Lil Bits: Revelate Terrapin System 14L

One of the most important pieces of luggage you can lug on a bikepacking trip is the Seat Pack. You know what they say, keep your enemies close but keep your important, yet not too heavy, gear close to your butt. Seriously, that’s a real saying. Recently I took my trusty Fargo for a ride on the Plateau Passage Route to try out the Revelate Terrapin 14L seat pack for a Lil Bit.

The Revelate Terrapin 14L is a brilliantly thought out piece of kit wherein the dry bag portion of the pack can be fully removed, leaving the actual mounting system (which un-ironically resembles something of a turtle shell) securely attached to your seat post and saddle rails. Revelate, make a green version please and make the whole turtle reference complete. Anyway, the dry bag and mount are separate AND THAT SHOULD MAKE THINGS MORE SIMPLE, RIGHT? One would think. More on that later…

The dry bag of the Terrapin system is a single ended, roll closure situation with a bleed valve which allows you to purge air when the bag is sealed. The bag is shaped to the contours of The Shell, so you need to remember “logo on the drive side” when placing the bag into its home. You gotta get those logos placed in your Insta posts, right?

My favorite, and possibly unintended, feature of the bag in the context of my rig is that it can be removed from the bike and used as a pillow. I pack my entire sleep system (mat, sleeping bag, tyvek ground cloth) in a compression bag on my handlebars, the seat pack contains mostly soft goods spare clothing items. I wrap the dry bag in my down jacket, then boom. Pillow time. I ended up sleeping about 7 hours on the overnight due to the comfort afforded by this pillow action. It was pretty rad.

The star of this seat pack system is the newly-improved “shell.” You know what? It’s getting a little late and I should get some sleep then finish writing this after a wading pool’s worth of coffee. BRB.

Oh, hello. Where were we? Oh yes, sleep, coffee, review. Must be time to finish talking about the Terrapin 14L a lil bit.

LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME OF MY FAVORITE FEATURES OF THE MOUNTING SYSTEM, SHALL WE? First off, and this is a new feature, the bottom of the cradle is a hard plastic sheet which acts as a fender. I’ve often considered my seat packs a fender substitute, and Revelate just went ahead and made this seat pack an actual fender. I love it. There is even a little plastic clip on each side that will allow you to strap equipment to this plastic underbelly, if you have the tire clearance. On top of the mount you will find a draw cord system, which is great for strapping down your jacket or gloves to air out before packing them away. There are also a few rows of webbing loops for stashing and lashing, or mounting a D-ring for your camp cup. The new seat post mounting strap and hardware seems to be much hardier and secure than the original Viscacha (my go-to seat pack for years). The clip lock system for saddle rail securement is a little stiff at first, but it’s very secure. You should have no worries about whether or not your Terrapin will stay put, in fact it took a little work to remove it from the bike when the journey was over.

One of the issues I had with the Terrapin is the strap system which secures the bag into the holster. The good part, and very smartly done, is that there are two different sets of loops to use. This means if you need to wear your jacket for a bit, you can simply remove said jacket from the dry bag, roll the bag back up with a few extra rolls, and use the second set of loops (closer towards your saddle), to secure the bag without the need to readjust the strap length. Kudos, amazing, yeah, great. The not-so-great part, and maybe this is a user headspace and timing issue, is that the metal hooks at the end of the securing straps will dangle straight down into your spokes when they aren’t attached to the loops in which they were intended to live. The VERY FIRST THING that happened after mounting the cradle to my bike was a very awesome straps getting stuck in the spokes and tangle up quite a bit. This was in my garage and easily remedied with some obscenities and rolling the wheel back a bit, but I see it as a potential safety hazard. Maybe its a safety feature? If you ride off without securing the dry bag, the straps catch in your spokes and stop the bike to remind you that you should have secured the dry bag. Sort of like that annoying dinger that dings away when you don’t have your seatbelt fastened, but with the added benefit of potentially destroying your rear wheel or worse. Whatever the intention, make sure your get that stuff locked down before you take off.

Another small issue I had on the ride was that undoing the metal hooks from the eyelets was difficult with cold hands. It may take some practice, or become easier as the bag breaks in, but most times I needed to get into the bag there was at least a small level of difficulty. Silver lining: I am absolutely certain that, when properly secured, the dry bag has zero chance of accidentally coming loose. Won’t happen.

All in all, the Terrapin 14L is a beast of a bag and a worthy addition to your bikepacking kit. It’s also very fairly priced at $155USD, just a bit more than the average seat pack and for something most definitely beyond average.

Terrapros:

  • Pillow!
  • Built-in fender
  • Outboard gear mounting options
  • Sturdy and secure
  • Built to last literally forever
  • Comes in purple

Terracons:

  • Straps love spokes
  • Maybe a little too secure sometimes
  • Does not come in Turtle Green

Available at the Revelate web site, or you can search for a local supplier here.

Published by wizgnomad

Nomadic Wizard, First of Their Name, Two-Wheeled Tourer of Earthen Worlds, Destroyer of Equipment, Salty of Word. Vicariously ride through the mountains and deserts of this mortal realm via the scritch-scratching of my modern-day petroglyphics.

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