Accessory Bag Roundup (part 3): Peripherals
In addition to a top tube bag and stem bag, there are a multitude of other peripheral bags that can be tacked on to your bike for added space and specialized storage. In Part 3 of our Accessory Bag roundup, we tested 9 interesting options…
Unless you are a committed minimalist, finding ample space in the standard bikepacking system (seat pack, frame bag and handlebar roll) can be a challenge, particularly for those running smaller frames or full suspension rigs. Which is where accessory bags come in to play. In Part 1 of the series we outlined a few stem bags. Part 2 was dedicated to top tube bags. In the third and final installment, we take a look at several other accessory pouches that can both help with overflow, and specialized items like a camera and lenses.
Honaker Hydro Bag
Bedrock Bags, Durango, CO
We’re firm believers that every bike should feature bottle cage mounts on the underside of its down tube, bar a few suspended 26ers, where clearance is tight. It’s a no-brainer area for water storage; the center of gravity is kept low, and there’s rarely any interference with terrain or obstacles. Unfortunately, all too many bikes skimp on such potential for water hauling. Bedrock’s Honaker Hydro Pack comes in handy for just such scenarios, designed as it is to hold a 1L Nalgene bottle, via a bag strapped to your bike’s down tube.
The Honaker features with a strip of Velcro sewn in vertically, as well as an adhesive backed strip for the down tube of the bike. This doesn’t act as support, but works to keep the bag from rotating or sliding. There are two main straps that hold the bag in place; each has a rubberized backing material where they make contact, providing a secure anchor point. The spindrift collar is designed to keep the bottle clean, a nice feature when riding in cattle country. It has to be a standard 700-800ml water bottle though. We tested it using the Zefal 1L Magnum. Although the Honaker held it perfectly in place, the collar didn’t quite fit over the drinking spout.
- Place of Manufacture: Durango, USA
- Price: $45.00
- Contact: .com
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “I used the Honaker mounted to the Marin Pine Mountain 2 on our trip in southern Spain. It worked flawlessly, and we rode some rough stuff in Spain. My only complaint is that it was a little tough to get the bottle in and out without undoing the straps a little. But if you approach it as storage for a backup bottle for camp use, it’s perfect. Overall it’s a ruggedly built product that works well for bikes without down tube mounts.” -Logan
Arch Rock Lens Bag
Carsick Designs, Chico, CA
A padded version of Carsick Design’s $35 Goodie Bag, the Arch Rock Lens Bag is a bomber handlebar bag. Helping keep prized glass safe, it features a double drawstring closure. When the weather’s good, you can of course simply use one of the two for speedier access, though I’d always pack a ziplock at the bottom in case the heavens open. This is a big bag that will handle most DSLR lenses with up to a 77mm lens diameter (like Canon’s 17-40mm) and around 7in (17.8cm) long. Additionally, there’s a cladding of side mesh for trash, and webbing galore to ensure it doesn’t budge at all. Usefully, Carsick Designs provide a long velcro strap to run around your fork crown, which you’ll probably need when loading it with a heavy lens. Various colours and fabrics are available (both Cordura and X-Pac). The tie dye print looks especially zany!
- Place of Manufacture: Chico, USA
- Price (SM/L/Plus): $40.00
- Contact: Carsick Designs
Details will be up on the Carsick Designs website soon.
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “The Arch Rock is a basically a beefed up handlebar bag. I really like the versatility its generous size affords – it can double up to carry my Klean Kanteen thermos, a point and shoot camera, or some of my biggest lenses. At a push, it will even fit a Canon 70-200 f4, though the drawstring closure won’t quite fit over the top. Build feels reassuringly bullet proof, with loads of mounting points.” -Cass
Oracle Downtube Bag
Rogue Panda Designs, Flagstaff, AZ
The Oracle is a small down tube bag designed to carry spare tubes, tools, keys – or whatever other small items that need a home. The bag is roughly 8” x 2.5” x 2.5” and made mostly of X-Pac, with a perimeter zipper that runs both its length and through the top and bottom curves. The Oracle has two rubberized backed non-slip straps to keep it in place, and an additional cinch strap to batten down and compress the contents.
We found the Oracle to be the perfect place for items we hoped we wouldn’t need on a regular basis – a multi-tool, a spare tube, and a couple other spare parts and tools. The Oracle is also a versatile little bag. Attach it to your fork, seatpost, top tube, or any other place you have room for the straps.
