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Wildcat Gear - Clouded Leopard

    In recent years bikepacking has taken the cycle touring world by storm, it’s quite simply a more efficient and often more rewarding style of riding. Bikepacking encourages the rider to take as little as possible and to carry the equipment in a less conventional manner, the result is a far lighter and more capable touring bike. The use of wasted space on the bicycle has seen frame bags boom in popularity alongside a wealth of other ingenious storage solutions. Bikepacking has seen huge popularity in America and is increasingly infiltrating the UK’s cycling industry. However, one brand has been promoting bikepacking with a range of high quality frame bags, harnesses and other purpose built equipment long before any other British company, Wildcat Gear.

     Based in Brecon, Wildcat Gear hand makes made to order frame bags and a wealth of other innovative bikepacking products. I first stumbled upon the brand after determining my bike was far too heavy and cumbersome during my ride from John O’Groats to Lands End. I decided to completely revise my traditional touring set up and instead adopt a lightweight bikepacking approach. I was impressed by the selection of frame bags available and the quality hand made ethos of the company. I decided to take the plunge, created a cardboard template (instructions can be found on the Wildcat Gear website) and placed my order for a made to measure Clouded Leopard. I chose this particular model as it still allowed space for my Klean Kanteen water bottles on the down and seat tube. Wildcat Gear promise to have the frame bag completed within eight weeks, so make sure you order well in advance if you’re planning to use your frame bag for an upcoming tour.

     My Clouded Leopard arrived well within the eight week waiting time and the first thing that stood out was the sublime workmanship and the high quality finish. I have to say I was concerned that my rather awful frame template would not produce a frame bag that fitted snugly. However, my Clouded Leopard fitted a dream and attached to my frame securely using strong velcro straps (see pictures). Wildcat attached an additional strap to fit around my down tube and water bottle for extra security due to my touring bike’s colossal 26” frame. Once in place the bag exhibits very little wobble on the move and does not interfere with pedalling. Wildcat provide the option to customise your frame bag with a map pocket and a hose port, both of which I added to my order (other customisations are also possible upon request). As mentioned previously the  build quality is fantastic, all zips, seams and velcro straps are flawlessly put together and appear to be of the highest quality. Obviously the storage capacity reflects the size of your frame, something that’s not a problem for my huge 1970’s tourer. I’ve only taken my frame bag on a few rides so far but I’ve been amazed by how much I can fit in the Clouded Leopard. It easily holds my DSLR camera and padded case along with my wallet, keys, food, map, bike lights, phone and still has plenty of free storage. I would imagine that even with a relatively small frame you’d have ample space for the essentials.

     In conclusion I love my new frame bag. Wildcat Gear is one of the longest established bikepacking brands in the UK and their years of experience are clearly exhibited in their high quality products, I could not recommend them enough. I’m so happy with my Clouded Leopard that I’ve decided I’m going to kit out my new Surly ECR with solely Wildcat Gear.