Best bikepacking bags: A buyer's guide for multi-day adventures

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Best bikepacking bags
(Image credit: Roo Fowler)

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

>>> Best bikepacking bikes

Holidays by bike are nothing new, and many of us have grown up on a staple diet of dirtbag camping and touring trips to hostels. 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 you're planning on hitting the road or trail, and regardless if your speed will be fast or slow, we've found the best bikepacking and multi-day bike bags on the market. We've gone into more detail on all of the things to consider when buying bike luggage after the product pick to help you work out what best suits your style of adventure.

Frame Bags

Best bikepacking bags

Ortlieb Top Tube Frame Pack 4L

Dimensions: 13 x 50 x 6cm (H x W x D)
Capacity: 4L

This half frame bag is designed to make the best use of real estate inside the front triangle without compromising water bottle access. Compatible with anything from carbon road frames to full suspension mountain bikes, it's the ideal place to keep smaller items that you need to access easily, including snacks, electric items and toiletries.

Ortlieb says that the bag is fully waterproof and uses sturdy velcro straps to attach to the top, head and seat tubes.

best bikepacking bags

Miss Grape Internode Frame Bag

Dimensions: 10 x 44 x 2cm (H x W x D)
Capacity: 3L

Miss Grape offers frame bags in three different sizes, and the Internode 40.6 is their smallest. As frame bags can be tricky to test for compatibility, Miss Grape have a handy guide on their website to help you choose the right one for your bike.

This bag is water-resistant, but not totally waterproof like other items in Miss Grape's bikepacking range, so make sure you store any valuables or electronics in dry bag or elsewhere.The sturdy material is secured with a chunky plastic zip which makes access really easy, even on the move.

Best bikepacking bags

Dimensions: 10 x 21.5 x 5.5cm (H x W x D)
Capacity: 0.8L
Reasons to buy
+Good size+Robust+Easy access zip
Reasons to avoid
-Velcro straps oversized

This useful ride companion is best 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 velcro, we found that these straps were a little long on our test bike, so the bag would work best on oversized tubing.

Best bikepacking bags

B'Twin Riverside 500 Double Frame Bag

Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 19 cm (H x W x D) (Smartphone pocket 17 x 10cm)
Capacity: 2L

From the Decathlon in-house bike touring brand, Riverside's 500 Double Frame Bag provides two zipped compartments and a clear smartphone holder on top to enable you to use it on the move, ideal when using phone GPS and mapping.

Each compartment has a 1-litre capacity and uses simple velcro straps around the headtube. It is recommended for flat bar bikes only. It is worth noting that although this is a great budget option, the Riverside 500 isn't waterproof.

Seat Packs

Best bikepacking bags

Dimensions: 42/ 56 x 15.2 x 20.3 cm (H x W x D)
Capacity: 11L
Reasons to buy
+Large volume+Waterproof+Simple to fix and fill+Keeps muck and spray off your back
Reasons to avoid
-Fiddly to access contents when in transit-Not recommended for carbon seatposts-Noticeably increases your centre of gravity

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 provides 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 attachment straps was unfortunately noticeable on the back of the legs when pedalling, something worth considering if you're planning on being in the saddle for multiple days.

Best bikepacking bags

Topeak Backloader Bag

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)

The Backloader from Topeak has been specifically designed for bikepacking as a streamlined way of carrying gear. It is constructed using what Topeak says is a lightweight, highly water-resistant and durable fabric.

The pack has compression straps to help condense its waistline, 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, it uses both clips and a velcro mounting system attaches to the saddle rails and seat post.

Best bikepacking bags

Capacity: 20L
Reasons to buy
+Rock solid with no impact on riding+Great capacity +Ease of use
Reasons to avoid
-Compression straps can slip when wet

There are several rear bike packing Tailfin setups, all of which will require the Tailfin rack system. The whole set up with carbon option will set you back £300 / $390, although there is an alloy rack version that is £70 / $90 cheaper, but a couple of hundred grams more in weight (but you do gain three extra mounts for the ability to add other bottle cages or luggage).

