One of the most important factors in any (fat)bikepacking trip is the carrying and weight distribution of your kit.
Three main pieces of kit make up my usual bikepacking luggage:
I was lucky enough to stumble upon the Wildcat Gear website (wildcatgear.co.uk) in my search for a frame bag back in 2012.
A few conversations later and I was sat making a cardboard template of my frame and my ‘Leopard’ frame-bag began to take shape.
Once they had the template it only took a week before it arrived in the post weighing almost nothing (I think it comes in at about 350g if I remember correctly) and looking great.
It was originally made to fit my Cotic ‘Soul’ (hardtail 26″ singletrack demon!) but I had them make the straps extendable so that it could be fitted to a steel road bike that I had at the time and by a stroke of luck and good design it fits my 29er and my fatbike – result!
Here it is in all it’s simplistic beauty:
It’s got a single horizontal zip (available with multiple pockets if desired) and a handy little mesh map holder section inside as well as a velcro internal divider which can be fastened if I need to compartmentalise the space.
I played around with a bastardised Ortileb seat-bag (mounted in a vertical position to allow for getting off the back of the seat and to try and minimise it swinging around) which worked but didn’t quite give me enough room to carry everything I need.
You can see how it was mounted here:
It needed a little further adaptation to be stable enough during use but it works well if you only need to carry a small amount of kit there and especially well compared to most other seat-bags if you still want to be able to hang off the back of the seat on trickier and more technical trails.
But for big trips more space is needed and so I continued to look around for other options.
I’ve ridden bikes with other (more expensive and elaborate) seat-bags on and they suffer from annoying and excessive swinging which had really put me off but the Tiger doesn’t and to be honest I forget it is even there most of the time – perfect!
You can see below how it looks off and on the bike:
For a long time I just strapped an 8l dry bag to my handlebars and, for the most part, it works fine but…..for a big trip (especially in winter) I need more space and so I went for a 10l dry bag which was too big to fit beneath the cables and so I needed another bit of kit to mount it away from the bars/head-tube so that the cables could pass underneath without obstruction.
I became the proud owner of aMountain Lion onto which I could securely fix my new bigger dry bag.
I tried to edit some of my photographs to show you how it works but they were never clear enough and so I’ve stolen the example photos from their website so that you can get an idea of how it sits on the bike:
They recommend a maximum size of 8l for the mounted dry bag but I got away with a 10l without any problems.
It worked a treat and I was able to carry everything I needed for the whole trip with great weight distribution and minimal affect on bike handling (the main difference between good bikepacking gear and regular ‘touring’ luggage).
They’ve just released a new fat-lion handlebar harness which I’ve yet to get my hands on but is specifically designed to take bigger/wider bags so that more winter gear can be loaded for more extreme trips.
Here’s my trusty steed all loaded up and ready for adventure: