Alpkit's Caledonian Mini 4L is a pannier-style top tube bag inspired by the 1950s off-road touring scene. Unlike most of the other top tube bags available on market, this one offers you twin storage. The amount of space and storage options it offers is exceptional. So much so, that you can fit an entire punnet of grapes in one compartment and your multi-tool, Swiss knife and battery bank in the other. At $84.99 / £64.99, the Caledonian Mini has a slightly higher price range than the other top tube bags available at Alpkit. But the quality, colors and extra storage totally make up for that extra expense. Is the Alpkit Caledonian Mini 4L worthy of a place in out best bikepacking bags guide? Keep reading to find out.
Design and Specifications
Some say that certain designs have got lost in the history for a good reason. Well, with Caledonian Mini, Alpkit have brought back the pannier top-tube bags all the way from the earliest off-road cycling pioneers. The twin set up offers 4 liters of storage space in total – nearly double that of most top tube bags. Pannier design doesn’t just make for a stable way to carry heavy loads on the top tube, but also makes organizing your kit easier. Waxed cotton is highly durable and water resistant.
The bag is attached to the bike in three places – on the down tube, along the back of the twin setup and on the front. The Velcro is sufficiently long and extremely sturdy. That makes it usable across multiple bike disciplines. The bag is opened using a Velcro storm flap, and then a YKK Aquaguard zipper inside. A key clip is available on the right side of the twin setup.
The Caledonian Mini 4L is available in two colors – mustard and denim. Last year, they used to do it in red color as well, but it isn’t available on the website anymore.
This unique setup means there’s plenty of storage space, but the twin bag design sure does mean that you have to be efficient when packing. If one side is heavier than the other, it causes imbalance and the bag looks rather wonky. Also, overfilling the bag might mean that your knees brush against the storm flap of the bag, especially on smaller sized frames.
Having ridden a mustard colored Caledonian Mini 4L for thousands of miles last year, the bag is certainly bombproof. The outer material is waxed cotton and is water resistant – if not waterproof. However, it has endured a fair few storms and spilled nut butter sachets along the way (it was a nightmare to get those stains out, but I got there in the end). The most recent version of this bag (pictured in denim color) has upped its game by improving the quality of the Velcro, storm flaps, zips and the straps that attach to the bike.
The convenience, sturdiness, and weatherproofing of Alpkit's Caledonian Mini makes it a perfect companion for any cycle touring or multi-day bike ride. On a small-sized frame, there was no knee-rub against the twin setup, but for even smaller sized bikes, this could be an issue. The slightly higher price point than most top tube bags is totally worth it, given the extra storage space and versatility of the bag. If you’re looking for an ideal combination of functionality and style, Caledonian Mini 4L makes perfect sense.
Tech Specs: Alpkit Caledonian Mini 4L
- Price: $84.99 / £64.99
- Capacity: 4 liter
- Colors: Denim, Mustard
- Materials: Outer: waxed cotton, Liner: 222D Nylon with PU coating and DWR finish
- Dimensions: Height: 14cm, width: 15cm, depth: 5-12cm
- Weight: 178g