The frame-mounted system boasts to be quick release unlike traditional racks, coming free in a claimed 30 seconds, with either QR or thru-axle compatibility. The seatpost connection is secure and kind to carbon, and is designed to wrap around any size or shape of seatpost, including deep aero.

The total maximum load for the racking system is a substantial 9kg. With two Transcontinental Races under its belt, the fully waterproof system has won plenty of fans. On test, we found the system to be ace, with the design simplicity and ease of use making you forget the price on the first ride.

Best bikepacking bags

Revelate Designs Vole Dropper Post Seat Bag

Dimensions 7 litre: 30.48 x 21.59 x 38.1cm (H x W X D)

Dropper posts are standard fare on just about every mountain bike, except for select XC race bikes, and are beginning to permeate gravel bikes too. With most bikepacking seat packs using one or more velcro straps to stabilize the pack, they render a dropper essentially unusable.

Bag brands are well aware of this fact, and we are beginning to see designs that accommodate dropper posts like the Revelate Designs Vold Dropper Post Seat Bag. The Revelate Designs Vole bag comes with WolfTooth Components Valias Clamp, which attaches to the upper stanchion of the post to allow it to actuate, and the underside of the bag sees a plastic skidplate to protect against dirt and abrasions and provide some structure to the pack.

The bulk of the bag is made from Rhinoktek and lightweight plasticized fabrics that keeps the elements at bay.

Handlebar bags

Best bikepacking bags

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
Reasons to buy
+Simple yet abundant storage+Great build quality+Rapid fitting and removal
Reasons to avoid
-Lid can be a faff to make watertight with one hand-Heavy objects can get bounced around-Need to add extra clothing/material to prevent rattling

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.

Best bikepacking bags

Dimensions: 18 x 50 x 18cm (H x W x D)
Capacity: 15L
Reasons to buy
+Great capacity+Handy air release valve,+Simple to fit+Good weatherproofing
Reasons to avoid
-Quick release clips can be a bit fiddly

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

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

Miss Grape Bud Handlebar Snack Pouch

Capacity: 9L
Reasons to buy
+Secure fitting+Roomy padded main bag+Totally universal+Water resistant+Netted outer pocket perfect for rubbish
Reasons to avoid
-Fork strap non-removable and could wear paint if unprotected.

Providing a convenient place to store those smaller items you want fast access to (such as your phone, camera or wallet), the bright green internal lining also helps you find what you need quickly. The padding that’s present also helps to protect those more delicate accessories.

The bag does stand up well against showers but isn’t fully waterproof. If you have anything that really doesn’t want to get wet and you’re cycling through persistent rain, you really should combine it with a dry bag.

Restrap Bar Bag Holster , food pouch and dry bag

Restrap Bar Bag

Dimensions (Holster): 22 x 18cm (H x W), capacity 14L
Dimensions (Food Pouch): small 15 x 21 cm (H x W) large 16 x 27cm (H x W), capacity 1L or 3L

Restrap offers a great option for starting out, and the system includes a holster, dry bag and either a small or 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 through the fork crown for when riding on rougher terrain.

Best bikepacking bags

Speedsleev Diego

Dimensions: 20 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm (H x W x D)
Capacity: 1.24L

Sometimes you don't need to bring the kitchen sink with you, and just need to have snacks or tools to hand. For smaller loads like this, a compact handlebar bag like the Speedsleve Diego might just be the ticket.

Made from Ballistic nylon, it attaches to your bars with two velcro straps and sees weatherproof zipper to the gear inside from getting soggy. Speedsleeve makes it in the ultra-compact 1.24L version or a larger 2.5L version.

