Tailfin Rack – Trunkpack Review update

Update end of 2020: The first writing of this was a bit of a blowing off steam exercise, I always wanted a top bag for the original Tailfin rack, and they delivered and I like it. The whole kickstarter option caused some friction and problems but Tailfin reached out and replaced the worn parts. Tailfin.com

Despite these crazy times, and also because of these isolated times the Trunkpack has had some heavy use this year. Without a big adventure lots of rides have been all day affairs or overnighters, and each one has been planned for minimum human contact. The Tailfin has been my little self sufficient buddy, open it up pile in some clothes and days of food and tighten up the straps and ride. Nothing gets wet in this bag and its easy to rummage around and find things you need, try that with a stuffed seat pack. One ideal addition is a good elastic web net. Carry one of these and you can expand capability for light bulky items and it’s also fantastic for quickly throwing warm clothes or waterproofs under when discarded. Don’t EVER trust the two compression straps to do that job, I lost a favourite Bearbones jersey like that, the material is to shiny to securely hold items.

In short I have hammered that bag this year, it hasn’t leaked, worn our or even deteriorated in looks, and hasn’t fallen off. It’s a permanent fixture and I can’t see that changing for a long time to come.

Almost two years ago whilst lugging my stuff back from the Alpi4K trip to Italy with the original Tailfin rack with a stuff bag precariously strapped on top; Tailfin announced a Kickstarter option for a top rack bag. Despite my now low hobo budget, I decided on the spot this was the last piece required to complete the long-distance rig. Who would have guessed that after all this time, I am still yet to do a multi-day trip with this bag, dubbed the Trunkpack

What started as an add on bag soon spawned into a variety of different systems, and seemed to turn into a weight race, to convince the backpacking community it was worth the cost over the ubiquitous seat pack. That Autumn there would be twitter consultations between the designer and rack users about design ideas, and I remember them being surprised that many users opted to use other company’s bags; quelle surprise those that had splashed out on Orliebs finest wanted to carry on using them.

2019 saw design changes and influencers! showing off the bags in use, whislt they were supposed to be designed by the end of 2018. Then came riders doing the PBP Audax and Transcontinental being given trial bags to use. Meanwhile I got pissed off with three big races to run, and did the RATN, PanCeltic and TransIberica with the extra cost of buying a waterproof Lomo bag and mounting it on top of the rack.

When I got back from Spain in late September the bag was sitting there waiting for me, mocking me, I didn’t even open the box for a month. I mention all this because as an original backer of Tailfin the company, from Day 1 I felt let down. A second class case because I was not purchasing one of the new Aeropack systems, your call. With that in mind you would probably be right in thinking that this will not be a fair review.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
The first ride on the Salsa

Come November I thought I’d better try it out, having got over my initial thought to just sell it on. The weight race rears its head again in the instructions as you are told how to ditch parts to get the weight down, sounds like some early specs might not have been met. For us Trunkpack users I doubt nobody cares.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
Rear Mounting bracket

The owner screws the mounting brackets onto the base, and then if you have the alternative non Tailfin pannier mounts fitted they have to be removed. Yep, you want to use both, tough; it’s buy some Tailfin bags or go without; thanks guys. At least the bag is quick release as promised but the mounting brackets are vulnerable to damage off the rack, and it has no stability to place on a flat surface whilst loading which is awkward at times.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
Front Mount

The first ride is a wet and dirty 200Km Audax into Wales, mudguard fitted the bag still get filthy and gritty. Everything inside is snug and waterproof and once you learn that you have to cross over the two compression straps or they are prone to fall off, it’s very stable. It can be a pain having to undo four buckles just to get in the bag, but once done you have good access to delve around without unpacking too much. There is a small quick access zip flap, but unless what you want is directly behind it, it’s of limited use. Burgerman on the ride with me commented on how stable and sleek it looked in use, it was certainly very stable and quiet. Perfect like it was never there.

