Arkel Rollpacker 25 | Bikepacking Supreme


Folks who enjoy bikepacking come in all shapes and forms.  There are those who carry minimalist gear while others want the kitchen sink . . . and some prefer multi-day planned adventurers while others enjoy overnight trips. No matter which category, you still need bags to carry your stuff into the great unknown.

Arkel has been designing and manufacturing cycling bags for about 30 years. They have a no compromise approach to building quality products and even have a lifetime transferable guarantee. So you know they stand behind what they sell.

Fatbike Republic had the opportunity to put some dirt miles on Arkel's slick Seatpacker 9 last season, so we were stoked when the opportunity arose to partner with Arkel on something new.

ROLLPACKER - DESIGN 

The Rollpacker is most recent addition to the Arkel line of bikepacking gear. Adding to the Seatpacker 9 & 15 (and their expansive line of panniers) Arkel has taken a little different approach to carrying gear off the saddle.  
Adding to the versatility of the design, Arkel also offers the Rollpacker in a front mount option . . . however this review focuses on the seat mounted version.

rollpacker and seatpacker

Running perpendicular to the seat with an opening at each end of the bag, the Rollpacker allows for greater flexibility when packing gear. No longer will you have to drag everything out of the bag only to get at that one item that you packed up at the nose. However, with two access points there are two areas to seal against the elements.

Rollpacker 25 open ends

The Rollpacker is watertight with 3 folds of the bag ends, however that does trim down on the 25L capacity. In reality, a double fold should get you through all but torrential downpours or bike drowning. And if using drybags to keep things organized, a single fold should do the job.

Rollpacker 25 closed ends waterproof

While the Rollpacker will not allow you to use your dropper seatpost to the same extent as its cousin the Seatpacker, it can be mounted in two distinct locations depending on frame size and preference. 

Rollpacker 25 rear hanger

The dual positioning is made possible by a smartly designed aluminum hanger that highly adaptable for different saddles and seatposts.

Rollpacker 25 hrear hanger

And the design also eliminates tail wag . . . that odd feeling when a traditional bag starts to sway back and forth as you grind down the trail.

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking

In addition to the main compartment, the Rollpacker has an auxiliary outside compartment that is really convenient to store items that you may need to access quickly. 
A double fold and a solid plastic buckle will seal the pouch from the elements. 

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking outside compartment

And finally . . . a small pocket between the auxiliary compartment and the main bag can hold smaller items and do not need environmental protection. Storage everywhere! 

ROLLPACKER - CONSTRUCTION

The Rollpacker is made entirely in North America with all the fabric being sourced in the USA. The main body of the bag is made of 1000 denier Codura nylon and X-Pac ripstop polyester - providing a blend of light weight and toughness.


Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking material

The inside liner (gray) is made of a fully waterproof 210 denier TPU laminated nylon with sewn and taped seams. This makes for fully waterproof main and auxiliary compartments.

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking inside material

Reflective material sewn into the daisy chain makes a perfect place to mount a blinkie for night time visibility.

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking daisy chain reflective

High quality nylon webbing and plastic buckles ensure that the bag stays closed and in place.  The Rollpacker, like all Arkel gear, just oozes quality, craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking webbing and buckles

Sewing and construction of the bag is 100% completed at Arkel's factory in Sherbooke, Quebec. The aluminum hanger is crafted from 6061-T6 aluminum by a neighbourhood machine shop, while the plastic components are molded in cooperation with a provincial technical college.

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking Made in Canada

The main compartment measures approximately 26” x 15” while the auxiliary exterior compartment measured 10” x 9” and is 2” deep.

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking dimensions

Dropping the Rollpacker 25 on the scale it weighs in at 538g with the hanger adding another 359g. This is slightly less than the claimed combined weight of 930g.

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking weight

As the name suggests the Rollpacker 25 has 25L (1525 ci) of storage to a recommended maximum capacity of 7 kg (15.4 lbs)

ROLLPACKER - HANGER

The hanger is surprisingly simple to install on the seat, with Arkel providing a no-nonsense infographic explaining the four-step process.

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking rear hanger

It’s important to note that if the rails on your favorite seat are spaced <2.25" then you use the small aluminum bar to attach the hanger to the seat. If >2.25" you must use the large bar and an enclosed plastic adapter. As the seat used for the review had rails that hovered at the 2.25” mark, I actually used the large bar without the adapter.

Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking rear hanger

Once lined up, the toggle clamp is loosely tightened and cinched down. The reinforced rubberized plastic seatpost clamp is then snapped over the seatpost and secured with the Velcro strip.  Final tightening of the bolts should be done after you choose the bag orientation.



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking rear hanger mounted

Now its decision time . . . do you run the bag under the hanger or above the hanger? Mounting under the hanger will create a lower center of gravity and a little more stability than mounting above the hanger, while mounting above the hanger will provide more clearance. 

