Packing Guide – Our Gear Laid Out For You

In 2019 we redesigned the Tailfin range to accommodate more riders, more styles and more bike adventures, but with all the choice now available it does pose the question – “which bikepacking setup is right for me?”

Here we show how our products work can with your weekend jaunt, round-the-world adventure, and your daily commute. Kit lists are given at the bottom of the page.

Which Rack?

Our racks are split very simply between those with side pannier mounts (X), and those without (S). The type of pannier rack that is made for you depends almost solely on its intended use, whether you’re riding for the weekend, or off for months completely self-supported. This blog gives some examples of the ways our racks can be used in different bikepacking scenarios.

Weekend Trip

1-3 days with hotel accommodation

Our S Series Racks and AeroPacks are not only designed for multiday, self-supported race events like the TCR. They’re also here for the club rider wanting to carry a few extra things extra on a Sunday ride, or the weekend warrior aiming to get from A to B with a little extra comfort and ease.

The AeroPack S is the lightest and most robust of our options due to the design of its integrated rack and top bag. The S Series Trunk Rack allows you to remove the Top Bag from the rack, trading a slight weight and price increase for added versatility. 

Below we see the AeroPack Carbon S filled with typical weekend essentials, for trips when the accommodation is waiting for your arrival at each stop, and camping is not on the agenda.

The added versatility of having a top opening bag also gives you the opportunity to pack down further when you’re only taking a few items for a day out, like a rain jacket or bike lock for example.

Lightweight Bikepacking

1-3 days completely self-supported

When you’re heading out with plans to sleep under the stars, the gear that you need to take can really mount up. Being able to carry it all behind you will increase your comfort levels on the ride, and the streamlined nature of the pack will even save you watts of power – really, it makes a sizeable difference (see our article ‘Do aerodynamics matter in bikepacking’ for more on that).

Racks that don’t have side pannier mounts can limit your carriage abilities, but with 20 litres of capacity in the Trunk Top Bag, you may find that this is plenty enough to suit your needs. Below the AeroPack Alloy S shows how it can easily pack away a change of clothes, a bivvy bag, and few extra essentials, without bulking out your riding position.

Longer Bikepacking/Touring Trip

More than 3 days, completely self-supported

Bikepacking/touring can mean different things to different people, from around-the-world tours, to long weekends in the countryside. Put simply, it’s when you need to carry more things than your normal topbag/frame bag will allow. Whether that’s because you’re heading out for a long trip and are aiming to be completely self-sufficient on your bike, or are simply looking to travel with a bit more luxury.

The X Series Pannier Racks have side pannier mounts and a removable top bag giving you ultimate space and versatility. The AeroPack X Rigid Seat Packs have the same side mounts but includes an integrated Top Bag, reducing weight and cost. 

The Trunk Top Bag has a 20 litres capacity, and each side pannier has 22 litres each side, giving you a massive 66 litres of available space in total, and 27kg of weight capacity to play with. Below, the X ONE Pannier Rack with SL22 Side Panniers, and the Trunk Top Bag. Enough gear to keep you going long-distance, without adding crazy-amounts of weight and bulk to your ride.

The Daily Commute

For those lucky enough to travel to work by bicycle, a decent pannier rack can make the journey a lot more fun. I should only need to mention the decreased weight burden on your spine and back muscles, and alleviation of ‘sweaty-back’ caused by rucksacks. Plus, our pannier racks fit all bikes, so you can travel to work on the bike you love.

The X Series Pannier Rack has the capability to carry one or two side panniers, with or without the Trunk Top Bag, giving you ultimate versatility for whether you carry a little or a lot when traveling between home and work. Below is the X THREE Pannier Rack with UD22 Ultra Durable Side Pannier.

Which side bags are best?

Our racks are compatible with pannier bags you may already own, you’ll need to add the third-party pannier adaptors to your order. Our bags though, as designed to work in harmony with the Tailfin racks, the stop-action cam lock system on the spine of the bags is the reason we guarantee a rattle-free ride when you use our kit.

