Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Build a Seat Bag

Note: This post was originally written in 2010. I made the seatbag because I was into sewing projects and because seatbags at the time were rare and expensive. If I was doing this now I would probably buy the Revelate Designs Viscacha. I would also consider this Ideashop bag if I was on a budget since it costs about one quarter what the Revelate bag does. The seatbag below was used mainly on a six day ride of the Kokopelli and White Rim trails and it worked great except for the adjustable straps slipping, which was easily solved by making them fixed.

I built my own seat bag to go a with my homemade frame bag for some bikepacking adventures I have planned.


White Widow Spectra fabric
400 denier Cordura fabric (you don't have to use two types of fabric, I just liked the way it looked).
1" nylon webbing
5 side release buckles
1" velcro (all of the above from Seattle Fabrics)
Something to stiffen the bottom - foam? Coroplast? I haven't tried anything yet

I started out with two "Y" shaped pieces for the top and bottom. Most of the seat bags I have seen are equal height/width but I couldn't make mine very tall because the suspension moves the wheel towards the bag.

Next I cut out rectangles of fabric for the sides and sewed them to the top and bottom. DON'T DO THIS! Pin the top, bottom, and sides together but don't sew them. Or use a basting stitch. If you sew the pieces together now makes it very difficult (impossible without the right sewing machine) to sew the straps on later because the sewing machine won't fit inside the bag.

Next I sewed buckles to the ends of a piece of webbing and sewed the webbing to what will be the opening of the bag. It's just like the opening of a dry bag. I added webbing all the way around to make it easier to close and to prevent fraying.

Next I cut out a two pieces to hold the bag to the seatpost.

I trimmed these pieces down and attached straps and buckles. Then I sewed them to the sides of the bag.

Next I made the piece that attaches the bag to the underside of the seat. It's got a piece of webbing that goes to the back of the bag and another that goes around the seat rails

What the bag should look like now:

Next I made a similar piece for the bottom and sewed it on.

Next I sewed the opening next to the seatpost together.

Next I sewed velcro to the seatpost flaps. Be sure to sew it to the correct side of the flap or it won't connect.

Here's where you can finally sew the top and bottom to the sides if you didn't do this up front like I did. Final result:

I'm happy with the results but I think it could be improved. I'm not happy with the way it sags right at the seatpost. I think this could be solved by using heavier Cordura or with something stiffening it from the inside. Since this bag is made and I'm not going to tear it apart, I'm going to try adding some foam or plastic to the inside near the post and on the bottom of the bag. It's not too bad in these pics but the bag can hold a lot more and it sags with more weight. The bottom of the bag has the same problem. As you add more weight and the bag gets longer it sags more at the end and between the vertical webbing and the seatpost. I don't think it's going to fail but it doesn't look right.

I also built a front bag to hold my sleeping bag. I'll post that next.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bikepacking at Blue Mound State Park

Devon and I rode to Blue Mound State Park and camped for a night. We took the Military Ridge Trail. It took five hours to go 20 miles due to the rain, mud, snow, and darkness. I'm sure Devon will have a better description here. Given the conditions, my new bike and new camping gear worked well enough with one exception. The bivy that I bought (for $15) really didn't work very well at all because, in an attempt to be lighter, I didn't bring the pole or stakes for it (not the bivy's fault, my fault). This meant that there was no way to open the vent without the rain getting in. Meaning that I could either have lots of condensation or rain coming in. I went for a mix of both. Luckily the sleeping bag is water resistant and I stayed dry inside even though it ended up with a lot of water inside. I'll bring the pole next time.

Here's what I brought:
-Dry bag with sleeping bag (Marmot Helium) and jacket (Marmot Zeus) strapped to the bars
-Frame bag (homemade) with sleeping pad (Thermarest Neoair), extra clothes, food, and camera
-Seat bag with tools and a tube
-Backpack/camelbak with bivy (The Backside T-7), water, and more clothes
-Bottle cage with a one liter bottle (Snapple Lyte Water - the biggest bottle I could find that fits in a cage)

The only picture I have (it was raining and dark for the ride):

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Test Fitting Sleeping Bag and Bottle Cage

I bought a Sea to Summit eVent compression dry bag and put my sleeping bag and a light down coat in it and strapped it to the bars. I plan to make a bar bag to carry the dry bag in but the straps alone would work. I was hoping to carry the sleeping bag in the seat bag but a large enough bag wouldn't fit when the rear suspension compresses. This plan is actually better because I didn't think I would be able to bring my coat but I will be able to this way. I'm still hoping to find a better place for the sleeping pad than on top of the bars but it will work if that's where it ends up.

I also installed a cage under the downtube and tried a 24oz. bottle there. Hopefully it won't rub. I think I will have space for around six liters, which should be enough.