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Saddlebags for Bikepacking & Top Opening Handlebar Bags

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Long before the advent of modern bikepacking seatpacks and handlebar rolls, there were saddlebags. This style of luggage continues to hold favor amongst many dirt road and gravel tourers, largely because of its top-opening practicality. More recently, saddlebags are being run as handlebar bags too, and as a result, there are now a wealth of options to choose from. In this Gear Index, we list all of the saddlebags and 'top-openers' on the market, discuss their pros and cons, and suggest accessories to help run them securely.

We’re big fans of modern bikepacking-style seatpacks. They don’t require any mounting hardware—such as a rear rack or support—keeping them light and allowing them to be fitted to almost any bike. Given their limited capacity, they also help cap a general tendency amongst most of us to bring too much stuff on our trips. Holster-style designs are quick to access, many seatpacks are waterproof, and they’re stable when properly packed. Certain models are dropper-friendly, too.

This said, there’s still a firm place for traditional-style saddlebags, particularly if your adventures involve dirt road explorations rather than technical singletrack, or you’re navigating a route that’s not full of hike-a-bikes – saddlebags are wide and they make pushing a bike somewhat awkward. Unlike their cylindrical counterparts, saddlebag are easy to access, offering mid-ride access to all your belongings. And given their general proportions, saddlebags are much simpler to pack than most modern bikepacking gear, which often demands strategic loading to get the best out of it.

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Additionally, saddlebags make great handlebar bags. In fact, some of the newer models are even purpose-built for front-of-the-bike duties. A few of us here even prefer to use a modern seat pack on the back and a more olde-style top-opener on the handdlebars, providing the best of both worlds.

In terms of detailing, many saddlebags feature useful and surprisingly capacious side pockets, some of which can be cinched inwards, and out of the way, when not needed. These are great for snacks, gloves, sunglasses, and other lightweight items. Most saddlebags have dowels to help provide structure, and some even have built-in fiberglass, metal, or carbon fiber struts. Daisy chains and D-rings allow additional gear to be lashed on—such as a closed foam roll mat or a waterproof jacket—and they also provide attachment points for lights. Different width bags are available if you’re running drop handlebars and there’s now a range of depths too, for riders who have limited space between their handlebars and front tire.

List of Saddlebags and Top-loaders

For this gear index, we’ve amassed all the bags we could find that fit this genre, many of which have been rigorously tested. In addition to saddlebags, we’ve included a couple of front-mounted rolltop bags to the mix. Like traditional saddlebags, they’re also accessed from the top rather than the sides or back (as with modern seatbacks and handlebar bags). Similarly, this can make day-to-day packing and living on the bike less of a Tetris-like challenge.

In this Gear Index, we’ve included key information to help you pick the right bag, including the type, volume, minimum dimensions (Width x Depth x Height), weight, and price. As usual, the ones we’ve tested are marked with a hexagonal “T” icon and are listed first. Scroll down to the bottom for more info on saddle attachment systems that are used to run the bag in the rear, as well as minimal rear racks and supports that are great for those with limited clearance above the front or rear tire.

  • $352CAD
    Atwater Marauder

    Atwater Marauder

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 7.5 - 30L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 33 X 18 X 23CM (WXDXH)
    • Made in: Quebec, Canada

    At its roots, the Marauder is a roll-top handlebar bag, but due to its design and modular attachment points, it can be used as a saddlebag and gives the user “full control when fitting.” The roll-top closure is accessed via two aluminum G-hook buckles, and the internal structure is maintained by a HDPE plastic panel and two internal wooden dowels. Besides the main opening, there are two drawstring pockets on each side, expanding up to 4″ wide for quick access to items. The Marauder is currently constructed from 1000D nylon with a water resistant 600D polyester floating liner, but there are already plans to offer different exterior fabrics / colours. Atwater also offers the option for a fully waterproof liner for an additional $10, plus a shoulder strap add-on for another $10. The bag is available in three different sizes; medium, large, and extra-large.

