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Product Review – Trek Side Loader pack

by Noah

My old pack (a Headland CMT which I also had favorable things to say about) was stolen with my red hybrid bike around September of last year. Since then, I’ve been using the Trek Side Loader on my main commuter bike. I’ve given it hell since then, and it’s gladly taken it.  Daily commuting in a variety of fall and winter weather, and even a failed attempt at doing a brutal 200k ride in September.

Like most seat packs, the Trek Side Loader features a strap for holding a tail light.  Like most seat packs, this strap is basically useless. I’ve never seen one of these straps that actually works well for this purpose.  As shown here, it allows the light to point down too far for my tastes, even if I angle the pack up a bit. This is, by proxy, a complaint about the equally useless and ubiquitous “belt clips” seen on bicycle tail lights.

My complaints end there. As you can see above, it mounts to the seat rails with a quick-release cleat, and is braced to the seatpost by a velcro strap. The rear zipper offers a shallow pocket that’s just perfect for a road tube. There’s a little mesh area in there to hold your small items such as tire patches or a contact lens carrier.

Given the product’s name, it should come as no surprise that the real space in the Side Loader comes into play when you unzip the side flaps.

You can access the contents of the Side Loader from either side, and I’ve even opened it and closed it while riding. It’s just one giant pocket in there.  One flap has a mesh pocket, the other side sports some elastic straps and a snap-on neoprene pouch that I keep my tire levers and some spare cash in. This is my usual haul:

A pack like this might seem a bit hefty for some, but it’s managed to carry my bike essentials for the past 6 months.

 
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25 Responses to “Product Review – Trek Side Loader pack”

  1. Scott R. says:

    Hi Noah:

    That looks like a nice pack. I use a Trek seat pack, too, and know what you mean about the uselessness of the light loop. It looks like you’ve put a little tape around the clip. I did this too, as I’ve popped curbs before only to have the whip action of the rear wheel coming up and down send my light sailing, and then crashing into the pavement with lens and batteries rolling all over.

    To solve the problem of the downward slant of the light, I wrapped the the bottom of the clip with many turns of electrical tape. This effectively bulks out the bottom of the clip, pushing it outward and upward. It also has the unfortunate side effect of making it impossible to remove the light for battery maintenance, but popping off the lens cover to replace or recharge the batteries isn’t that big of a deal.

    Thanks for the review.

  2. kit says:

    Those side loader pockets make it look like a teeeeny tiny golf bag.

  3. JiMCi says:

    Using tape on tail light models like this one ( http://tinyurl.com/dbct5o ) would cover too much of the reflector. A short narrow rubber band does the trick.

  4. Noah says:

    The “tape” that Scott mentioned seeing in my second photo is actually a strip cut from an old road bike inner tube. I never buy rubber bands anymore. One MTB tube makes a bunch of medium rubber bands. Road bike tubes make great small rubber bands. I get a constant flow of bigger rubber bands either from produce (they bundle asparagus together with big ones) and in the mail, as my mail man often bands stuff together in order to make it fit in our relatively cramped mailboxes.

    I’ve also done the trick where you use a thin rubber band to hold a bike tail light together. It works pretty well, particularly when the back of the light is just a mounting piece and the lens part also holds the electronics and battery. That design, understandably, seems to fall apart easier. It’s the only complaint I have about the Planet Bike SuperFlash.

  5. Andreas says:

    Never really found a use for these bags – just far too worried that they will get stolen especially cycling round in a city such as London. Usually just take a back pack with me. The side loading thing looks very useful and easy to access.

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  11. bar stools says:

    I have done the trick where you use a thin rubber band to hold a bike tail light together works alright.

  12. xinyun says:

    the Trek Side Loader features a strap for holding a tail light. Like most seat packs, this strap is basically useless. I’ve never seen one of these straps that actually works well for this purpose.

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  18. Yes! It also has the unfortunate side effect of making it impossible to remove the light for the maintenance of the battery, but showed off the lens cover to replace or recharge the batteries are not great of a deal.

  19. The bike look more cool. I think with lamp it can help the biker to watch in the night.

  20. vanzari auto says:

    It is a very good bike. I have one of this thanks.tractoare de vanzare

  21. teste says:

    O this pack seems to be very usefull.I will go to shop maybe I’ll find one like this in there.program tv

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