Dropper Post Seat Bags
In part two of our complete guide to bikepacking with a dropper post, you’ll find a full list of dropper post specific seat bags, tips on packing, and our parting thoughts on whether bikepacking with a dropper post is something you should consider…
In part one of this guide, we covered the benefits of bikepacking with a dropper post, explored what you need to know about various droppers, and reviewed several posts that we’ve spent time testing. To sum up the experience, using a dropper improves the ride by getting the saddle out of the way during descents. But, until the last few years, dropper seatposts weren’t reliable enough to consider for extended bikepacking trips. To complicate matters, the seat pack—one of the key bags in a bikepacking setup—further hinders a rider’s ability to move their weight back over the wheel while riding on steep terrain. As such, many trail mountain bikers who’ve become bikepackers have resorted to leaving their seat bag at home and carrying a heavy backpack, or have settled for swapping their precious dropper for a rigid post while bikepacking. Thankfully, that no longer needs to be the case. With reliable dropper posts on the market, and several dropper post seat bags being made for the occasion, all the tools are in place.
Below, we’ll present a full list of the dropper post seat bags that are currently on the market, as well as our closing thoughts on the subject of bikepacking with a dropper post. But first, a little bit about what we packed for these tests and a handful best practices to keep your seat bag stable and your dropper moving.
What to Pack
As mentioned in the first part of this guide, droppers aren’t always powerful enough to hoist a heavy load. The key to bikepacking with a dropper is to pack light. Most bikepackers will agree that space is usually more of a challenge than weight, so as long as you factor in moving ultralight items to the seat pack and having more weight in the handlebar bag, it should work for you.
That said, for much of this test, we largely packed as we normally do. As an example, here’s a typical packlist that Logan uses in a smaller dropper post seat bag:
Patagonia Merino Air baselayer
Merino wool jersey
Rain jacket (Search and State PJ-1)
Down jacket (Montbell Anorak)
Dinner (Good To-Go double meal)
Toiletries (toothbrush/paste, etc.)
This kit weighs about 3lbs 8oz (1.6kg), bag included, which seems like an ideal weight for most of the dropper posts we tested, and it keeps bulk to a minimum, enabling more of the dropper to be used and allowing the rider to get behind the saddle. Here are a few other packing tips to consider:
- Pack your sleeping bag and pad in your seat pack to keep the weight down; a reasonable summer bag/quilt and sleeping pad should get the weight down under 3lbs.
- If you pack clothing in your seat pack, roll each item up tightly and insert it the long way to help the seat pack’s stability.
- Put the heaviest and most dense items at the nose of the pack to minimize sway.
Porcelain Rocket Albert Dropper Post Seat Pack
Albert was named after the first primate astronaut, a rhesus monkey who was launched over 63 km into space in a V-2 rocket on June 11, 1948. Like the monkey, the Albert seat pack was the first of its kind, and is still the most innovative and feature packed dropper-specific seat pack on the market.
Albert is made up of three major components. First, there is the lightweight steel loop rack that bolts to two machined aluminum saddle rail shims that slide in between the rails and the seat post. Then, there is the harness system that straps to the seat rails and pulls the load up and back. Finally, there’s the welded, waterproof drybag that keeps contents high and dry.
The Albert seat pack works remarkably well and is only one of two seat packs listed here that doesn’t touch the seatpost’s stanchion. As a result, it doesn’t inhibit the dropper’s travel whatsoever. Albert is also available in several colors. Read the article on Albert’s development, here.
The fact that no Valais or seatpost strap is required is great for folks with long legs. When the taller riders among us tried the Albert on a 27.5+ hardtail, we were able to use 100% of the travel on a 125mm seatpost, which we appreciated. In addition, the way the pack is mounted moves it up, which further helps clearance. Albert seems to take up less room between the saddle and the tire than many of the other seat packs listed here. The machined aluminum rail mounts are also quite nice. Once you are done using the pack, you simply loosen your saddle, slide the rail mounts out, and toss the rack and entire assembly into your closet, all in one piece. It makes installing and removing the pack super easy. All in all, Albert is certainly the most advanced and unique dropper-specific seat pack on the market.
- Volume 5-7 Liters
- Weight (with Rack, Harness, Drybag) 477g (16.8oz)
- Required Clearance 6.5″ Between Saddle and Rear Tire
- Place of Manufacture Alberta, CAN
- Price (with Rack, Harness, Drybag) $225 CAD ($175 USD)
Bedrock Black Dragon
The Bedrock Black Dragon Dropper Seat Bag is another interesting saddlebag system conceived and built specifically for use with a dropper seatpost. The bag itself is constructed with rugged materials, including X-Pac and Rhinotek. Like other Bedrock Bags, it’s made with with top-notch craftsmanship and has plenty of extra bar stitching and reinforcement where it counts.
