Minnehaha Small Saddlebag

Funny name, nice bags 🙂 Ok, I had to get that out of my system.

I like saddle bags because they add function to your bike (you can carry stuff). It also doesn’t hurt when you can find a saddlebag that doesn’t look ugly on your bike. Most bags today are made of some sort of nylon-poly-plastic blend which is fine, if you’re into that. But if you want something that doesn’t look so techy and modern then it’s usually slim pickin’s.

Enter Minnehaha. I have before me their “small” saddlebag. While it is small relative to their medium saddlebag, it’s pretty friggin huge compared to modern standards.

This is a good thing.

Obviously the modern saddlebag has the weight-weenie in mind who is determined to only carry a spare tube, exactly one key, a CO2 cartridge and half a GU-thingy and nothing more. The “small” saddlebag can carry those things and a whole heck of a lot more.

In my test load, I was able to fit comfortably a Pearl Izumi jacket, full multi-tool, tire levers, spare tube in a box and Flip camera. There was room to spare. I could have thrown in 3 energy bars, my wallet, keys, cell-phone and a small Casio Exlim if I were so inclined. Take that weight-weenie bag!

In addition, I tested out another important attribute in all bike luggage – “over-stuffability.” Loosely defined as the ability for said bag to carry more than intended volume (either by design or accident). For a small saddlebag, this has great over-stuffability! I was able to roll up a pretty thick Earth Wind Rider bike polo jersey and fit it under the flap!

The bag also has a nice small interior pocket to separate a few frequently accessed things. Like say a patch kit, your wallet or keys (note key clip).

So what’s there not to love? Well, for me, I wish the leather strap that attaches to the saddle rails were designed to go through the Brooks seat loops. Let’s face it, I don’t think your typical Fizik Arione rider is going to rock one of these, but you better believe someone with a Brooks will dig it.

How’s it compare to a Carradice? Considering the price, it fares pretty well. My feeling is that it is 80% of the bag for about 50% of the price, which is pretty darned good. I will say that the material they use is a hair thinner and floppier. If that translates to less durable, I don’t know. Just saying. The Carradice stuff is waxed and has a stiffer feel. The Minnehaha bags are soft (they feel great actually) and don’t hold their form as readily.

Also, I wish they used a little beefier leather straps for attaching it to the rails and seat post. Those parts wear pretty fast and need some fat to them.

All things considered, the Minnehaha is a great buy for the money. And if you’re tired of plastic wunderkind bike luggage, this will certainly fit the bill and won’t break the bank either!

10 Comments

  1. justin September 16, 2008 8:56 pm 

    How is this compared to the VO Croissant bag? I have the VO and absolutely love it. I just built a new bike and I am sad that I don’t have a nice saddle bag on it.

  2. Mike C September 17, 2008 5:25 am 

    Specific question about this bag–can it fit a mini-pump?

    Question about all these canvas bags, the Minnehaha, VO, Ostrich, Carradice, Berthoud, etc: I come from a motorcycle background and swear by waterproof stuff, especially Ortlieb roll-top and Ti-zip products. If I’m paying top dollar for gear, I don’t want to find out that something advertised as water resistant soaks through after less than half an hour, or that there are additional covers to fumble with and lose. How do these bags hold up to weather? If I added a saddlebag to my commuter, it would be protected above by me, and below by fenders–does stuff inside canvas bags get wet/soaked just from normal rain riding? Yes, I know there is Ortlieb bike gear, but their stuff, while bulletproof, waterproof, and being a quality product, just doesn’t have the style of the traditional canvas and leather bags–how much utility vs. something like similar Ortlieb products does one give up for traditional style?

  3. Mike September 17, 2008 9:53 am 

    Mike C. – if you have dimensions of your pump, I can measure.

    As far as rain — we recommend some spefic treatments to enhance the water resistance and the low-tech means of keeping things dry, which need to remain totally dry is to use plastic bags – ziplocs, ubiquitous trash bags, or even leftover supermarket bags.

    We will likely be introducing some some products which use the same waterproofing technique (an internal seam-sealed dry bag) in Summer of 2009.

  4. Mike C September 18, 2008 5:26 am 

    Thanks for the reply!

    Pump is about 10″ long, 1.5″ in diameter. Plastic bags are fiddly (as fiddly as covers) and there might be times when you just don’t have one.

    Very interested to hear of development of truly waterproof bags made in traditional style!

  5. Russ Roca September 18, 2008 12:32 pm 

    I haven’t field tested the Mhaha or VO bags in the rain…I HAVE tested a Carradice however and they’re pretty water resistant….

    I wouldn’t use them as a flotation device in the event of The Flood, but they kept everything in my saddle bag dry…

    That said, as a bike tourist, I tend to be redundant about protecting things that shouldn’t get wet…so I always double bag things (even in Ortlieb panniers) if I need them dry..

  6. Mike September 18, 2008 7:09 pm 

    From Eric – regarding the mini-pump

    Don’t think it will fit in the 05001 unless it stuck out the side of the flap. It would fit in the 05002.

  7. Raiyn September 18, 2008 10:01 pm 

    Well, it looks like Minnehaha will have another customer. There’s a domain squatter over on the Frost River site.

  8. Mike Myers September 19, 2008 7:02 am 

    I have to agree with you re:bag loops. I think that most people who are going to buy a canvas and leather bag are already riding Brooks. Can’t see this bag hanging under a tiny racing saddle. But otherwise it looks great.

    I love my Carradice stuff, and the claims of waterproofness are pretty true. I still keep grocery bags in my panniers just in case it’s going to rain. The material of the bag doesn’t leak, but my panniers are Kendals and there are gaps because of the design.

  9. Dianne June 25, 2012 7:22 am 

    Where can the saddle bags be purchased and what is the pricing for them?

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