DirtBags is a small company based in of Laramie, Wyoming run by husband/wife duo Heath and Emily Brown. Perusing their website, you’ll instantly notice they have a penchant for creatively designed and well made gear. Heath says, “I seek to do things differently by developing original designs, using unique materials, and incorporating visual aesthetics into all of my designs. DirtBags isn’t about lightweight gear that will break records, but gear that will give you years of use, and can then be passed on to your children.” This design philosophy certainly rings true in their finished products. DirtBags sells a bikepacking “Intro Package” , consisting of a custom frame bag, seat bag, and top tube bag. Intro Packages start at $280, not a bad price tag for three quality bags.
Heath sewed up a custom frame bag for my Salsa Colossal, which I’ve been hoping to use on some longer mixed-terrain type rides. The “Wanderer” frame bag comes with either a roll top for stuff-ability and longevity, or a zippered opening for simplicity and aesthetics. If needed, you can also choose for DirtBags to include a zippered map pocket on the Wanderer. A Velcro enclosed hydration port is included so you can store a bladder and route the hose out through the front of the frame bag. Fit and finish of this custom bag were both excellent. These bags are definitely made to last! Heath has also discovered creative ways to use recycled tubes in his designs. Most contact points where friction is desirable include a patch of rubber. Small sections of bicycle inner tube cross sections are also used to keep loose straps tidy.
There were a few small things I noticed with the frame bag that I would adjust. First, my bag came with the roll top opening. In general, I really like roll tops for their utility. My only complaint with this one is that it could have been significantly longer. There are about five inches of unused material that could have made the main opening to the bag a lot more accessible. I haven’t had any issues yet, but I could see it being a problem with larger or longer pieces of gear. Side-to-side clearance at the bottom of my bag has also been a slight issue. I love all the space, but rubbing has been a consistent problem that has the potential to reduce the life of the bag. I’ve been able to use other frame bags that have a slight taper from top to bottom to allow plenty of clearance for the crank arms, and I think that could be advantageous in this case. The only other thing I would add to the inside of the bag would be some small clips or straps to keep hydration bladders, tent poles, or other large pieces of gear securely in place. All in all, Heath did a fantastic job of crafting this bag perfectly for my frame.
Wanderer Frame Bag – Features:
- Choice of closure: roll top, zippered, or dual
- Access port for electronics or hydration systems
- Daisy chain top tube sections to accommodate additional bags
- Padded frame contact points
- Internal organizer pocket
- External zippered map pocket – add $10
- Body Panels: laminated VX21 X-pac or 500 denier urethane-coated Cordura
- Frame: 1050 denier ballistic Cordura nylon
- Liner: 400 denier urethane-coated pack cloth
- YKK waterproof zippers
DirtBags’ “Minimalist” seat bag is a great piece of gear. I was a little concerned when it first arrived because it appears to be quite a bit narrower than other seat bags I’ve used, but it proved to be up to the task of hauling a good chunk of gear. I was easily able to load up my REI Flexlite camp chair, camp stove with isobutane, Italian coffee maker, and more with room to spare. The included bungees make it easy to strap on a pair of camp shoes or anything else small and light you want easy access to.
The narrow, long shape of the bag ensured a high and tight fit. That means no bouncing the bag on your rear tire when you hit bigger obstacles. This frame bag also includes a unique extra strap that wraps around the end of the bag, further securing your gear and keeping the fit nice and tight. Heath also included some gear loops on the bottom of the bag which came in useful for carrying small items with a carabiner. There are a few large pieces of camp gear that I usually store in my seat bag that may not fit in this sleeker model, but overall I thought Heath did an excellent job with the design of this one. It’s panels are made of durable and lightweight VX21, available in six different colors, as are most of the other DirtBags products.
Minimalist Seat Bag – Features:
- Water-resistant roll top opening
- Vertical and horizontal compression straps
- Plastic and foam stiffener to eliminate sway
- Increased grip from recycled inner tube along the seatpost
Minimalist Seat Bag – Specifications:
- Volume 8-12 liter capacity
- Weight 300g or 11 0z
- Laminated VX21 X-pac
- 1050 denier ballistic Cordura nylon at contact points
Top Tube Bag
The “Burrito Hauler” top tube bag is a great little accessory bag. Perfect for holding snacks, phone, burritos… whatever you need quick and easy access to. This bag includes a large recycled tube contact patch and plastic inserts to increase rigidity. I had one small issue with the interface between this bag and the frame bag. The straps are competing for the same real estate on my top tube, which forces the front strap for my roll top forward slightly. Occasionally it will actually slip off, leaving the roll top unsecured. Of course it’s a non-issue if I’m only using one of the bags, but when mounted together, it would help to have more clearance between the two straps.
Burrito Hauler Top Tube Bag – Features:
- Customizable colors
- Padded frame contacts
- Adjustable frame and stem attachment points
- Electronics port for battery storage
Burrito Hauler Top Tube Bag – Specifications:
- Volume 1600 ml or 100 cu inches
- Weight 120g or 4 oz
- 1000 denier urethane-coated Cordura nylon
- YKK waterproof zippers
DirtBags is making great products with a lot of heart. If you’re looking for a high quality product and want to support a growing small business, these could be the right guys for the job. With the exception of a few small design tweaks, I couldn’t be happier with these bags. I’ll be posting a full updated review on these bags after a few more months of abuse to see how they’re holding up. Check out DirtBags online at www.dirtbags.bike.
Written by Weston Ring – RideAlongside.com