Tailfin Frame Bags Review: A Whole Lot to Like

After three years of teasing, Tailfin has entered the frame bag market with a range of nine fully waterproof partial frame bags. In this review, Sam Rice shares his in-depth thoughts following six months of regular use. As we’ve come to expect from the innovative UK brand, there’s far more to these bags than initially meets the eye…

When it comes to piecing together the perfect rig, a frame bag is often at the heart of the bikepacking bag puzzle. Designed to maximise the space in your bike’s main triangle, frame bags come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, fabrics and fits these days. However, unless you’re willing to splash the cash on a fully custom frame bag that’s made specifically for your bike, you’re often forced to take a trip down the readymade frame bag aisle.

  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review
  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review
Tailfin Frame Bags Review

That said, there’s nothing wrong with readymade (non-custom) bags. In fact, we’ve had great success with them over the years. But due to their non-custom nature and out-the-box sizing, they can be frustrating when it comes to dialling in your perfect bag setup. Launched today, Tailfin’s new range of half frame bags and wedge-style packs aims to solve many of these frustrations (plus a few no one even knew about) for riders. I’ve been testing both the R&D version and the production bags for the last six months. Let’s dive in.

Sizes, Weights, Costs

Designed with maximum rider inclusivity in mind, Tailfin are offering these new frame bags in two different styles and a mind-boggling nine sizes. First up, a wedge-style pack in three sizes (1.9L, 2.7L, 3.5L), and secondly, a classic half frame bag available in a further six sizes (2.3L, 3.0L, 3.8L, 4.5L, 5.3L, 6.5L). I’ll let all those numbers sink in a moment and explain a little bit more below.

  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review
  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review

Both bag styles have been built and optimised specifically for drop-bar gravel and road bikes, and for all intents and purposes, they share the same overall design DNA. Why would you pick one style over the other? Well, according to Tailfin’s head of design and brand, Rob Phillips, “It’s all about maximising the space in your frame for the adventures you want to pursue.” The wedge-style packs have been designed to prioritise water capacity, and their open-back design gives greater freedom for larger bottles and/or cargo cages to be installed. The half frame bags, on the other hand, have been designed to prioritise storage capacity for better general gear carrying (read: more snacks).

Tailfin Frame Bags

In terms of real-world applicability, my hunch is that day to day, the half frame bags will serve most riders best. The svelte 1.9L version should be perfect for folks with small frames (shout out 49cm crew), the jack-of-all-trades 3.0L and 3.8L versions will work well on a wide range of modern gravel bike geometries, and the extra-beefy 4.5L version (the one I’ve been testing) will be great for those looking to push the capacity limits of a half frame bag while still retaining both water bottle mounts.

Half Frame Bag Details

Volume Weight Price
2.3 Litre 259.7g £100/$125/€120
3.0 Litre 289.6g £105/$130/€125
3.8 Litre 333.2g £110/$135/€130
4.5 Litre 349.6g £115/$140/€140
5.3 Litre 362.3g £120/$150/€145
6.5 Litre 377.1g £125/$160/€150

Wedge Style Pack Details

Volume Weight Price
1.9 Litre Wedge 213.9g £95/$120/€115
2.7 Litre Wedge 237.9g £100/$125/€120
3.5 Litre Wedge 297.7g £105/$130/€125

On the subject of weight…

As we’ve come to find with other Tailfin products, these frame bags aren’t the lightest frame bags in the market. In fact, comparable bags from Revelate, Restrap and Apidura are between 100-150 grams lighter across a comparable size range. However, considering Tailfin’s feature set, quality and proven race-winning credentials, I’m not bothered by a few extra grams.

Tailfin Frame Bags Review

Data-Driven Design Wizardry

Readers who caught our recent Field Trip to Tailfin will be familiar with the team’s somewhat obsessive nature when it comes to creating the perfect product. Their emphasis on R&D, combined with their signature engineering flare, has led to Tailfin creating some of the best bikepacking products in the market. However, when it came to designing the fit on these new frame bags, I think the team pushed their obsession to a whole new level.

  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review
  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review

Back in 2021, Tailfin reached out to their customer base and asked them if they’d like to be involved in helping to create “the best performing frame bag in existence.” A bold goal, and one that over 500 customers—with a range of bike sizes, shapes and geometries—gladly got behind. The process was simple: each customer submitted a photo of their bike with two specific points marked. From there, the boffins at Tailfin built a custom computer program that analysed the exact proportions of each frame; eventually synthesising the data into a series of heat map illustrations.

