1.7L and 3L Tailfin V-Mount Pack Review
Just when you thought you’d wrapped your head around Tailfin’s burgeoning line of small bags – such as their Cargo Cage Packs and Mini Panniers – out come the new V-Mount Packs, which are designed for bikes with a shortage of water bottle or cargo cage eyelets. We’ve had a chance to try both sizes, and you can read our full review here…
Yes, yet more options for ways to carry smallish loads on your bike! So, what differentiates Tailfin’s V-Mount Packs from other offerings on the market, such as those you’d find in our Accessory Bag Roundup?
Well, for the most part, it’s down to a new attachment system of the same name – Tailfin’s proprietary V-Mount – and its associated 6061-T6 aluminium subframe (it’s a British company, after all), that gives these bags both rigidity and stability, as well as a sense of uniqueness.
The V-Mounts are clever little aluminium widgets that serve as interfaces between the body of the bag and your frame. Wrapped in a soft and compliant rubber boot, they grip tenaciously to your downtube (or top tube, for that matter), and are held into place with a pair of Tailfin’s own Voile-style straps. You don’t even have to pull too tight on the straps, either, for a secure fit.
There’s a small amount of adjustability in where the V- Mounts fit along the pack’s subframe, so you can nest them between cable guides or other frame paraphernalia. The rubbery boots serves to ensure there’s no damage or scuffing to the finish, unlike a more typical Velcro strap – the latter can occasionally rub all the way through carbon, especially when dirt works its way in.
As we’ve come to expect from Tailfin, the subfame is wrapped in a hardwearing, waterproof skin – using a mix of durable 420D Hypalon in high-wear areas and thinner, more flexible Ripstop Nylon where needed.
The packs come in two sizes – 1.7L and 3L. Aside from the obvious difference in volumes, the 1.7L is designed to clear the narrower Q-factor of road and gravel bikes, whilst the 3L is aimed more at MTB spacing.
As I don’t own a gravel bike, we ran both bags on a mountain bike. For bikepacking purposes, the larger of the two, with its wider mouth, offers a considerably more usable shape to both pack and rifle through, whilst the 1.7L is limited by its more slender profile. In fact, we struggled with what we could put in it, ultimately finding it best suited to an inner tube, spares and tools, and some emergency snacks – though I can’t help thinking it’s overkill for such uses compared to more simple, Velcro-mounted alternatives. As it is, the it’s probably a better option for attaching to your frame for day rides, where it could be used to stash a lightweight waterproof and a gilet, along with some basic tools.
On the subject of the Velcro, or lack thereof, it seems Tailfin has an aversion to the stuff, preferring their own Voile-inspired rubberised straps to keep everything in place. They do a very good job at it too. In fact, studying them more carefully is an insight into Tailfin’s obsession for detail. The straps specced on the V-Mount Packs Tailfin is use a subtly different buckle to the ones we’ve seen on their Cargo Cage Pack range – it has a shorter hook to lessen the chance of getting caught on your bare skin or clothing. Like Tailfin’s other straps, the hooks are also angled in such a way that they won’t touch the paint on your bike frame, further reducing the chance of any damage to its precious patina. They also include ‘keepers’ to tidy away loose ends.
Note that the 1.7L version comes with two sets of straps – 18.5cm and 30cm long – while the 3L version gets a little short-changed, as it’s only specced with the longer of the two. This is presumably because 30cm straps are better suited to reaching around the typical style of mountain bikes that lack additional eyelets – like carbon or aluminium full-sussers. Extra straps are available in the ‘Spares’ tab of Tailfin’s website, so they’re not confused with those found elsewhere on the site, which are considered to be more of a multi-purpose design. Or, you can just cut them down.
As mentioned, it’s the 3L V-Pack that offers considerably more relevance to bikepacking, thanks its shape and volume. If you’re running a small frame or you don’t have a framebag at all, it offers a meaningful boost in capacity. For instance, there’s ample room for stowing a sleeping mat and the clothes you might save for sleeping. Being 100% waterproof, it’s good to know that your precious layers will always be bone dry.
As you can see on Emma’s Hayduke, the V-Mounts can be fine tuned so the bag sits between cable guides on the downtube, and placed to avoid interfering with a compressed suspension fork. Sure, the contents of the pack aren’t as straightforward to pack or access compared to a detachable cargo bag and cage-style setup, though the grippy boots can be pushed to one side, or you can turn the front wheel a touch, to make it a bit easier. Not having to deal with compression straps every time you access the bag can be an advantage, too.
