valuables and snacks.
This naturally brings us onto that long flap described in the name. In its usual state, the flap comprises a folded, double layer of duck material and buckles down to constrain the 24 ltr capacity of the bag. For larger loads however it can be unfolded to twice its usual length to enable larger, bulky items to be strapped on top of the bag, either under the extended lid gaiter or on top of it where they can be left protruding out the sides of the bag. This makes the Camper Longflap an incredibly versatile saddlebag that has quickly become one of my most valuable pieces of kit. In everyday use it easily transports clothes, a lock and sundries on my daily commute. In the evenings, it helps me bring home the groceries that I buy en route.
The Camper Longflap is incredibly well made, and with minimal care looks like it is build to last a lifetime.
In its basic form, the bag fixes to the bike via a set of leather straps that attach to saddle bag loops (these tend to only come with traditional leather Brooks-type saddles these days) and the seatpost. I found this somewhat unwieldy however, as if your saddle is in any way pushed behind the seatpost, it holds the bag under the saddle where it interferes with the legs. If you have a very vertical seatpost, or if you have your saddle pushed right forward on its rails I am sure this is not so much a problem, but I did struggle. However, anticipating this, Carradice also produce a range of supported mounting options in the Bagman, Bagman QR and SQR brackets. For the larger saddlebags in the range, the Bagman and Bagman QR systems are recommended. These brackets comprise long loops of metal which affix to the seat rails of the saddle (needing about one centimetre of exposed seat rail behind the seatpost) and loop down to provide a support for the bag that holds it stable, and away from the saddle and seatpost. The Bagman also provides a rail for the leather seatpost straps to attach to at the top, while the Bagman QR replaces the rail with a pair of quick release clips at the top that attach to an additional plastic bracket, which zip-ties onto the bag.
I used the Bagman QR, and found it extremely easy to use, sturdy and stable. It held the bag away from the saddle and my legs, even on my road bike, so that it did not interfere with pedalling, and enabled me to carry large loads easily.
Attaching and removing the bag was quick and easy, which meant when leaving the bike it was possible to carry the bag with me for security, and even moving the bracket from one bike to another (which I need to do a lot) proved simple as it requires only one Allen bolt to be released.
In use, the Camper Longflap / Bagman QR combination is stable, and other than making the bike a little more top heavy than usual, does not have an appreciable adverse affect on handling. However, the wide nature of the bag does make stepping over the saddle a little more tricky than usual.
The Bagman and Bagman QR brackets (as well as the SQR seatpost mounting bracket that I didn't try) are rated to carry 10kg, which is more than enough for an ultralight camp (my camping kit packed down to just over 5kg, which would allow for a day or two on the road as long as you could buy food en-route).
The nicest part is that the Camper Longflap, paired with any of the Carradice brackets, only requires a saddle or seatpost to attach to – meaning that any type of bike, from road race, to tourer to MTB can be used to carry luggage, with or without a rack.
All in all this has proved to be an excellent bag, and one which I would heartily recommend for those with luggage carrying needs who wish to avoid the necessity of a rack and panniers.
At £65 RRP for the bag and £45 RRP for the matching Bagman QR, this is not a cheap combination. However, it works really well and will last a lifetime. Worth every penny.
Excellent rack-free luggage that's built to last.
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Make and model: Carradice Camper Long Flap
Size tested: Green
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?
The Carradice Camper Longflap is a large saddleback designed for ultra-lightweight touring. It is well suited to this application, and is useful also for commuting and general luggage carrying, being easily fitted to almost any bicycle and not requiring a luggage rack.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Made out of durable cotton duck, with leather straps and detailing, the basic bag is capable of carrying around 24 litres of luggage. The double-length long flap of the name enables larger or bulkier loads to be strapped on top as well.
A basic bag by design, intended to strap to saddle loops - for those who have them, it really needs to be paired with the Bagman QR Expedition saddle-back rack to release its true potential.
The bag carried large loads in a very stable manner, and does not unduly affect the bike's handling.
This bag is designed to last a lifetime - exuding old-school attention to detail in the materials used and the quality of construction.
As it allows you to carry luggage without the weight penalty of a full luggage rack, it scores well.
Not cheap, particularly when paired with the Bagman QR Expedition rack, but worth it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The bag carried loads on a variety of bikes without needing a luggage rack, or to wear a rucksack. It does not adversely affect the handling of the bike either. What more need be said?
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Its durability, solid construction and traditional looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Quite wide, the bag does make mounting and dismounting the bike somewhat more tricky than usual.
Did you enjoy using the product? Absolutely.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Without hesitation.
Age: 37 Height: 6'1 Weight: 85kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,