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Buyer's guide: Best saddle bags

Cyclist magazine
13 Jun 2021

The best saddle bags for carrying essential items without weighing down your bike

It’s a good idea to keep at least a few spares and tools with you whenever you’re out on the bike. And rather than stuffing them all into your pockets, it turns out, a saddle bag is a fine receptacle in which to keep them.

Securely stashed beneath your bum, for everyday spins a single inner tube, patch kit, and some form of inflator (mini pump or CO2) are enough. Although, if you’re heading off on an extended trip or epic sportive, having space to pack multiple tubes or some energy bars makes sense too.

However, if you find yourself wanting to carry yet more gear, like perhaps a waterproof or other clothing, you might want to check out our round-up of the best bikepacking bags.

Instead, for this round-up, we’re concentrating on smaller saddle bags that are suited to carrying just the essentials. So, with that in mind, here follow the 10 best saddle bags, as decided by the Cyclist office...

The best cycling saddle bags

1. Bontrager Pro Quick Cleat: the best saddle bag for secure fit and quick removal 

Somewhat deceptive when it comes to size, the Bontrager Pro is listed as 0.94-litre in capacity but looks smaller to the eye, making it rather appealing for those who want to minimise the visual impact of the bag on their bike.

Secured via a pair of Allen bolts that clamp the saddle rails between a metal and nylon plate, it offers a fast and secure connection that’s safe for carbon saddle rails. The bag is removed with a simple quick-release cleat.

Constructed from a tough and durable nylon, the lower section is rubberised to protect against water spray, while an internal, Velcro-closed pocket holds notes or credit cards.

A smaller 0.65-litre and larger 1.4-litre version are also available.

Verdict: Good-value and good-looking minimalist bag that’s built to last

Buy now from Trek for £21.99

2. Evoc Saddle Bag Tour: the best saddle bag for bright style

With a 1.0-litre capacity, the Evoc Saddle Bag Tour is probably the optimal size for a full day’s riding. Well packed, we’d expect to be able to fit a pair of spare tubes, CO2 inflator, tyre lever, multitool and a couple of energy bars.

Because a rattling bag is a big no-no, especially for anyone you’re riding with, Tour has three internal net pockets to hold things in place and stop any possible noise.

The two main straps that hold the bag to the saddle rails also act as compression straps to help hold the contents secure while a third strap around the seatpost helps control the load while a rear light loop aids visibility.

Available in red, black or this neon blue.

Verdict: Lots of capacity for not a lot of money, and plenty of useful features

Buy now from Chainreaction for £20

3. Topeak Wedge Drybag: the best waterproof saddle bag 

Topeak is always a master of getting the details right. The brand does this through great design but it must also be said by offering lots of options too. With the Wedge DryBag, there are three sizes and two mounting systems.

One version uses straps over the saddle rail, while this QuickClick version leaves a hard mount fixed to the bike – ideal if you have to leave your bike somewhere that’s not entirely secure.

Seam-sealed and with a roll-up closure, Topeak stands by the DryBag name – quite a statement in our book as saddle packs can get soaked by wheel-spray.

This 'Small' version is listed as having a 0.6-litre capacity, giving room for a couple of tubes, a small pump and perhaps one energy gel.

Verdict: Weather protection makes this a great year-round option, especially if you don’t use mudguards

4. Ortlieb Micro Two: the best roll-top saddle bag 

On the smaller side of things is this beauty from Ortlieb with a capacity of 0.6 litres, it’s just about ideal for a short to middle distance ride as it’ll hold your essential kit but little else.

As with other Ortlieb products, it claims to be 100% waterproof, making it something you could fit and forget – and this is backed up by a five-year warranty.

Waterproofing comes courtesy of the PU-coated nylon fabric used, and the roll closure that combines with elastic bungees. This closure also gives a level of flexibility when it comes to packing that a zip just can’t match.

Its quick-release bracket clamps the rails via two bolts. Also available in several larger sizes with the same features.