SL22 Super Light or UD22 Ultra Durable?

The difference between the two bags is subtle, to begin with; both have been ultrasonically welded and so are 100% waterproof, and the capacity of the two is the same at 22-litres.

The distinction we make really is that the SL22 Super Light pannier bag is one of the lightest panniers on the market weighing in at 650 grams, and is designed for those who travel fast. The UD22 Ultra Durable pannier bag is the more robust of the two. Constructed with thicker, tougher walls, its Hypalon construction means it will stand up to more of a rough ride. It’s suited to those who want to take their ride off-road, it also features a waterproof external pocket, and weighs in at 800g. 

A Rack For Every Adventure…

There is a reason the X Series Pannier Racks are our best sellers. Versatile enough to be used in all situations, they allow you to do almost everything you want on the bike you love the most.

Up to 66 litres of bag space ensure you have all the capacity when you need it, removable side panniers and top bags allow you to travel light when you don’t.

For more on the different products we’re producing, check these articles out:

Tailfin Product Guide

Tailfin in 2019 – Designing the New Range

Tailfin Talks To… Chris Hall

Chris Hall is a London-based cyclist. His love for huge (and, some might say, slightly unhinged) challenges for charity – such as 107 for 107 – brought him to the attention of the cycling community both in London and via social media. From there, Chris moved to long-distance cycling rides and races, including National 24, the Silk Road Mountain Race, and an epic trip across Australia. We caught up with him to talk to him about his cycling adventures and post-lockdown plans.

How did you get into cycling?

I always used to cycle as a kid, mainly MTB and just general mucking around off road with a bit of BMX. But I stopped when I was a teenager to play rugby. I then managed to absolutely destroy myself playing rugby (I wasn’t exactly the tallest prop out there) and that became the end of that career. I ended up putting on a lot of weight, I was about 120kg at my biggest. Cycling then became a way for me to get to and from university when I was studying, simply because I was skint. I bought a second hand bike that was a few sizes too big for me and that rekindled that child-like love again. 

Let’s talk about 107 for 107 (107km for 107 days). Was that your first ‘major’ challenge or had you done any crazy stuff before that?

107 for 107 wasn’t the first ‘challenge’ I had done, but it’s probably the most well known. I cycled 107km every day, through the winter whilst balancing a full-time job. I was getting up around 4am to go and ride before work, filling myself up with coffee and doing a shift (back then I worked as an architect). That early start became later and later as the week went on and I ended up having to ride more and more distance in the evening. It was tough; it’s probably still the hardest thing I have done.

I did it in aid of the PACE Centre, a charity for 107 children with motor-based disorders such as cerebral palsy. It’s a charity that’s incredibly close to my heart. I guess the first big challenge I did was actually cycling around London’s Richmond Park for 24 hours, which was also for PACE. 

Did that kickstart the next phase of your riding?

After 107 and the 24 hours in Richmond Park, I learnt that I was pretty good at going long, dealing with the pain, and had the stamina to do these things. So next I had a crack at the National 24 in 2017. I pulled out: I got pneumonia as the weather was absolutely horrific, around minus 3 at night in July (Wales can be horrible in the summer I learnt). Later on, I ended up getting shingles, which is effectively severe nerve damage and chronic fatigue which took me months to get over.

By that point, I had quit architecture and was working for Jam Cycling. I guess in the years that followed, I wanted to try and see if I could find my limit. I’ve maybe hit the physical one once or twice but not through my own doing. I’ve had some incredibly unlucky crashes but I definitely haven’t found that mental limit yet.

In 2018 I did the National 24 again, coming eighth and breaking the Under 30 British record. I then headed out to Kyrgyzstan to do the Silk Road Mountain Race, which ended up with me crashing off a mountain and breaking that bike!