What to look for in bikepacking and multi-day bags

Frame bag

Choose between full-frame bags that fit inside the whole front triangle down to the bottom bracket, or smaller half frame bags that run along the top tube and leave space for your water bottles. If you're going for the first option, you'll need to think about how else to store your water, for example using a bladder and hose system in the frame bag or on your back.

Although frame bags can be a really great way to make use of space on the bike for storage, you'll need to carefully check for compatibility. Smaller frames, sloping top tubes and suspension can make fitting tricky, which is why some people opt to go for a custom made frame bag.

The other important point about frame bags is that you'll need to learn to pack them well. This narrow space doesn't lend itself to bulky items, but is better suited to storing flatter kit, thus resulting in the bag bulging less and reducing the possibility of interference with either you and your pedalling or cranks. If using a half frame bag, this is a great option for small items that you like to keep close to hand, including snacks, electricals, and toiletries.

Seat Packs

>>> Everything you need to know about bikepacking

Seat packs are the modern alternative to racks and panniers - but some do feature a lightweight supportive rack. These offer great versatility as you can fit them to almost any bike in a matter of minutes (you'll need to look at specific models if you run a dropper post, though).

These seat post bags typically mount using straps around the seatpost and through the saddle rails. Check that you have plenty of seatpost available for the size of the bag attachment, and smaller riders may find they'll have to opt for a smaller capacity bag here.

Waterproofing varies between models and also has a noticeable impact on cost. Opting for a fully waterproof seat pack (or any bikepacking bag for that matter) will make your life much easier at the end of a long, wet day in the saddle. Alternatively, invest in some good dry bags to pack inside your bags to keep your kit dry.

Often with a really generous capacity, seat packs can be a great place to store bulkier items such as your sleeping bag, clothing and bivvy bag. It may take some time to get used to the feeling of riding with a full seat pack, as your center of gravity will be raised higher which will affect handling.

>>> Best bike saddlebags

Handlebar bags

Handlebar bags offer great storage capacity at the front of your set up, both for drop bar and flat bar bikes. For bikepacking trips, the larger bags offer more space, although they're best suited to large and bulky items just like seat packs, as they can be harder to get in and out of quickly.

Mounting wise, it might take a bit of fiddling to get your dashboard setup just right, especially if you are using a bike computer and lights too. Bar shape will also play a role in system compatibility, although many will work across both straight and dropbars cockpits. However, you will need to consider how much space between both shifters, how much drop from bar to front wheel and your front end cabling before deciding on capacity.

Best bikepacking bags

You might find a handlebar harness is a good alternative for you. This allows you to mount anything from a tent or sleeping bag to a drybag or small duffel bag in front of your bars. Again, like any front bag, you'll need to think about cockpit size, shape and braking, with disc brakes being preferable and cantilever the least compatible.

Snack pouch bags

Best bikepacking bags

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, which is easier said than done when you have a fully laden bike to balance, and you can simply reach in while on the move for food, and electrical items.

Snack pouch bags can be really versatile, often with velcro straps meaning you can fit them to almost any bike. If you don't want to wear anything with pockets on a short blast or you are looking for extra storage on a week-long trip, these little bags can make a big difference.

Alternative location bags

Best bikepacking bags

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

Topeak Versacage

If you have a bike intended for touring or bike packing, you might find the forks come with leg mounts for extra bottle cages, and there are also after-market options that allow you to clamp on additional mounts. These immediately give you increased carrying capacity, either for water or an extra bag.

Hannah Bussey
Hannah Bussey

Hannah Bussey is Cycling Weekly’s longest serving Tech writer, having started with the Magazine back in 2011.

She's specialises on the technical side of all things cycling, including Pro Peloton Team kit having covered multiple seasons of the Spring Classics, and Grand Tours for both print and websites. Prior to joining Cycling Weekly, Hannah was a successful road and track racer, competing in UCI races across the world, and has raced in most of Europe, China, Pakistan and New Zealand. For fun, she's ridden LEJoG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, win 24 hour mountain bike race and tackle famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas. She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.