Alpkit’s gravel bag might utilise quite a simple design but it is highly effective and outclasses many handlebar bags that are much more expensive. The storage on offer is quite generous and the roll top closure makes it very easy to access. It might not have internal divider pockets, but the side pouches and webbing do greatly add to its versatility.
Large amount of easy-to-access storage
Front webbing for storing a waterproof
Handy side pouches
Quick to fit
Closure strap would benefit from the locking system Alpkit uses in some of its other bags
No internal divider pockets
Alpkit has been continually refining and expanding its bikepacking range for years. This development sees the brand introduce the roll-top entry Gravel Bag for easier access to your things, whether out on a run-of-the-mill ride or a multiday trip.
Even just a few years ago, the best handlebar bags pretty much all utilised a side-roll entry system. This was great for packing a large amount in, but it did make access quite a pain. Zip-top barrel bags were a step in the right direction for ease of use, but they tended to be a lot smaller and the narrow entry of the zip generally wouldn’t play nicely with bulkier items.
We’re starting to see more roll-top handlebar bags come onto the market these days – which is only a good thing as they generally combine a reasonable size with quick access.
Alpkit Gravel Bag: the construction
Alpkit’s Gravel Bag utilises fully waterproof outer materials to protect your kit from the weather – although do bear in mind that the seams aren’t taped, so in continuous heavy rain your contents may get a bit damp. But even with fully waterproof bags, we’d always recommend putting sensitive and electrical items inside an additional dry bag, just to be sure.
The bag attaches to the handlebars and headtube by three Velcro straps. These don’t have the satisfying bombproof feel of a set of Voile straps, but they do the job and keep the costs down. Plus, thanks to the webbing design, there’s nothing stopping you from buying a set and using them with the bag.
On the front of the Gravel Bag there’s some bungee webbing – useful for storing bulkier items like a rain jacket, and especially if it’s gotten a bit wet. On each side there are additional pouches for storing quick access items or simply discarded wrappers.
Inside the bag, the bright red lining makes it quick and easy to find smaller items. There aren’t any internal pockets for keeping things like keys and wallets safe and fast to grab, but at 5L, the bag isn’t so large that things can get too lost.
I got on really well with the Gravel Bag. It might have a very simple and straightforward design, but it’s incredibly functional and just does the job excellently – something that can’t be said for some other bags which are much more expensive.
The 5L size proved a great balance between offering enough storage but also keeping the total package to a reasonable size. The front webbing was super useful for storing my waterproof jacket – particularly in sunny spells after a shower. The side pockets were great too, keeping used wrappers separate from my jersey pockets and the interior of the bag.
The Velcro attachment straps felt a little rudimentary compared to some form of buckle or Voile straps. But with that said, they did a good job of holding the bag in place and I’m sure they keep the cost down, so really no complaints there.
I haven’t ridden through any proper downpours with this bag, but in intermittent showers and with constant road spray being flicked up, the inside showed no sign of dampness. Given that it’s always advisable to place electrical items inside a separate dry bag, I’ve really got no complaints about the weather proofing.
The one aspect of the bag that did prove to be somewhat of a disappointment was the main fastening strap. Over bumpy, off-road terrain, it did have a tendency to slacken itself off a little, needing a quick tug to cinch everything tight again. On some of Alpkit’s other bikepacking products, the clip features a little lever which locks the strap in place – it’s a shame that wasn’t used here as it would solve the issue.
At £49.99, Alpkit’s Gravel Bag undercuts most comparable handlebar bags currently on the market. Restrap’s Bar Pack (opens in new tab) offers most of the same – and some additional – features, but comes in at £104.99.
Right at the other end, Wiggle’s in-house brand, LifeLine, offers a fully waterproof 11L handlebar bag for £29.99 – but this uses the old-school side-entry system which makes accessing your things much more of a faff.
Alpkit’s Gravel Bag handlebar bag offers a good degree of easy to access storage and handy extra features, such as the front webbing and side stuff-pockets. Mounting the bag is simple and quick to do while pricing is quite competitive.
- Weight: 214g (measured)
- Colours: Black, Chilli, Lego, Teal Peel
- Contact: alpkit.com
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Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours (opens in new tab) and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20 (opens in new tab). Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually (opens in new tab), to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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