Best Bikepacking bags 2020: A buyers guide for multi-day adventures

Seat, frame, bar and everything in-between. We share the best bikepacking and multi-day adventure bags and how to choose the best for you.

We all know life on two wheels is best, but better still is a holiday on one. The term bikepacking will mean different things to different people, and ultimately it’s all about adventuring by bike.


 

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Holiday’s by bike are nothing new, and many of us have grown up on a staple diet of the winter youth hostel trips, and likewise there are plenty among us who have undertaken a touring holiday. A resurgence in self-supported bike racing and multi-day rides means that it’s now easier and faster than ever to travel fully-laden solely by bike.

>>> Bikepacking: everything you need to know to get started

Whether your planning on road or trail, fast or slow, we’ve found the best bikepacking and multi-day bike bags on the market. We’ve gone in to more detail on all of the things to consider when buying bike luggage after the product pick to help you work out what best suites your style of adventure.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Frame Bags

Lezyne Energy Caddy XL £28

Lezyne Energy Caddy XL

  • Dimensions: 10 x 21.5 x  5.5cm (H x W x D)

A useful ride companion for those outings where you want to keep heavier items out of your pockets, or simply need to carry more ride essentials. The fabric is robust and water resistant and the zip is easy to operate on the move.

Attached to the top tube and steerer with a Velcro, we found the the straps were a little long on our test bike, so the 0.8 litre capacity bag would work best on oversized tubing, also worth considering your front end set up for compatibility.

Read more: Lezyne Energy Caddy XL review 

Buy now: Lezyne Energy Caddy XL at Tredz for £22.49

B’Twin Riverside 500 Double Frame Bag £12.99

Riverside 500 double frame bag

  • Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 19 cm (H x W x D) (Smartphone pocket 17 x 10cm)

The Decathlon in-house cycling brand’s Riverside 500 double frame bag provides two zipped compartments and a clear smartphone holder on top to enable you to use on it on the move, ideal when using phone GPS and mapping.

Each compartment has a 1 litre capacity and uses a simple Velcro like straps round the headtube. It is recommended for flat bar bikes, but suspect if your drop bars have turned in enough to touch the bag, you’ll be close to track-stand navigation levels. It is worth noting that although a great budget option, the Riverside 500 isn’t waterproof.

Buy now: B’Twin Riverside 500 Double Frame Bag at Decathlon for £12.99

Vaude Trailframe £70

Vaude Trailframe

  • Dimensions: 22 x 48 x 11cm (H x W x D)

Made from PVC-free tarpaulin material, the Vaude Trailframe bag is positioned in the central triangle of your bike, keeping the weight low for improved stability, making it ideal for the heavier bike packing items such as your stove and tools.

The 8 litre bag uses length adjustable rubberised bands to secure the bag to the top tube, and removable clips to anchor the bag to the down tube and seat tube (and if you do dabble in the dark side, it’s good to know that it’s compatible with rear suspension bikes too).

Buy now: Vaude Trailframe at Tredz for £56.08

Ortlieb Top Tube Frame Pack £100

Ortlieb Top tube frame pack

  • Dimensions: 13 x 50 x 6cm (H x W x D)

Designed to make the best use of frame storage without compromising water bottle access. Another cross genre bag that is compatible with anything from carbon road frames to full suspension bikes. The lower centre of gravity makes it an ideal place to stow tent poles, cooking equipment and provisions.

Ortlieb say that the 4 litre bag is fully waterproof and uses sturdy Velcro straps to attach to the top, head and seat tubes.

Buy now: Ortlieb Top Tube Frame Pack at Tredz for £79.99

Buy now US: Ortlieb Top Tube Frame Pack at Moosejaw for $133.99

Seat Packs

Tailfin AeroPack S from £169

Tailfin Aeropack

  • Dimensions: TBC

There are several rear bike packing Tailfin set ups, all of which will require the Tailfin rack system. The whole set up with carbon option will set you back £300, although there is an alloy rack version that is £70 cheaper, but a couple of hundred grams more in weight (but you do gain three braze on mounts for the ability to add other bottle cages/ luggage).

