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A little over a month ago, I was getting ready to write a long-term review of the original 0.6-liter Wolf Tooth Roll-Top Bag. But whoever smashed my truck window had other plans. Inside the bag (the smaller of Wolf Tooth’s two options), was a carefully curated Camelbak tool roll of spare bolts, zip ties, bailing wire, wet-naps, chain lube, duct tape, first aid supplies, CO2 cartridges (the expensive 25g ones), tire plugs, Tubolito inner tube, firestarter, and some rubber gloves and Chamois Butt’r that probably confused the hell out of whoever took it all. I was bummed.
And of course, this is 2021, so Wolf Tooth was out of stock when I tried to reorder one. But it turns out, there was an update coming, which kinda scared me. The CamelBak tool roll I lost was also recently “updated” and now I really miss my old one. But Wolf Tooth didn’t fix what wasn’t broken. The new 0.6 and 1.0L TekLite Roll-Top Bags didn’t add sub-compartments or a Boa closure or cargo tie-downs or anything unnecessarily fancy. Other than the $10 price increase (the 0.6L bag and strap is $40 or $45 with the mounting plate, the 1L bag and strap is $45 or $50 with a mounting plate), the only real difference is that the TekLite bags are made of a fabric that feels less canvas-y than the original Roll-Top Bag and more plastic-y. It’s stiff and crinkly like a durable but ultra-light dry bag. It’s remarkably thin, and actually feels slightly more malleable under pressure than its predecessor. After recreating my tool roll as faithfully as possible, it seemed easier to slide in and out of the new thinner-skinned roll-top bag.
The TekLite fabric is also remarkably water-resistant. I’ve only gotten one big ride in on the new version, but it kept dry inside through the five creek crossings that went along with it. And that was while strapped to the outside of the downtube. Wolf Tooth stops short of saying you can submerge it, and your results will depend, in part, on how many actual “rolls” you can get out of the roll top (I only got one), but I’d trust it anywhere that’s dry enough that I can breathe.
The TekLite Roll-Top Bag still comes in two sizes, still comes with a burly silicone-lined Velcro strap, and still works with Wolf Tooth’s B-Rad mounting base. But I still haven’t sung the praises of what, fundamentally, makes the Wolf Tooth bag so awesome. On-frame storage is only just starting to gain acceptance beyond the spare-tube strap, and one main reason is that they are hard to fit in most full-suspension frames. Even the Evoc Frame Packs have a semi-rigid, semi-specific shape that might not fit everywhere, and will rarely fit outside of the triangle. The Roll-Top Bags are far more flexible. If space is tight, the 0.6-liter pack is slim, and tapers just slightly at the end and can be tucked into the often narrow spot behind the headtube. The 1.0L will take up about the space of a Nalgene bottle, but can be rolled down to a shorter, more squat configuration if that’s what’s needed.
They also, again, can be strapped straight to the frame or to the B-Rad plate. If you’re planning on packing the 1.0L bag to the gills, I recommend the B-Rad route. It provides a flat base and a rigid anchor for the strap, and it will not wiggle. As for the 0.6L, I never had it wiggle or slide when strapping it straight to the frame. It looks cleaner when using the B-Rad mount, but let’s be honest. It’s a bag. How clean is it gonna look? In my opinion, it’s beautiful. And the beauty of Wolf Tooth’s approach to the frame bag is what it does for your comfort and convenience, every single ride. A pound of essentials that would normally weigh on your shoulders, your waist, and in turn, your butt and your saddle is now off your back. And if you swap from full-sized pack to hip pack to bib pockets, you can keep some things constant. It makes planning your pack easier on big rides, and a no-brainer on small rides.
The way I see it, the line between bikepacking and just biking is whether you spend the night on the trail, not whether you strap stuff to your frame. The former takes extra planning, extra equipment and extra commitment. The latter is just a different way of doing something we already do. It’s like any other piece of equipment that makes our experience on the trail just a little better. You should try it.