For a more apples to apples comparison, contents are definitely easier to get to than with an accessory bag that’s compressed to your frame and held in place using a Velcro strap. The whole pack is also relatively quick to completely remove if you need to – say, you’re get caught in a storm and need to unpack contents from the comforts of your tent.
Each V-Mount Pack also includes a set of side T-Hook compression straps, as seen in Tailfin’s Cargo Packs and Mini Panniers, which can help stabilise certain loads. In practise we didn’t really feel they were needed, especially if you’re packing soft items – bear in mind too that they add some bulk to the bag, which you’ll need to take into account when you’re positioning it, in terms of potential crank or knee rub. Whilst there’s just room for a 1.5L Nalgene bottle in the 3L version (should you want to keep it mud-free), the dead space around the bottle means you’ll need an additional strap around the bag and your frame’s downtube to keep it from rolling around. The bag’s skin features a number of slots you can use to do this.
There’s nothing to stop you from using these V-Packs on a downtube with water bottle eyelets – each comes included with a set of eyelet plugs to help protect the rubbery boots from damage. The fit isn’t as snug and pleasing as on a downtube that’s bereft of eyelets – due to the raised metal lip – but the bags are still perfectly secure. Personally, I’d opt for one of Tailfin’s Cargo Cages (size small is my favourite) and a 3L Cargo Pack as it’s easier to remove, but the option is there if you have a couple of bikes and don’t want to double up on gear.
What else? In use, there’s no discernable movement from the bags when you’re riding, yet if you do catch them on something – say, a log that you’re clambering over on a hike-a-bike – they can be pushed to one side. Compare this with a less costly hose clamp-style mod, another popular way of adding capacity to your downtube, which is more easily damaged.
Quality is excellent, another Tailfin trait we’ve come to appreciate. The bags have a no-quibble, five-year guarantee, and all parts are modular and replaceable. Spares can be sent out across the world if need be. The suggested weight limit is 3kg, which I think you’d have a hard time hitting, especially with the 1.7L version.
- Aluminium subframe and clever V-Pack mounts offer rigidity and stability over mixed terrain – without scuffing your frame
- Contents aren’t under compression, so are much more easily accessed than similar bags with Velcro straps
- Completely waterproof and grimeproof
- Two sizes to suit different needs and Q-factors
- Customisable mounting configuration
- Easy to fit and remove
- Not as easily packed, or removed from your bike, as a cargo pack and cage style combo (if your frame accomodates this)
- For bikepacking purposes, the narrower 1.7L option is a lot of bag (and money) for not much volume
- 30cm straps on the 3L pack are too long for slender Chromoly frames (though you can cut them down if it really bothers you)
- Model tested: Tailfin V-Mount Packs (1.7 and 3L)
- Actual Weight: 1.7L – 210g, 3L – 277g (including straps)
- Place of Manufacture: China
- Price: 1.7L £60/$75/€75) and 3L £70/$85/€85
- Manufacturer’s Details: Tailfin
Many of our favourite bikes – and the ones we tend to review on this site – feature provisions for carrying additional cargo beyond what you’d expect to find on a standard gravel or trail bike. But for those who choose to bikepack on rigs that are completely bereft of bonus eyelets, and the ability to fit a cargo cage of some sort, the V-Mount Pack is a very appealing solution to carrying extra gear. It’s durably made, 100% waterproof, and considerably kinder to your paintwork than Velcro-mounted alternatives. Not only is it extremely secure over the roughest terrain, it can also be nudged to one side, so it doesn’t get snagged and damaged on testing hike-a-bikes.
Although the 1.7L pack has a gravel bike-friendly profile, costs a little less than the 3L version, and comes with two sets of attachment straps, it offers less value for bikepacking, simply because its slim profile makes it hard to stow the kind of gear that will create a meaningful change to your setup. And, as a minor gripe, this fan of slender Chromoly frames would have liked to see the shorter set of straps provided with the 3L version too, even if I appreciate that the MTB-specific pack will mostly appeal to owners of larger diameter, hydroformed alumnium or blocky carbon frames.
Typical to Tailfin, the V-Mount Packs lie squarely within the more expensive end of the bikepacking pricing spectrum, but they’re also laden with clever tech, they’re adjustable, and all the indivudual parts are replaceable if need be. Attention to detail is superlative (bordering on obsessive), all of which adds up to another top-tier product within the maturing Tailfin range.
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