Review: Swift Industries Gemini Cargo Pack Takes Fork Bags to a New Level

At a Glance

  • The Gemini Cargo Pack is a unique and super-practical twist on the classic fork bag + straps combo.
  • It carries up to 4 liters per side in a semi-rigid bag that mounts with its own integrated straps to any cargo-style cage.
  • I used a pair of Gemini bags for two weeks of rugged bikepacking, and I especially loved the convenience of not messing with straps or trying to stabilize lumpy dry bags.

Most bikepackers are familiar with strapping dry bags into cargo cages mounted on our fork blades. It’s a simple and versatile way to add extra capacity to a bikepacking bag setup and works well for all sorts of cargo: clothing, inflatable sleeping pad, food, pot and fuel, the list goes on.

I’ve been strapping dry bags to my fork cages for so long that I’ve stopped questioning the minor annoyances. Fiddling with straps every morning, wrestling an awkward lumpy bag into a small cage, eating potato chip crumbs crushed by tightly cinched Voile straps… All just hazards of bikepacking, or so I thought.

So I was quite impressed by Swift’s new Gemini Cargo Pack, and simultaneously surprised that I haven’t seen anything else like it. By adding a semi-rigid insert around the circumference of the bag and integrating straps into the back, Swift has upgraded the fork bag experience significantly.

Referring to the constellation of the same name, “Gemini” is Latin for “twins” (think one bag on each fork blade) and conjures up images of stargazing under a night sky at camp. Very appropriate! Swift launched the Gemini on March 5, but I had a media sample on hand a few months earlier. I put it to the test during a two week trip in Baja, and more recently on a long weekend trip in the rugged hills of California. This review shares all the details.

Hard at work testing the Gemini in sunny Baja during January. Life is tough.

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Overview

Product: Gemini Cargo Pack from Swift Industries

Review summary: I’ve bikepacked thousands of miles with dry bags and straps on my fork, but the Gemini’s user-friendly innovations may have spoiled me for the future. Its semi-rigid sides open up new options for what goes in the bag and which cages it works with. The integrated straps provide fiddle-free mounting and easy access. It’s not the cheapest way to carry gear on your fork, but it feels like an upgrade worth investing in.

Price: $70 each

Weight: 8.7 oz

Capacity: 3 – 4 liters

Dimensions: 5″ diameter x 8.5″ tall, with additional ~5″ of usable height in the roll-top extension

Color: coyote tan (not the awesome teal color you see in my pre-launch sample, sorry)

Materials: ECOPAK™ recycled polyester, ballistic nylon back, HDPE insert for structure, rubber-backed Velcro straps

My rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Shop Gemini Cargo Pack at:

What I love about the Gemini:

  • No fussing with straps once the bags are installed
  • Very stable and secure
  • Semi-rigid structure with no cinching is great for irregular shapes and delicate items
  • Structured sides allow bag to perch more securely in a smaller cargo cage compared to regular dry bags of similar capacity
  • Made of ECOPAK™, durable and waterproof fabric made from upcycled plastic water bottles

Potential drawbacks:

  • More expensive than most other fork bag solutions
  • Slightly less versatile than a dry bag and straps
  • Potential for straps to abrade carbon fork over time (just apply protective tape first and you’ll be fine)
  • Currently available only in tan color

How I Tested the Gemini

I recently had the pleasure of spending two weeks bikepacking in sunny Baja during the depths of winter. I know, poor me! We rode 250ish miles of mostly unpaved mountain roads (sometimes quite chunky or washboarded) and sandy desert washes while making stops along the way for surfing, wind sports, and snorkeling.

For this trip I wanted more capacity than a seat bag but less than panniers. I ran an OMM Elkhorn rack in the rear (which has mounts for cages – really handy!) and cargo cages on my fork, so four cages total. I tried the Gemini bags in two different cages (Salsa Anything EXP and Blackburn Outpost) in both front and rear, switching halfway through the trip.

Related: Salsa Anything vs. Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cage Comparison

Gemini Cargo Packs on my fork in southern Baja
Gemini in the rear on my Elkhorn rack, also in Baja

After enjoying the Gemini so thoroughly in Baja, I recently chose them again for a rugged long weekend in Henry Coe State Park. Again I ran them on an Elkhorn rack in the rear, allowing me to use my dropper seatpost on Coe’s notoriously steep descents.

The Gemini Cargo Pack on my Elkhorn rack in the rugged hills of Henry Coe State Park.

Design and Materials

The Gemini, with its familiar roll-top closure, looks like a dry bag from afar. But up close it’s an entirely different beast, and a very unique design I haven’t seen anywhere else.

The Gemini’s HDPE insert creates has a semi-rigid cylindrical shape even when empty.

Compared to a simple floppy dry bag, the Gemini is more like a canister. The bottom 8.5 inches is reinforced with an HDPE insert to form a semi-rigid cylinder, with about 8 inches of fabric collar above that for the roll-top closure. The top can be rolled all the way down to the insert for a compact load, or rolled only once for max capacity.

