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review

Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer Saddle Harness

8
£68.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Light, rugged and stable harness for long rides or shorter adventures, but the straps need frequent disciplining
Light
Compact
Stable
Works better with Wildcat’s dry bag
Dry bag not included
Straps can get a bit messy
Weight: 
160g
Contact: 

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer saddle harness is more compact than a lot of bikepacking bags and better suited for longer days and shorter tours. Designed to hold your stuff in a dry bag, it's super stable but can be a bit strappy.

Wildcat was one of the first companies to produce bikepacking gear in the UK, and despite the world and anyone with a shed and a sewing machine doing bikepacking gear now, its equipment still stands up well against a wealth of competition.

> Buy this online here

The Wildcat range is based on a harness system that you slot and strap a separate dry bag into, rather than being a complete bikepacking bag you wedge stuff into.

Wildcat says it's chosen this system for three reasons. First, it makes it easy to unpack – you can simply release the straps and slip the dry bag out to sort through at your leisure (comfortably under cover if it's raining) and not have to deal with handling a bike at the same time. It also makes for easier packing, which ties in with the unpacking thing – it's easier to pack a dry bag under shelter or in a tent and then quickly stuff it into the Wildcat harness than fill a bikepacking bag and faff about strapping it back on the bike. Thirdly, it's more adaptable and you can pick the appropriate sized dry bag for your packing needs without over or underfilling a seatbag.

I've used both harness and integrated bikepacking bag systems and while they both have their pluses and minuses, the Wildcat system does work well.

Fitting the harness is a little bit more fiddly than other bikepacking bags I've used, but once it's on it's on. There's a bit of a knack to securing it to a saddle and seatpost and you'll be looking at the instructions sheet quizzically the first time you do it, but it quickly becomes second nature.

2021 Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer Saddle Harness - seat post strap.jpg

I found it best to start with roughly holding the harness to the bike with the seatpost strap just to keep it in place – this seatpost strap is made from a rubber-coated material that, combined with the way it double backs over the seatpost, holds the harness onto the post incredibly securely, and minimises rubbing too. Then feed the Tiger Wayfarer harness straps around the saddle rails and thread them back through the buckles. Insert your dry bag into the harness, wrap the rear strap around it, and tighten up all the straps to compress the dry bag tight as you like, and then cinch up the seatpost strap.

The harness body is made from ballistic nylon fabric that protects your dry bag from a certain amount of weather and wheel spray, but it's always best to use a waterproof dry bag, and then stuff the contents into something waterproof just in case.

2021 Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer Saddle Harness 2.jpg

The top and bottom panels of the harness body are also slightly padded and stiffened, which means it holds its shape, making it a lot easier to load a stuffed dry bag. The shiny nature of the fabric also makes it very easy to wipe clean.

The Tiger Wayfarer is designed for drybags from 3 to 6 litres in volume and if you don't have one already then you can buy a Wildcat bag specially designed to fit the harness; it's tapered at the closed end so it fits the harness snugly as it slims down towards the seatpost. This will add an extra £25 to the cost of the harness.

2021 Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer Saddle Harness - stuff bag.jpg

Whatever dry bag you use, there's a skill to packing it so it fits the Wildcat harness neatly; it's easy to create negative space in the thinner end by the post, so mush smaller and squishier stuff down there first if you can.

There's a bit of practice required to getting all the Wildcat straps just so, and this gets easier every time you use the Tiger Wayfarer as you learn what works best, and as with many bikepacking systems, things settle down in transit so a fiddle and tighten after half an hour or so on the bike is usually necessary. I've done a lot of bikepacking trips and anytime there's a stop, someone will be fiddling with their bag straps whatever brand or system they're using. It's definitely A Thing.

These Wildcat straps can feel a little octopussy at times and need frequent tidying and tucking away. Luckily, the side tension straps have Velcro loops attached to help keep things in order.

2021 Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer Saddle Harness - straps detail.jpg

As an aside the Tiger Wayfarer does work a lot better with the tapered dry bag that Wildcat produce as the clips on their dry bag closure are designed to fit directly to the side clips on the body of the harness once you’ve removed the existing lateral strap, and it all becomes more integrated, neater and less strappy, although they do still need to be tucked away to avoid flappage. If you don’t have a dry bag already it’s worth investing in the Wildcat one to make their harness work as well as possible.

> 26 of the best bikepacking bags — how to choose lightweight luggage

A lot of bikepacking seat bags assume you're going to be carrying everything you need to survive crossing several time zones. The Wildcat harness is sized for rides where a larger seat pack isn't enough and a cross-continent bike packing bag is a bit too much. It's perfect for longer rides or briefer tours, the sort that might require a selection or change of clothing, or kit that you won't be able to fit in pockets. It's easy to cram some tubes, a small bag of tools and a choice of snacks in there as well, so everything's all out the way. If you're riding somewhere and want a change of clothes, maybe work clothes or for slipping into something more casual for the post-ride evening then this is perfect. Of course there will be comments that traditional saddlebags of the cotton duck variety have been doing this sort of thing for eternity. This is just another choice.

2021 Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer Saddle Harness - rear.jpg

The big attraction of the Wildcat is that it's incredibly secure, there's virtually no sway to it, something that can plague other bikepacking bags and large seat packs. Even standing up and sprinting with a full Tiger Wayfarer prompted no swagger, so there's no need to adjust your riding style with this attached, you can mash up a climb as much as you like and then ride down anything.