Verdict: High-quality construction and an ideal size and shape for middle-distance rides, whatever the weather

5. Specialized Seat Pack: the best miniature bikepacking style saddle bag 

Specialized’s medium-sized pack is one of about 16 storage solutions the brand offers for your bike and is available in three colour options to add interest.

Water-resistant rather than fully waterproof, it offers a low profile underneath your saddle and thanks to the Velcro straps, there is a degree of adjustment possible in the positioning.

These same straps also allow a degree of compression which should stop things from rattling around inside it.

While not huge on internal space, it measures 16cm long so will fit the more essential essentials like a mini pump. Like many of the other bags here, Specialized has incorporated a loop so a light can be clipped on to aid visibility and increase safety.

Verdict: A good size and shape for fitting all your ride essentials, with a sleek low-profile design

6. Pro Saddle Bag Medi: the best budget saddle bag

One of the smaller seatpacks in the round-up, the Medi is the second-smallest of four in the Pro range and measures around 17cm in diagonal length. That’s about right for a spare tube, tool and CO2 inflator.

With an internal net and light blue fabric, finding what you’ve stuffed into the pack shouldn’t be too difficult, and there’s an additional pocket down one side for extras, such as patches or some cash.

A well-constructed bag, it has three mounting points: one for each saddle rail as well as the seatpost. A rear-facing loop allows the use of a clip-on light, too.

Verdict: Made from a water-resistant fabric, the Medi is a great bag to stuff with repair gear and leave on the bike

7. Topeak Dynawedge Small Weatherproof: the best slimline saddle bag

If you’re looking for a weather-proof bag to fit and forget about then this item from Topeak may be just for you.

It’s seriously small at 15cm by 5cm wide so expect to fit no more than an inner tube, CO2 canister or two, plus head and patch kit in it: basically enough to get you out of puncture trouble, providing you pack really well.

Topeak’s design has placed the water-resistant zip on the underside so that spray doesn’t sit directly on it, though this obviously means it’s a little awkward to access when fitted to the bike.

Nevertheless, we love its philosophy and execution.

Verdict: A smart little fit-and-forget option that won’t take up much space or add loads of weight

Buy now from Tredz for £16.99

8. Ortlieb Saddle Bag Two: the best large saddle bag

A quick-release mechanism makes detaching this medium-sized pack a doddle. Great construction and a roll-top closure keep out 100% of the water, while D-rings and an additional mount underneath allow you to lash more gear to the pack.

Its stiff fabric slightly amplifies things rattling around inside, and the otherwise sturdy release mechanism can also be a little noisy, although neither should put you off.

Verdict: Versatile, medium-sized pack that’s highly adaptable and extremely well-made

Buy now from Tredz for £40

9. Brooks Isle of Wight: the best classic waxed cotton saddle bag

There’s little on this canvas and leather bag that couldn’t be done with more conventional modern materials, but why wear trainers when you could rock brogues?

Dual zips mean easy access, though the opening is at the bottom – where it’s more prone to both spilling its contents and picking up road spray – rather than at the top. Not ideal. Fitting with a system of rivets and leather straps, again this is pretty if a bit of a faff to get in place. 

Verdict: Painfully beautiful, it’ll do the job and get you a few admiring looks, despite a couple of odd design quirks. Fantastic name, too.

10. Lezyne M Caddy QR: the best saddle bag with a quick-access tool slot

A neoprene holster underneath the main pack neatly stows a multitool, saving you from having to dig through the rest of your kit in the event of a breakdown.

Medium in size, its profile sits neatly under the saddle. Inside the main compartment is similarly neat, with several dividers helping to keep everything tidy.

Well made, the loop to open it is chunky enough to use while wearing gloves, while reflective trim and a light loop both help with visibility. The sturdy quick-release mechanism attaches with a clunk and, as there’s no post loop, it pops off instantly.

Verdict: A neat-looking option that will keep your gear organised. Great attachment mechanism

See our list of the best bikepacking bags and best phone cases