The Fuel Pod 25 from Alpkit is a generously sized bag made to a minimalist, lightweight design with waterproof fabric. With 1.5 litres of storage it's huge and the price is good, although the stitching means it's not totally waterproof and the Fuel Pod's not at its best when part-loaded or fitted to a low-stemmed frame.
The Fuel Pod is made from waterproof laminated nylon, which feels very light and durable, and gets a DWR coating for good measure. The bag as a whole isn't fully waterproof though, due to the stitched-through construction and the (useful) cable access port. Still, it's pretty weather resistant, and the YKK Aquaguard zip presents no weak spots.
The 1.5 litre space is easily enough for a day's worth of provisions, a phone, an external headlight battery and plenty more small items besides. I found it ideal for long rides and bikepacking trips as the go-to bag for 'stuff,' such as all the last minute bits I forgot to pack and endless snacks grabbed along the way.
Its location on the top tube does mean it takes the brunt of any rain, and while it did leak during testing it never got very wet inside. Alpkit suggest keeping anything susceptible to water damage in a dry bag, and they're right to.
At under 100g it's – you should sit down for this – even lighter than claimed, but even the claimed weight would be good. There's a smaller 1L version too (the Fuel Pod 22), which is 2-3cm smaller and presumably lighter still.
Although large, the Fuel Pod is reasonably narrow and, full or not, stays out of the way of even wobbly knees when riding.
It's better full, though, even if it can list a little one way or the other at times – that lightweight fabric can't hold its shape on its own, and the zip only works one-handed when the pack is stuffed. Try the zip with the bag half empty and it all just folds up. It's a two-handed operation then.
Fitting is quick and simple, with two velcro straps for your top tube and one wide strap under the stem. The width adds stability, but does mean you need significant space under your front end. Those with tall head tubes/slammed stems could trim the strap, of course, but it's sewn into the bag – customisation is a one-shot deal...
While there are plenty of top tube bags around, few are as big as the Fuel Pod 25 and it ranks well for value. The 1.5L Restrap Race Top Tube Bag is a similar lightweight design but costs £60, for instance, while the Apidura Expedition Top Tube Pack is fully waterproof but only holds 1L and costs £47.
The Woho X-Touring Top Tube Bag is closer in price at £29.99, and is roughly as water-resistant, but it only holds 0.85L.
The Alpkit Fuel Pod 25 is light, neatly made and highly water resistant. Fitting might be tricky if your stem is slammed, and the floppy fabric means the zip needs two hands when the pack's not stuffed full, but if these issues won't bother you it's a neat and extremely useful little pack.
Huge, well made and useful, but only useable one-handed when stuffed full
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Alpkit Fuel Pod 25
Size tested: 1.5 Litres
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?
Alpkit says: "Fuel Pod is a stable and lightweight top tube bikepacking bag that sits securely on your top tube to keep your stuff within reach whilst riding. With zip closure and a front facing cable port, it's ideal for storing that dynamo cable, your light battery, or those gloves you want to access without grinding to a halt."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Top tube mounted bikepacking bag for quick access to your stuff whilst riding
- Made to last in the UK
- Fully customisable (contact support [at] alpkit.com)
- Made with waterproof and highly abrasion-resistant fabrics
- Large enough to fit a spare Hadron bike light spare battery
- Minimalist design for ultralight storage
- Foam-lined to prevent damage to the contents (VX21 only)
- YKK Aquaguard zip and large glow-in the dark puller for one-handed use
- Steerer attachment: velcro strap sewn into seams
- Top tube attachment: hypalon tabs with velcro straps
- 50 cm velcro strap provided
- 25 Year Alpine Bond
Well made, good stitching and high quality zip.
Huge capacity, although when it isn't full it takes two hands to close, which can tricky.
For such a large bag it's very light – lighter than many smaller ones.
Narrow design doesn't interfere with pedalling.
It's hard to get a similar size and quality elsewhere for the price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, though when part-filled it tends to sag and is hard to use with one hand.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Usefully large capacity.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Its awkwardness when half empty.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
While there are plenty of top tube bags around, few are as big as the Fuel Pod 25 and it ranks well for value. The 1.5L Restrap Race Top Tube Bag is a similar lightweight design but costs £60, for instance, while the Apidura Expedition Top Tube Pack is fully waterproof but only holds 1L and costs £47. The Woho X-Touring Top Tube Bag is closer in price at £29.99, and is roughly as water-resistant, but it only holds 0.85L.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The capacity and strong build mean it's extremely useful, and if it held shape better when part-full it could be a nine. Then again, with stiffer sides it wouldn't be as light... it's very good, and an eight.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb,