If you have a small amount of gear to carry with you on your bike but don’t fancy – or like – wearing a rucksack, then a tailpack is a great option.
You can get all sizes of tailpack, as we have seen recently but to carry the basics with you or a small commuting collection of clothes for when you arrive, this diminutive 18-litre pack from Oxford is a great offering.
I’ve used this tailpack extensively in a wide variety of bikes, ranging from a café racer to adventurer and it hasn’t let me down once. It has subsequently been superseded which can only add to its usefulness (as well as its price) but we’ll get to that in a moment.
In its most basic form, it’s a square tailpack that fixes to the bike with a Velcro strap that passes under the pillion seat or luggage rack if fitted and is further secured by four double D-ring -fastened straps. These can mount on pillion-peg hangers, under rear mudguards – wherever you can fit them. They pass through sturdy D-rings on the base of the tailpack which also has a non-slip, harder-wearing panel.
The latest version is essential the same, though it features a zip-on base, so that the main bag can be unzipped from the base which secures it to the bike, for quick and easy removal. If you use all the supplied straps, the version I have, with a fixed base, is a bit of a faff to get the whole thing off.
Which is where the included “showerproof” inner liner is useful. On mine (admittedly three years old), this is made from nylon with welded seams and features a Velcro closing flap and a pair of securing buckles. In the time I’ve used it, I have generally got what I need to carry in the nylon bag inside the main tailpack and my gear has always stayed dry.
Some moisture has occasionally got past the main zips but they aren’t designed to be waterproof, the protection coming from the liner. They are, however, located under flaps on the lid so they don’t bear the brunt of the rain or wind.
Internally, there is a single main compartment with a mesh pouch on the underside of the lid, as well as a zipped pocket. On the outside, there are two side pockets though these are so narrow, they are clearly intended for one of the supplied five different colour panels to tailor the pack to your bike. There is a useful pocket on one end, with a non-waterproof zip covered with a flap and an elasticated luggage net on the top of the lid, for gloves or similar.
Fixing it to the bike is straightforward though involved – you really don’t want to be taking it on and off, which presumably is why the newer version has the zipped base. But even when on, I still find I can whip out the inner bag and carry it with me. The 18-litre capacity isn’t much but it is enough for a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and perhaps, a thin hoodie if you don’t mind packing tight.
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You won’t get a laptop in there (unless it’s tiny) but you would get a small loaf of bread and a bottle of milk in it.
I once carried a small statue of a giraffe in it as a present – I had nowhere else to carry it and it had its head stuck out of the corner, like a dog on the ride home. It stayed put though, highlighting how stable it is as a piece of luggage.
If you need a small amount of carrying capacity and don’t want to add enormously to the look and feel of the bike, then this is a good option. It’s stable, has a showerproof liner and the newer version has a zip-off base to make fitting and taking off the bike easier.
Basic but effective
New version comes with zip-off base
Separate showerproof liner
Capacity may be low for some uses