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Buyer's guide: best bikepacking bags

Bikepacking handlebar, frame and saddle bags for carrying all the kit you need for a two-wheeled adventure

Adventuring by bike isn’t a new idea. However, bikepacking equipment has emerged as an alternative to traditional touring with conventional panniers.

With no pannier racks required on the frame, bikepacking bags can be fitted to almost any bike. And while you won’t get as much room as traditional panniers, they do offer a lighter, simpler method to carry everything you need for big rides and nights away.

With a wide range of sizes and styles available, it’s still possible to carry everything needed – although more careful packing is required to prevent the bags from moving about too much.

The most popular style of bags available include a seatpack – attached via the seatpost and saddle where the bulk of kit is usually carried, a frame bag – which maximises the internal space, and a front bag – which can either be directly mounted to the handlebars or via a harness mount.

We’ve rounded up seven exceptional sets from our favourite makers…

The best bikepacking bags

1. Ortlieb

As a manufacturer of some of the best panniers, it’s unsurprising German brand Ortlieb also makes some of the smartest, toughest and easiest to use bikepacking bags too.

Its recently updated range features a whole host of models, including clever fork-mounted options, and an easy access roll-top front accessory pouch.

We’re going to stick to the holy trinity here, being the brand’s 16.5 litre Seat-Pack (456 grams), 15 litre Handlebar-Pack (420 grams) and top tube version Frame-Pack (170 grams) bags.

Generally, they're all-round wonderful, but let’s start with the material. It’s not only waterproof but also robust enough to give the bags a degree of structure that helps keep everything neat.

Fixings are also simultaneously easy to detach and superbly secure. This is evident across the range, but particularly noticeable on the Handlebar-Pack which is supported away from the handlebar and kept out of the way of any cables by a series of adjustable foam blocks.

The rear is similarly staunch in its attachment to the seatpost, fixing as it does with two huge rubberised seatpost straps plus the normal saddle-rail compression ties.

Boasting a huge capacity, it is kept compact and stable by a clever air-value system which is also found on the bar bag. Essentially, you stuff the bag, then roll down the end while letting the air inside escape.

The result is a firm hold, improved storage efficiency, and a minimum of rattling.

Both front and back options benefit from extra webbing and attachment points, plus reflective detailing. Pretty much watertight thanks to the roll-top closure, the Frame-Pack includes an almost as resilient zip, the chunky tap of which is easy to pull even when wearing gloves.

Buy the 16.5-litre Seat-Pack from Ortelib for £135  
Buy the 15-litre Handlebar-Pack from Ortelib for £115  
Buy the 4-litre Frame-Pack from Ortelib for £100

2. Blackburn Outpost  

Blackburn’s large capacity Outpost Handlebar Roll and Dry Bag does things a little differently. Slightly heavier than other alternatives, it uses a rigid quick release fixing to hold its sizeable carry 11.5-litre capacity proud of the handlebars.

Further secured by straps that then wrap back around the handlebar, it means you can load it with up to 3.5 kilograms and rattle down mountain bike-style trails without it shifting.

At the same time, it won't foul your frame or cabling either. The cost for this awesome feature-set? A slightly increased weight of 500 grams.

Quick to remove, the drybag that sits in the holster can be rolled down small for dainty loads or use with a drop-handlebar, or left wide for hauling bigger loads when used with a flat bar. Either way, it’s unlikely to rattle out thanks to a velcro backing that tacks in securely within the holster.

Swallowing up to 11 litres, the sizeable Blackburn Outpost Seat Pack is a little more secure. Again comprising a holster and removable drybag, this combo makes packing and end-of-the-day access easy. Although, getting at your equipment during the ride is a little more of a faff.

With multiple compression straps, the whole assemblage can be squished down into a secure and compact package, while multiple lasing points on the back mean you can use its shell-style for carrying additional bulky yet lightweight items. Just be careful to avoid the temptation to over-stuff it.

Although Blackburn doesn't recommend it for use with carbon seatposts, I’d go as far as to say all bikepacking bags suck with carbon anything. So while I’m not promising any warranty if you bugger up your bike, I reckon a quick wrap of electrical tape could probably mitigate any wear issues.

Buy the Blackburn Outpost Seat Pack from Tweeks for £89  
Buy the Blackburn Outpost Handlebar Roll Tweeks for £75  

3. Evoc

Evoc makes a diminutive range of compact bikepacking bags. Smaller than many firms' offerings, they’re more suited to those happy to travel light rather than anyone looking to carry a tent. On the plus side, a combination of this reduced volume and high-end Boa dial fittings mean they’re both swift to fit and highly secure once in place.

More often found on items like shoes, the ratcheting Boa straps go a long way to eliminating the swaying that can affect many bags while offering a slim alternative to velcro or other closure types.

On the rear seatpack, this is backed up by a soft rubber jaw that not only clamps onto the seatpost but simultaneously protects it from wear. Its unique shape is also happy to wrap around both dropper and aero-type seatposts.

With a more familiar roll-type closure, it’s available in small, medium and large, each accepting up to one, two or three litres of kit, respectively. Once secured inside, the bag’s robust waterproof construction will then protect any items.

Moving to the front of the bike, Evoc’s Handlebar Pack uses similar fabrics and again employs a Boa dial for rock-solid fitting. Featuring rigid yet tacky support on the back of the pack, this ensures it stays where you put it regardless of the terrain.

At the same time, it also leaves a modicum of space for any cables. It’s available in two sizes to hold either two and a half or five litres of equipment.