Gemini bags at camp with the roll-top fully open

The HDPE insert is removable thanks to a sneaky Velcro opening along the side. I suppose this could be useful if you ever want to transport the bag flat, toss it in the washing machine, or roll it down small and carry it as an overflow bag.

The strap situation is where the Gemini really shines in my opinion. Most fork bags, even the fanciest bikepacking-specific ones, are designed to be lashed into a cargo cage with separate straps. This works fine, but I never realized how fiddly it can be until trying the Gemini. Its straps are integrated into the back and pass around the cargo cage, but not around the front of the bag. Once it’s attached to the cage you never have to fuss with straps. Brilliant!

The Cargo Pack’s main body is made from ECOPAK™, a newer and increasingly popular fabric for outdoor gear due to its durability, waterproofness, and focus on sustainability. It’s made from upcycled plastic bottles, and each Gemini bag contains roughly 5 bottles scavenged from ocean beaches.

Surprising Improvements Over Dry Bags and Straps

I’ve bikepacked many thousands of miles with dry bags strapped to my fork and never thought to question their convenience until trying the Gemini. Now I’m wondering why no one thought of this design sooner! After using it for a couple weeks alongside regular dry bags, I really appreciate the Gemini’s “quality of life” improvements.

First, straps. We bikepackers are always futzing around with straps. Fork bag straps can be particularly annoying, depending on your cage and strap length. Mine often tangle in my wheels while I’m loading and unloading my bike in those awkward campsites with nothing to lean it against.

Once the Gemini is mounted, you never need to touch the straps! No loosening or tightening to fit today’s food supply, no unbuckling and rebuckling at every campsite, no adjusting when you take something out during a quick break. Just undo the roll-top closure and reach in and grab what you need. So lovely!

The Gemini is very convenient to get into during quick breaks.

Since the straps don’t pass around the front of the bag, there’s no compression needed to hold it in place. This opens up more options for what to pack. In Baja I filled one of my Gemini bags with oddly shaped small items that normally would make for an awkward, lumpy dry bag. No problems! Also, no worries about the straps putting too much pressure on the contents. My potato chips remained uncrushed, my avocados unsmushed.

The upshot of all this: the Gemini turns fork bag space into extra easy-access capacity for frequently used items, irregular shapes, and delicate gear or food. We all know this kind of space can be hard to find in a bikepacking setup, so this is much appreciated.

Potential Downsides

I didn’t personally find any downsides to this unique design during my trip, but there are a few implications to be aware of.

If you tend to rely on cinching straps to eliminate rattle in your fork bags, you’ll need to find another way (like stuffing the space with other items).

Though it’s pretty easy to mount and unmount, the Gemini isn’t meant to be taken off your bike every day. If you usually bring your fork bags into your tent or carry them to your camp kitchen for meals, you’ll want an inner bag of some sort.

Lastly, the Gemini isn’t ideal as an overflow bag. If you need variable food or water capacity and want to leave your cages empty when they’re not needed, you’re better off carrying a lightweight dry bag that can fold down and pack away.

You’ll probably want to leave the Gemini on your bike at camp, so consider whether you need an inner bag to carry into your tent at night.

Cage Compatibility and Mounting

The Gemini’s versatile design should be compatible with pretty much any cargo cage. So far I’ve used it with Salsa Anything EXP and Blackburn Outpost cages, two of the larger cargo cages on the market, and both worked great.

Gemini with a Blackburn Outpost cargo cage

One brilliant benefit of the Gemini’s semi-rigid shape, compared to a typical dry bag, is the ability to carry more stuff in a smaller cargo cage. Smaller cages like the Wolftooth Morse (review here) are lighter and less bulky, but their smaller base of support can’t always deal with a big lumpy dry bag. The Gemini’s HDPE insert adds just enough rigidity to keep the bag perched securely. I did a test pack of the Gemini in my Wolf Tooth Morse cargo cage and it seemed secure. Swift recommends the similarly sized Widefoot as an addon to the Gemini, so it must be a good pairing too.

Installing the Gemini is super simple, and unlike a dry bag you only have to do it once. Ideally the straps feed through the slots in your cargo cage and around the fork blade for extra support (always a good idea, I do this with Voile straps too). The straps fit through slots in some cargo cages, including the Widefoot and (to some degree) the Salsa Anything EXP.

If the straps don’t fit neatly through your cargo cage, as is the case with my Blackburn Outpost cages, it’s not a problem. I simply routed the straps around the fork blade and the bag still felt secure. The grippiness of the straps prevented bouncing even on rough ground. Though the bags occasionally slid upward when I laid the bike down on its side, they always settled right back down into place.

The straps have tacky hypalon rubber on the back, which helps everything stay in place. I didn’t notice any abrasion on my fork during my two weeks in Baja, but you might want to put some frame protection tape around carbon fork blades for longer journeys.

Capacity

Each Gemini bag has a max capacity of 4 liters. According to my measurements (* whips out ruler and calculator *) about 2.7 liters are within the structured lower section and the rest is in the flexible roll-top collar.

