Planet X Saddle Bag Review
A practical and cost-effect bikepacking choice
This review will look at the Planet X PODSAC Saddle Bag which I bought specifically for my King Alfred Way cycle. I had planned to wild camp using my bivy bag across 3 days of cycling and needed a bit of extra space to supplement the frame and handlebar bag I already had.
Why Planet X Podsac?
My first check for the saddlebag was on the Apidura website to match the frame bag I had bought a couple of years earlier as I had been happy with it’s performance, and going with a brand you can trust is really important. When I saw the cost of £118 I knew I needed to look elsewhere.
I had ridden a PlanetX aero bike many years ago which was incredibly fun, in all black it looked the Batmobile and went just as fast, even with me powering it along, but I wasn’t aware they had bikepacking luggage also.
The design and reviews on the PODSACs were very complimentary, and with a price tag of £30 it was worth the gamble.
Sizing and Purpose
The next decision to make was the size of saddle bag to go with – their 9 or 14 litre. Similar rationale to my choice in frame bag size, or any bag for that matter, the bigger you get the more you will take. If you run out of room you will become more ruthless in your kit cull.
I knew for the King Alfred Way, and for most trips I would be doing, that I would only be putting my sleeping arrangement in there. It wouldn’t be required to take any cooking stuff or any extra clothes, so I could go with a size that would be enough for my bivy, roll matt and sleeping bag. As the cost was so low, I convinced myself that should I do a trip in the future where I need to take spare clothes or cooking stuff, I could potentially just buy another PODSAC for that trip, but if I had the space for the King Alfred Way I would use it unnecessarily.
Another factor to consider here is how big of a bag you can cope with on the back of your bike, or if you would prefer this weight on the handlebars or framebag. I’d seen cyclists out with massive saddle bags which looked like a hiking rucksack strapped to the back of their bike. It looked awkward and impractical. Now I admit I am sure the difference between the 9 and 14 litre perhaps wouldn’t be that noticeable. But I hadn’t ridden with a ‘large’ saddle bag ever, so the handling a 9 litre bag on the back of the bike I am sure would have been enough for the novice I was.
Fitting and stability
The first thing to go through with this saddlebag is how easy it was to fit, and how stable it felt.
The saddle post straps and the saddle straps are nice and large, making them practical to use and tighten. There is a natural swing that you get with saddlebags that goes from left to right, but importantly it doesn’t jump up and down. The first time that I used the saddlebag was on a gravel training ride and I ended up forgetting it was there. The swing from left to right, when loaded up, can have an impact on your handling and it can almost feel at times that there is something wrong with the tyre. There obviously isn’t it’s the weight moving from one side to the other, this only occurs very randomly and doesn’t impact how you ride, but it does take some getting used to.
Performance and Robustness
The inside liner of the bag is made from a waterproof tarpaulin material which from the testing I have put it through so far keeps your kit dry. It certainly feels that it could withstand a heavy downpour and gives me much more confidence than my Apidura frame bag.
The outside of the bag is a tough material which so far has withstood the scraps of me falling off or dropping my bike.
I stupidly set up a reflector for my King Alfred Way cycle that was set up underneath the bag. The plastic rubbing has caused it to chew up the outer fabric which is really annoying. It was completely my fault and not a reflection (pun intended) on the quality of the fabric. The weight of the bag resting and bouncing on the reflector would have caused any fabric to break. However thankfully as it’s on the part of the bag that has the supportive hard shell on it so it should hopefully not effect it’s waterproofness. It’s just super frustrating as I was being over cautious and the reflectors were not needed!
I do feel that the fabric is sturdy and of high performance, and I wouldn’t let my stupidity cloud this. The straps and buckles do not feel they would break and I have zero concern dragging and throwing the bag about.
A few features of the bag need a special mention here.
On the topic of reflectors there is bright reflective material on a couple of the straps which proper lights up helping keep you safe. This material can be seen from the side and back which is a nice touch.
There is a drawstring storage on the top of the bag which I found helpful for holding my Gillet. On the underside there are 2 elasticated fixed straps which I have not used. Others may use it for their flip-flops or something else similar. My reservations for this was I wouldn’t be able to tell if it had fallen out particularly easy, and they would also get covered in mud – which I guess for flip-flops is not a huge issue.
On the back of the bag where it is folded down to keep items in, there is a place to hook on any lights which again is super helpful as you then don’t have to worry about mounts on your bike, which could be an issue as the saddlebag forces and saddle post space out.
Final mention on the features is the way the straps which loop under the saddle are set up. They have a little hook which keeps the loose spare strapping in a neat set-up to stop it flapping about, which makes for a really practical and aesthetic compared to a conventional strap just flying in the wind!
This bag is amazing. I can’t quite believe the quality for £30 and I would 100% recommend it and in the future if I need to get another one – I would. PlanetX also have a bundle where you can the handlebar and frame bag included with the saddle bag a set for around £70 which is just an amazing deal. It has made me rethink the Apidura one I bought a few years ago. There is no way that the Apidura saddle bag would be 3 times as good as this bag. No chance.