Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: Revelate Tangle and Jandd Frame Pack

revelate tangle

A frame pack transforms the main triangle of a bike frame into a useful storage space. They are becoming available in numerous shapes and sizes to capitalize on the rising popularity of bikepacking. I decided to try them out since they appeared to be an easy, convenient, and lightweight storage option. So, I got hold of a Revelate Tangle and a standard Jandd Frame Pack, both of which I will review here.

The first thing to consider before purchasing a frame pack is the geometry of your frame. These packs tend to work best with a classic diamond frame. If your frame has more extreme angles and/or a small front triangle, it may be difficult to fit a pack into it. There are some companies that make custom packs for hard to fit frames, but this is probably an expensive option.

The Revelate Tangle is available in three sizes, all of which are priced at around $70. I ordered the large size, which provided a near perfect fit on a 58cm Surly Cross Check frame. It's just a wee bit short for a 60cm Cross Check (shown in dark blue below), so there is a bit of a gap between the frame and the bag. You can find the Cross Check geometry on the Surly website, and use that as a basis for comparison for your particular bike. The attachment straps on the stock bag are quite long, so you have a lot to work with to fit it into different frames. Once I had my fit locked down, I trimmed the excess length from the straps.

revelate tangle

revelate tangle

The first thing I noticed about the Tangle was the quality of craftsmanship. It appears to be very well made, and uses top shelf materials, which makes it strong yet amazingly lightweight. The Tangle utilizes seven straps to attach it to your frame, which means it's pretty rock solid once it's installed. I can't imagine any scenario that would cause it to detach unintentionally. The straps are quite long so they will fit a variety of frame tube sizes. There was more than enough length for me, so I trimmed the straps down a bit after I had fit the pack into my frame. The Tangle contains two compartments, one on each side. The right side compartment is wider, so that's where most items end up. The left compartment is narrow, so it's better suited for narrower items such as maps. Both compartments are sealed with waterproof zippers which feature very handy loop pulls. Reaching down to access items was always quick and easy.

Of course, you have to be selective about what you store in a frame pack. Items must be narrow enough that they don't bulge out too much and interfere with your pedaling. That said, I never had a problem finding suitable items to store in it. A u-lock, bicycle pump, tools, and tent poles all fit quite well, as did compressible items like a lightweight jacket.

The one downside to using a frame pack is it can interfere with water bottle storage. As you can see in the photo above, I was able to use two small water bottles with the Tangle in my 58cm frame, but those who want to use larger bottles will be out of luck, and the smaller your frame, the less clearance you will have. On the flip side, some people actually use the Tangle itself for carrying water by placing a Camelbak type reservoir into it and threading the tube up to the handlebars. I have not yet tried this, but I can see that there is plenty of room inside the Tangle for such a setup.

This brings me to the Jandd frame pack. Jandd also makes these packs in a few different sizes, but I got the basic pack which is significantly cheaper than the Tangle at $35. That price comes with some tradeoffs, the most obvious being less storage space (but lots more room for water bottles). The Jandd also uses a zipper flap and straight zipper pulls instead of loops, so access to the compartments was not as quick and easy, but by no means was it difficult either. There are fewer straps holding the pack to the frame, so it doesn't feel as solid as the Tangle, but here again, I can't imagine it ever coming off unintentionally. Like the Tangle, the Jandd has one pocket on each side, with the right side pocket being the roomier one.

jandd frame pack

Now that I have both packs, I really don't bother with the Jandd. If I'm going to use a frame pack, it's going to be the Tangle, hands down. But the Jandd is still a very handy and affordable pack to have. Those who just want to carry a few things and don't want to shell out twice as much money for a Tangle will probably be very pleased with it.

2 comments:

  1. was there any interference with the tangle bag while pedaling?

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    1. I had no problems in that regard, but I suppose it depends on how you pack it. I used it for long, narrow items which fit the pack well like maps, tire pump, tent poles, rolled up jacket, etc. It's probably possible to overstuff it with bulky items to the point where it interferes with pedaling, but that hasn't happened to me yet.

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