Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review

Using an integrated mini rack and quick-release design, the Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag was ahead of its time when it was first released in 2018, but how does it stand up to the competition today? We got our hands on the latest version of the unique Canada-made handlebar bag system to find out for ourselves. Read Miles’ review here…

We’ve seen all sorts of mini racks and cradles hit the market over the last couple of years, from steerer tube-mounted cradles such as the Goodday Curiosity Spacer Cradle we reviewed or the new RatKing Cradle, to the Jack the Rack and other lightweight front racks. It’s clear people are taking interest in these types of accessories. We missed one, however, and have gotten several questions asking about it. With that in mind, we got our hands on the Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag for a closer look and report back in this review.

Arkel is a Canadian brand best known for their line of durable panniers, but they dipped their toes into the bikepacking scene back in 2015 and have been expanding it slowly ever since. Most of their bags are handmade in Sherbrooke, Quebec, with a few items produced by foreign partners overseas and then shipped to Canada for final assembly. They launched with the Rollpacker Seat Bag, which integrated a nifty quick-release rack system and a waterproof roll-top bag. Next to follow was the Rollpacker Front in 2018, which uses a similar quick-release rack, the same slide-on bag, and a fully waterproof construction. Plus, like the majority of Arkel’s bags, it is (mostly) made in Canada, which is a bonus for our Canadian readers.

Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review

Arkel Rollpacker Handlebar Hanger

To be sure, the Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag has a lot going on. On first setup, I immediately noticed that it’s very large and bulky, and not the best looking bag as a result. The design is based on an aluminum mini rack or hanger that loops up behind the handlebar and snaps onto the bar on either side of the stem with two plastic brackets. The hanger is kept in place by one of three stem bar webbing straps and one longer strap. The shorter webbing strap hooks onto both of the handlebar clamps and under the stem, preventing the rack from rotating down toward the front wheel. The longer strap attaches to the back side of the hanger and wraps around the headtube, headset spacers, or fork crown to prevent the hanger from pivoting upward.

It’s a similar concept to the Jack the Rack, but instead of providing a platform for a bag or basket of your choosing, it sits higher up for the rest of the system to slide onto. Having spent a good deal of time with both products, I’ll say Arkel’s take on the cantilevered rack isn’t quite as slick as Jack the Rack, which uses smaller load straps and has a much lower overall profile. Arkel’s hanger is functional, but the various bolts and oversized webbing straps are somewhat chunky.

  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel rollpacker front bag review
  • Arkel rollpacker front bag review

Like other racks and cradles, Arkel’s hanger is designed to provide stability for the entire system, lift the main bag away from the headtube/front wheel, and create a platform for the bag to quickly slide on and off for packing and unpacking at camp. The handlebar brackets are flexible and compatible with any bars over 22.2mm in diameter, and Arkel’s most recent update dropped the velcro straps that held the clamps in place, making for an even simpler install. It’s worth noting that the hanger is the only component made overseas; the fabric portion is handmade in Canada. The hanger and two mandatory straps weigh in at 317 grams (11 ounces), and the bag weighs 709 grams (25 ounces), for a total weight of 1,026 grams (36 ounces) or just over 2 pounds. It’s one of the heaviest handlebar bag setups out there, and it’s significantly heavier than our favorite front racks.

Rolling on with the Rollpacker

The Rollpacker comes in two sizes: 15L and the whopping 25L version, as tested. It’s made from X-Pac with a nylon liner fabric, and the seams are taped for a 100% waterproof construction. There are two generously sized roll-top closures at either end and a sewn-in front pocket with a roll-top closure and magnetic Fidlock buckle.

The bag portion of the Rollpacker has a large reinforced sleeve that slides overtop of the hanger, suspending it away from the headtube and front tire. Two locking webbing buckles loop from the bottom of the bag up and over the handlebar and connect toward the top of the bag, just behind the integrated pocket, securing everything in place. Taking the bag on and off the hanger is a breeze and is perhaps its best feature. Arkel even included a burly webbing handle on top of the bag for carrying it around, which was actually very convenient considering the size of the 25L bag. The openings on either end of the main compartment are just over 14” (35.5cm) in diameter, which is generous and makes it easy to stuff bulky gear inside without much fuss. The same goes for the front magnetic roll-top pocket, which opens nice and wide for quick-access items.

Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review

For anything but extremely remote trips or winter bikepacking with bulky gear, 25L is simply way too big. The profile of the Rollpacker makes the bag jut out far in front of the bike instead of expanding width-wise, and with a heavy load, it would have a significant impact on the bike’s handling. It’s also a tall bag and ate up the limited clearance above Emily’s small All-City Super Professional. Fully packed, the bag measured to around 9” below the handlebar and 10” deep (front to back) with nothing in the front pocket. She likely would have benefited from running the shorter stem strap, which would have angled the hanger further away from the tire. Its size is something worth considering, especially for folks planning to ride singletrack or chunky doubletrack. Even the 15L version is a big bag at just 1” shorter and 2” less deep.

It’s also slightly odd that the front pocket is sewn in place, making it non-removable. While the roll-top closure and magnetic buckle are functional additions, having the option to leave the pocket at home on such a massive bag would be appreciated. In a perfect world, Arkel would offer a 10L Rollpacker with a removable pocket. There are several other nice touches worth highlighting, though, like the various strap keepers to keep webbing in check, the same high-quality construction that Arkel is known for, and reinforced stitches and seams in high-stress areas. The hanger and various straps make for a solid setup that only has some minor movement while rambling down bumpy doubletrack and trails. However, because it blocks the view of the front tire and limits the amount of handlebar real-estate for GPS devices, lights, and other accessories, it wouldn’t be my first choice for any singletrack-heavy routes.

  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review
  • Arkel Rollpacker Front Bag Review


  • Hanger provides stability and support, maintaining consistent clearance above tire and headtube
  • Quick to remove/install bag onto hanger at camp
  • Two generous sizes available
  • Mostly made in Canada
  • Oversized roll-top closure makes it easy to pack bulky gear into
  • Waterproof


  • 25L is way too big for most people’s needs
  • Both sizes are tall, leaving limited room above the front tire, even with the hanger
  • Very heavy
  • Pricey, considering the weight
  • Hanger system works but isn’t as clean as comparable designs
  • Capacity: 25L
  • Material: X-Pac/Nylon
  • Weight: 1,026 grams (36 ounces)
  • Place of Manufacture: Canada/Asia
  • Price: $249 USD
  • Manufacturer’s Details:

Wrap Up

Arkel is known for their panniers, and that’s what they do best. They’ve been at it for more than 30 years and have developed a reputation among cyclists, especially those in Canada, for creating some seriously high-quality gear. I was impressed by their 100% waterproof Dry-Lite Panniers that I tested out years ago for our Mini Pannier Gear Index, and I was hoping the Rollpacker would provide a similar experience. They share the same attention to detail but aren’t nearly as lightweight, especially when compared to some of the latest seat bags, handlebar bags, and mini panniers.

Arkel got some things right with the Rollpacker. The integrated hanger system is unique, and although it’s a little clunky, it does a good job of providing stability and a quick-release platform for the bag. Having a solid base and double-ended roll-top bag that’s quick to remove and bring to camp is really nice and one of the bag’s greatest strengths. The 25L bag I tested is massive, so unless you’re heading out with bulky winter camping gear or planning a remote expedition, I’d take a good look at the 15L version and double-check your front tire clearance to make sure you won’t get any rubbing. Personally, I’ll be opting for a rock solid rack setup or large top-opening handlebar bag this winter when I need extra packing space.

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