Unique to Bedrock, the Black Dragon uses an aluminum Rail Wing, a two-piece metal component that clamps to the saddle rails and cradles the bag to eliminate side-to-side sway. The Rail Wing’s hooks, paired with the looped center strap, allow the bag to quickly attach and detach, making the bag easy to remove for packing and unpacking off the bike. The bag’s compact design, when paired with a Wolf Tooth Valais, allows a 150mm dropper seat post to utilize as much as 80% of its travel. Read the full review for pros and cons.
- Volume 5-7 Liters
- Weight (with Rail Wing, Valais and Bag) 412g (14.5oz)
- Required Clearance 5″ (12.7cm) between saddle and rear tire
- Place of Manufacture Colorado, USA
- Price (with Rail Wing/Valais/Cinch Strap) $175
Revelate Designs Vole
The Revelate Vole is the newest dropper-specific seat bag of the bunch. It was released with a new style of saddle rail straps. Instead of using a center-mounted webbing point that loops over the rails, Revelate implemented independent, side-mounted, urethane-coated loops that individually thread through each rail from the inside out. These loops and the greater strap system work in tandem with four integrated plastic panels and a rigid skid plate to create a super stable bag. Not to mention, the ingenious skid plate adds an extra layer of armor to protect the bag against tire abrasion.
The Revelate Vole is constructed mainly with coated X-Pac and and has several panels made of Rhinotek – a plasticized fabric – toward the front of the bag, and one piece of Hypalon where webbing connects under the skid plate. There are four pieces of plastic built into the Vole—two sewn in lightweight side panels, a heavier-duty triangular plate sewn into the top panel, and the burly skid plate on the bottom. The skid plate is bar-tack stitched to the Rhinotek bottom panel and secured via straps through three slots.
The Revelate Vole is a superb bag that works extremely well with a dropper post. Its sturdy, sway-resistant, compact design shines on rugged trail bike exploits. Additionally, the Vole might make a great bag on a rigid seat post for smaller riders who are short on space. It’s compact, but not too compact. Read the full review for pros and cons.
- Volume 2-7 Liters
- Weight 319g (11.25 oz)
- Required Clearance 6″ (15.25cm) Between Saddle and Rear Tire
- Place of Manufacture Oregon, USA
- Price (With Rail Wing/Valais/Cinch Strap) $149
The Wolf Tooth Valais
The Wolf Tooth Valais is the first option to consider if you think you can upfit your current seat bag to use with a dropper. It’s also a piece of hardware that’s recommended, and often included, with many of the dropper post seat bags listed here. The Valais is a neat little plastic contraption designed to snap onto the top of the seatpost and clamp into place with a thru bolt. Acting as a shim for the bag’s seatpost strap, the Valais protects the stanchion from the rub and abrasion that’s inevitable when bounding down bumpy roads and trails. The Valais features an umbrella shape at the bottom to overlap the larger side of the post, keeping the strap from sliding down onto the stanchion.
The Valais reduces the travel of the dropper seat post by around 1.25″ (32mm), an important factor to consider. Wolf Tooth offers the Valais in 25mm and 26mm models to fit most dropper post stanchions. In addition, the Valais can serve as an emergency clamp; while dropper posts continue to improve, in the off chance that your post’s locking mechanism fails, the Valais can be used to keep the post extended so you can comfortably pedal out of the backcountry. We’ve tested the Valais with a couple of bags, and, generally speaking, it works well. We found success with the Ortlieb Seatpack M and the Porcelain Rocket Charlene. But, it doesn’t work with all bags. When considering using the Valais with your bag, be aware of its seatpost strap width and placement on the bag. There are also several seat bags designed specifically for use with the Valais.
While there are definite advantages to having a specific mounting system like the ones found on other seat bags, there’s a lot to be said about the simplicity of Rockgeist’s Gondola. Even though it appears rather basic, the strap mounting employs two sets of saddle rail straps that eliminate the need for a seatpost strap and do an incredible job of keeping the bag stable.
Also playing a part in the bag’s stability, the Gondola seat bag uses strategically placed internal plastic supports. The major design component that sets this bag apart is the “rail tab” located on its spine. A rail connection runs through the tab and anchors to the rail, creating sustained separation between the bag and dropper shaft. A second set of webbing anchors higher up on the rail and is responsible for pulling the body of the bag up against the seat, away from the rear tire. The spine is also reinforced with a plastic stay for rigidity.