The frame mounted system still boasts to be quick release, coming free in a claimed 30 seconds, with either QR or thru axle comparability. The seatpost connection promises to be secure and kind to carbon, and is designed to wrap around any sized seatpost, including deep aero.

Capable of taking up to 20 litres of luggage, the total maximum load for the racking system is a substantial 9kg. With two Transcontinental Races under it’s belt, the fully waterproof system has won plenty of fans. We’re currently testing and impressions are certainly very favourable. Check back in a few weeks when the full review will be up.

Buy now: Tailfin Aeropack at Tailfin from £169.00

Blackburn Outpost Seat Pack with Dry Bag £100

Blackburn Outport Seat Pack

  • Dimensions: 42/ 56 x 15.2 x 20.3 cm (H x W x D)

The Blackburn Outpost seat pack is a clever solution to add a lot of capacity and flexibility without bolting anything onto your bike, however it does recommend not attaching to a carbon seat post (but we have in the past!). It does provide a great level of waterproofing, and its position does act as a bit of an ass saver, but the extra weight up high does take a bit of getting used to.

The Velcro attaching pack has an 11 litre capacity, but as you’d expect with a seat pack of this size, it was noticeable on the back of the legs when pedalling.

Read more: Blackburn Outpost seat pack review 

Buy now: Blackburn Outpost seat pack with Dry Bag at Tweeks Cycles for £70.00

Buy now US: Blackburn Outpost seat pack with Dry Bag at Wiggle for $124.95

Topeak Backloader Bag £64.99

Topeak Backloader

  • Dimensions 6 litre: 50 x 16 x 15cm (H x W X D)
  • Dimensions 10 litre: 60 x 20 x 18cm (H x W X D)

Topeak say that the Backloader has been specifically designed for bikepacking as a streamlined way of carrying gear. Constructed using what Topeak say is a lightweight and highly water resistant, durable fabric. The pack has compression straps to help condense the pack, which should reduce the pendulum effect, and a built-in air release button helps reduce the inner bag further.

Available in 6, 10 or 15 litre options and uses both clips and a Velcro mounting systems to attach to the saddle and seat post.

Buy now: Topeak Backloader Bag at Pro Bike Kit for £44.99 

Buy now US: Topeak Backloader Bag at Pro Bike Kit US for $48.49

Cockpit bags

Apidura Racing Handlebar Mini Pack £72.00

Apidura Racing Handlebar Mini Pack

  • Dimensions 2.5 litre: 15 x 24  x 7 cm (H x W x D)
  • Dimensions 5 litre: 18 x 26.5 x 10 cm

Light and well made, the Apidura handlebar bag is great for carrying all the items you really want to have at hand on a long ride. Just be careful not to overload it with heavy items as it can bounce and rattle a lot over rougher roads as well as making it difficult to close the lid properly.

There are two sizes to choose from, 2.5 litre (as pictured above), and a 5 litre version, both using long Velcro straps to mount.

Read more: Apidura Racing Handlebar Mini Pack review

Buy now: Apidura Racing Handlebar Mini Pack at Apidura for £70

Roswheel Off-Road handlebar bag £85

Roswheel Offroad handlebar bag

  • Dimensions: 18 x 50 x 18cm (H x W x D)

The Roswheel Off-Road bar bag is a properly durable, well made bikepacking bag. Capable of reliable performance no matter the weather, terrain or type of bike you choose. It’s cavernous storage capacity and easy fitting adds to the excellent package.

The 15 litre bag uses straps for either direct bar mount or attaching to a rack.

Read more: Roswheel Off-Road handlebar bag review 

Buy now: Roswheel Off-Road bar bag at Roswheel for £85

Restrap Bar Bag £104.99

Restrap Bar Bag Holster , food pouch and dry bag

  • Dimensions (Holster): 22 x 18cm (H x W)
  • Dimensions (Food Pouch): small 15 x 21 cm (H x W) large 16 x 27cm (H x W)

A great option for starting out and the Restrap system includes a holster, dry bag and an easy access to either a 1 litre (small) or 3 litres (large) food pouch, which uses a magnetic pin to secure on top for easy access on the move.

The holster fits up to a 14 litre dry bag, which is also included, and is mounted on the bike using what Restrap say is a hard-wearing buckle that is easy to adjust even when wearing gloves. Support straps can be used to attach the holster though the fork crown for when riding on rougher terrain.