Tailfin Frame Bags Review

Armed with this heat map data, the product design team grouped them into sizes and began an extensive, three-year R&D process to refine the bags. Foam prototypes with 3D printed hardware were strapped to every available drop-bar bike in Bristol’s local bike shops, test bags went out to Chris Hall and Lawrence Carpenter to race with on Badlands, and back in Tailfin HQ, a purpose-built turbo trainer was built to assess the bags fit against different rider Q-factors and bikes. But believe it or not, computer programmes, heat maps and data-driven design are just the start of Tailfin’s journey to create the best frame bags possible.

Zippers are dead. Long live zippers.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that Tailfin have based both bag designs around a classic zippered closure. For some, that choice makes complete sense, but for others, it might feel like a backwards step in design. While zippered closures seem to be the standard these days, I’ve always considered them the Achilles heel in most frame bag designs. Sure, they make accessing gear super convenient and glide like a hot knife through butter when new. But in my experience, sooner or later, they fail, rendering the bag useless.

  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review
  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review

According to Tailfin, most zippers fail due to uneven pressure distribution across the zip interface. “The problem with most frame bags on the market is that their soft fabric exterior and velcro attachment system causes the zipper to be pulled in multiple directions. This creates pinch points along the zip and so the minute you introduce some grit or overstuff the bag with gear (like we all do), you’ve got the perfect recipe for zipper failure.” Rob Phillips tells me. To remedy these problems, Tailfin have built their packs with a couple of subtle yet innovative structural features they claim vastly improve zipper efficiency and longevity.

First up is a semi-rigid carbon shell that runs along the upper edges of the pack and below the zip. Its ladder-like design consists of two lightweight carbon rods that link internally and act like a spinal cord, giving the pack structure and the ability to resist ballooning when stuffed to the nines. Similar in function to the taco shell found inside their Top Tube Bag, the “carbon space frame,” as it’s dubbed by Tailfin, effectively eliminates the annoying sag and pesky pressure points that cause most zippers to fail on fabric frame bags. But it’s only half of Tailfin’s solution to zipper-gate.

Tailfin Frame Bags Review

Alongside their carbon space frame, they’ve also incorporated two carbon fibre struts that run along the length of the zipper on either side. Designed to support the zip and enable the zipper slider to move freely across the teeth, these carbon rods have proven to be a stroke of design genius. In my testing, I’ve found the carbon rods not only make zip operation on the frame bags a truly one-handed experience, but they also minimise the pressure points caused by content bulging and greatly reduce the chances of knee rub. Not bad for a couple of simple carbon rods, hey?

  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review
  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review

As for the zipper itself, Tailfin have reused the 100% waterproof zipper first rolled out in their top tube packs. These burly little zippers have proven to be extremely reliable with minimal problems across thousands of packs sold. In fact, the only complaint they receive about the zipper is the slight rattle from the metal slider. They’ve solved that too with a new non-rattle slider and custom zip puller.

When combined, the carbon space frame, waterproof zipper and carbon struts remove so many of the problems I’ve experienced with other frame bags that they summoned more than one “why doesn’t every frame bag have these features?” moment during my testing. Six months later, I’ve come to completely reevaluate my previous loathing of zippers, and through my time with this pack, I’ve concluded that zippered closures can provide the best of both worlds for performance and weatherproofing—when supported correctly. My hunch is that we’ll likely see similar technology rolled out across other frame bag designs in the not-so-distant future.

Materials + Construction

As with the rest of Tailfin’s gear, every framepack is 100% waterproof thanks to its high-frequency welded (not sewn) design and rugged construction. Material-wise, the packs feature a combination of Tailfin’s signature Hypalon and Ripstop Nylon materials, similar to what we’ve seen in other products from the team. But instead of using their extra burly 420D fabric, they’ve opted for a half-weight, 210D version on the frame bags to help reduce heft and add some extra flexibility to the packs.

Tailfin Frame Bags Review

This is something I really appreciated when it came to switching the pack between my bikes. On my Curve GMX+, the 4.8L version fits like a glove, but on my gravel bike, it was just a tiny bit too large for my liking. However, thanks to the flexibility of the pack’s fit and Tailfin’s choice to remove unnecessary structure from the front and rear sections of the bags, the pack is able to conform, flex and accommodate both frame designs and geometries. It’s a simple but effective solution.

Tailfin Frame Bags Review

Sticking with the theme of construction for a moment longer, another feature I’ve been particularly impressed with on these new frame bags is the 3D shaping that Tailfin have used to optimise every available millimetre of space. Similar to their top tube bag range, the frame bags feature a tapered design that’s mapped to follow the movement of a rider’s leg during pedalling. In simple terms, that means the areas most at risk of causing knee rub have been carefully sculpted to narrow towards the top and at the rear of the bag to minimise the chances of any rubbing.