In 2019, I was back to the National 24 with another top 10 finish, breaking the Under 30 European record. Then Australia came. That trip was more for fun, with my mate Francis and I exploring a country I absolutely love. I’m keen to go back and see more. Although it was 20 days of riding from Perth to Melbourne (look it up on a map… it’s HUGE) there’s still so much more to explore there. I guess it was a natural progression to keep pushing myself and keep some focus and momentum going forward. Selfishly I like the pain and I love inspiring others to try new things. The messages of support and kind words regularly blow me away and I feel unbelievably lucky. 

What appeals to you about these kind of long distance rides and races?

They are slow enough for me to be competitive! Ha ha I joke! I always just think seeing a new country is a part of it. Plus they are epic. The whole challenge scares me a lot of the time. What’s the point of doing things if it doesn’t scare you. That’s why I challenge myself. To scare myself and give these things my absolute best.

What’s your bike and kit set-up?

I’m now sponsored by Cervélo, who have kindly kitted me out with pretty much everything a cyclist could ever want! I have an S5 and an R3 for shorter, more ‘normal’ races, a C3 for more bikepacking style races, an Aspero which will be for gravel races going forward (it’s being built up at the moment and I can’t wait to see it!), and a P-Series TT bike. They have always been my favourite bike brand and it’s flipping cool to work with them. All of my bikes are kitted out with Shimano groupsets and PRO components.

For bike packing I use a real mix of different things. When I rode across Australia, and for the Atlas Mountain Race, I was riding a custom-made WyndyMilla bike kitted out with Shimano and PRO Components and a Lauf fork. What I like about the Tailfin is the size of it: it is a lot larger than many of the other packs out there and also feels so much more stable compared to many others I have tested in the past. 

Do you pack a little or a lot? What are your essentials? How do you decide what to take with you?

I try to pack as little as possible but I always end up bringing more than I need. Some of my essentials are a solar-powered charger, toothbrush, and toothpaste, sun cream, a Wahoo ROAM bike computer (and a spare ELEMNT, just in case). I usually take a jar of peanut butter for the tough days, as I love the stuff and it’s a great treat in case you can’t get it. 

How are you managing riding during the Covid-19 lockdown? 

I’m doing most of my riding indoors, to be honest. I use a Wahoo KICKR and spend a lot of time on Zwift. I’m planning on completing it, ha! I personally don’t feel too comfortable going out for long rides outside with the current crisis we are in. I know we are technically allowed to but I think several hours is probably taking the mickey a little. Doing a three-hour turbo session is way more efficient and mentally more taxing, so I feel like I’m actually doing better committing to it, in some weird kind of a way.

When we’re all out of lockdown, what’s next? Any big races planned in?

I have a few things in mind at the moment but as so much is up in the air, I’m not too sure what will be next. I had signed up for the Trans Pyrenees, which has now been moved to 2021, and Badlands which is in September but I was also planning a pretty epic bikepacking trip to fundraise for PACE again. So a lot will hang on whether I can make that work or if that moves to next year. One thing for sure, I’ll enjoy it when we can head out on these adventures again – and I’ll be as fit as I can be.

Chris rides with Tailfin the AeroPack Carbon X when he takes on these challenges. He enjoys the weight-saving qualities of the rigid seat pack, combined with the versatility of being able to mount side panniers when he needs extra space.

Thanks again Chris for talking to us, and sharing your experiences.

@chrishallrides |

For more information on the AeroPack Carbon X rigid seat pack, including features and reviews, click the link below.

Related articles:

Do aerodynamics matter in bikepacking?

Race-proven – How the Tailfin AeroPack measures up when it matters

Do aerodynamics matter in bikepacking?

We were fascinated by the recent video from UK bike Vlogger, Francis Cade – video at bottom of the page, showing the indoor wind tunnel testing of the AeroPack vs other kinds of bikepacking equipment. Francis took the most likely setups for bikepacking, and pitted them against each other to find out where the differences come from.

Francis heads to the Boardman Performance Centre wind tunnel with Xavier Disley, PhD, from AeroCoach (The Aero Experts) to test some of the most popular bikepacking setups and see what difference they make to a bike’s aerodynamics – like us, you’ll be astounded by the results.