Built primarily out of X-pac, the Gondola weighs just under 200 grams and has a five-liter capacity. For some, this small design offers a complete range of dropper travel, all without metal brackets or a Valais. Those accustomed to full-sized saddle bags may feel limited by the Gondola’s diminutive size, but, given its very reasonable price tag, it seems like a perfect choice for ultra-racers and weekend shredders alike. Read the full review for pros and cons.
- Volume 4-5 Liters
- Weight 181g (6.4oz)
- Required Clearance 5″ Between Saddle and Rear Tire
- Place Of Manufacture North Carolina, USA
- Price $110
Rogue Panda Ripsey
Being a relatively new type of bikepacking bag, the development of many dropper-specific bags has been in a state of flux, and over the last year smaller manufacturers like Rogue Panda have been honing and tweaking their designs. It’s hard to form an exact opinion on the Ripsey as we only tried prototype versions and it’s changed considerably during its evolution. Still, the current design is similar to the one we tried: a slim cradle attached to a Wolftooth Valais shim, into which a lightweight, tapered X-Pac bag is compressed. Lightweight is certainly the name of the game; the whole system won’t add much to your setup and you can shave off even more weight by speccing the Dyneema Composite version of the bag (284g/10oz complete). The Ripsey should keep out the heaviest storms, given that it’s seam sealed. Requiring a 5” seatpost to tire clearance, this is a bag that will suit smaller riders who have limited space for a seat bag, too.
Pros: Light, no hardware to fix to the saddle
Cons: Not as stable as designs with hardware
- Volume 8.5 Liters
- Weight 355g (12.5oz)
- Required Clearance 5″ Between Saddle and Rear Tire
- Place Of Manufacture Arizona, USA
- Price $165
- Manufacturer’s Details LINK
Outer Shell Dropper Seatpack
Untested/From Outer Shell, “[The Outer Shell Dropper Seatpack] is meant for light, large volume items like a sleeping bag, tarp, and clothes. This bag feels solid even loaded up on the bumpy stuff because it has a 360° internal plastic frame that holds its shape. Rugged metal cam buckles mean secure, no-slip connection points. Durable, weatherproof construction. Good thigh clearance with room to get behind the saddle. This is a no-frills work horse with one strap for compression and extra gear. *Must have 2″ of exposed seatpost (50mm dropper extension) and 6″ saddle-to-tire clearance at all times.”
- Volume 10.5 Liters Max
- Weight 494g (17.4oz)
- Required Clearance 6″ Between Saddle and Rear Tire
- Place Of Manufacture California, USA
- Price $160
- Manufacturer’s Details LINK
Non Dropper-specific Seat packs
As mentioned in the Wolf tooth Valais section, having the plastic collar may allow you to use your regular seat pack with your dropper seat post. In fact, that’s what it was originally designed to do. Here is a list of seat packs that we know are dropper post compatible. If you know of others, please leave us a comment and we’ll be sure to update this list:
We liked all of the bags we reviewed here. The two that completely remove any contact from the post are both very impressive. The smallest, lightest, least expensive, and safest bet is the Rockgeist Gondola, which is a great solution for smaller riders and those who don’t have much space to work with between the tire and the saddle. It also comes in two sizes. The Porcelain Rocket Albert is certainly the most advanced, and held up well after a proper shakedown on the Trans-WNC, riding in Nepal, and on other technical routes. It’s also the easiest to pack and unpack, and the only fully waterproof option here. The newest dropper seatpost bag, the Revelate Vole, features a skid plate, which is an ingenious addition for those bikepacking on full-suspension rigs.
So, with all that said, is bikepacking with a dropper post ready for the mainstream? The answer is… kind of. As you can see in these two articles, the tools are all available for those who are interested. But, there are a lot of factors to consider. The biggest barrier of entry will be for those who simply do not have the needed clearance for a bag plus extra room for it to be dropped. It’s far easier on a hardtail, but with full-suspension bikes, there is a third measurement that needs to be taken into account. It takes quite a bit of clearance to reap the benefits. And, as far as equipment goes, there are a few hurdles. Aside from choosing a seatpost with enough power, and one that is also reliable and rideable in the event of catastrophic failure, it’s crucial to embrace a smaller seat pack and to pack it very minimally. But, the sacrifices are worth it. After bikepacking with a dropper on trails and routes with a lot of technical gnar, we’re in the same camp as mountain bikers who’ve become addicted to this technology. It’s hard to go back to the old way.