Buy now: Restrap Bar bag (dry bag and food pouch included) at Wiggle from £84.99

Buy now: Restrap Bar bag (dry bag and food pouch included) at Wiggle US for $103.99

What to look for in bikepacking and multi-day bags

Frame bag

The first consideration will be what bike you will be using. In theory all bike frames are constructed from two triangles, but in practice their size and exact shape will vary, meaning that not all bags will fit all frames.

The biggest compatibility check will be if the frame and bag tessellate, especially if you have a small frame or central suspension (although the later is only applicable on mountain bikes). So always worth checking the bag dimensions compared to where it will fit on your frame when, and here’s the important bit, you have a bottle on board.

Unless you’re also planning on fitting a new hydration system (although some bags do come with this functionality), you’ll not only need to ensure the bag allows you to also stow a bottle, as well as remove and replace it without getting in the way.

Tubing shapes can also impact on the fit of one bag over another, for example a beefy angular top tube will require much longer straps than a slender tubular one.

Seat Packs

Depending on size, seat packs can either be self supporting with straps, or have a lightweight frame/ rack to allow the back to cantilever further and give more structure allowing a bigger bag to be used, although check how much clearance you have between tyre and potential bag.

Like all bike bags, seat bags will have an element of waterproofing built in, but when riding on really wet days a constant jet hosing of water will probably breech the even the most water tight options, so it’s worth considering running a mudguard to protect against this. In which case, you’ll also need to check for compatibility between the two and your seatpost.

Like frame tubing, seat tube shapes will also need to be considered, e.g. does the the mount require a cylindrical seat pin over a teardrop aero one? It’s especially important to consider compatibility if you are using a dropper-post.

While it’s a good storage zone in terms of aerodynamics, depending on the size you go for, and how much load it bares, expect some interference with your centre of gravity and possibly leg rub.

Cockpit bags

A bar bag gives you easy access without having to dismount your bike. Image: Adrian Wills

Having a bag that you can gain easy access to while on the bike can be a game changer in terms of not having to dismount, easier said than done when you have a fully laden bike to balance, and you can often reach in while on the move for food, and electrical items.

Mounting wise,  it might take a bit of jiggery-pokery in terms of dashboard set up, especially if you are using a satnav and lights too. Bar shape will also play a role in system compatibility, although many will work across both straight and dropped bar (or have options for either or in the same model). However, you will need to consider how much space between both shifter hoods, how much drop from bar to front wheel and what your front end cabling and brake set up before deciding on capacity.

Blackburn Outpost Handlebar Roll with Dry Bag

The Blackburn Outpost Handlebar Roll harness  comes complete with a dry bag.

Buy now: Blackburn Outpost Handlebar Roll at Tweeks Cycles for £70

Buy now US: Blackburn Outpost Handlebar Roll at Wiggle for $109.95

For a more bespoke set up, you might find a handle bar harness is a good alternative for you. This allows you to mount almost anything in front of your bars, such as a tent, sleeping bag or dry bag. Again, like any front bag, you’ll beed to think about cockpit size, shape and braking, with disc brakes being preferable and cantilever the least compatible.

Alternative location bags

Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cage

The Blackburn Outpost Cargo Carrier can be fitted to your forks for extra carrying capacity.

Buy now: Blackburn Outpost Cargo Carrier at Tweeks Cycles for £16.90

Buy now US: Blackburn Outpost Cargo Carrier at Jenson USA for $32.00

The obvious alternatives to bags strapped to your frame is to cantilever them over your wheels in the form of panniers. These will significantly increase your carrying capacity, but will slow your progress.

Topeak Versacage

The Topeak Versacage allows you to retrofit a cage to your forks using Velcro straps.

Buy now: Topeak Versacage Rack at Tredz for £22.99 

Buy now US: Topeak Versacage Rack at Jenson USA for $29.95

If you have a bike intended for touring or bike packing, you might find the forks come with braze-on mounts for extra bottle cages, and if not there are after market options that allow you to clamp or velcro additional mounts. These immediately give you increased carrying capacity, either for water or an extra bag.