    • Atwater Marauder
    • Joshua Meissner, Havelland
    • Atwater Marauder
    • Atwater Marauder
    • Atwater Marauder

    Lucas’s Thoughts: The first time I packed up the Marauder for a bikepacking trip (you can read that story here) was nothing short of a revelation. It’s absolutely cavernous, especially with its massive side pockets, and loading it with gear couldn’t be easier given its generous opening and roomy dimensions. But even when packed to the gills, the HDPE plastic insert and wooden dowel help it keep its shape. The VX21 X-Pac inner liner was a worthy upgrade that has kept water from creeping into the bag during the inevitable Northern European rainstorms it’s endured during our time together. And as with all of the bags that come out of Narek Papian’s small Montreal, Canada-based shop, it somehow has a modern and classic feel at once, two styles I think he blends together exceptionally well.

    • Weight: 725 grams (25.6 oz)
    • Price: $352CAD (Large)
    • Place of Manufacture: Quebec, Canada
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $230
    Bags By Bird (BXB) Goldback

    Bags By Bird (BXB) Goldback

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 12.5 - 22L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 44 x 25 x 27cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Georgia, USA

    The Goldback is a tough and versatile camping saddlebag inspired by the British saddlebag designs of yore. It attaches securely to saddle-loops or handlebars, can be run rackless or supported by platforms when the clearance is tight. It is currently offered in thee sizes; small, medium and large, with a capacity of 12.5L, 17L and 22L, respectively. All three sizes feature a large expandable long-flap lid, internal drawstring closure, lots of webbing attachment points for racks, supports, and bars, plus an upper and lower dowel for stabilization.

    • BXB Goldback Saddlebag Review, waxed canvas
    • BXB Goldback Saddlebag Review, waxed canvas
    • BXB Goldback Xpac saddlebag
    • BXB Goldback Saddlebag Review, waxed canvas
    • BXB Goldback Xpac saddlebag

    From Logan’s review: I ride a lot of singletrack with a suspension fork and generally prefer a small, minimal, and lightweight handlebar roll for such exploits. However, the saddlebag has come a long way since 2013 and the BXB Goldback, especially the latest iterations in X-pac, offer a lightweight and extremely stable solution that bridges the gap between usability and stability, and form and function. When it comes to bigger expeditions where space and fluctuating volume are a concern, the Goldback raises the bar. It’s highly stable, easy to use, and BXB nailed the design and size to make a user-friendly saddlebag that’s great for long trips. Read more here.

    • Weight: 1.13 kg (2.5 lbs)
    • Price: $230 (Medium - Waxed Canvas)
    • Place of Manufacture: Georgia, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • $195
    Bags by Bird (BXB) Piccolo Short Flap

    Bags by Bird (BXB) Piccolo Short Flap

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 10.5 - 13.5L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 29 x 18 x 23cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Georgia, USA

    A smaller sibling to the Goldback with an updated design, the Piccolo Short Flap is BXB’s take on a mid-capacity transverse handlebar and saddle bag. It comes in two sizes; small & large with 10.5L and 13.5L main compartments, plus two side pockets for quick-access items and snacks. While BXB calls the Piccolo a short flap bag, it has plenty of room to overstuff and cinch down large loads. Thanks to two dowels, one at the base and one at the top, it holds it shape well and doesn’t bend, flex, or buckle around your headtube or where it attaches to the bike. The Piccolo is meant to be used without a rack, but can easily be paired with a small support or ‘pec deck’ minimal rack setups.

    • BXB Piccolo
    • BXB Piccolo

    Miles’ Thoughts: I’ve been using both the large and small Piccolo Short Flap for several months now, and I have to say I’ve been thoroughly impressed. The overall quality is top not, some of the best construction I’ve seen. Jay puts some serious time and effort into his designs, and it shows. The materials feel solid and durable, the dowel stabilizers make for a rock-solid and bounce-free bag, and the different sizes are great for accommodating different frame and tires sizes. The Piccolo is a fine example of what a modern flap-style bag can be, and BXB nailed it.

