Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

Frost River Gunflint Trail and Caribou Trail Saddlebags

The new shipment of Frost River bike bags arrived at the Bike Touring News Store last week. Frost River may be better known for their canoe packs than for bicycle touring bags but both should be held to the same standard –
Canoe packs are built for a very specific task (hauling the stuff that will sustain you) in a very specific environment (the Northern Wilderness). In this setting, things like a seam ripping or a sidewall tearing or a strap breaking—little failures that would be an annoyance in everyday life—come with huge consequences.”
-And so it goes for bike touring.

Frost River makes their bags in Duluth Minnesota from materials sourced in the USA.

water beads up on canvas

Photo from www.frostriver.com

The waxed cotton canvas comes from Fairfield Textiles and is called Martexin Original Wax. The fabric is claimed to have a lifelong resistance to inclement weather as well as being naturally breathable. The hand is not course or stiff even though the canvas is stout. It is evident that the material is impregnated with wax rather than simply coated.

leather strap

Photo from www.frostriver.com

The leather in the straps and reinforcements comes from S.B. Foot Tanning Co. in Red Wing MN. Yes, that Red Wing. I currently have two pairs of Red Wing shoes and it’s sort of neat to know the leather in my bike bag comes from the same source!

photo from www.frostriver.com

All the buckles, snaps, slides and d-rings are solid brass, not simply plated. And they are big. They might almost appear clunky to some but when fumbling with cold fingers and/or in the dark I think I will appreciate the large size.

The Gunflint Trail is the larger of the two traditional style “transverse” saddlebags from Frost River and it is big. The stated capacity is 20.6 liters but it seems larger…..maybe that doesn’t include the side pockets. And, while this bag could be used without a rack support, it sits very nicely on the Nitto R15 or R14 Top Rack.

side view of saddlebag

The Gunflint Trail bag on the Nitto R15 rear rack. Note the riveted and sewn leather attachments.


side view w/ open pocket

The side pockets have a clam shell lid which increases the capacity while keeping the contents accessible.


interior shot

The drawstring in not included…..not sure why…..


interior support

Leather straps looped through the saddle and around the willow (?) stick (which should never break) support the bags. The interior leather reinforcement is hella thick.


interior reinforcement

The corners of the interior leather reinforcement are square and sharp leading me to wonder if they might eventually wear through the canvas.


Hemmed edges won’t unravel.


bottom view

A broad piece of tanned leather is sewn lengthwise on the bottom of the bag for reinforcement and wear protection. Small slots in the leather accommodate straps for secure lashing to the rack.

The Caribou Trail bag is an 8.8 liter capacity bag without side pockets. It works as a saddlebag but can also be strapped to the handlebars. A support such as the Nitto R10 rear bag supporter will keep the bag a little proud of the saddle and might prevent any unwanted side to side swaying.

side view on carrier

The Caribou Trail bag on the Nitto R10 bag supporter.


side view without support

If used without a support the bag requires about 9″ (23cm) from the saddle loops to the tire or fender.


handlebar mount

Right then, it’s also possible to use the Caribou trail as a handlebar bag.

1 comment… add one
  • Penny January 20, 2014, 8:26 pm

    My name is Penny Nepomuceno, I’m also a cyclist and a bike traveler. Because of our passion for traveling on two-wheels, my partner and I decided to come up with our own brand of bike bags. We also realized that we wanted to make it simpler and less costly, so we went in the direction of bike bags the do not require panniers or racks, thus we have our handlepack and saddlepacks.

    Do visit our facebook. I would love to hear from you!


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