Blackburn Outpost Elite Universal Seat Pack Review
Blackburn’s updated Outpost Elite collection is designed to be completely waterproof, and it’s also lighter and more durable than the original Outpost line. The Outpost Elite Universal Seat Pack works with both standard and dropper seat posts by way of an alloy support wing and internal plate to minimize sway. We’ve been using it regularly for the last few months, including on some spring bikepacking trips. Read on for the full review…
Blackburn has been making a few useful and innovative products over the last few years under the Outpost line, many of which we’ve had great experiences with – namely the cargo cage and an assortment of multi-tools. Blackburn released the original Outpost collection back in 2015, which included a full suite of bikepacking bags: a handlebar roll, seat pack, expandable frame bag, and a couple accessory bags – all highly accessible and ready to purchase from your local bike shop. Besides being easy to get, the bags had mixed reviews and clearly needed some refinement.
In 2018, the Outpost Elite bag collection was announced, picking up where the previous lineup left off, offering a more sophisticated range of bags that are closer to being on trend with the cottage brands that most riders prize these days. The new collection consists of a full frame bag, handlebar roll, and the Universal Seat Pack. Each bag is designed to be completely waterproof, lighter than the first iteration, and definitely looks much more refined. Blackburn sent me the Outpost Elite Universal Seat Pack and Dry Bag earlier this year, and after many hours of riding in the rain, a few actuations of the ol’ dropper post, and some spring bikepacking, I’m ready to report back on my findings.
First off, the new collection as a whole looks light years ahead of Blackburn’s original Outpost bags, and I appreciate that. New fabrics, new construction, and an overall aesthetic that’s easier on the eyes. However, these upgrades come at a price. The $295 price tag was likely a huge selling point for the complete set of Outpost bags, but you’ll have to shell out $470 for the same bags in the Elite series. Personally, I think the added cost is fair and would be well worth the investment. The Universal Seat Pack is no different, keeping up with the trends, and borrowing design elements from other bag makers out there.
The Outpost Elite Universal Seat Pack is a two-part system. One part features a T6061 alloy wing — hauntingly similar to the Rail Wing designed by Bedrock Bags’ for their Black Dragon and Coconino seat packs—that affixes to the saddle, not the seatpost. The other part is a removable waterproof drybag with a scuba-style air bleed valve that enables the rider to remove excess air from the bag itself, similar to the one used on the Revelate Terrapin. While the wing stays affixed to the seat, the waterproof drybag can be easily removed, packed, compressed, and snapped back into place with two adjustable buckles. The fixed portion of the pack is sturdy and reinforced in key areas around the nose and the bottom of the harness to minimize sway. The exterior fabric sheds mud and water effectively, and looks to be holding up very well.
As mentioned above, the harness is affixed to the saddle by way of an alloy wing, which is sandwiched between an interior alloy plate. This means the setup isn’t as straightforward as some of the other bags out there, and the rigidity of the harness itself makes it somewhat awkward to get a hex key inside to snug everything up. Thankfully, Blackburn made a thorough installation video, which you can check out here. I didn’t watch it the first time around, which likely explains some of my initial frustration. Once installed, though, the seat bag is very stable and holds itself away from the dropper post stanchion as it should. I never made use of the two optional seat post straps, as I was always running a dropper, but they would only add even more stability to the setup.
Besides the slightly awkward installation, there’s one issue that came to my attention after a particularly wet gravel adventure out to Salt Spring Island. The harness has no drainage, but is positioned perfectly catch all of the rain! I collected a cup or two of murky water from the nose of the harness after a few hours of riding, which I promptly poured out. I suppose a strategically executed wheelie could offer the same result.
The removable drybag is tapered to slide in and out of the harness easily, and uses a welded seam construction to ensure that its completely waterproof. There is a small patch of velcro on both the drybag and the interior of the harness, something unique to Blackburns Universal Seat Pack. I didn’t quite see why this was necessary at first; I found it hard to tighten up the slack in the straps when packed lightly, but the velcro helped keep the load in place. Simply put, the buckles on the harness are positioned too far towards the rear, so when the drybag isn’t fully packed, there just isn’t enough room to cinch the two side straps down. It’s nice to be able to keep bags tight whether they are packed lightly or at 100% capacity, and the Universal Seat Pack isn’t quite there. The drybag itself works perfectly, however. It kept its contents dry on numerous wet rides this winter and spring, and the air purge valve is a nice touch for loading things up tightly.
Overall, I was quite happy with the Outpost Elite Universal Seat Pack, and have gone as far as recommending it to people on multiple occasions. The entire system is tapered and reinforced enough to ensure there is no unwanted leg rub, and I was satisfied with the position of the bag as well. With the post dropped, I never felt hung up or restricted by the seat pack. And, when pedaling in the saddle I forgot that the bag was even there. What more can you ask for?
- Volume 10.5L
- Weight 572g
- Place of Manufacture China
- Price $170
- Manufacturer’s Details BlackburnDesign.com
- Great improvement on original Outpost collection. Worth the additional cost.
- Super stable design means no swaying or sagging.
- Removable drybag is waterproof and makes packing easier.
- Dropper and rigid post compatible.
- Installation is a bit awkward, so switching between bikes wouldn’t be recommended.
- No drainage hole! Collects water on rainy days.
- Small loads don’t pack well and straps won’t cinch down tight.
- Heavier than some of the more minimalist options available (Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion weighs 122g less, and Revelate’s Terrapin is 50g lighter).
Ever since getting my hands on the Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion, I was sold on the idea of a seat pack with a removable drybag. It makes packing and unpacking easier, and there’s a good chance your contents will stay cleaner and drier than they would with an all-in-one design put together stitched panels. It’s good to see Blackburn making use of this technology, and it’s great to see another dropper-post compatible bag on the market, especially from such an accessible brand. It’s not perfect, and perhaps a bit over-engineered in places, but it’s a huge improvement on the original Outpost Seat Pack.
Although I haven’t used the other Outpost Elite bags, I’ve handled them a bit, and it’s clear the entire line is designed to be super durable and completely waterproof. Most of us will eventually just say “screw it” at some point, no matter what the weatherman says, and with the Outpost Elite Seat Pack you can ride confidently knowing your sleeping bag will be warm and dry at the end of the day.