Stuff We Like: Rivendell Sackville Bags

Rivendell Bicycle Works is primarily known for their beautiful, intelligently designed, lugged-steel bicycles. They’re also credited for helping to revive and keep alive traditional items such as wool clothing, leather saddles, platform pedals, and canvas bags. What some people may not realize is that Rivendell is nearly as passionate about bag making as they are about bike building. As they say on their website, “We’re nuts for bike bags. They’re the best part of the bike.”

Working with various small bag makers, Rivendell has designed and delivered to market a variety of attractive, functional, and extremely high quality bike bags over the years, the most recent being their Sackville line of dry-waxed cotton duck bike bags. Here’s a description from their website:

Our new Sackville series bags are as fine as saddlebags get. The Britamerican materials (including waxed and waterproof cotton duck), the Connecticut craftsmanship, the California design, the melted thread-ends, and the total absence of any cost-cutting measures add up to bags that cost us a mint to make, are worth three mints, but cost you only a mint and a half. They’re over-the-top good and a joy to use. They load and unload easier than any saddlebags we’ve used; they’re more secure; they’re more handsome.

Sackville bags are made in America for Rivendell by a small company led by former employees of Coach and Dooney & Bourke. These are lovely bags that some may think are too fancy, but they’re highly functional and durable too. The heavy canvas duck is waterproof and as tough as an old army tent. The heavy duty brass fittings will probably outlast most bikes. The smart designs reflect Rivendell’s 15+ years of designing and using saddlebags. If you’re interested in alternatives to the ubiquitous Cordura nylon bike bag, these are just about as good as it gets.

We’re currently using the Sackville SaddleSack Medium and the Sackville TrunkSack Small. The SaddleSack M is a relatively large saddlebag with a square-ish profile and a flat bottom. It’s a clever design that accepts a small laptop and a change of clothes, or a stack of library books and lunch. The large, rear-entry flap is held closed with a pair of brass snaps which makes opening and closing the bag a cinch. The zippered pockets on each side of the bag are large enough for a few tools and a patch kit, and the external pouch on top is ideal for quick access to items such as a wallet or bus pass.

The TrunkSack S is a small rack trunk, perfect for holding a spare tube, a patch kit, a few tools, and wallet/keys/cell phone. It features the same robust construction and detailing as the larger Sackville bags. Its size and shape makes it a perfect match for a Nitto Mini or Mark’s Rack.

Rivendell Bicycle Works

Disclosure: Rivendell is a sponsor of this website.

14 Responses to “Stuff We Like: Rivendell Sackville Bags”

  • RJ says:

    Beautiful, durable, handmade, practical and loved.. PERFECT!

  • jonathan says:

    I’ve been eyeing off the medium Saddlesack for the Double Cross I have on order, but getting it in Australia it will set me back twice the cost of a Carradice Camper or Nelson shipped over here.

    Anyone who has used both care to comment on their relative merits?

  • David says:

    Though I don’t own anything made by Rivendell it has always delighted me as to the use of all things Lord of The Rings in the naming of their quality bikes and components to the very naming of their company.

  • brad says:

    Given that I live on a street named Sackville, I guess I am pretty much obligated to get at least one of these; I’ll check ‘em out. ;-)

  • Alan says:

    @jonathan

    Both the Camper and Nelson longflaps are classics, though they’re not as pretty as the Sackville saddlebags. I’d say if you can get them local to avoid international shipping costs, you won’t be disappointed in their performance.

    Alan

  • Leaf S. says:

    I’d also add that the XS Sackville SaddleSack is a fantastic bag. You’d be amazed at how much stuff you can cram in there. The XS bag attaches to bag loops on a Brooks saddle. I use that and the small Sackville TrunkSack on my Hilsen currently and really like the set-up although I could probably just get by with just the small TrunkSack. Here’s a photo of them on my Hilsen:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/41335973@N00/4069870735/

    –Leaf

  • Leaf S. says:

    Hey Alan, what’s up with the bend in your struts on the Mark’s Rack? Did you have to bend the struts to fit the rack. I’m think that you maybe bent them so you could attach the struts on the inside of the rack platform. Correct?

  • Alan says:

    @Leaf S.

    “Hey Alan, what’s up with the bend in your struts on the Mark’s Rack?”

    Hey Leaf,

    The rack is actually a Nitto Mini, not a Mark’s Rack. It comes from the factory with the struts curved that way…

    Regards,
    Alan

    PS – Pretty AHH!

  • jonathan says:

    @alan

    Thanks for the feedback. I’d be getting the Carradice shipped from the UK, but it will still work out in the vicinity of half the Rivendell’s price. That may just make my decision for me.

  • jason says:

    I’ve been thinking of purchasing the Medium Saddlesack, and am just a bit curious as to how is falls on the top rack… IN the photos on the Riv site, the bag sits atop the u-shaped protrusion on the rack…
    Is yours doing that as well…I’d be much happier with it, I think, if it rested squarely on the rack.
    Thanks,
    J

  • jrome says:

    them are some nice bags for sure. Awesome photos! People thinking about buying these bags should just pony up and do it. Life is too short…and the bags will outlast us all.

  • Andrew says:

    A bit of a warning to anyone considering the riv sackville trunksacks – I have both the small and the large, which I intended to use as my commuting bags – front bag is perfect for a tool kit and rear for a change of clothes. Unfortunately, the design of the bags doesn’t work well at all in real life. Riv chose to use snap fasteners to secure the bag to the rack so, bumps and jostles make the snaps come undone and the bags start swinging about. This is kind of a deal breaker, and I wouldn’t recommend the bags to anyone unless they replace the snaps with buckle type straps. I’ve gotten so tired of having to stop and re-snap the bags in place that I’m replacing them with a front bag and panniers from Ostrich. Hopefully they’ll stay on the bike!

    My second, much more minor complaint is that the leather flaps on the sides don’t point down and look nice – they generally stick straight out at the sides and just look silly. They don’t do much for keeping water out of the bag since they don’t cover all of the zipper, so i really don’t see much of a reason for them to be there. The design would be better (and lighter!) in my opinion if the leather side flaps were just left off.

  • Brencho says:

    I have a medium saddlesack and love it! I’m thinking about putting a rear rack on my bike for longer weekend trips and short tours. This’ll allow me to throw some panniers on there for extra space. I’m wondering what kind of rack would work well with the saddlesack and accept panniers? i love the nitto big rear rack that riv sells, and have been looking at tubus racks as well. I’d be very grateful to hear your advice!

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