    • BXB Piccolo
    • BXB Piccolo
    • BXB Piccolo
    • Weight: 780 grams (27.5 oz)
    • Price: $195 (large)
    • Place of Manufacture: Georgia, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • $265
    Bags by Bird (BXB) Right Height Bag

    Bags by Bird (BXB) Right Height Bag

    • Type: Top Loading Front Bag
    • Volume: 12L-30L
    • Dimensions: 5-15" tall
    • Made in: Georgia, USA

    The Bags by Bird (BXB) Right Height Bag is a new semi-custom design from the Atlanta-based company made to work with front racks and provide a perfectly sized bag for your bike. More specifically, the Right Height is based on the BXB Goldback design, but is offered in variable heights and widths to maximize the volume based on the space between your handlebars and the top of your front rack. The Right Height bag will be available in heights from 5″ tall up to 15″ tall in 1″ or 1.5″ increments, and will be offered in three different overall widths: 15″, 17.5″, and 20″. The model shown here was designed for about 12″ of space between the handlebars and the rack top, and holds a ton of gear. BXB isn’t selling these just yet, but expect the Right Height to be available to order soon.

    • Bags by Bird Right Height Bag
    • Bags by Bird Right Height Bag
    • Bags by Bird Right Height Bag
    • Bags by Bird Right Height Bag
    • Bags by Bird Right Height Bag
    • Price: $265
    • Place of Manufacture: Georgia, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • £96
    Carradice Camper Longflap

    Carradice Camper Longflap

    • Type: Saddlebag
    • Volume: 24L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 36 x 22 x 26cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: UK

    Carradice saddlebags are the most recognised of the traditionally styled saddlebags on the market. There’s a reason the design has changed little over the years; the build is tough and the price is hard to beat. There are a number of models in the range. The Camper Longflap is a classic, featuring a nifty flap that unclips to expand the capacity of the bag. Although designed to run behind the saddle, there are plenty of dirt road tourers who choose to run them off the handlebars. The bag lacks webbing on the underside to help stabilise it over rough terrain, but given that it’s made from simple Cotton Duck (95 per cent waterproof, in our experience), it’s relatively easy to modify and repair. We also like the plastic-buckled Super C model (£85, 23L), as it offers quicker access than the leather straps on the Camper, even if the aesthetics of the latter are a little nicer.

    • Carradice Camper Longflap
    • Carradice Camper Longflap
    • Carradice Camper Longflap
    • Weight: 980 grams (34.6 oz)
    • Price: £96
    • Place of Manufacture: UK
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • €185
    Dyed in the Wool XL Bar Bag

    Dyed in the Wool XL Bar Bag

    • Type: Front Top Loading Bag
    • Volume: 8 - 24L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 27 x 15 x 21cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Poland

    Dyed in the Wool offers the XL Bar Bag in a Cordura, X-Pac, or Dyneema construction. Its outer shell is reinforced with HD foam and a HIPS liner to help the bag keep its shape. A roll-top closure provides access to a large single compartment with a bright pink lining, and a zipper on the upper back provides easy secondary access while on the go. Up top, the outer flap contains a zippered pocket for storing small items, as well as an interior loop for attaching your keys (as someone who has lost more than one set of keys, this is something I really appreciate). Two D-rings on the upper corners of the bag allow you to attach the included shoulder strap for use off the bike.

    • Dyed in the Wool XL Bar Bag
    • Dyed in the Wool XL Bar Bag
    • Dyed in the Wool XL Bar Bag
    • Dyed in the Wool XL Bar Bag
    • Dyed in the Wool XL Bar Bag

    From Lucas’ review: Having recently relocated from the US to Europe, I’ve been trying to get a better sense of the cottage industry brands over here and what they’re up to. I’m very happy to have found a small company across the border that’s run by two passionate makers with a deep well of experience to draw on when designing and sewing bags. All the better that they’re committed to sourcing materials from as close to home as possible, something I’m striving to be better about in my own life.

