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.