Fanatical About Fit

In a market brimming with different bike sizes, styles and geometries, achieving the perfect fit is often a hard-won battle. Even with all the technology, innovation and clever design that Tailfin has thrown at these packs, if they didn’t nail the sizing, it’d all be in vain.

  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review
  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review
  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review

Luckily, Tailfin have developed a Frame Bag Sizing Tool (accessible on their website) that uses machine learning to perfectly draw and scale your bike’s frame to the right proportions. Once uploaded to the tool, you’ll then be able to simply drag and drop the different frame bags onto your bike and choose which ones will work the best. The process is simple and just requires you to take a photo of your bike from the correct distance and angle and upload it into the tool on their website.

Tailfin Frame Bags Review

However, if machine learning and all that technology stuff isn’t your bag, Tailfin also provides the full measurements for each bag on their website. This way, you can also go all analog and measure along the inside of your top tube and head tube to ensure the best fit for your bike.

Additional Features

Third time’s a charm: V-Mount evolution

There’s no denying it: we’re big fans of Tailfin’s V-Mount attachment system at BIKEPACKING.com. First introduced on their downtube packs, then refined for the top tube bags, this is the third iteration of their mighty mounts—and it’s probably their best yet.

  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review
  • Tailfin Frame Bags Review

I won’t go into much detail on the technology itself, as Cass covered it in detail in his review here. What I will say, though, is that compared to the usual flappy, strappy velcro that ships with most non-custom frame bags, the combination of Tailfin’s V-Mounts and TPU (Voile-like) straps has been a game-changer for me. Not only do they provide a simple and solid way to attach the frame bag, but they also eradicate frame rub, which can be a real pain, especially when you’ve just forked out a bunch of cash for a shiny new bike.

A Properly Useful Map Pocket

On most frame bags I’ve used, the non-drive side, or “map pocket,” is usually an unremarkable feature. Far too often, they’re too cramped, unorganised, and for me at least, end up being relegated to a dumping ground for cables, batteries and snack wrappers.

The Tailfin map pocket, however, features an internal stretch mesh divider in an off-white colour (to make it easier to see your gear) that’s packed with useful-sized pockets. The stretch mesh divider has also been specifically chosen to enable those bulky but essential items (such as pumps) to protrude into the main body of the bag rather than outward towards your leg. This reduces the chance of knee rub and makes for a much better riding experience overall.

Fun fact: The map pocket is also a great place for storing tent poles (assuming you have short enough poles or use a collapsible hiking pole).

  • Capacity: 1.9 to 6.5 liters
  • Material: Welded 210D Hypalon and Diamond Ripstop
  • Weight: 208 to 382 grams (with straps)
  • Price: $120 to $160
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Tailfin


  • Tailfin’s data-driven design approach means sizing is accurate and flexible for a variety of drop-bar geometries and sizes.
  • The two different pack styles enable riders to prioritise water capacity or gear volume.
  • Durable and 100% waterproof materials and construction.
  • The evolved V-mount system is a big upgrade from the traditional velcro found on most frame bags.
  • Attention to detail is excellent, as per all Tailfin products we’ve tried.
  • Internal structure by way of carbon struts and space frame technology offer game-changing stability and zipper support.
  • Industry-redefining zipper technology.


  • Not the cheapest frame bag in the market, but reasonable for the feature set compared to other high-end options.
  • Heavier than similar-sized frame bags from other brands.
  • Despite the lengths Tailfin has gone to improve the zip closure, the reality is, zippers are more likely to fail than a roll-top closure.
  • Can’t adjust the location of the V-Mounts that secure the bags.

Wrap Up

Despite my biases and poor track record with exploding zippers on frame bags, the Tailfin Frame Bag has really impressed me. Fully waterproof, it’s perfectly proportioned and thoughtfully designed to maximise volume while minimising knee rub and the zipper pressure points that eventually lead to most failures.

In terms of sizing, Tailfin have gone above and beyond to maximise rider inclusivity, with sizes suitable for bikes from 47 to 61cm. Though they’re not the lightest frame bags in the world, when you consider the technology and features on offer, I think 100 grams is a reasonable forfeit to pay. As with every product we’ve reviewed from Tailfin, the frame bags are imbued with engineering class, carefully thought-out features and intentional design. Its innovative space frame technology, user-friendly functionality, zipper support, stable and secure fit and overall aesthetics make it the best frame bag I’ve ever used.

You can learn more and shop frame bags over at Tailfin.cc.

Further Reading

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