Review: Alpkit Rando Range - Tivaro Handlebar & Analoko Frame Bag
August 14th, 2017
August 14th, 2017
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Alpkit have become close to the hearts of a lot of British adventurers, not least because Alpkit are a British company, where products are genuinely made here in Britain, and even come with a three year warranty. Alpkit provide everything from adventurous merino-based clothing, to sleeping mats, tarps and tents for the wild campers amongst us. Though they have been dishing out good quality bike-packing bags for some time now, new on the block is their Rando Range.
The Rando Range
This is a range of “rackless" bike packing luggage made from waterproof TPU-coated nylon with a stitchless construction to create bags that are very water resistant and stand up to the wear and tear of adventures on the road. This makes for simple luggage carrying for people who don’t have (or don’t want to be faffing with) bike fixings and trailers to carry luggage. Having the baggage centred to your bike, rather than on side panniers, also helps with balance, bike handling and even aerodynamics (to a point).
Tivaro Handlebar Bag
The Tivaro is a duel access dry bag that already comes with a built-in harness, so you can strap it straight to your back. It feels extremely rugged, rather plasticy, but not in a bad way, and water seemingly runs straight off of it. Duel access is just the best. If you’ve ever put something you need at the bottom of a dry bag, then you’ll understand the benefits.
Attachment is so easy, much easier than attaching a harness to a dry bag and then attaching that to the bike. The only minor niggle is that the built-in harness, together with the sturdy waterproofing material, makes the bag a little too rugged to squeeze objects into every nook of the bag, and it retains a semi-circular shape rather than an open rounded shape. This is really nit-picking, if I’m honest, and will probably only matter to the small few of us wanting to really maximise storage space on a huge bike-packing expedition. Truth be told, the Tivaro is a great starter bag that is almost half the price of a dry bag plus harness equivalent, with a small weight penalty in favour of increased durability, so really, we’re talking horses for courses here. Each have their merits.
On test was the Tivaro 30 Litre which nestled snugly between our road bike handlebars, and did an extremely good job of staying on board our mountain bike over very rough terrain on the moors of Dartmoor National Park. It survived a fair few knocks and an accidental dunk in the river too.
Analoko Frame Bag
On test was the Small 2.5ltr frame bag, which was unfortunately about an inch too long to fit in my 50cm road bike frame or my 15” mountain bike frame, so be sure to check the measurements of the underside of your top tube before purchasing this item. That being said, the sheer number of velcro strap holes around the bag means you really can mount this thing anywhere on the bike. On my small frame I have managed to mount it securely to the top of the top tube and to the top of the down-tube, all with minimal fuss and no leg interference while pedalling (although the latter means you’ll need to forego one of your bottle cages).
The Analoko bag is another sturdy and waterproof design that, as a result, remains “bag-shaped” even when empty. Conversely to the handlebar bag, this actually makes it easier to fill every corner of the bag. The multiple straps helped keep it very secure, and it’s a great bag for extra backpacking gear, or simply extra food storage during long sportives. I dare say you could get a large baguette in there! There is also a handy pocket inside for separating valuables, like money, and there are two zips to allow you to open the bag either end, or even in the middle, without exposing everything or spilling it out onto the trail.
And The Rest
The Rando Range “bundles” are selling like hot-cakes at the moment, hence we were missing a few coordinated pieces, so we mixed things up with a red Fuel Pod top tube bag for tools and energy bars, a Koala seat-pack, which held a one-man tent, and a Stem Cell handlebar pod for holding water bottles and Costa Coffee cup (joke! or is it?). If you’re big on colour coordination, the Rando Range offers the equivalent three items in the same sturdy waterproofing with that delectable brushed grey aesthetic, but unfortunately they were all sold out at the time. The Fiana seat-pack looks great, with a built-in bungee loop on top - something I’ve found surprisingly handy over the years, for strapping down anything from flip flops to empty milk bottles after breakfast.
I love the brushed grey appearance, and the fact that everything you buy is ready to be attached to the bike, with no need for extra racks, mounts or even a bike-packing-specific bicycle. Their built-in harnesses and waterproof outer casing makes the Rando Range a great starting point for anyone looking for a simple and affordable purchase that has more of an emphasis on rugged durability rather than on fly-weight trekking. The Rando Range does the job and it does it well. It looks great on the bike and it looks set to be a long lasting product, regardless of the three year warranty.
The Tivaro Handlebar Bag starts at £30, the Analoko Frame Bag starts at £55 and the best of the range can be purchase in bundles of £199, saving you £41 on separate purchases.