Acorn medium saddlebag long-term review.


A few weeks ago, while I was at a movie, some reprobate stole off of my trusty vintage Centurion city bike my seatpost, saddle (a nicely-worn-in Brooks B17), and worst of all, my beloved Acorn medium saddlebag.

Acorn bags probably better-known by reputation than by direct experience, since it is a bit of a pain to actually buy one. These bags are made one at a time by a couple in California; they are sold in batches, released once a month or so on a date which is not announced ahead of time. You’ve got to sign up to be notified and then check your email aggressively, since popular styles will sell out in minutes. And each batch is made in one color only, so if you have a preference, you might have to wait a while.

While I generally have little patience for this kind of thing, I’ll jump through these hoops for Acorn bags because–on the strength of my now-gone medium saddlebag–I think these are some of the nicest bike bags of the cotton-and-leather variety you can buy today. The consistency and refinement of the stitching and cutting is beyond anything else I’ve seen, with all seams neatly taped. The materials–Martexin waxed twill1 and Hermann Oak vegetable-tanned bridle leather–are best-in-class (and were in the process of aging very nicely on my saddlebag).

But even more than the quality, the thoughtful design of the bag stood out. The wedge-shaped medium saddlebag, specifically, fills a niche between small tools-and-tube seat bags and massive, transverse Carradice-style bags. It was perfect for everyday use in the city; I could carry tools with enough room left over for a Kindle and maybe a few small items from the corner store if I had to run an errand, all in a neat and compact space. The inner nylon expandable collar lets you overpack the bag while keeping your items secure, and everything is designed so well that I found that items would generally stay in the bag even if I forgot to fasten the closure.

Best of all, the two pairs of D-rings (in conjunction with Acorn’s nylon lashing straps) allow you to strap surprisingly bulky loads onto this little bag. In addition to the occasional impromptu growler run, I was able to securely pack my (none-too-light) tent this way on numerous camping trips, and heavy winter layers on shorter trips.

At nearly a pound, it’s a heavy bag for its capacity (none of those lovely durable materials are very light). And I’d prefer a tad less taper–the “nose” of the bag is so narrow that not much fits there. I might consider the new medium/large saddlebag (not available at the time I ordered my saddlebag) for a little more space (though I prefer the single closure of the smaller bag). But these are minor shortcomings in an otherwise excellent bag which it was a pleasure to use.

  1. Though it looks like they now use canvas (vs twill) for the black bags–mine, though black, was twill, which I prefer aesthetically. 

November 8, 2015