The Topeak Escape Pod is a simple, effective way to carry tools, spare parts and other stuff on your bike, using a free water bottle cage. It's a simple idea, and Topeak has done a good job of the delivery.
Using a manky old water bottle to carry spare parts has been a cyclist's trick for as long as bottles have existed. Easily swapped between bikes, or removable for security purposes, bottle-storage is far easier than dealing with saddle bags or other ways of hauling stuff around. Popping into some shops, or a pub, and don't want to leave the circa £100 collection of nice mini-tool, tube, levers and micro-pump on your bike? Take them with you in one package.
Of course using a bottle cage for bits means one less water bottle you can carry, but many people overestimate the amount they need to drink anyway, and with the rise of more-practical frame features, a third set of water bottle bosses – usually under the down tube – is increasingly common. If you're headed over rough terrain you'll be wanting to use an old toe-strap or strip of Velcro to secure your bottle.
The 620cc Topeak Escape Pod (Medium) does a good job providing secure storage. The opening is 59mm, allowing you to stuff in a decent selection of oddments. The internal length is about 160mm, meaning that a small pump like the 136mm Birzman Mini Apogee disappeared easily inside. As the lid needs something to thread onto, the top 3cm of the Escape Pod is restricted somewhat, opening out to the full internal 72mm diameter below the indentation for the bottle cage to snap into.
Topeak provides a little neoprene 'handbag' to stuff loose stuff inside – Allen keys, levers and so on – so they don't rattle around inside. Depending on how you pack your stuff this may or may not be needed, but it is handy for keeping everything in one place and quiet. Further aiding on-bike serenity is a layer of open-cell padding inside the lid, which squashes down on the contents.
I keep my inner tube, levers and a nitrile glove packed inside a zip-loc bag, mostly to prevent abrasion of the inner tube. Due to the restricted mouth this needed to go in first, then the mini-pump could be slid down the side. I could then pop a small multi-tool (Topeak's Mini PT30, review to come) on the top.
That pretty much filled the 620cc capacity to the brim – you could get a bit more by eschewing the neoprene liner, but not much. There's an 850cc Large version of the Escape Pod that adds another 7cm to the length, meaning pumps up to 206mm long should be fine. There's also a 520cc Small size, suited to CO2-inflator fans.
Expect the Escape Pod to look pretty scratched up after just a few rides – but hey, it's luggage, not a beauty contest. The dark grey doesn't show filth too badly compared to lighter coloured or black bottles.
Alternatives abound, as you'd expect for such a simple idea. Stu found the Vel Tool Bottle to his liking, while the cheaper, compartmentalised Bontrager Storage Bottle is a neat take on where to put your car keys – not a silly idea, given modern car remotes can run to many hundreds of pounds replacement cost. And then there's the B'Twin Bike Tool Box from Decathlon for £3.99, doing pretty much the same job as the Topeak, albeit without any concession to rattle reduction (BYO bubble wrap).
All in all, Topeak has done a good job of the Escape Pod. I can't see how you'd wear it out, and if you did it's recyclable. So for £11.99 you may have an on-bike-storage family heirloom on your hands.
Good, solid, rattle-free way to carry tools and spares on your bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Escape Pod (medium)
Size tested: 620ml / 16.4x7.4cm
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?
It's for people wanting to keep their tools accessable and easily-removable/swappable between bikes.
The Escape Pod allows you to store a mini tool, CO2 inflator, tire levers, spare tube, a mini pump (Large Pod) or any essential gear for your ride. The rigid and durable Escape Pod features interior foam padding and neoprene bag to keep contents quiet and accessible. Easily slides into most water bottle cages giving you the perfect way to carry extra gear on your next adventure!
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
MATERIALEngineering grade polymer
ATTACHMENTWater bottle cage
SIZE16.4 x ø 7.4 cm / 6.5' x ø 2.9'
WEIGHT72 g / 2.54 oz
Lightweight foam padding eliminates contents from rattling
Included neoprene bag keeps contents quiet and easily accessible
M size Escape Pod can store one mini tool, one CO2 inflator, one 25g CO2 cartridge,, two tire levers, and one spare MTB inner tube up to 29' x 1.9/2.35'
Typical Topeak engineering – solid.
Easy enough to get on-off the bike, and to get stuff in-out.
Made really tough, with strong threads on the lid.
It's 86g. Neither here nor there in the waterbottle-tool-holder game, but for a padded version, not bad.
If you're happy to stuff your stuff inside an old sock, you could get pretty much the same effect with the £4 Decathlon version, but the neoprene inner adds value, it's well made and from recyclable plastic.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it. Good job.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The rattle-free nature.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The slight narrowing at the mouth.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a slight premium, the anti-rattle being what you're paying for here.
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 £12 price marks the Escape Pod down a bit compared to its competition. Performance-wise I can't fault it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.