Reviewed: J.Paks frame bag
We Like: Water bottle cage boss mounting provides stability.
We Don’t Like: Custom build means longer wait time.
Price: Starting at $180
Frame bags solve a pretty major a storage problem for winter bikers who shed bulky layers that won’t fit in a hydration pack. There are plenty of choices out there, but J.Paks stands out for two important reasons: One, all the bags are made by hand in Denver by Joe Tonsager; and two, they’re custom-made to fit your frame with adaptability and toughness in mind. Whatever you want or need your pack to do, Tonsager will make sure it happens.
Our test model attached to a Meriwether Cycles fat bike with a curved top tube. To accommodate this unique tube shape, Tonsager made a completely custom bag shape that secures to the top tube with heavy-duty Velcro straps and to the seat tube and down tube via integrated bolts that thread into the water bottle cage bosses. This bag isn’t going anywhere — no swaying, no working loose.
Inside, removable Velcro panels allow for plenty of storage options. Want just one big compartment? Remove the Velcro separator. Want to separate your food from your clothes? Put the separator right where you need it.
Pockets are laid out logically: a small pocket on the left side is ideal for stowing your ride food, while the top pocket on the right side is sized perfectly for a water bottle and fat bike tube, or for your hydration bladder. The lower pocket is great for all your extra layers. A flared front adds storage capabilities without interfering with your pedal stroke, too. This layout was all part of the design process, which mostly involves several conversations with Tonsager about how you’ll be using the bag.
We rode this bag through all the slop we could find during a Colorado winter and the tape-sealed construction kept all our goodies dry. You can choose your bag’s material, too: Heavy-duty 1000D Cordura is ideal for long bikepacking trips, and the lighter X-Pac cloth is great for everyday riding and long-haulers looking to trim weight. Though we thought we’d only use it for bikepacking or longer day trips, the pack is ideal for shorter rides too — leave the Camelbak at home. And a J.Paks bag is only a few dollars more expensive than a comparable Revelate Designs bag — not bad for a fully custom build.