Minnehaha Canvas Saddle Bag
Traditional canvas cycling bags don’t just look classy, for most pursuits they work just fine. In some cases, maybe even better than some of the newer fabrics and designs if for nothing more than their simplicity. Finding them on the shelf has been something all together different.
Minnehaha Bag Company is new on the scene and offers a few bags in the classic canvas and leather style. The Canvas Saddle Bag is gigantic, even if it is labeled as a “medium” and served me well on an overnight trip with friends earlier this month.
I’ll jump straight to the answer of the most asked question about the bag; it isn’t waterproof. Water resistant. The canvas is treated from the factory, but not waxed, and the leather is not treated to prevent rot in the rain. Fine for a splash, but anything more and your cargo will likely get a bit moist. Best to treat the leather and canvas with some aftermarket waterproofing as specified by Minnehaha if you’re the day in, day out commuter type.
In use, this bag is huge. It can really hold a ton of stuff under your seat, out of sight and out of mind. That’s a 32oz Nalgene bottle in there for a sense of scale; on the aforementioned trip I carried two tubes, my expanded tool kit, a light jacket and a folding inflatable camp mattress in the bag without absolutely maxing out its capacity. 650 cubic inches officially. Note the light colored liner, a nice touch the really makes small items stand out inside.
The bag itself is made from 18oz canvas with some light bottom reinforcement to prevent sagging and a hardwood dowel across the top to properly support the rest of the load. Notched leather straps provide the saddle and seatpost attachments and also the bag closure. A touch of the modern comes through with the reflective tabs and elastic reinforcement on the bog opening.
The notched leather straps may be what attracts some to the bag, but their functionality could push people away used to straps that cinch tighter. Due to their design, it is not possible to get either the saddle rail or seat post strap particularly tight, leading to some swaying. Honestly, I don’t find the swaying from riding problematic even though I was under the impression it would drive me up the wall. The bag does interfere with my upper leg during pedaling due to my fit – Minnehaha suggests spacing it out from the rails with a small block of wood or other means if your fit leads to the same. Not a deal breaker, and something bound to happen when you start stuffing such a giant bag under your seat.
When all is said and done I have a feeling this bag will remain in my overnight and day-trip kit for some time. The capacity is impressive, and it looks the part to match. Available for $70 or so, like most things in life you get what you pay for.