Bikepacking is not for the faint of heart and ill-prepared. You will be cycling long-distance into an unfamiliar place via trails less traveled. Therefore, you should bring essentials like repair tools, camping gear, a survival/first aid kit, clothes, food, and drinks. You can bring all of these by putting them inside a mountain bike bag.
However, choosing the right bag that suits you might overwhelm you because there are many options. Therefore, this article will discuss the different types of cycling luggage and our recommended bike bags.
The classification of cycle bags depends on where you will attach them to your bike. Here's the list of the typical bikepacking bags you can strap on your mountain bike.
Also called handlebar roll, it is the perfect place to keep valuable possessions like gadgets, keys, and wallets. The handlebar is the part of the bike which is within your sight and reach, making it easily accessible.
If you are bikepacking for two to three days to a remote place with no accommodations nearby, you may store a rolled-up tent in it. As for your important stuff, you can add a small bag and strap it on top of the handlebar bag.
This type of bike bag fits within the cycle's triangular frame. Usually, this frame is the space for your water bottle. But since you may plan to put a frame bag around it, you can attach a bottle cage for your bidon around the bike's down tube just below the bag.
There are two types of frame bags: partial-frame bags and full-frame bags. You may pack heavier items in this bag to help maintain your bike's center of gravity as you travel.
Another odd-shaped bag in this list is the seat pack or saddlebag, which you strap below the bicycle’s saddle. It is the largest cycle luggage you can bring if you want to travel light. You can use this bag to store tire levers, spare tubes, CO2 inflators, clothes, and a sleeping bag.
Alternatively, you can use it as a mudguard, protecting you and your bike's components from debris, water, grime, and dirt. Hence, you must ensure that the saddlebag you will buy is waterproof and durable.
If you are wary of keeping your valuables inside handlebar bags, a top tube bag is an alternative solution. You can use it as extra storage for small items and for holding your phone or GPS bike computer.
Are you planning to bikepack outside your country? Then we advise having a folding bike bag with wheels or a bike travel carry case. It is useful if your mountain bike is foldable. This way, you can bring your bike with you anywhere you go.
Before we begin, we want to say each mountain bike luggage on this list is waterproof or water-resistant. Now, here's the list of our most recommended bike bags, in no particular order.
This Germany-made Ortlieb handlebar bag has a maximum payload of 11 lb. It has three variations based on the volume: 305 cu in, 427 cu in, and 519 cu in.
The folding bike front bag is made from 100% waterproof polyester fabric with PVC coating. You can easily attach and detach it using a velcro strap and durable clips.
It also has a transparent sleeve where you can secure your GPS device or smartphone. Plus, Ortlieb Ultimate 6 Classic includes a shoulder strap, so you can conveniently carry it anywhere.
The downside of this item is you have to buy a mounting set separately to prevent it from moving.
These bags have teeny-weeny issues. The smaller handlebar bag doesn't have a reflective logo. Also, both bags aren't easily accessible because you need to unroll them first.
The Revelate full-frame bag can withstand scratches and bumps on the road. One of its unique features is its Zipstretch™ construction with a high-quality no. 10 molded-tooth zipper.
The maximum capacity of this bag for medium and large sizes is 445 cu in and 524 cu in, respectively. The bag has a large main compartment with a vertical divider and internal pocket made from stretchable mesh.
Other cool features of this frame bag are the exit port and internal strap. You can use the exit port to insert a battery wire or hydration tube. Meanwhile, the internal strap can hold a small bike pump.
However, the Revelate Designs Ranger frame bag is not waterproof, so avoid using it during bad weather.
Mr. Fusion Seat Pack is the best bike saddlebag for folding bikes, with a harness to keep it sagging or wobbling even when you are biking. This seat pack also comes with an American-made chromoly mini-rack and aluminum seatpost clamps to make it more stabilized.
Its drybag is made from radiofrequency-welded nylon with polyester urethane (PU) coating. You will never worry about sagging or bulging because it has high-density polyethylene-hardened side panels.
Mr. Fusion is available in two different sizes: large (488- to 732-cu in maximum capacity) and extra-large (610- to 915-cu in maximum capacity). The drybag itself is handmade in Canada.
However, it is not compatible with dropper posts, carbon posts, and suspension posts as it may damage your bike. Also, this seat pack is a bit pricey, considering its impressive specs.
Blackburn Outpost Elite Universal seat pack is one of the cool bike saddlebags because it is dropper-compatible, thanks to its t6061 aluminum wing bolts that help steady the drybag even when biking on rocky terrain.
Like Mr. Fusion, it also comes with a separate harness that allows you to remove the drybag easily. In addition, the saddlebag has a scuba-style air-bleed valve that lets you compress it to make it more compact. It has plenty of space since it can hold a volume of up to 640 cu in.
Its mounting systems are adjustable so that they would fit the size of your saddle and bike. Blackburn also assures its buyers of a lifetime warranty, which shows how confident they are with the quality of their work.
There are only a few drawbacks, one of which is that there is no drainage hole.
Topeak Fuel Tank top tube bag has a maximum payload of 46 cu in. The bag is made from PVC and 420-denier nylon.
It may look small from the outside, but its storage is spacious. Also, its compartment has padded protection that protects your gadgets like your bike computer and smartphone.
Speaking of gadgets, the Topeak Fuel Tank has an access port for charging cables or earphones. Unfortunately, it is only available in two sizes: medium (30 cu in) and large (46 cu in).
The usual complaints of buyers about this bag are that the zipper has poor construction and the bag doesn't open wide enough.
Seasoned bikepackers won't ever part from their bikes, especially if they are going abroad. If you are one of them, then this Thule Round Trip Transition bike bag is perfect for you.
Thule has a robust and durable ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic material. ABS plastic is impact-resistant, shock-absorbent, scratch- and heat-resistant, and low-cost.
Its additional features are an integrated bike stand, aluminum Click-Rail base, and nylon wheel bags. Moreover, it has two built-in wheels, so it won't be challenging to carry its 39-lb weight, plus the weight of your bike.
The only downside is it is expensive, which is quite understandable considering its impressive features.
If you are not a fan of hard and heavy bike travel cases, give the Evoc Bike Travel Bag Pro a try. Its case is made from nylon-ripstop with PU coating, and its lining material is polyethylene fabric.
The Evoc bike case has a separate compartment for wheels so that they won't bump or scratch the other parts of your bike. In addition, it only weighs 18.9 lb, which is much, much lighter than the Thule bike bag above.
Although it has a soft case, the interior of the bag has sturdy rubber and padding reinforcements. It is also easily collapsible, so you can store it in your closet when not in use.
However, take note that Evoc Bike Travel Bag Pro is only water-repellent and not 100% waterproof.
We hope that this short roundup of cycling luggage has helped you in your pursuit of the best bike bags. We pretty much covered the commonly used bags in cycling, from handlebar bags to frame packs, top tube bags, seat packs, and even bike compartments.
Choosing a bike bag is a matter of personal preference. Nevertheless, you have to consider the following factors:
In addition, your chosen mountain bike bag must endure any weather and terrain. More importantly, it must not damage your prized bike in the long run so that you can continue to use it on your future adventures.