Bring back the Carradice Overlander Saddlebag

I have a confession. I’ve got a bag collection habit. More specifically I’m on a quest for the perfect ‘one bag to rule them all’ saddlebag for daily commuting and bike camping. And I believe that quest might have finally been fulfilled.

Up until a few weeks ago I thought I’d found it in my Carradice Camper Longflap but then I tracked down a wonderful example of vintage, long-discontinued model from Carradice’s back catalogue, the Overlander.

The Overlander. Let’s just let that resonate for a while. What an evocative name for a range of luggage. Designed in the 1980s (I believe) the Overlander range was created from lightweight designs dreamed up by legendary bike overlander Ian Hibell, who worked with the Lancashire company to produce lightweight versions of its products for use on his specially-designed world touring bike.

The Overlander range comprised of saddlebags, panniers, handlebar bags, stuff sacks and rack top bags and was made of a lightweight Cordura type fabric.

The saddlebag is quite simply huge, packing 25 litres of space and tipping my digital scales at exactly 650 grammes. These numbers are impressive. Two more litres than the Camper and the Super C and a full 350 grammes lighter than either.

The main compartment of the bag is cavernous and is very overstuffable, featuring a generous water-resistant drawstring closure and a lid that closes with quick-release clips. The zipped side pockets are equally huge, easily swallowing water bottles, cooksets and the like with room to spare.

I’m confident that I could bike camp with this bag alone. In fact I did a trial run and the following was easily swallowed by the Overlander:

  • One man tent
  • Three-season down sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Titanium cookset
  • Tools and spares
  • Down jacket
  • Spare clothes
  • Food
  • Other sundry camping items

Basically everything you need for a minimalist camping trip in one elegant bag, rather than the plethora of bags scattered all over the bike in modern bikepacking setups or indeed the cumbersome rack and panniers of a traditional heavy touring setup.

I’m thrilled to find such a great example of the bag with years of use left in it but it’s got me thinking. With the resurgence of the classic saddlebag with the likes of Ron’s Bikes, Swift Industries, Bags By Bird and Wizard Works, Carradice, the OG of saddlebag makers needs to reissue the Overlander and show the competition how it’s done. What do you say Carradice?

3 thoughts on “Bring back the Carradice Overlander Saddlebag

  1. I’m a bit of a bag collector myself. I’ve bought many–and sold many throughout the years. I have a Camper Longflap and love it. I don’t think I’m as concerned about weight as you (and definitely don’t camp as lightweight) so I don’t mind the added bulk of cotton duck. But I definitely do appreciate a lightweight bag when I see one.

    Have you listed your kit anywhere? I’d love to see what exactly you pack into the Overlander (and how much it weighs.)

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