Bikepacking is one of the biggest trends in cycling at the moment with the rising popularity of events like the Transcontinental Race helping to raise the profile of riding unsupported on a bike laden down with just the bare essentials and a multitude of new adventure and gravel bikes fit for the purpose of covering any terrain.
Bikepacking bags, as they’re known, commonly comprise lightweight bags that strap directly to the frame, seatpost and handlebar. They fit just about any bike so you aren’t restricted to riding a bike with rack mounts to carry panniers, and they’re versatile and can easily be adapted to suit different requirements.
Miss Grape is one of the latest arrivals on the UK scene, an Italian manufacturer of bikepacking bags that we first came across at the Spin show in London a few years back. They’ve recently been snapped up by Ison Distribution so they’ll be available in local bike shops soon.
The Miss Grape brand grew out of founder Michele Boschetti’s habit of making handmade bags for his own bikepacking adventures across his native Italy. One thing led to another and in 2014 he founded the company to sell a range of bags.
Boschetti has worked hard on finding the right materials for the bags, sourcing a ballistic polyamide fabric with high rear resistance which provides the durability and abrasion resistance he wanted for his bags. A coating adds water resistance and there are waterproof zips as well. And, of course, they’re handmade in Italy.
They stopped by the office the other day to let us have a quick first look, and first impressions are of bags made to a very high quality with the sort of attention to detail you expect in a bag that has been thoroughly tested by its creator.
In the Miss Grape range are five bags: the Internode Frame bag (£85) comes in three sizes, a Tendril Handlebar Bag (£105), a Cluster Saddle Bag (£115) in two sizes, a Node Top Tube Bag (£50) and the Bud Mini Bar Bag (£42).
The Internode Frame Bag is mounted to the top tube using velcro fasteners that can be adjusted to suit. It’s available in three sizes to suit different size bikes, from 3 to 5.5 litres of cargo capacity.
The Cluster Saddle Bag comes in two sizes - 13 and 20 litres - and is made from dotted black nylon fabric with a water repellent polyurethane coating, and a smart PVC coating on the underside so it shrugs off spray from the rear wheel, serving as a neat mudguard. The belts are polypropylene and allow a full range of adjustment.
Ison Distribution's Patrick Joscelyne, brand manager for Miss Grape, tells us “although bikepacking is not a new idea, developments in materials and new construction ideas have led to riders looking to travel further and faster with less weight and kit than traditional touring.”
He adds: “If you have less storage space you have to carry less kit. The idea is to be able to take your favourite bike and go anywhere extending a day trip by 1, 2 or multiple extra days/weeks without the need for traditional panniers, ‘slipping’ through the landscape enjoying the views and trail ahead of you. It’s a very cathartic experience leaving stuff out that you would normally pack and although it takes time to get your kit list dialled, once you have the basics, you can head off anywhere and enjoy the feeling of liberation from the daily grind.”
See the full range on the Ison
Of course, you can always make your own bikepacking bags, as Liam Glen did in his DIY Bikepacking Bags blog a while back.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.