Wizard Works’ Re-Use Re-Purpose Voila! Snack Bag and Tool Roll
A stem bag is a stem bag is a stem bag, right? Not if it’s made from an upcycled Thomson stem bag! We check out London-based Wizard Work’s Re-Use Re-Purpose Voila Snack Bag and matching tool roll, and find out about the business’ upcycling future…
Thomson bike products have long had a certain cache amongst cyclists; although expensive, they’re extremely well made, understated, and timeless. They also come proffered in re-usable drawstring bags with an iconic Thomson print, that are arguably as desirable as the products themselves…
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you using the bags exactly as they are, to carry tools or your toiletries, for instance. More creative folk can modify them into all manner of zippered pouches (we have a MYO tutorial in the pipeline, or there’s this one too). But for those who aren’t a dab hand at the sewing machine, London-based Wizard Works will upcycle them into a completely new product: the Re-Use Re-Purpose Voilà Snack Bag.
Built around Wizard Work’s existing Voilà stem bag, the overall design is simple but very well-executed. Like many others, it attaches to the stem and handlebars via two velcro claps and a lower strap, stabilising it to the fork crown. Nothing new there… but it all works well. Although the test bag fit my setup just fine, the lower stabilising strap was a touch on the tight side – it’s 28cm long and sewn in, so it can’t be swapped it out. Extra tall folk who run their handlebars particularly high may find it too short, depending on the geometry of their bike (rigid specific frames will likely need more length than suspension-corrected ones). Still, it’s only going to affect the especially long of limb, and I expect this is something you could mention to Wizard Works if it’s a concern. (edit: the latest round of bags ship with a strap that’s 10-15cm longer, no this is now a moot point)
Elsewhere, there’s a layer of foam insulation around the sides to give the stem bag shape and contents a small amount of protection, useful if you’re carrying something more valuable than water – like a compact camera or a lens. The design also features a one-handed opening system, which means you can grab your water bottle on the go; as winter approaches and roads become mined with puddles and dubious gloop, stashing your drinking water up high and out of range of cowshit is definitely a good idea… Other details include a little pocket outside and a floating liner within, so you can clean out all those bits of errant flapjack without removing the bag.
There are two sizes available; I tried the larger one: .65l capacity, 17cm tall, and 9.5cm wide, which fits a standard 650ml bottle with room to spare, or can fit a 1L Nalgene bottle too. If you’re worried about knee clearance or just prefer a stem bag that’s more compact, there’s also a regular version that’s 8cm in diameter and 15cm tall, with a capacity that’s just shy of half a litre, which cups a 650ml bottle firmly.
I’ve been using mine throughout the summer and into autumn, and as you can see from the before and after pics, the ‘Thomson Black and White’ colourway isn’t going to stay especially clean come winter. But as I’ve always prefered a muddy patina to my gear, that’s fine by me. Most importantly, it’s not showing any signs of wear and with a scrub, would likely be as good as new.
As for the Re-Use Re-Purpose Tool Roll, which comes in at £27.99, it’s also very nicely put together, with neat stitching throughout. Like other tool rolls, it keeps everything together and easily visible when misfortune strikes. Size-wise, it’s 27cm wide and 24cm high when opened, and weighs 65g. Technically, it’s not designed to carry more than the very basics (the product page specifies a road tube and some tools), but just managed to cram in everything I need for multi-day bikepack (bottle of sealant, some spares bolts, tyre levers, multi-tool, patch + tubeless kit, rag, and a small bottle of oil). Long-distance trips would likely warrant something larger.
I have to admit that I’d like to have seen some additional webbing loops, so I had the option of running it under my seatpost with a Voile strap if needed on a day ride (Wizard Works offers the Mag-Neato, too). And again, the fabled black and white Thomson print doesn’t play especially well with grease and oil. But who’s being precious?
Wizard Works also runs a program for receiving Thomson bags, the full details of which can be found here. The crux is a credit of £1.50/£2.00 per bag that can be used either for a purchase, or as a donation – see the link for details.
And while we’re on the subject of recycling, it’s good to see Wizard Works taking responsibility for the products they create. “We use paper mailers and cardboard boxes that are made in the UK from a mix of FSC new paper and recycled paper. We also only use paper tape, with an all-natural glue. The labels and stickers we use are also paper with natural glues. The stickers on the boxes are made from sugar cane husks that are a by-product of the sugar refinement process. This means that the whole packaging can either be recycled, or is bio-degrade, depending on where the receiver lives.”
On a broader note, we asked them about their plans for the future, in terms of the goods they create and their impact on the environment:
“This collection is part of our broader commitment to being a sustainable business. This is proving very very hard for a small manufacturer. We are looking at ways to use more upcycled and recycled materials. Such as having just placed an order for entirely recycled and recyclable zips from YKK. We are also looking at how we can internalise our environmental costs through the funding of regenerative actions. We hope to have this figured out and announced by the end of the year. We are also continuing to try and find sources of recycled fabrics, however this proving impossible at our scale :(. But we are doing some tests with a pretty snazzy new-fangled waxed canvas. As Wizard Works grows it is committed to being better for the environment and planet. Planet before profits!”
- Volume: Larger version 0.65l (though it will fit a 1L Nalgene)
- Size: 17cm tall x 9.5cm diameter
- Weight: 100g
- Place of Manufacture: London, UK
- Price: £54.99
- Contact: Wizard.works
If you’re a longtime Thomson fan, you won’t be disappointed with Wizard Works’ take on the humble stem bag. Aside from being very nicely thought through, easy to access, and built to last, this iteration of the Voilà stem bag will likely bring a smile to your face. The same goes with the tool roll, which adds a sense of panache to your spares. And how often can you say that?
Not into the Thomson branding? In addition to offering standard-issue Voilà bag in a choice of finishes, Wizard Works is happy to tackle custom Re-use Re-Purpose projects, with materials you already have to hand, or you feel a connection too. Quality and design of the gear aside, it’s good to see a manufacturer work towards taking full accountability for its products – whether it’s choice of materials, low-waste packaging, or simply making gear that really lasts.
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