    Based on my experiences with it, the XL Bar Bag has earned its place as my go-to handlebar bag. Its ease of packing, quick access to contents, smart design touches, and versatile size that’s well suited well to nearly any trip means my old handlebar roll will likely be relegated to the gear bin indefinitely.

    To be sure, its high price—especially when factoring in the cost of the optional Hesson Labs rack—makes it a significant investment, but I think the suite of features it provides justifies its cost, assuming it fits your unique hauling needs. I’d like to see Aleks and Charles implement a couple of small changes that I think would help inch it closer toward perfection, and I know based on our conversations that they’re exceptionally good about incorporating customer feedback and are nowhere near done innovating. Even if the XL Bar Bag doesn’t tick all the right boxes for you, Dyed in the Wool is definitely a brand to watch.

    • Weight: 820 grams (28.9 oz)
    • Price: €185 (Cordura )
    • Place of Manufacture: Warsaw, Poland
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • €185
    Helmut Equipement Werewolf

    Helmut Equipement Werewolf

    • Type: Saddlebag or Front Top Loading Bag
    • Volume: 10L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 40 x 17 x 20 (WXDXH)
    • Made in: France

    Made in Rodolphe Pascuito’s lovely little workshop in the small town of Cognin, France, the Helmut Werewolf is a 10-liter saddlebag that’s built from a classically styled X10 X-Pack outer lining with a highly water-resistant nylon inner lining. It has a large external front pocket and two smaller side pockets, reflective accents, a loop for attaching a light, and webbing on top for lashing on a jacket or other lightweight piece of gear.

    • Helmut Equipement Werewolf
    • Helmut Equipement Werewolf
    • Helmut Equipement Werewolf
    • Helmut Equipement Werewolf
    • Helmut Equipement Werewolf

    Lucas’s Thoughts: I’ve only been using the Helmut Equipement Werewolf for about a month now, but my initial impressions are quite positive overall. I’m finding the 10L size to be a sweet spot between day riding and lightly loaded longer tours, and I also think it’s the best looking among my collection of saddlebags. The angled side pockets are smartly positioned, if a bit small, and I like being able to stash a layer on top of the bag using the webbing. I do wish it had some kind of hardshell insert in back to help it keep its shape when strapping it around the headtube, but I’ve learned to take a bit of extra care when loading it up to help minimize the effects.

    • Price: €185
    • Place of Manufacture: France
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • $160
    Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR

    Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR

    • Type: FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 11L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 26 x 18 x 22cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Germany

    Ortlieb’s Handlebar-Pack QR takes cues from more traditional saddlebags and marries them with modern materials, waterproof construction, and a new attachment mechanism inspired by their classic handlebar accessory bags. The attachment system relies on two concave molded plastic brackets that fit on either side of your stem, while two heavy duty ropes tighten around the handlebar to hold everything in place. With a rope above and below the stem, the system keeps the bag from rotating down into your tire or bouncing up away from it.

    • Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR Review
    • Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR Review

    The Handlebar-Pack QR offers 11 liters of storage, weighs 551 grams, and like Ortlieb’s other bike bags, is seam welded using their proprietary molded PVC-free, PU-coated fabric. It comes in just one size that’s optimized to fit drop handlebars around 40cm and larger, depending on the bar’s exact measurements.

    • Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR Review
    • Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR Review
    • Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR Review

    From Logan’s review: I think that Ortlieb clearly did their research and made a pretty worthy first attempt at both a strapless attachment system and a top-opening handlebar bag. It’s not as big as other top-openers, and it’s not without drawbacks, but the Handlebar-Pack QR is a solid solution for drop-bar bikes and gravel adventures—more specifically, for riders with narrow-medium width bars and tire clearance issues. It does everything it’s intended to do quite well. It’s surprisingly spacious, especially compared to a roll-bag between the drops, keeps the bag away from cables and tubes, remains secure and stable on the bumpy stuff, and it’s the only full-size top-opener out there that’s fully waterproof. And once you get used to the Bar-Lock system, it’s fairly easy to use. Read more here.

