Charlene Is Both Big and Beautiful

The Porcelain Rocket Charlene seat bag bring gear swallowing goodness to your bike. Photo: Jim Merithew/
The Porcelain Rocket Charlene seat bag brings gear-swallowing-goodness to your bike. Photo: Jim Merithew/

“How can you even pedal your bike with such a large …”

Hey. Hey. Hey.

Be nice.

I have been riding my bike, trying to cut out the pastries and not eat after 8 o’clock at night.

“No. No. No. Not your gut. That giant saddle bag.”

Oh that.

My Charlene seat pack from the Canadians at Porcelain Rocket has garnered its fair share of stares and comments, but I hardly notice it is there anymore … until someone makes a comment.

Now the Porcelain Rocket Charlene isn’t even their largest seat pack. As a matter of fact they call it the “little sister” to their behemoth Mr. Fusion V2 seat pack.

I have tried a lot of baggage options for my commute: bicycle messenger bags, handlebar bags, backpacks, fanny packs, my jersey pockets, etc. But it wasn’t until one of my friends at Seven Design showed up to work with his bikepacking rig, decked out in bags, that I decided to try the oversized seat pack.

As I started my search for the perfect one, I found out the bikepacking community is not only much larger than I had ever imagined, but also crazy—almost fanatical—about their bike, bags, packing techniques and weight savings.

I found the robust website to be entertaining, informative, and a nudge terrifying.

The idea of heading out in the great unknown with a bike packed with a hammock, a coffee grinder, duct tape, four old film cameras, and some beef jerky appeals to me about as much as a rectal exam.

I understand there are people, nomads really, out there who enjoy the whole getting back to their caveman roots and “roughing it,” but I think I fall under the … a hotel without room service is roughing it type.

I enjoy a long, hard, stupid bicycle ride as much as the next person, but at the end of the day I don’t wish to pull my sleep quarters from the bicycle roll attached to my handlebars. I prefer a hot shower, a pat on the head for my dog, a kiss goodnight from my wife and the comforts of a full-size pillow. More power to those of you who think a pillow is a pillowcase filled with your dirty cycling clothes.

Which brings us back to why on earth I have this giant seat bag strapped to my honest-to-goodness road bike. Well, you see, if you have been reading, I have a bad back. And wearing a backpack has been exacerbating the situation. So now instead of carrying my rain gear, commuter wear and other essential items on my body, I have been stuffing them in Charlene.

And I could not be any happier. The bag is made of 500D Cordura, comes in a handful of color choices (I chose multicam black) and cinches down pretty snuggly. If I have stuffed it to the gills, the bag has a tendency to sway when I stand up to climb, but I wouldn’t expect otherwise. For me this is a small trade-off to keep the weight off my body.

Every morning, I leave the house before dawn secure in the fact everything I need for the day is safely stowed in my big, ol’ oversized seat bag.