Immediately I would change some design aspects;

1) You have a big rear surface yet they put a few token very small reflective strips on the bag. Mine have already started to peel off and superglued back on. What’s wrong with a great big fluorescent panel on the whole rear end, it would fit the use most of these bags would go through, a great place for the logo, (it’s actually hidden on the base). Guess modern design trends calls for black and more black, black sells and hides you.

2) The two rear light loops are not tight enough and any light hooked on there has to be taped in place to be secure and they tend to point slightly sideways.

3) The two end buckles once released are now at the top of the wide bag opening, They are the same male connectors, if they were the opposite gender you could quickly close the bag which at times is very useful. Sometimes you’re stopped and just want to just close the bag briefly, maybe it’s raining, it’s not that easy. Connecting them together would also act as a quick carry handle too. If they weren’t welded in place I would swap them over myself. And while on that subject where was the shoulder carrying strap, its penny pinching to see that its now on-site as a paid-for accessory on a portable removable bag.

Rear view
Feeling safe with all that reflective material, light mounts in use. Silver bracket is a Version 1 homemade mount for a dynamo light

On the next ride, which with winter here was a full month later, it was noticeable that the Trunkpack was now noisy. On investigation the front mount had worn its way into the mounting bar, as it was rattling badly.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
The front quick release Mount rubber sections

The rack mounting bar had worn down from a nice straight anodized aluminium extrusion into one with a notch. For one ride with brand new fresh mounts, I was of course overjoyed and contacted Tailfin to see if some out of spec components had slipped through the net.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
The worn Mounting bar

This was on the 20th Dec 2019, I then sent pictures and a video and eventually headman Nick stated this would be addressed….twice! Well as I write this in June 2020 it’s no surprise I have seen no action to redress this. And before they shout COVID19 and lockdown, I know of two friends who have purchased Aeropacks after admiring mine in use in the past month.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
Front Mount rubber Insert

To cure the slop I took out the rubber section to the mount and fitted a layer of rubber underneath it to pack it out, so does this mean this part was the wrong size to start with? After a lot of use on local 100 mile rides, many off-road sections it’s still stable at the front; now the rear ball mounts are showing movement and will need padding out soon.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
Rear ball mounts showing some abrasion from the harder material clamping parts
Tailfin - Trunkpack
Rear bottle and stuff bag mount brackets

With the rack mount bars redundant for my Ortliebs I considered what else I could mount here to use the space. I machined up some clamps so I could add a rear bottle mount on one side. I have now carried a 1 litre water bottle here for a month of long rides over some rough terrain without problems. Its totally unobtrusive in use and if worried I can wrap one of the bag straps round it for full security.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
Rear bracket mounts where the panniers would go

With the spacing I can add a Salsa anywhere cage or a DrJon strapdeck platform and carry a larger dry sack in future. Chances are I will make up my own Flat deck to strap my tent to for future epics. maybe make a lower mount for vertical placement for lower weight carrying.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
Bag and 1 litre bottle in use

As I use the Tripsters mudguard mounts for the rack rather than the through axle I machined up some new mudguard mount threaded inserts and secured them in a hole in the rack leg with the quick release security screws, it works very neatly and looks perfect.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
Mudguard mount pin – inside
Tailfin - Trunkpack
Mudguard mount pin outside

It bugged me that the alternative pannier mount I had, no longer fitted. So for the other side, I made up two more prototype clamps to enable the original adaptor bars to be inserted.

Tailfin - Trunkpack

The tri-sided insert space was copied with a notch to provide a solid non rotating mounting place for the original clamp faces. Then the clamps lock around the tailfin Rack bars. (they originally went through the bars), a space now ocupied by the Trunkpack mount hardware.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
Alternative pannier mount clamps version 1

It works a treat even if it spaces the bag out a touch and eventually I intend to remake those and the bottle mounts with a rounder smother profile, recess the bolts and home anodize them.

Tailfin - Trunkpack
Both sides of the rack. It has seem some tough miles now and all is great. Ready for an epic

No links until I get some satisfaction, use google

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