    • Weight: 551 grams (19.4 oz)
    • Price: $160
    • Place of Manufacture: Germany
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • $225
    Road Runner Bags Jumbo Jammer

    Road Runner Bags Jumbo Jammer

    • Type: Front Top Loading Bag
    • Volume: 26L
    • Minimum dimensions: 35 x 15 x 20cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in : California, USA

    The Jumbo Jammer steers away from the conventional aesthetic and closure system of saddlebags. Instead of a lid, it relies on a rolltop, cinched down securely in place via webbing that loops up over the handlebars and down through two side D-rings. This creates a four-point mounting system that’s works really well and is extremely secure; the Jumbo Jammer shrugs off even the most intense trail use. The bag is also very stoutly made, proving itself largely impervious to wear and tear, as well as being impressively water resistant, thanks to an integrated liner. There’s a light loop and a 3M reflective strip, too. Maxing out at 29L, capacity is very generous, though we found it needs to be cinched in tightly if you still want to be able to see your front wheel over your handlebars. Roadrunner offer additional hardware to attach to two D-Rings at the front of the bag, which pulls it in closer to the bars (as pictured). Need even more room? There are two big velcro front pockets, perfect for gloves and sunglasses. Complete with an internal metal dowel, the bag is designed to be run both in the front and rear of a bike, though it’s at its best up front if your bikepacking adventures tend to get rowdy.

    • Roadrunner bags jumbo jammer
    • Saddebags and Rolltop bags Fabio Chest Jumbo Jammer
    • Roadrunner Jumbo Jammer
    • Weight: 907 grams (32 oz)
    • Price: $225
    • Place of Manufacture: California, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • $177
    Swift Industries Catalyst Pack

    Swift Industries Catalyst Pack

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 6L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 28 x 15 x 16cm (WXDXH)
    • Made in: Washington, USA

    Tested by Cass

    Swift have been making top opening packs for long enough that their designs are now very dialled. The Catalyst is a more svelte version of their popular Zeitgeist Pack, designed primarily for smaller riders with limited space between the handlebars and the front tyre, or the saddle rails and the rear tyre. However, that’s not to stop anyone else from using it too, because it’s light enough to leave on your bike all the time, be it for trail riding or errands around town. In fact, it actually feels considerably larger than its quoted volume of 6L – see the images for much much we fitted in comfortably.

    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst

    Its 27.5cm width means it sits between drop handlebars well, and we also noticed it’s nigh on perfect for a set of Jones H-Bar Loops, as it doesn’t interfere with brake cables and the angles that they exit. The bag features an external batten, with cuts for straps that are 11cm apart – to line up with saddle loops, if you’re running it at the back. Two 9in Voile Nano Straps are included, offering a very secure fit to the bars, whilst an elasticized cord cinches it to a headtube – there’s provision for 4 placements along its underside, making it stable enough for trail riding too. There are no side pockets, presumably in the interests of its slim, drop bar friendly design, but there are D clips for an optional shoulder strap ($12).

    The Catalyst came with 2 black Voile Nanostraps and 6 closed foam spacers – if you’re running it with drop bars, this should give you some room to wrap your fingers around the bars. But with the Jones H-Bar Bends I was using, we just used one on either side, to prevent the bag from rubbing on the stem faceplate. If you’re running it under your saddle, you could even use these spacers to push it back a little, alleviating potential thigh rub.

