First Impressions: Carradice SQR Slim & Tour Saddlebags

Over the past three years of bicycle commuting, I’ve experimented with panniers (front- and rear-mounted), backpacks, and traverse-style saddlebags for carrying daily necessities (clothing, lunch, repair kit, wallet, cell phone).  Many thousands of miles later, the British-style saddlebag has proven to be my luggage of choice.

Traditional saddlebags are not for everyone, though.  Most require a saddle with bag loops, and larger-capacity bags benefit greatly from the addition of a secondary support (or a conventional rear rack).  These limitations became glaringly apparent when testing new saddles for an upcoming article.  Between the lack of bag loops, and rails that wouldn’t accommodate a bolt-on support, I began searching for an alternative to my Carradice/Bagman combo.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to search far–the Carradice SQR line of saddlebags don’t require saddles with bag loops, or any additional supports.  Instead, the company’s SQR bags utilize an integrated frame that attaches to a seatpost-mounted receptor.  The included clamps are compatible with seatposts up to 32mm in diameter, and larger clamps are available for seatposts up to 40mm.  Installation only requires a 5mm hex key. gravel grinder Carradice SQR saddlebag Ritchey Classic Selle An-Atomica Salsa Vaya
Carradice SQR bracket mounted on the author’s commuter. The spring-loaded (red) lever allows easy bag removal.

Once the SQR bracket is installed, attaching or removing the bag is quick and easy (and doesn’t require any fiddling with straps, etc).  That convenience doesn’t come at the expense of security.  I rode over many miles bumpy singletrack (and broken pavement), and even with a full load, the bag (or bracket) never once budged. gravel grinder Carradice SQR saddlebag
The frame’s mount is bolted to the internal stiffener.

Carradice provided GRAVELBIKE with samples of their SQR Slim and SQR Tour bags.  Both feature a 16 litre capacity, and have a max load rating of 10kg.  Like their more-traditional saddlebags, the Slim and Tour are constructed from waterproof cotton duck.  A mudguard strip on the underside offers additional protection.  If you’re wondering just how weatherproof cotton can be, my gear remained dry during rain so heavy that it took three days for my shoes to dry completely.

The Slim and Tour share the same total capacity, but differ in form factor.  As the name implies, the Slim has a more compact profile, which improves clearance on smaller bikes.  My Vaya’s saddle height is 73cm, and while there was sufficient room for either bag, I found that the Slim was easier to attach and remove.  For sheer convenience, however, I preferred the Tour’s external, quick-release pockets (both bags are equipped with an interior, envelope-style pocket for wallet, keys, or phone).

Model Width Depth Height Weight
Slim 29cm 36cm 15cm 1000
Tour 18cm 37cm 20cm 1010g gravel grinder Carradice SQR Slim Ritchey Classic Selle An-Atomica Salsa Vaya
Carradice’s SQR Slim saddlebag. gravel grinder Carradice SQR Tour Ritchey Classic Selle An-Atomica Salsa Vaya
Carradice SQR Tour saddlebag.

To avoid the “droop” often encountered with Carradice’s traverse-style bags, the SQR line features internal stiffeners that help maintain the bags’ profile even when empty.  Instead of leather straps and traditional buckles, the SQR bags utilize nylon straps with quick-release buckles.  Reflective logo badges offer additional visibility, and LED blinky lights can be attached to the lid via nylon straps.

How do the SQR bags compare to Carradice’s traverse-style saddlebags?  Heavy loads have less of an effect on handling than a conventional saddlebag and (Bagman) support.  I did detect some contact between the SQR bags and the backs of my thighs, but it was still less than with a conventional saddlebag attached without a support.  Weight-wise, you save approximately 100g over a Carradice Nelson and original (steel) Bagman.

The SQR Slim has a suggested retail price of £75.00, and the SQR Tour retails for £79.00.  Additional SQR mounts are available for £14.00.  Note that all prices include VAT.

Disclosure: Carradice provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.

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