Swift Industries Olliepack Review
Seattle-based Swift Industries needs little introduction. Since 2008, Swift has been creating some of the best bike bags out there and are considered pioneers of our sport. A fun coincidence connected us with the founders of Swift Industries as they were about to launch the Olliepack, their new shredpacking seat bag. We have been testing it for the past few weeks. Grab a coffee and read some words about it.
If you've been following this site for any period of time you may have picked up on my growing disdain for seatpacks and saddlebags. Without going on too much of a rant—loosening straps, bags that sit too low, tailwag, and just generally looking sloppy all contribute to my growing dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction led to me giving up on strappy seat bags completely and instead trying out various rack and mini-pannier systems, like the Tailfin system (which I was quite happy with on a recent trip).
A few weeks ago, my good friend and boss at my day job mentioned that he grew up with the founder of Swift Industries. I almost fell out of my chair and wondered why it took so long for him to reveal that little tidbit. I was over the moon when he introduced me to Martina Brimmer, and even more blown away when Martina wanted to hop on a video chat and meet face to face. After two years of running this site, Martina is the first person that actually wanted to meet. We had a fantastic conversation about how Swift Industries came to be and where it's headed. I'll admit, it's tough sitting through a call trying your best to be chill when at the same time you are a real fanboy.
During our call, Martina mentioned a new seatpack they were close to launching called the Olliepack. The Swift Industries team spent over two years designing and testing the bag with an aim to prevent many of the seatpack issues listed above. I was immediately dubious, but my interest was piqued when Martina told me that the bag was designed specifically for shredpacking on rough terrain. For me, this is where all seatpacks fall apart. The second you ride into the chonk, straps loosen, et voila—you get the wag and are stopping every hour or so to re-cinch.
Martina agreed to send me an Olliepack and I was keen to get it going.
Opening the box, I was actually surprised at how small and light the Olliepack was. At 6L, and weighing in at 11oz, the bag is tiny. Almost more like a mini-pannier for your seat rails than any saddle bag I have come across yet. The Olliepack is simple, which is disarming at first. Only once you get into the details do you realize that its simplicity is very intentional. I immediately loved the color, which tonally fit with my Landyacthz AB-ST, one of the bikes I planned testing the Olliepack with. The pack ships in three color options: black, teal, and the famous Swift Industries coyote brown.
On & Off
There's something about seatpacks that always make feel a little stupid. A mess of straps and canvas, you never really know which straps are intended to go through the saddle rails and which are used to cinch the bag shut. Also, as a bag gets older and dirtier, this mess seems to become worse over time. Getting most seat packs on and off a bike has been a total PITA for me. Maybe it's just me? Unclear.
The Olliepack, however, was straightforward. All the straps seemed really well thought out, and all excess was tucked and buckled away. The single beefy velcro strap that fits around the seatpost is a breeze to get on (and off), and it is rubberized inside to prevent any rotational movement around the post. One beautiful detail is that the saddle rail straps and cinch straps are detailed differently for quick visual understanding of which straps go where. I can't stress how great this is, and I am a bit baffled at how no other maker (that I have come across) has done this yet. It's such a simple idea that makes the product designer in me very happy, but also demonstrates the strong human-centered design culture that Swift must have internally. There is no denying that the Olliepack is a tight little package.
The saddle rail straps have a quick-release buckle system that makes cinching and tightening under the saddle a breeze. Again, this is one of those little details that make the Olliepack a bit of a dream to put on and take off the bike. I ended up swapping the Olliepack between two different bikes with two very different saddles: first was my monster gravel bike with a race saddle, second was my all terrain bike with a Brooks B-17. At the risk of sounding too obvious, the Olliepack was easier to install on the Brooks than the race saddle, as its rails are much deeper.
Fully loaded, the Olliepack is the first seat bag that I wasn't able to shake. But let's get out there and see how it does on various tracks.
On The Gravel
My first trip was a simple gravel grind to meet my family at a local beach about 30km out of town. The wind had changed directions overnight and covered the sky in smoke from a wildfire in mainland Canada. After filling the Olliepack with various beach toys and lunchables, I hit the road. The ride began with about 10km of asphalt; on that surface, the Olliepack was imperceptible. It's like it wasn't even there, even fully loaded. And once I hit the gravel, it continued to be undetectable. Looking at your shadow really demonstrates how much a bag is wagging, so I kept checking mine to see how the pack was faring. Even in my shadow, there seemed to be no movement. Nuts. Even while climbing up out of the saddle and pulling on the handlebars in an exaggerated way, I couldn't get the Olliepack to move.
With past saddle bags, I have always tried to access the main compartment with the bag strapped to the bike, telling myself that physical tetris was better than the hassle of removing the bag completely. With the Olliepack, this wasn't an issue. When I arrived at the beach, I took the pack off the bike to access the main compartment. The roll-top closure is easy to use and so is cinching it all up.
While on the beach, I “discovered” a secret mesh pocket on the underside of the bag. Swift had been nice enough to send me the marketing materials before I received the bag, which I probably should have read beforehand—they clearly call out the mesh pocket as a feature and call it the Power Mesh Stash Hatch :) The stash hatch is a fantastic idea, and I'd probably still have my favorite flip-flops to this day if my older bags had had one.
In the Chonk
After being totally blown away at how the Olliepack performed on the gravel, it was time to test it in the chonk. Any bikepacking on our small island is for sure going to involve some level of singletrack, and I was keen on checking Swift's claims that the Olliepack is shred-friendly.
The Olliepack was seemingly designed to sit high on the seatpost, up and away from the tire to accommodate for dropper posts. It fits fantastic on my PNW dropper post, with 150mm of travel. This was only my second time riding with a saddlebag on a dropper post but the Olliepack seemed more prepared for the job than the Outer Shell pack I tested my post with. I couldn't quite drop the post the full travel, but it was very close. So close that the Olliepack's main velcro strap didn't seem to interfere with the post or get caught in it. Fully loaded however, I did notice that the post took a fraction of a second longer to raise. I doubt this is the pack's fault, but in the moment that fraction of a second is noticeable.
I have been out on the trails a handful times with the Olliepack, trying my best to shake the thing. Simply put, it doesn't budge. In my opinion, the team has successfully created a singletrack friendly seatpack. Shred on.
It's honestly tough to find anything wrong with the Olliepack. The only challenge I see is in its size. At 6L, it definitely is not meant for everyone or for every trip. You wouldn't, for example, take the Olliepack on a multi-month journey across the Himalayas—I don't think anyway. But I'm not sure that's the intention of the Olliepack. The pack seems ideally suited for day tripping or even overnighters where you are going to be hitting some gnarlier trails.
The Olliepack is something new, at least to this cycling writer. It starts to feel like a new category of bag designed specifically for people who play in the mountains and want to move fast and light. The devil is in the Olliepacks details. There are a lot of smart decisions that can only come from the experience and culture of a company like Swift Industries. All those small details that at first seem simplistic, ladder up into some large, large love. The Olliepack has found a permanent home on my monster gravel bike, and I look forward to shredding the days away with it.
Get the Olliepack goes for $180 USD. Get it here.
|Small, fast and beautiful|
|Super fast and easy setup and removal from the bike|
|Detailing highlights matching straps|
|The mesh bottom pocket is fantastic|
|Not for everyone or every trip|