The straps can work a little loose if riding with the Tiger attached to an off-road bike – the bumps and vibrations allow the saddle straps to gently wiggle undone over time, so regular tightening back up is required, but even with the straps a little loose the stability was only very mildly compromised.

> An introduction to bikepacking – three ways to try it and what to pack

While it's a very good pack, there are two extremes where the Tiger Wayfarer doesn't work very well.

Wildcat does say there is no weight limit to what the Wayfarer can carry, but when it's loaded up heavy and with no other bags on the bike there were definite and off-putting instances of the tail wagging the dog and the bike becoming nervous on descents, especially when riding off-road. This isn't a problem unique to the Wildcat, though, and it's something that can be solved by distributing the weight more evenly across the bike with other bags.

The other issue comes at the other end of the scale when the harness isn't full enough; if the contents of your dry bag don't extend enough beyond the body of the harness then everything gets a bit loose and floppy as the straps have nothing to tighten against.

Value

The Tiger is £8 more than the similarly sized Altura Vortex 2 Waterproof Compact Seatpack, which has a passing resemblance to the Wildcat but is an all-in-one unit. The Altura scores very well on waterproofness, something the Wildcat can only compete on depending on which dry bag you choose to shove in it, but the Vortex does have flappy strap syndrome as well.

Even when you add the cost of a dry bag into the mix, the Tiger works out cheaper than the £135 Miss Grape Cluster 7 (off.road.cc reviewed the bigger and burlier 13-litre version, which is now £145).

Conclusion

Overall, the Wildcat Tiger is a handily sized harness for when you want to carry a little more than normal but less than an expedition; micro-adventure fans raise your hands. It's very good and it does become a better more integrated (and less strappy) unit if you buy the Wildcat dry bag.

Verdict

Light, rugged and stable harness for long rides or shorter adventures, but the straps need frequent disciplining

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer Saddle Harness

Size tested: One

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 Tiger Wayfarer model is Wildcat's smallest padded harness to protect and secure your dry bag behind the saddle. It has Wildcat's unique retention system that eliminates swaying when loaded and resists working loose over rough terrain.

Wildcat says, 'The Tiger Wayfarer is the smaller of our two Tiger models, perfect for long day rides or short tours where you wish to pack very lightly. It delivers a solid storage solution with minimal interference to your riding and so maintaining predictable handling. You can add further storage capacity with our existing frame bag and handlebar system products.'

That's about right; it's for long short rides or shorter long rides where you just need to carry some more stuff than usual, also handy for a commute or riding to somewhere that requires normal clothes. No disruptive swagger even when sprinting or bouncing around off-road.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Wildcat lists:

Unique retention system eliminates swaying when loaded

Padded LS21 and ballistic nylon fabric construction protects your dry bag

Scaleable storage: use your own dry bags sized for your trip. Sized for 3 to 6 litre dry bags

Lightweight: Only 175g

Compatibility: The Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer is designed to fit most available saddles. It will fit a conventional twin-rail saddle, and either inline or layback seat posts. A minimum of 15 cm of seatpost and 18 cm of clearance between saddle and tyre is recommended.

The shape of the harness is designed to accommodate different manufacturers' dry bags in a range of sizes.

There is no limit on the weight that the Tiger can hold, but very heavy loads will have a greater impact on the handling of the bike due to the position relative to the centre of gravity.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

It's well made, sturdy and yet light. The straps, buckles and body are all good quality.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

A light and, more importantly, stable bikepacking option.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

It's a rugged little thing; despite being small and light its construction is well thought out and it looks like it will last a lot of long and rough journeys.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
9/10

As a harness it forgoes a lot of the weight of a fully enclosed bikepacking bag, and dry bags are also light.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

It's not cheap to begin with, although it is going to last, and you’ll need to add in the price of a dry bag if you don’t have one already, get the Wildcat one for best results That said, it still works out cheaper than some.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well. It's compact, light and stable, ideal when you want to carry enough stuff to see you halfway across a county not halfway across the globe. Care needs to be taken not to under or overload it, though.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Volume, weight, stability. Works a lot better with the Wildcat dry bag.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The straps seemed to require constant tidying, could jiggle a little loose off-road. Needs the Wildcat dry bag to work at its best.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

The Tiger is £8 more than the similarly sized Altura Vortex 2 Waterproof Compact Seatpack, which has a passing resemblance to the Wildcat but is an all-in-one unit. The Altura scores very well on waterproofness, something the Wildcat can only compete on depending on which dry bag you choose to shove in it, but the Vortex does have flappy strap syndrome as well.

Even when you add the cost of a dry bag into the mix, the Tiger works out cheaper than the £135 Miss Grape Cluster 7.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, I have a lot of small seatpacks for carrying a tube and basic tools and at the other end of the scale big bike packing bags for *everything*, this fills the gap nicely.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, it's a crowded market but the Wildcat can still hold its own.

Use this box to explain your overall score

The Wildcat Tiger Wayfarer is a handily sized harness for when you want to carry a little more than normal but less than an expedition, micro-adventure fans raise your hands. It does become a better more integrated (and less strappy) unit if you buy the Wildcat dry bag.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 180cm  Weight: 73kg

I usually ride: It varies as to the season.  My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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