Rogue Panda Bismarck Bottle Bucket Review
It’s not uncommon to see bikepackers and mountain bikers using a stem bag for water bottle carrying duties. Rogue Panda spotted this phonomenon and created the Bismarck Bottle Bucket specifically for the task. We tested a pair, and here’s our full review…
There’s no doubt that the utility of bikepacking bags goes well beyond multi-day bike travel. Commuters, mountain bikers, randonneurs, and other cyclists have put bikepacking bags and accessories to use far beyond their call of duty. The top tube and stem bags are prime examples of such gear. Both offer handy storage, unlimited versatility, and can be installed on almost any bike.
Other than carrying snacks, one popular application for the stem bag (aka feed bag) is to carry a water bottle. Not only does this offer easy access, but it also eliminates the need for a backpack in a lot of situations. As an example, when trail riding around Pisgah, I often carry a single 700ml bottle in a feed bag. During longer rides, I’ll also pack a water filter in my stem bag. There’s never a shortage of water around here and I loathe carrying a heavy hydration backpack. This also frees up the small triangle on my full-suspension bike for a frame bag to carry my pump and an extra layer.
That said, most stem bags aren’t made specifically for a water bottle, so they can be a little awkward to use as such, especially while pedaling. The typical stem bag is designed as a cylinder with a cinch hood and an elastic drawcord closure. When carrying a bottle, the hood and cord need to be cinched tightly to hold the bottle in place over bumpy terrain. This can sometimes make it a little cumbersome to insert and extract the bottle, often requiring a trailside pit stop and two hands. Flagstaff, Arizona-based Rogue Panda addressed this issue head on when designing the Bismarck Bottle Bucket. Instead of a draw cord that requires multiple steps to remove a bottle, the Bismarck is open at the top and built around a bottle cage to allow quick, one-handed operation. In addition, each Bismarck features three pockets for additional storage.
The Bismarck Bottle Bucket is made up of a sturdy cylinder constructed out of two layers of Cordura, a padded insert, and a durable Hypalon bottom panel. Bolted within the cylinder is a Cateye BC-100 bottle cage, which Rogue Panda selected based on its minimal weight and reputation for holding bottles securely in place. Stitched to the outside of the Bismarck Bottle Bucket are two generous mesh pockets, each with an elastic band at the top. These pockets are nice and large, perfect for additional snacks, tools, or trash, for which I often use them. In addition, Rogue Panda added a massive balloon style Dyneema pocket up front for added storage. The front pocket has an eyelet drawcord to securely store smaller items. However, the pocket expands and can even store a small windproof layer. Even so, it’s ideal for smaller things, like a Dynaplug, tire lever, sunglasses bag, etc., which is what I usually stow there. It’s worth noting that when used with a handlebar roll or harness, the front pocket isn’t easily accessible.
To make the Bismarck simple to install, it doesn’t have a stem strap. Instead, it has a burly handlebar strap in the front and lower strap on the left or right, depending. There are dedicated left and right versions of there bag. The large, reinforced handlebar strap is made up of a a hypalon layer, velcro, and a Rhinotek rubberized interior to minimize slippage. The second strap is positioned at the bag’s inside bottom (left on the righthand bag, and right on the lefthand bag) and loops around the fork for added stability.
On the Trail
Admittedly, when I first received this pair of Bismarcks from Rogue Panda, I was a little skeptical. A bag with a bottle cage bolted inside seemed a little redundant and overbuilt. However, I quickly changed my tune once I put it to use. On first inspection, the Bismarck is fairly lightweight, all things considered. At 132 grams (4.7oz), it’s heavier than the 107 gram (3.7oz) Revelate Mountain Feedbag, but not by much in the grand scheme of things.
Virginia and I have both used the Bismarck on our local trails in Pisgah, singletrack throughout Arizona, and on a couple bikepacking trips. For the sake of testing, I’ve even made sure to leave a full bottle in it while railing down the Black Mountain Trail a couple times. I figured if there ever would be an issue with the bag ejecting a bottle, this would prove it. No such luck. My 700ml bottle stayed intact all the way down.
My one concern was when using the Bismarcks with a handlebar roll or harness. They have immovable front straps that are rather wide, so I thought these might interfere. I tried the pair with the Revelate Pronghorn. Fortunately, it was easy to place the handlebar bag’s straps inside of the Bismarck, although the Pronghorn was slightly offset.
- Super easy to use while on the move
- Very secure over bumpy trails
- Large mesh pockets provide plenty of added storage for snacks and trash
- Front cinch pockets offer secure storage for small items
- Surprisingly light
- Heavier than most traditional stem bags
- Large handlebar strap might interfere with some handlebar bag mounts
- Fairly stable, but with a full bottle, it does sway (I like to position it a couple inches outside the stem to avoid carbon rub)
- Weight 132 grams (4.7oz)
- Volume Standard water bottle (bidon)
- Place of Manufacture Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
- Price $60
- Manufacturer’s Details RoguePanda.com
It’s always nice to see small companies creating innovative solutions. While the Bismarck might not suit everyone (after all, carrying water in a stem bag is a niche within a niche), it does a really good job at what it’s intended to do. I’ve been carrying bottles in stem bags for years—in a well worn Randi Jo Bartender, a Revelate Mountain Feedbag, and a couple others. Wrestling with the drawcord has always bugged me a little, but it never dawned on me that there could be a dedicated solution. Kudos to Rogue Panda for solving this. The Bismarck Bottle Bucket is a great solution for trail riders looking to ditch the hydration pack, as well as ultra-endurance bikepackers who need an easy to reach spot for water. It works as expected and offers additional storage, all in a relatively stable and fairly lightweight platform.