- Place of Manufacture: Flagstaff, AZ, USA
- Price: $40.00
- Contact: roguepanda.com
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “On our Spain trip I strapped the Oracle to a Fox suspension fork, using it to store a spare tube and some tools. It worked perfectly and allowed easy access to tools… on the couple occasions when they were needed. The Oracle is a great little bag to stow things and forget about them until they are needed.” -Logan
Jones Loophole Loop H-Bar Pack
For those running Jeff Jones’s popular Loop H-bar, the Loophole makes use of deadspace in the centre of the handlebars, without sacrificing its range of hand positions, like the way you can hook your thumbs at the join. Made to Revelate’s usual exacting standards, the cleverly titled Loophole is a nifty bag indeed. Deeper than you’d expect at just over 3in, there’s ample room to carry the likes of a compact camera, a day’s worth of snacks, tools, or whatever small items you want to keep handy. A mesh upper compartment keeps a set of keys from jangling around, while two zippers that run almost the full length of the bag to be opened up wide for easy packing. At almost $100, it’s a lot of cash for a small stash bag. But there’s no denying it’s very well designed.
- Place of Manufacture: Oregon, USA
- Price: $98.00
- Contact: jonesbikes.com
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “I’m a massive fan of Jeff Jones’ idiosyncratic handlebars, running both the ‘Bend’ and the ‘Loop’ on all my bikes. For the latter, the Loophole is useful little bag that maximises stowage space in your cockpit, without hampering the many hand positions that the bars afford, or getting in the way of accessory mounting points – like a GPS or lights. This said, I found I used it of most use on day rides. Although the Loophole’s depth provides a very usable space, it doesn’t play well with larger handlebar rolls.” -Cass
Porcelain Rocket, Alberta, Canada
The appropriately titled DSLR Slinger was designed for one purpose, to stash your camera in a quick-draw position behind the handbars. It is essentially a well designed oversized stem bag with a burly strap system and an additional bottom strap to wrap around the head tube or the fork crown. The Slinger is also available in a smaller version, the Mini Slinger, which is designed to house a compact micro 4/3 camera. Both models feature a padding layer sandwiched between an outer layer of X-Pac and a Cordura interior. It’s left to you to add a form fit internal structure to cradle your camera; I built mine from cut foam wrapped with Gorilla Tape.
The original version has a drawstring closure. While this works well for most occasions, there is also a second prototype that we are testing with a quick release flip lid design (shown below). Both designs do a good job keeping out dust and light weather, but you’ll need to carry a dry bag in case Mother Nature lets loose. I pack a spare 5L Sea To Summit Ultrasil bag for such occasions.
- Place of Manufacture: Alberta, Canada
- Price: $150.00
- Contact: porcelainrocket.com
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “Folks may worry that the Slinger’s position behind the bars may hinder out of the saddle pedaling. This could be the case for some, depending on bike and femur length. I have very long legs (33″ inseam); and while I’ve had this issue with some bikes, namely the Marin Pine Mountain 2, it isn’t a factor on my ECR or Krampus. Overall, the DSLR Slinger is a great bag. I find the the stem/bar placement to be the perfect spot for fast action shooting on the trail. Make sure to take the time to build a proper internal sheath for your camera; this can make or break the bag.” -Logan
Salsa Anything Cage Bag
Salsa Cycles, Minneapolis, MN
There are various bags built for the Salsa Anything Cage, a three bolt oversized cage that bolts to the rigid blades of several ‘adventure’ forks. There are also standard dry bags that work too. The 5L Sea-To-Summit Big River Dry Bags is one example, although it’s missing the appropriately placed daisy chain to secure the straps. Salsa’s 4.5L Anything Bag is a purpose built roll-top bag, designed specifically to interface perfectly with their Anything Cage HD. The bag cups snuggly into the cage, its daisy chain lining up with the strap channels that run near the top and bottom bolt mounts.
After roughing this bag for a few weeks on the Trans-Uganda, we’re sold on the Anything Bag’s durable design. It’s constructed from a burly 500-deneir tarpaulin fabric and has radio-frequency welded seams, ensuring it’s waterproof in the strongest of monsoonal downpours. The Anything Bag has 4L of internal capacity that sits on a flat bottom, allowing the bag to sit upright when off the bike.
- Place of Manufacture: , USA
- Price: $32.00
- Contact: salsacycles.com
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “I typically use the Anything Bag on bigger trips where I don’t like wearing a backpack. It serves mostly for food storage. Here in Uganda it typically contains a bag of rice, dried peas, and coconut milk powder—the base for a good vegetable curry. Then there is usually enough space to hold my titanium mug, some coffee and a few other odds and ends. It’s not the lightest of bags, but for a long trip, it’s built like a tank.” – Logan
Revelate Pocket & Pocket Plus
Revelate Designs, Anchorage, AK
One of the real perks to using a purpose-built handlebar roll or harness is the ability to add an ultra-handy pocket attachment. Such an accessory is perfect for snacks, maps, gadgets, or other small items that may require mid-ride access. Although most companies have integrated an envelope style accessory with their handlebar systems, Revelate’s aptly named Pocket was one of the first. It works with both their handlebar systems, the Sweet Roll and the Harness. And it’s installed via two adjustable top clips, and two at the bottom rear with compression straps to help stabilize the load.
