Posted by Cass Gilbert
At the end of last year, I put together a long-term review of the AeroPack Carbon S, a minimalist cross between a racktop pack and a seatpack, which you can read here. As much as I loved this product, I bemoaned the lack of water bottle eyelets on the arch of the AeroPack Alloy S—the heavier and more affordable version. With so much available space, it seemed like a missed opportunity, shortchanging those who value versatility over the very lightest and sleekest setup. Sure, there are plenty of times where a 20+ litre pack is big enough just as it is, especially for anyone living in temperate climates, or for the packing requirements of ultralight minimalists. But there’s no doubt that a few litres of easily accessible water can come in handy on desert rides, or for hauling extra food or gear when heading out on more remote trips, even if it’s at the cost of aerodynamic efficiency or clutter.
It seems Tailfin received that same feedback from others too, because they’ve decided to do something about it. As of last week, we’re delighted to hear that all alloy versions of the AeroPack S (prices start at £169/US$225) and S Series Trunk Rack will come shipped with triple eyelets as standard, allowing both water bottle and cargo cages to be fitted. Incidentally, the eyelets add a mere 30g to the AeroPack.
According to Tailfin, “The cage bosses use the industry standard of M5 Thread with 64mm between centres to increase the amount of accessories that will fit. That in turn means a greater range of carrying options, with a max load per side of 4.5kg (1.5kg per rivet nut). The main arch of both products is the perfect ‘real estate’ as they are well clear of any potential abrasion points. Adding bosses to the Tailfin range also avoids the need to change any frame components on a bike, making for a cleaner adaptation and putting minimal strain and stress on the frame.”
Additionally, the company appears to have done its homework, opting for stainless steel threaded inserts rather than less costly aluminium versions. “The industry norm for cage bosses is aluminium rivet nuts. These are cheap and easy to install but in general aluminium threads have their limitations: threads can be easily damaged, especially if being used repeatedly. Tailfin’s triple bosses utilise stainless steel rivet nuts, for a harder-wearing thread, with a special coating which prevents galvanic corrosion with the aluminium rack arch and galling when using stainless steel screws. The coating is a black organic microlayer topcoat, composed of a highly cross-linked binder system.”
If you’ve already bought an AeroPack with a standard alloy arch or want to add versatility to your carbon model, you’ll be able to order a replacement with eyelets (£59/US$79), which can easily be retrofitted to your current pack.
Early this year, Tailfin sent me a new arch with added eyelets, which I used to carry two 1.5L of Nalgene water bottles—with Widefoot Cargo Mounts and Voile straps—during my ride of the Baja Divide. After 800 rugged miles of riding, it performed exactly as promised and certainly helped on the occasions where I had to carry 10+ litres of water. Compared to sliding a 3L water bladder into my framebag, it made my hydration system quick to manage during day to day use.
The terrain I was riding was predominantly rough jeep tracks rather than trails, so the added weight at the very back of the pack was never an issue; I just made sure the two Nalgene bottles were the first to be used up, with an additional 2-litre water below the downtube and (when needed) a 3L bladder) in my framebag, which I used last. Clearly, using the eyelets on the arch for bulky but lightweight cargo would be better in terms of weight distribution, but given how often I needed to access and replace water, practicality was more important to me.
The first image below shows my bike as I rode it for the Baja Divide, though bear in mind it also includes cold-weather gear for a later trip, as well as my camera, a second lens, a solar panel, and my laptop, so it’s very much loaded to the gills. And the shows my setup and how I ran the AeroPack during a more minimal 7-day ride, where extra capacity wasn’t required.
I’ll be updating my in-depth review shortly with images and more feedback on eyelet placement height and water bottle compatibility. You can also see it in action by checking out The Bikepacking Journal Issue 04.
View the new products, and a full list of prices (depending on mounting options) in a range of currencies, over at Tailfin.