I think the Gemini’s size is right around the sweet spot for a fork bag. Any smaller and it’s hard to fit the most common things we need to carry. Bigger bags can feel bulky and are harder to keep organized.

That said, I’ve been running 5 liter dry bags on my fork for a long time, so initially the Gemini felt a bit small to me. If you really need to load up your fork with bigger things — an entire sleeping quilt, larger cookset, etc — the Gemini is too small. But for most bikepackers in most situations, I think it’s a good size and I could definitely get used to it.

Here are a few things in my gear collection that fit in the Gemini:

  • JetBoil MicroMo
  • 230g fuel canister
  • Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad
  • Hydrapak 2 liter water bladder (super handy for turning these bags into overflow water capacity)
  • Big Sky Soul 1P bikepacking tent (just barely)
The Gemini at max capacity, just barely big enough for my Big Sky Soul 1P tent.

The only thing I wish would fit, but doesn’t quite, is my Toaks 900ml pot in its mesh bag. It’s certainly possible to fit a 1 liter pot in the Gemini but it needs to be one with a tall and skinny shape.

There are two vertical strips of daisy chain webbing on the Gemini, one on each side. I tried to rig up a spot for my sleeping pad with the straps I had on hand but couldn’t quite arrange a stable setup. It would work nicely for something light and skinny though, like a pump or pouch of tent poles. The right size cargo net or DIY shock cord creation could also be a good option for light items.

If you run the Gemini in the rear, as I did on my Elkhorn rack, these loops are also a good spot to attach a light or reflective triangle.

When running the Gemini in the rear on an OMM Elkhorn rack, the daisy chain makes a great spot to attach a light or reflective triangle.

Weight

According to my scale a single Gemini bag weighs 8.7 ounces. That’s actually lighter than my sturdy 5 liter dry bag and two 25″ Voile straps, which total 9.3 ounces.

You could beat the Gemini’s weight with a light dry bag: a 4 liter lightweight Sea to Summit bag (2.1 oz) and Voile straps (2.3 oz) adds up to 4.4 oz. But this would be far less durable than the Gemini; I own a couple of those dry bags and don’t consider them fork-worthy, at least not for long. A durable and full-featured bag like the Revelate Designs Polecat would bring the total up to 6 ounces.

All this to say: The Gemini’s weight is in line with alternatives and you don’t pay a significant weight penalty for its user-friendly features. You could go a bit lighter if you tried, but the difference is small.

The Gemini weighs 8.7 oz on my scale.
My 5 liter dry bag and two straps are slightly heavier at 9.3 oz.

Price and Alternatives

The Gemini sells for $70 each or $140 for a pair, which is admittedly spendy if you’re bikepacking on a budget. There are certainly cheaper, if perhaps not as user-friendly, ways to carry gear on your fork.

By comparison, a basic 5 liter dry bag (these are the dry bags I use) costs $13 and two 25″ Voile straps cost $8 each, for a total of only $29 per side! If you’re trying to save money, this is definitely the way to go.

If you upgrade to a nicer dry bag like the Sea to Summit Big River for $40, your cost goes up to $56. That’s still significant savings over the Gemini, especially x2, plus you get a modular system with parts that can be used in other ways (swap in a different size bag, use the straps on your handlebars, etc).

At the fanciest end of the fork bag spectrum are bolt-on bags like those by Ortlieb, Tailfin, and Oveja Negra. They aren’t the most versatile and are harder to mount and unmount than the Gemini, but they share many of the Gemini’s user-friendly features. They’re on the more expensive side ($65, $100, and $80 respectively for the brands mentioned above) but you save money by not needing to buy a cage. That said, many bikepackers like having cages around anyway for hauling water bottles.

In summary, the Gemini is on the expensive end of the fork bag spectrum but I feel it delivers reasonable value for its price. Swift Industries is about quality, durability, sustainability, creative original design, and small local business, not about making the cheapest gear. This is a mindfully crafted bag that’s seamless to use and will last a long time. If all that appeals to you, it’ll be worth the money.

More Bikepacking Resources

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About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve traveled over 20,000 miles by bike and still can’t stop planning my next ride (and helping you plan yours). Pavement and panniers or singletrack and seat bag, I love it all. On my bike I feel free. Learn more about me here.

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    2 thoughts on “Review: Swift Industries Gemini Cargo Pack Takes Fork Bags to a New Level”

    1. It is interesting that no one else has thought of it but that’s how it goes. Makes me wonder if one could use those thin plastic cutting boards and curl and fasten the two ends to fit in existing dry bags. Hmmmmm. I am hoping you do not lay your bike on it’s drive side often, don’t want to bend a hanger. (sorry, I’m a bike mechanic). I also like the spoke reflectors!!

      Reply
      • Hmmm indeed, interesting thought. Don’t worry about my bike, I lay it down on the drive side often but I’m always watching where my derailleur is (having bent a few hangers in other ways in the past). On flat ground with flat handlebars, and especially with the gear cages on the rear, the derailleur is always clear of the ground. I like the reflectors too, just reflective tape wrapped around the spoke, super visible at night.

        Reply

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