Perhaps slightly less radical but quality nevertheless, the set is rounded off by the 3.5 litre Frame Pack, which is available only in this size. Using more conventional velcro straps to attach itself, thoughtfully it also arrives with frame protection stickers to stop these scuffing your paintwork

Shop Evoc  

4. Miss Grape

Italian brand Miss Grape has been making bags since well before bikepacking was cool. All backed by a lifetime warranty, most are probably still going too.

Constructed from tough Nylon fabric with a water-repellent polyurethane resin coating, all three bags feel extremely robust. This stiffness goes so far as to help them keep their shape, ensuring they’re disinclined to sag or sway about.

On the back, this facet is backed by tough straps, while on the front, a clever combination of quick-release metal buckles, foam blocks, and lockable compression adjustment keep everything rock solid. Given how regularly you’ll want to do so, it’s especially welcome to find the front bag is extremely easy to fit and remove.

Generally quite simple, on the rear you’ll get a tab for a light, while at the front you’ll find two additional fixing points, although you’ll need to provide your own webbing straps or fasteners to take advantage of them.

Formerly Miss Grape bags fell down on one aspect - they weren’t waterproof. Thankfully this has now been remedied and all bags with the WP suffix should keep out even the most prolonged showers. Perfect if your summer holiday involves less than summery weather.

Sadly, this doesn’t yet cover the Internode frame bag, although as items like sleeping bags or clothing are more likely to live at the far ends of the bike, this isn’t the end of the world.

All considered, Miss Grape bags aren’t cheap. But with excellent design, full spares provision, plus a repair service, they represent a worthwhile investment.

Shop Miss Grape

5. Apidura

Apidura is arguably the best-known bikepacking brand, with a wide range of frame, handlebar and rear seatpacks available in various sizes. As their name suggests, the Expedition model bags are perfect for shorter bikepacking trips, or for those happy to go minimalist.

Improved from earlier models, Apidura’s new Trilon fabric is a waterproof barrier consisting of a three-layer nylon fabric coated with thermoplastic polyurethane. Highly waterproof and lightweight while remaining durable, it’s welded rather than stitched for an unpunctured construction.

Ensuring these efforts don’t go to waste, zips are also all water-resistant, with easy-to-pull tabs that’ll give you something to grab even when wearing gloves.

The straps used to secure the packs to the bike are easy to fit and won't peel off on rough roads even when packed full, although they are not so easy to adjust, which may be a problem on certain frames.

Both the front and rear packs are secure in use with very little swing, even when pedalling hard out of the saddle.

The frame pack has a full-length zip for easy access and a neat cable port, which could be useful for storing a battery to recharge devices or running a hydration bladder hose through. However, there’s no easy to access port, which some people might miss, That said, once inside you do get an interior storage pocket for improved organisation.

Available in either nine or 14-litre varieties, the compact front roll is a good size for use on a drop-bar road bike, and with dual roll-top closure and a bungee cord tie-down, it can often carry a little more if pushed.

Stable, easy to use and available in a great range of sizes, Apidura bags deserve to be as popular as they are.

Shop Apidura 

6. Wildcat Gear

Wildcat is a small British company that just makes bikepacking bags and has been steadily refining its products over several years.

Its rear Tiger seatpack harness isn’t the easiest to attach, but one of the most stable once in place. Plus it offers the big benefit of employing a removable tapered drybag that can be quickly taken off without removing the harness. Both items combined weigh just 232-grams.

At a similarly svelte 156-grams, the Ocelot frame bag uses wide, strong Velcro straps and with two compartments, makes it easier to organise your kit. Up front, the 328-gram Lion handlebar bag includes a double-ended drybag - a neat feature that allows you to separate wet kit from dry. Although, the extra material does add width and may not be as suitable for narrower handlebars.

Both front and back drybags are made from good quality waterproof fabric with taped seams. Similarly, the frame bag and harnesses are all high-quality VX fabric with waterproof YKK zips and zip garages to hide the zips when closed.

In use, they’re very stable when packed correctly even off-road or when climbing out of the saddle. A full range of sizes is available to suit any bike and Wildcat even offers a custom fit service. With reasonable weight and high-quality fabrics throughout, the Wildcat range should be durable enough for the longest and biggest of adventures. Sturdy, lightweight and thoughtfully designed for easy use, these British-made bags proved quality items. 

Shop Wildcatgear 

7. Alpkit

Alpkit bags come in a huge range of designs and sizes, and even custom options; the set we have on test is perfect for smaller trips.

The frame and seatpack are made from VX21, a multi-layer, highly water-resistant fabric. By keeping the designs minimalist the bags are the lightest on test, but still designed to last with an incredible 25-year ‘Alpine bond’ guarantee on the frame and seatpack, plus three years for the Gnaro handlebar bag.

Hugging close like its namesake, the 251-gram Koala seatpack is easy to fit. Employing a thin strap around the seatpost, these might not inspire confidence but were flawless in use. Although it must be packed well following the guidelines, we also found it exceptionally stable.

With well-placed, water-resistant zips, the small 177-gram Possum frame bag is also easy to use. With a front-facing cable port, it’s ideal for carrying smaller items, and ideal for stashing a powerpack with which to charge handlebar-mounted devices. Among its many features, webbing ladder and Velcro straps that mean it can be attached to virtually any style or size of bike without fouling cables or guides are standouts.

Also relatively petite in size, the 3-litre Gnaro handlebar pack is minimal but perfect for drop-bar bikes. Weighing 237-grams, while it’s far too small to swallow most sleeping bags, this does at least ensure it remains stable on even the roughest terrain.

It doesn’t do without extras either - its small zipped pouch being perfect for storing cash or other small items that you need quick access to, while the bungee webbing is also a useful addition. Packed with useful features, extremely sturdy and with options to suit every need, these are superb bags for very little outlay.

Shop Alpkit