Now, you might be asking, why on earth does that matter? I’m only riding an average 25kmph an hour over the day; I don’t need to go fast. Well, think about it like this: with a better kit set-up, over long distances you can save yourself time – that might mean more sleep or less riding after dark – and also energy, meaning you can be more calorie-efficient. You might argue that these might be marginal differences, but feeling fast (whether you’re racing on your own or trying to keep up with your bike packing buddies) can not only give you the physical edge but can also be a big mental boost. And it’s not just time on the bike: with user-friendly bike packing set-ups you’ll save time off the bike, as well as on it.

What did Francis Uncover?

Firstly, a little bit about aerodynamic drag. Aerodynamic drag is the force that opposes a cyclist as they travel through the air. It can be calculated by multiplying the Coefficient of drag (Cd) by the frontal Area (A) of the cylist+bike+gear. More accurately, though it can be measured directly in a wind tunnel using calibrated force gauges. These are the key findings from the test. All drag force measurements have been converted to ‘pedalling power’ whilst travelling at 25kmh:

Bikepacking EquipmentPower Penalty (travelling at 25kmh)Time Penalty (over 8 hour, 200km ride)
2 x water bottles (750ml per side) on front forks3 Watts3.5 minutes
Front bar bag (2.5 litres)8.5 Watts9.9 minutes
Tailfin AeroPack Carbon X Rigid Seat Pack (~20 litres)-2 Watts (it makes you FASTER)2.3 minutes LESS
2 x Tailfin SL22 side panniers (22 litres each side)7 Watts8.2 minutes
Full Setup (wedge frame bag, handlebar bag, 2 bottles on fork,
AeropPack and 2 side panniers)
15.8 Watts 17.5 minutes

There are three standout points from these measurements:

  • These measurements were all captured with a wind speed of 25kmh. If you were travelling faster then the watt savings wouldn’t just be a little larger, but significantly larger as the force scales non-linearly. For example, if you were riding at TT speed of 50kmh with 2 bottles on the fork, instead of it causing a 3 watt penalty it would now cause a 20 watt penalty.
  • Adding a front bar bag with a carrying capacity of 2.5 litres adds more drag than having two side panniers with a combined carrying capacity of 44 litres! This is likely due to the fact that the Tailfin panniers are relatively slimline and sit behind the riders legs which doesn’t add much to the frontal area.
  • Adding the Tailfin AeroPack Carbon X (~20Litres) made Francis 2.5 watts FASTER @ 25kmh, because it effectively acts like a fairing behind the rider by reducing turbulence to make a more streamlined profile. Streamlining a shape reduced the Coefficient of drag. Yes, the AeroPack makes you just little bit faster.
Francis Cade as he crosses the Nullarbor Plain, Australia, in September 2019

So, what real-world difference do aerodynamics make?

The full bike packing set-up that Francis tested, consisting of wedge frame bag, front bar bag, 2 bottles on the front forks, an AeroPack and two side panniers, in total, came to a 15.8 watts penalty, equating to 17.5 mins over 200km ride (8 hours) or an additional 130 calories per hour. Not only that but if you’re needing to put in 10% of your overall power output to keep up with buddies riding more efficient set-up, you’re really going to start to feel the difference pretty quickly.

We contacted Xavier to get his feedback on the testing. This is what he had to say: “Hopefully this helps people understand that aerodynamics are important, even at lower speeds – and in the case of bikepacking or ultra distance racing/riding it’s interesting to look at the results differently. Converting aero drag savings into calorie savings for example is not something that is often thought of for normal racing, but becomes much more important when you’re out on the bike for so long that managing your energy expenditure is a huge part of your overall performance/enjoyment.”

The takeaways from this? Firstly, your set-up has to work for you and your bike packing set-up. If you don’t need a front bar bag, then great, you can get rid of it. But if you want to carry a lot of gear, then side panniers are better than a front bar bag. Secondly, marginal gains can really add up over a long-distance ride. They might not sound much on a per hour basis, but extrapolate this over a 500k or 1,000k distance, and you’ll really start to see why aerodynamics does have an important role to play in bikepacking.