Skip to main content

Alpkit Caledonian Mini 4L review – top tube mounted micro panniers

Alpkit’s Caledonian Mini is a 4L pannier style top tube bikepacking bag inspired by 1950s pioneers of off-road cycle touring and made from waxed cotton

The Alpkit Caledonian Mini 4L bag on a gravel bike
(Image: © Vedangi Kulkarni)

Bike Perfect Verdict

The pannier-style top tube bag offers plenty of storage space and whilst the bag isn’t fully waterproof, it sure is durable, and the pastel shades look great on bike.

Pros

  • +

    Plenty of storage space

  • +

    Straps are sturdy

  • +

    Fold-over storm flaps

  • +

    Highly durable and water-resistant

Cons

  • -

    Possible knee rub on smaller frames

  • -

    Not waterproof

  • -

    Unbalanced sides if not packed efficiently

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.

The Alpkit Caledonian Mini 4L bag on a gravel bike

Alpkit's Caledonian Mini 4L offers a perfect combination of functionality and style (Image credit: Vedangi Kulkarni)

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. 

The Alpkit Caledonian Mini 4L bag being opened

The waxed cotton storm flap is water resistant and is secured by a thick Velcro strip (Image credit: Vedangi Kulkarni)

 Performance 

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 Alpkit Caledonian Mini 4L bag on a gravel bike

The YKK Aquaguard zippers are durable and keep the water out (Image credit: Vedangi Kulkarni)

Verdict

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.

The Alpkit Caledonian Mini 4L bag on a gravel bike

Velcro straps securely attach the Caledonian to the bike. The headtube scuffing was not caused by the bags (Image credit: Vedangi Kulkarni)

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  
Vedangi Kulkarni

Vedangi Kulkarni is an adventure traveller, endurance athlete, public speaker, writer, expedition manager and a business owner. In 2018, she rode 29,000km around the world in 160 days, mostly solo and unsupported, at the age of 19/20, becoming the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe by bike. She’s always keen for an adventure, be it cold water swimming, long distance hiking or cycling, climbing, mountain biking or travelling through  remote places. Her happy place is anywhere outside, in the wild, and on the move. She loves to write about bikepacking, mountain biking and just about anything adventurous and has penned articles for Singletrack World and Nat Geo Traveller UK as well as Bike Perfect.