Is the little 1.5 litre Apidura Downtube Pack the most versatile bag yet? We asked some of Apidura’s product testers what they use it for and had a go ourselves.
When we received Apidura’s Expedition Downtube Pack here at ADVNTR HQ, we were pretty excited. Just like aero road bikes, there’s no wonder why a lot of bikepacking bags are starting to look the same, as continuous testing and development narrow down the best features. Now here we had something totally different and new, time to have some fun…
Among the market leaders in bikepacking bags, London based Apidura not only offer a huge array of products for both road and off-road riding, but have been instrumental in developing the endurance racing world, sponsoring many large events such as the Transcontinental and the Transatlantic Way and also funding the race reporting site Dotwatcher.
Toying with different uses on a whole range of different bikes, we’ve been putting the Expedition Downtube Pack to the test, and asking some of Apidura’s ambassadors and product testing team what they have chosen to use this novel bag for.
The Apidura Downtube Pack low-down
Before we get into uses, let’s actually get to what it is. With a 1.5 litre maximum capacity, the downtube pack is part of Apidura’s Expedition series; their durable yet lightweight range of bikepacking bags designed with long distance tours and ‘the most punishing conditions’ in mind. This pack comes in at just 80g.
Due to the single, 4cm wide strap attachment, you won’t need any accessory mounts to fit the pack to your bike, making placement almost totally up to you. Apidura don’t recommend mounting on the seat stays, chain stays or fork, due to their narrower tube diameters. So essentially, on the main triangle, fitting is up to you. With lots of options, perhaps the naming ‘downtube pack’ doesn’t do this bag justice?
A few other features; the bag is claimed to be waterproof, thanks to Apidura’s seam welded construction, padded against the tube it attaches to, has a tab at the base for easy access and also features the Apidura logo on the side in a reflective print for added low-light visibility. It retails at £52 $67 €59.
Now, let’s get on to what you can use it for!
The tube stash – Laura Fidler
One of the best thing about bikepacking is that it can really take you to some remote places. Far from civilisation and much closer to being self-reliant than modern life would have us for most people, that also means carrying more stuff to be able to look after both yourself and your bike, should the worst happen.
Product tester Laura Fidler used her downtube pack to carry a huge stash of inner tubes and a couple extra tools on one such a journey in the Scottish Highlands. You’d be lucky to find a village with a corner shop up there, let alone a bike shop for resupply!
The toolkit – Jasmijn Muller & Natt Williams
“For the Iceland Divide, I used the downtube pack to carry two multitools, some spare sealant, a spare part of a bike chain, and two mini chain lubes,” Natt says, while ultra endurance rider Jasmijn Muller also used her downtube pack for stowing tools. Although Jasmijn’s Northcape-Tarifa record attempt plans might have been dashed by Covid this year, she still raced to win the Race Around The Netherlands. Chapeau, Jasmijn!
The spare water bottle – Rodney Soncco & Greg Hilson
Both Italian Peruvian adventure cyclist Rodney Soncco and Apidura’s Greg Hilson (who is arguably just as adventurous) have been using the downtube pack to carry extra water. It’ll fit a 710ml water bottle perfectly, meaning you don’t need bottle cage mounts for extra water, and it’ll also keep your drinking vessel muck-free for when it comes to rehydrate. Where filthy trails can harbour nasty bacteria, this can make a huge difference to your health and happiness on multi-day tours or races.
The balance bikepacker – Alva Rosenlund
The aero pack – Chris Herbert
Chris Herbert’s downtube pack is stuffed with his trusty Yeti Fever Zero down sleeping bag. “I’ve survived Norway with an additional liner and ALL my clothes, but it’s rated down to about 10 degrees.” Yikes.
“I also ran it as an aerobar pack for a bit,” Chris went on, “It straps rather nicely around a set of aerobars and pretty much disappears between them.”
Emergency snacks – Josie Allchin
Just like a lot of the other employees at Apidura, Josie Allchin loves getting out on her bike to explore, and also has a penchant for jelly babies… She’d use the downtube pack for tools and emergency snacks, “usually the other half of the jelly babies packet that’s not in my top tube pack, some emergency gels (for absolute rock bottom moments, because they’re manky), maybe a tube of electrolytes for longer rides, and a Snickers as a treat”.
As we all know, there’s nothing worse than riding out of ride snacks!
Emergency first aid kit – Tori Fahey
The downtube pack is the perfect place for an emergency med kit, plus “all the things I might really need, but don’t want in my face every day”, according to Tori, Fahey, co-founder of Apidura. That includes spares and tools including a derailleur hanger, proper chain break, etc., and emergency food, like a Clif Bar.
The pantry – Mo and Hannah Awesome
“The down tube pack is awesome for bulk food and lots of snacks,” say Mo and Hannah from @awesome.mtb in California. “It helps a ton especially since it’s easily removable and accessible and lets us bring some extra food without taking up too much of our gear space! Love that thing!”
For longer trips, the bikepacking duo treat the downtube pack as somewhat of a pantry for bulkier food items, “here in the states if you go to a super market you can go to the bulk section and basically buy stuff like oats, peanuts, trail mix etc in bulk, with no packaging and just by weight so it’s cheaper, then you can just stuff it in the down tube pack!”
The waterproof wardrobe – Tony Clare
You almost wouldn’t believe that you could fit a Gore Shakedry waterproof jacket, a pair of Gore C5 Gore-Tex® Active Trail Shorts and a pair of Extremites Tuff Bags GTX waterproof gloves in Apidura’s Downtube bag, but Pan Celtic Race rider Tony Claire does just that. The straps of the downtube bag have purposely been designed to work with round tubes on the frame rather than fork blades, but here with the Lefty fork Tony reckons he’s found the perfect spot for it.
“The Lefty seems to be the best place, as it means it won’t get covered in so much mud as it would under the downtube, plus it means I can still use my third bottle mount under the downtube”, explained Tony.
The outfit change – Katherine Moore
I was meeting my parents for Sunday lunch in the Cotswolds recently, and decided to make a day of it and ride out to meet them. Hanging out in a pub in lycra wasn’t gonna cut it though, so I needed to pack some shorts and a tee for a quick costume change when I got there. I’ve found in the past that some saddlebags have a threshold of kit you need to carry for them to work and hold their shape well, and with the Apidura downtube pack on test it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
I crammed my spare clothes in and attached it under the top tube on my road bike, as the short, aggressive geometry meant that it wouldn’t fit on the downtube without interfering with a turning front wheel. It stayed perfectly in place the whole way and I could barely notice the extra weight.
A name change?
What’s clear is that we’re probably only just scratching the surface of what the Apidura Downtube pack is capable of… Let us know if you try it and what for!
Last modified: 19th November 2020