The humble top tube bag. How can something so useful be the cause of so much frustration?
No matter what you do, they wobble, sway and generally get in the way. But you persevere because of their utility, and the lack of any better alternative.
Enter stage left: the ‘bento box mount’. Two bolts on the top tube allow you to securely attach a top tube bag to the bike. A simple idea, promising to eliminate wobbly bags forever…if only it were that simple.
Thus far, choice has been extremely limited and most of the bags on the market have been tiny ‘aero’ packs. They are so small I actually prefer to do without the bag altogether and stuff everything in my jersey pockets. Now that bento box mounts are becoming more common on gravel bikes however, larger, more practical, bags are hitting the market. The Node 2H from Italian firm Miss Grape is a good example of what is available.
The ‘2H’ designation stands for ‘Two Hole’.
The bag is sturdy enough and does not sway when loaded up. For the belt and braces brigade, there is also a detachable strap which you can secure to the steerer tube.
The main body is made from a reinforced nylon fabric. The base features a rubberised base for extra grip. The interior walls are lightly padded for crash protection and rigidity. An internal, Velcro, partition lets you segregate items, but I felt it was of little practical value.
An ultra smooth, chunky zip makes the contents easily accessible on the fly. Many bag manufacturers get this crucial component wrong but Miss Grape have got it dialled – across their entire range.
There are two outer side mesh pockets for small items, energy bars or even spent bar wrappers. I would have preferred it if the pockets were elasticated, but it is not a deal breaker. Maybe one for the next iteration Miss Grape?
While the ‘Aquazip’ is water proof, the bag itself is not. It will shrug off light showers but too much rain will eventually wet the bag out, leaving the contents soggy. At least the 2H drains quickly thanks to the mounting points for the two bolts in the base of the bag. If the weather looks dodgy, use a dry bag for precious items and you will be fine.
The Miss Grape Node is one of the larger top tube bags on the market. Annoyingly, it tapers down quite considerably. In purely practical terms, this means larger items have to be jammed up the front. Having said that, I can fit a compact camera, multitool and three snacks into it quite comfortably. Leave the camera at home and there is enough room for two 29er tubes.
There are no reflective details which is a shame.
The bag is tough, hard wearing so it should cope with whatever you can throw at it. A misjudged balancing act in the Lake District saw my bike sliding down a rocky slope. Although the bike is sporting some new battle scars, the Miss Grape Node, and the Internode frame bag we tested alongside it, emerged unscathed.
The Miss Grape Node 2H has proved to be as tough and functional as the rest of the range of bikepacking bags. No frilly features, just simple hard wearing kit that will last and last.
At £60 (£55 if you go for straps instead of the 2H bento mounts), the Miss Grape Node is a little dear. But if you subscribe to the mantra of “buy cheap, buy twice” then you will consider it to be money well spent.
Last modified: 29th July 2019