Battle of the Bags - Carradice Camper Vs Carradry

Carradice of Nelson have been making bicycle luggage for some 80 years. The venerable Camper saddlebag is one of their earliest designs dating back to the fifties; the Carradry saddlebag is one of the latest. With the recent revival of saddlebags as the must-have in bike accessories we thought we’d run a comparison between an original Camper (age 50 plus) and a brand new Carradry Saddlebag. Both were tested using the SQR quick release seat pin fitting which eliminates the usual struggle of doing and undoing straps every time you put bag on your bike. The SQR main unit straps onto your  seat pin and a black tube frame, with carrying handle,  attaches to your bag. The quick release lever  takes seconds to operate. Weight:420 grams. Price:£30- not included with bag.

Capacity:

The Camper clearly has the edge thanks to its extendable long flap which gives a maximum capacity of 24 Litres. This includes the two small exterior pockets. 
The Carradry is smaller at 12 litres without the extendeable lid but increases to 15L if the lid is extended using the integral straps. It has a removable zip pocket inside and two pockets in the lid: one on top and a transparent one inside.
I stuffed an average sleeping bag into each saddlebag and still had space for clothes. Both bags have attachment loops on top to which you can strap a small tent etc. Don’t forget that the upper weight limit on the SQR bag holder is 10Kg.
Winner: Camper

Convenience

The Camper opens up quickly with a couple of traditional metal buckles . The Carradry requires unclipping two plastic side buckles and unrolling the roll-flap. You can save time by not using the lid but that eliminates the lid pockets.
The Carradry comes with a wide strap and strap loops  – the 50’s Camper has neither loops nor strap (you can attach one using zip ties on the corner straps). Modern Camper bags have rings attached to the corner straps to fit  a strap
Winner:Tie

Weight

The Camper weighs in at 920 grams , the Carradry is higher at 1016 gms. but if you remove the lid it undercuts the Camper by 100 grams at 807gms.
Winner: Tie

Water resistance

The Camper is made of the cycle tourist’s stalwart: cotton duck. The threads of this heavyweight cotton swell when wet to make it water resistant. Closure is by buckles and straps with a protective flaps in side.  The Carradry is made of glossy heavy duty PVC which is a waterproof material.  Instead of straps the bag uses a roll-top closure (popularised by the Ortlieb pannier bags) which prevent any water ingress.
We tested both bags in the rain, and in the shower for an hour. Both did well on the road surviving steady rain for 30 minutes. In the shower the stitching on the 50 year old Camper was a point of weakness (the manufacturer recommends a bit of wax every decade or so)  and water entered the Carrdry via the space beneath  the flaps on the covering the straps (something that is not likely to happen in real life) . Bottom line is that the Carradry is essentially fully waterproof short of immersion.
Winner : Carradry

Durability

After more than half a century of use the Camper is as good as new. The lids on the pockets have been replaced, and corners reinforced with leather but otherwise it is faded but solid.  There is no reason not to expect it to survive another 50 years.
It will take another 50 years to do the same test on the PVC Carradry. PVC fades but generally stays in shape unless exposed to prolonged sunlight.  
Winner so far:  Camper (over 50 years)

Style

Unless you’re a PVC fan the aged cotton duck look has to outshine the gloss of the Carradry. So much so that old Carradice bags change for hefty prices on ebay.  There’s also the weathered look of the chrome leather straps and the aluminium loops to consider.  That said, there were people at the LCC office who were magnetically attracted to the shiny PVC bag.
Winner : Camper 

Price

This is a simple one at today’s prices  £80, Camper, versus £50, Carradry . Back in the 1950’s the Camper would probably cost a few shillings.
Winner: Carradry

Overall winner –  1950’s Camper by a stylish  nose.

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