Loaded Carradice Porn, another installment of The Fancy Bicyclist

As I mentioned previously, I have a certain fetish for traditional Carradice saddlebags. There’s something about them that evokes the image of touring through the English countryside and drinking tea. Romantic imagery is one thing, but they are very practical and durable bags as well. I’ve owned the Carradice bag on my Raleigh Wayfarer for almost four years, and the smaller green one that used to be on my Long Haul Trucker for about a year.
Carradice on Raleigh Wayfarer.
The bag that I had been coveting was the “ultimate” in Carradice saddlebags, the Camper Longflap. Big. Capacity 24 litres. After hauling two sets of panniers plus handlebar bag plus small Carradice on the Cross-Con  Tour, I was looking forward to shorter tours with less stuff when I got back to town. That’s why I decided to take the rear rack off the LHT for now. It was my hope to have a Camper Longflap on the rear to hold things like sleeping bags, then have two front panniers with maybe a handlebar bag. But the Camper Longflap isn’t cheap (retails for $130 at Citybikes) and is hard to find used in the States.
Before Christmas I got not one but two Carradices through my “hook-up”, Mr. Todd Boulanger of Vancouver, Wash. USA. I decided to keep the larger longflap bag for myself, give April the smaller bag, and then give Mr. Raving Bike Fiend the green bag that was on my LHT. So the longflap went on the Long Haul Trucker. 
The Cycle Wild New Year Excursion to Stub Stewart was the first time I tested the new (to me) bag. I loaded the Carradice up the night before to make sure that everything I wanted to get in there would get in there. This included my down sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, inflatable pillow, camp towel, and rain gear in the main compartment. Strapped to the outside was my U-Lock. It all fit fine. The longer flap on this bag (with an extra set of straps) meant that a lot could fit in there. But how would it ride? Fine. There was a little leg rub on the bag (a common complaint for transverse saddlebags) but nothing that bothered me. So far, a success.
Because it worked so fine, I started to reconsider the idea of getting a new Camper Longflap. If I could hold what I need to with the current bag, why get another bag? So I decided to test my current longflap on the LHT by stuffing both my sleeping bag and sleeping pad in the main compartment, then strap my bivy sack to the outside of the flap. Everything held.
Now I started to doubt that the bag I have is a Nelson Longflap. Maybe it’s a Camper after all? I rode over to Citybikes and held the current Camper Longflap next to my bag. The Camper still looked slightly bigger in a couple dimension, but they were the same length (14″ or 35 cm) and I could only tell them apart by really looking. So my bag might be an older version of the Camper? Hard to tell, especially since Carradice doesn’t bother to put model names on their products. 
In any case, my bag is a keeper. And I’m going to put it to work.
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7 thoughts on “Loaded Carradice Porn, another installment of The Fancy Bicyclist

  1. I commute with a Nelson Longflap, which is about 25 percent smaller than a Camper Longflap. But it's still huge: I can carry books, papers, a change of shoes, an extra layer and my lunch in it. You might try Wiggle UK for Carradice bags. They sell most models, though they sometimes run out. (That's mainly Carradice's "fault": Because they make their bags by hand, production is limited.) But if you're patient, you can get one for about thirty percent less than what it would cost in the US. On their website, prices are quote with the VAT; it's deducted for customers outside the EU. Plus, Wiggle offers free shipping to the US on orders of 50 pounds (about 80 dollars) or more. I have received orders from them three days after placing them when items were in stock. Really, it's hard to go wrong with them!

  2. Justine-Thanks for the heads-up re: Wiggle. Those prices are VERY nice right now, esp. for the Nelson Longflap. If I had the extra cash, I'd go for it. But somehow I think the longflap now on the LHT will work for me. It's already proven itself around town, and I feel like I could cram some more camping gear in and still make it work. Somehow I don't think even a Camper will hold camp gear plus clothes, unless I go minimalist on everything (clothes and gear.) Glad to hear that your Nelson works well for commuting!

  3. I need to upgrade my commuting system, and Carradice bags look like the right way to go. I need something big enough to hold my stuff and sometimes a pair of shoes, and with feet as big as mine, that ends up requiring a suprizingly large bag. Thank you for the information.

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