Revelate offers this accessory in three different sizes, the small Pocket (top), large pocket (above) and the Pocket Plus (early prototype shown below and demo at interbike shown at bottom). The Pocket Plus is a little larger and has a periphery 3-sided zipper while the small and large versions have a straight zipper. Both the large and Plus have dual sided mesh pockets which are great for chain lube, tire sealant, snacks, or any other small items. The small and large Pockets have an internal divider which helps organize contents while the Plus has two small internal pockets. Each version has a ring attachment on either side which enable the use of a strap, transforming it into a purse, or man attaché, depending. This is a great feature for traveling overseas, given all the off-the-bike explorations such trips entail.
It’s worth noting that the Pocket Plus was redesigned and introduced at Interbike this past fall. While we haven’t gotten our hands on the production Pocket Plus, we’ve tried an early prototype, and are impressed with the space and open access afforded by the periphery zipper. The final version looks particularly promising for transporting a small camera and lenses; it has additional backing reinforcement, as well as a side compression system that keeps gear secure and stable. In addition, the V2 Pocket Plus can connect to the handlebars independently to make a great around town bag; check out a few preview shots below and stay tuned for a full review.
- Place of Manufacture: Oregon, USA
- Price (SM/L/Plus): $42/47/??
- Contact: revelatedesigns.com
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “Although I haven’t had much experience with pocket accessory bags from other manufacturers, I find the Revelate Pocket to be an outstanding piece of gear. It’s also a necessity in my kit on most occasions. Contents usually include a map, some trail mix, an extra lens wrapped in a beanie, and a few other odds and ends..” -Logan
Randi-Jo Fabrications, Elkton, Oregon
As the name suggests, the Big M.U.T. is akin to a larger version of the Multi Use Tote, expect that it’s designed to pair with Salsa’s Anything Cage or Blackburn’s Outpost Cage. In keeping with all of Randi Jo’s lovingly crafted gear, it’s made out of waxed canvas, supplemented with a lightly padded liner to give it some shape, and a roll top buckle closure at the top. Proportion wise, the Big M.U.T. is 14″ (35.5cm) tall when opened, 4.75″ (12cm) wide and 3.75″ (9.5cm) deep. Two generously long velcro straps feed through the cage and wrap securely round the fork blades, the height of which can be adjusted via the daisy chain webbing that runs along is length. Although wax cotton isn’t 100% water proof by any means, it resistant enough to keep all but the heaviest of downpours at bay. It’s also an extremely durable material, and easily repaired should you and your bike take a spill.
- Place of Manufacture: Oregon, USA
- Price: $44.00
- Contact: randijofab.com
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “Although not as obviously techy as the likes of X-Pac, I’ve always been taken by waxed cotton as a fabric for bags. It’s undoubtedly hard wearing, and resistant to to scuffs and wear. Call me a traditionalist, but I also find waxed cotton aesthetically rather pleasing; the Big M.U.T. will certainly ensure you stand out from the bikepacking crowd. Fittingly, it’s available in a range of colors to suit your steed.” -Cass
Andrew The Maker, Kansas City, Missouri
The Lens Sak is a padded handlebar bag designed to safely ferry a spare camera lens on your bikepacking adventures. There are two sizes available – 2.5 x 5in (6.3 by 12.7cm) for more petite mirrorless lenses, and a slightly wider 3in DLSR version that we tried out. At 3 x 5in (7.6cm x 12.7cm), the Len Sak fits a range of glass, including a Canon 85mm f1.8 and a Sigma 35mm f1.4 (77mm diameter), albeit without the lens hood. Weather proof closure comes courtesy an elasticated cord that cinches over a folded flap. The bag is also padded to protect its valuable contents, and can be mounted to either side of the handlebar, thanks to various adjustable velcro straps – this includes a loop at the base of the pouch to tether it to a fork crown, not that you’re likely to need it given the small size of the bag. Like most bikepacking gear, the Lens Sak is water resistant rather than waterproof – if you’re expecting inclement weather, a zip lock bag is certainly recommended. On the styling front, a range of colours and patterns are available.
- Place of Manufacture: Missouri, USA
- Price (SM/L/Plus): $55.00
- Contact: atmhandmadegoods.com
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “I have to say, Andrew The Maker’s Lens Sak is beautifully made – the craftsmanship is absolutely top notch. This is a specialist bag, whose diminutive size is tailor made for prime lenses and smaller zooms for both DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. I found its novel closure system allowed for all-important quick access – especially when I simply pulled the draw string together, like a British Christmas Cracker – rather than folding down the material first. Although this method is less weatherproof than pleating it over, it’s handy in situations where dust isn’t an issue. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you using the Lens Sac for snacks too – it’s about 5 Cliff bar wide.” -Cass
Have a favorite accessory bag not mentioned here? Leave a comment below…