Saturday, July 29, 2023

The Most Versatile Bike Bag - Repurposing for the Win

It's more than a trunk bag...

Reconfiguring this old, oversized Gregory fanny pack into a versatile bike bag has been my most satisfying project to date.

The rugged Gregory backpacks from the late 1980s were constructed of Cordura material with numerous pockets, strong zippers with leather zipper pulls, and a myriad of accessory attachments. I got rid of the backpack a few years ago, but kept the removeable top pocket plus a gargantuan, overengineered, fanny pack that could be used with the backpack's hip belt. 

I decided the fanny pack, already embellished with external zippered pocket, four webbing loops on the bottom, straps with buckles that could be configured in different ways, plus a daisy chain webbing along the top would lend itself - simply by its features - to an interesting bike bag conversion. Like I mentioned, this fanny pack was overengineered and because of that I don't recall ever using it for it's intended purpose more than a handful of times. 

The Process
I slimmed the overall width (upper left photo) by cutting off the padded sleeve, opening up the side wings, removing the stiffeners, and pulling in and restitching the sides to form a shorter bag. The height stayed to same, that way I could use the zippers as is. Upper right photo shows the flaking internal coating - though the exterior is in great shape. The rear of the pack came with an internal stiffener, so the plan was to stiffen the bottom (lower left photo, a piece of ground pad) and front while also covering the peeling inside, attaching a piece of old green jacket (lower right photo). The cutting, piecing, and sewing was difficult - between wedging the pack into the sewing machine and getting the dimensions just right, I broke 6 needles, and gave up toward the end, so I hand-sewed the last two inches. I even went so far as to leave an opening in the green material so the blue piece is removable should I decide I don't want it in the future.

Bottom view - affix hook and loop to existing webbing straps to secure the bag to any rack.
The retrofit didn't cost anything - I even had double-sided hook and loop attachments from my stash, though I wondered how strong they would prove to be. Like my other projects, I think about the process a lot before starting, then often work slowly, reevaluating as I go because sometimes new ideas prove invaluable.

The water bottle holder was constructed with pieces of the large Gregory backpack.
First test was heading for a sunset picnic on the Dahon. I attached the four bottom attachments to the rack, then looped one buckle/strap around the seat post for extra measure. 

Additional views of the setup. Note the versatility with the two buckled strap attachments.

Carrying a lightweight picnic blanket under the second strap.
The pack didn't budge! Now I have a "trunk bag" for my folding bike.

The bag also performed flawlessly as a front carrier. Like attaching to the rear rack, all four bottom attachments are secured to the front rack, with the other two straps wrapped around the rack and fastened to lend extra strength.

I carried home a 4-pack without any wobble!

I had recently borrowed my husband's mountain bike front handlebar bag for extra storage and understood how useful it could be. There isn't enough storage in my small frame wedge for more than a lock, wallet, and phone - and wanting extra space on my mountain bike rides for a first aid kit, snacks, and extra clothing, etc. I wondered if the new purple pack would work.

The photo illustrates how I threaded the two straps through the daisy chain webbing and over the bars, tightly secured! I can access the exterior pocket easily, and the internal area by lifting the cables out of the way, but certainly doable.

There is plenty of clearance above the tire.

The bag efficiently fits three of my bikes - a testament to the existing, multiple attachment points, plus added internal stiffeners. I never expected this outcome - not in my wildest dreams!

Fanny packs are sold with the ability to attach to handlebars, or handlebar bags converted to a purse, but I've never seen a pack that's as versatile as this one.  (Let me know if you have. :) )