10,000 Mile Review: Acorn Boxy Rando Bag
A functional bicycle handlebar bag is a thing of beauty. It provides the bicycle tourist or commuter easy access to essentials like a wallet, camera and snacks, while holding said belongings in a stable manner. AcornBags is a small cottage industry that makes bicycle luggage. I originally reviewed it many moons ago here. I’ve since wrapped up a 15 month bicycle journey that covered 10,000 miles. How did the bag hold up?
The Acorn Boxy Rando Bag has been my constant companion for almost two years of daily use. It has gone through the damp Pacific Northwest, a ramble around the San Juan islands, a brief stint in Canada, down the Pacific coast, across the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico in the dead of winter, through Texas in the Spring, it has endured the afternoon thunderstorms of the South in the summer and finally experienced fall in the Northeast.
I have put it through a lot.
When new the Boxy Rando Bag is well…boxy. The canvas has its own structure that holds it shape. Over time and exposure to the elements, parts of it begin to sag. The tension from the elastic cords pull the centers of the bag down, changing the overall shape.
It begins to look….used. As it should be. I have friends in their 50s with classic TA bags and have always loved how a well worn TA bag looks. It speaks of adventure, of far off places, of dusty roads and down pours. I feel the Acorn bag is similar.
All of the seams have held, the closures still work perfectly, there are some scuffs on the bag but there are no holes, there is nary a frayed edge. The color has faded noticeably from the nice warm tan to a very light beige, but I think that further gives it character. This bag wears in instead of wearing out.
Although designed with mini front racks in mind, I altered mine slightly so it would work on the Surly Nice Rack. The Surly rack is just wide enough that the velcro stabilizers don’t wrap around the rack. To make it work, I added some webbing and cam buckles that would wrap around the front and back of the rack. It was a crudely done job with a Speedy Stitcher at a campsite bench. This was generally enough to keep the bag stable even with a DSLR, wallet, energy bars and various other miscellanea. For bumpy stretches or if I was carrying a particularly heavy load, I’d deploy the the handlebar cords.
Using the bag for a solid two years has confirmed my first instincts about the design. The metal brass locks on the rider-facing pockets were a great closure system that didn’t suffer from cord stretch over time. The map panel is closed on three sides which prevents the map from sliding out the side when you lean your bike on the ground.
The canvas was fairly water resistant though by no means waterproof. In a light drizzle the bag was able to keep the contents dry. In the hard rains we experienced in the South, I used a simple plastic grocery bag and placed it over the handlebar bag, tucking the bottom of the plastic bag beneath it. Cheap and effective.
If I were to make any modifications to the overall design, it would be to change the velcro stabilizers on the bottom of the bag for a system that takes into account wide racks such as the ubiquitous Surly Nice Rack.
So what’s the verdict? The AcornBag is a great design that is both functional and beautiful to behold. It has lasted through extremely hard use and looks like it has many more years ahead of it. It is not just a pretty face. I suppose the only problem with the bag is its relative difficulty to get a hold of since they are made in such small numbers.
I hope to keep this bag for many years to come as a reminder of all the adventures in my youth just as the older bike tourists I know who still use their trusty and well worn TA bags.