It's best to make the final mounting determination after you have the bag packed because location will depend on the amount of gear you are taking, terrain you plan to ride and the size of the bike frame. You need to ensure that you have enough clearance between the bag and the tire.



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking rear hanger above the hanger

The Rollpacker installs rather quickly by sliding the hanger into one of the sleeves on the bag (top or bottom). Two nylon web straps wrap around the hanger on either side of the seatpost. Pulling on the free ends tighten up the straps. And another adjustable strap wraps around the seatpost, or through the hanger, to ensure that the Rollpacker is not going to jump off the bike when least expected.



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking mounted up


Removing the bag is a simple as releasing three buckles and sliding the bag away from the bike. 

ON THE TRAIL

While I try to pack light, I always end up adding a few items just in case . . . and that's no exception with a recent U24O (Under 24 Hour Overnighter) to the Avalon Wilderness Reserve. I packed the Rollpacker 25 main compartment pretty tight which allowed for a double fold on each end – mostly clothing, cooking gear, some camping stuff, Sawyer squeeze, toiletries, and a little food. 



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking stuff full

The auxiliary compartment carried a saw, compass, natural fly repellent, a couple of power bars, spare batteries for cameras, flashlight and some other stuff I can’t remember.

Given the fact that I would be riding some pretty rough terrain, and that the bag was pretty much stuffed, I decided on mounting the Rollpacker 25 above the rack on the Ithaqua 2S. If I was running with less equipment and/or riding on less gnarly terrain I would have considered running it below for a lower center of gravity. Strapping on the remainder of gear I took the Ithaqua 2S for a quick spin to see how it would handle the extra weight, and made some last minute adjustments.



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking

We hit the trail just before noon on a sunny Saturday. A long and steady gravel climb quickly switched into an untamed pock-marked double track full of water crossings, climbs and ruts. The distinct lack of tall trees on the tundra did nothing to buffer the 60 kph winds gusts, however blood sucking black flies were non existent.



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking on the trail

The bag did a stellar job of capturing any and all mud kicked up from the rear tire and when looking for a snack, accessing the auxiliary compartment was a simple one-handed operation. I did reach back a few times to ensure the bag ends were still secure . . . and they were.



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking on the trail

After almost six hours of riding we arrived at the campsite and it was time to unload the bikes and set up camp. In less than 30 seconds I had the Rollpacker 25 removed from the Ithaqua 2S. None of the straps holding the bag to the hanger had loosened in any way. 



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking camp

Removing gear from the bag was as simple as opening the buckle and dumping. As the bag lays flat when empty it takes up practically no room in the tent, however it can also double as a durable pillow if in a pinch.

Taking a solid snooze after a night of talking fatbikes and future trips . . . it was time pack up.  This was simple with the Rollpacker 25 - stuff the drybags full of gear and stuff the drybags into the main compartment. Having both ends open allowed for optimal placement. Holding the rear tire between my knees I easily mounted the bag to the hanger.



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking loaded up

Our trip out was a little more speedy than the saunter in, as a rain storm was on the way. The ruts, rocks and water crossings were taken with a little more gusto, and it also helped that there were more downhills than climbs. I managed to hit 48 kph on one particular long downhill. 



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking on the trail

At about the half-way mark I started to overheat as I had opted to wear pants to keep the black flies from eating my legs. I needed to switch to shorts FAST and get back on the trail. The design of the Rollpacker 25  allowed me to quickly grab the shorts, stuff in the pants and get back riding.



Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking rain waterproof

The heavy downpours did not hit until we were back at the vehicles, but we did spend about an hour in drizzle and light rain. When I loaded up the Jeep I checked the pants I stuffed in the Rollpacker . . . bone dry.


Clean up of the Rollpacker 25 was quite easy.  A little liquid soap, hose and a light scrub made it look new again.


Arkel Rollpacker 25 bikepacking cleanup

FINAL THOUGHTS

Before I started the review I was unsure how a perpendicular oriented seat bag would fair against the traditional bikepacking seat bag. 


In theory it should work better, but theory does not always translate to reality . . . but in this case it does. What I liked about the Rollpacker 25 Rear:
  • Very quick and easy to stuff and maximize storage. No inaccessible nooks. 
  • Uncomplicated and secure hanger mounting system.
  • No tail wag as there is no tail to wag. 
  • Very little bounce compared to traditional seat bag. 
  • Auxiliary compartment can hold a lot of gear. 
  • Waterproof and easy to clean.

It would be neat to see some D-rings to help with bungee attachment and maybe a couple of velcro loops to attach a fishing rod.  I had to carry my rod on my backpack.

I’m really impressed with the Arkel Rollpacker 25 Rear. If you are getting into the fun filled activity of bikepacking, or upgrading your current setup, you should certainly give this bag some serious consideration.


RIDE FAT !




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