This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Frost River Bags

      It seems like years ago (well 2 or 3) that I ran across Frost River luggage on Ebay.  At the time, I was looking for a handlebar bag and decided to try one of their "Sawbill Trail" bags.  After some problems with Ebay, I finally ordered directly from their website.  Although the bag was a couple of weeks coming, I was  really happy with it.  It was one of those "whatthehelldidIeverdowithoutone!" moments and it goes with me nearly every time I ride.   At the time I knew I would be having more time to do some serious weekend and week long touring and decided to order one of their saddle bags as well.  They have a "Gunflint trail" bag which is a large traditional saddlebag which fit my eye and purpose really well.  Long story short, Frost River disappeared.  I was bummed.  I saw a lot of other saddlebags, rumors about Frost River floated around the internet, and I never found just what I wanted.  Low and behold, a few months ago I received an e-mail from Frost River letting me know they were back in business, relocated and redeveloping their website.  I wrote back asking if they were using the same methods, design and material as in the past, they assured me they were.
       Well that's all it took to put the Gunflint Trail back on the agenda.  Being in the middle of relocating after a house fire, I had other priorities, but last week I ordered the Gunflint Trail bag along with one of their Medium Manitou shoulder bags.  Their e-mail response said I should allow 2 weeks for delivery and having had experience with them, I felt that was reasonable.  The bags came within a week and I was ecstatic.
Like the Sawbill these were of excellent waxed cotton canvas with leather trim and seams complimented by strong real brass hardware and grommets.  I was really pleased with the shoulder bag which I will use around town on business:
It has plenty of room for my proposals and sales information; it's a little small for a laptop but an Ipad or other tablet will fit beautifully.  I think it will fit great on my Porteur rack during the warmer weather.
      But back to the main player the, Gunflint Trail.  It's really quite large, with two side pockets, all seams are reinforced with stitched leather and brass hardware.
Their attention to detail is great.  Like a lot of large saddle bags, a wooden dowel is used to reinforce the saddle straps and stabilize the top of the bag.  Frost River, in keeping with their rustic image, went to the trouble to disguise their dowel with a bark like substance which makes it look like a real stick!   Exciting, but kinda labor intensive, don't ya think?  I had to give it the test and see if it would hold 3 days worth of clothing, the most I ever carry.
    Since this is November in Michigan, my shorts and shortsleeved shirts are packed away and I chose 3 long sleeved sport shirts, three pants (one athletic, one pair of jeans, and one pair of chinos), three pair of underwear and woolen socks.

 I rolled ' em up like I normally do and surprise, they all fit!
    The side pockets were left empty and available for  tools and hygiene items.  There are four flaps which seal your clothes and have grommets to be tied together "compression sack" fashion.

I can see this being very useful to tighten up the load and leave extra room on top for a jacket or rain gear.
Even without compressing the load, I had plenty of excess strap on the top flap for adding gear.

Putting the loaded bag on the bike was the typical installation using the saddle loops and attaching to the seatpost.

Frost River refers to their products as "instant antiques," and I can see why, years have not affected my Sawbill Trail at all and I cannot imagine wearing out their products.   Buy them hoping your great grandchildren like them, I'm sure they'll get them.
    The only possible criticisms I have are minor,  A longer strap should be provided for the seat post so a leather or wooden piece can be inserted between the seatpost and bag to help prevent thigh rub.  I made a cylinder from a piece of an old belt, but I don't  think it will be big enough.  The bag does have a slotted leather patch on the bottom which can be used to tie the bag back to a rear rack and that can also be helpful.  The other thing is simple, but I think should be obvious these days, there's no place to attach a "flashy thing" and since most of us use them these days, there should be.

Overall I am glad to have Frost River back on the market and have my eye on a couple of their new products for the near future.


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    1. Since I wrote that post I have bought two more of their products and find them to be of tremendous quality. I'm glad it helped.

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