    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Swift Catalyst

    A piece of HDPE helps the Catalyst to keep its shape and offers a little extra water resistance from the underside. The lid is cut to shed rain and a heavy duty skirt, cinched in with an elasticated cord, helps further to keep out moisture. In use, we found it largely water resistant, but contents will get wet if your bike is left outside during rainfall. Luckily, the bag is easy to remove. Two straps secure the lid down – they can be extended considerably – with a central strap to hoist the bag up. This prevent it from rubbing a front wheel, if clearances are tight, and helps to keep contents stable. The lid also features an LED light tab, reflective strips and daisy chains, for all you danglers. There’s a neat little top compartment too, though the zip is prone to rattling around if you’re off pavement. I’d chop off the pull and replace it with cord.

    All in all, this is a really nice, stylish pack that’s really well sized well to suit both daily use and multi day adventures, whether you’re a short rider, or more long limbed.

    • Weight: 423 grams (14.9 oz)
    • Price: $177
    • Place of Manufacture: Washington, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • $195
    Swift Industries Zeitgeist Bag

    Swift Industries Zeitgeist Bag

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 12L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 32 x 18 x 19cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Washington, USA

    The Zeitgeist Saddle Bag is Swift Industries’ take on the classic British touring saddlebag. Made from X-Pac VX21, it weighs in at 589g, a touch heavier than the company’s light duty Catalyst Pack, but much more svelte than a Carradice (though it has a lot less capacity). The design was updated in 2020 with an HDPE liner for structure, two Voile Straps for mounting on either saddles with cargo loops or on the handlebar, and enhanced weatherproofing. The Zeitgeist comes in one size and a few different colours.

    • Swift Zeitgeist Review, saddlebag
    • Swift Zeitgeist Review, saddlebag
    • Swift Zeitgeist Review, saddlebag

    From Logan’s review: Using a unique fiberglass batten mounting system, an HDPE liner, and lightweight VX21 X-pac, the latest version of the Swift Zeitgeist offers all the benefits and style of a classic saddlebag in a very stable and secure package that’s only a 150 grams heavier than a comparable handlebar roll. And while we had an issue with the mounting system on a prototype, the remainder of the bag held up quite well, and it appears that Swift solved that particular problem by adding plastic end caps to the batten.

    • Weight: 589 grams (20.8 oz)
    • Price: $195
    • Place of Manufacture: Washington, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • $195
    Tribulus Endover

    Tribulus Endover

    • Type: FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 18L
    • Minimum dimensions: 34 x 18 x 61cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: New Mexico, USA

    Unlike other similarly sized bags in this roundup, which tend to be on the heavy side, the Endover is a rolltop handlebar bag that’s as light as a modern, side-access rollbag, albeit with the convenience of a top loading system. Maker Nathan Meyerson comes to bikepacking from an ultralight hiking background, bringing with him ideas that borrow from his backpack designs, with a particularly keen eye on striking a balance between weight and durability. Intended to be both versatile and functionally robust, the bag is suited to both techy singletrack and rough dirt roads, thanks to a number of mounting points across both the fork legs and two strips of daisy chains. These allow for different closure configurations, once the bag is rolled down, including a quick access slider buckle or two locking ones, depending on your preference.

    • Tribulus Endover Front Bag
    • Tribulus Endover Front Bag
    • Tribulus Endover Front Bag
    • Tribulus Endover handlebar bag
    • Tribulus Endover Rolltop Bag Review

    There’s a removable ultralight carbon dowel, and on this version, an inside sleeve with a closed foam mat that gives the bag shape, whatever you choose to pack within it… be it pots, pans, a sleeping bag, or a camera. When riding gets especially rough, two bonus side straps can be cinched down to clamp the bag even more tightly to the bars. Compressible side pouches provide extra space for the likes of snacks, or, given that it’s made in New Mexico, perhaps a couple of avocados. Depending on the material chosen, the bags can be seam sealed for almost complete water resistance. Despite its low weight, build quality has proved up to the rigors of long tours, too.

    Make sure to check out Cass’ full review here.

    • Weight: 453 grams (16 oz)
    • Price: $195
    • Place of Manufacture: New Mexico, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • $180
    Velo Orange Biggish Bag

    Velo Orange Biggish Bag

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 13L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 34 X 17 X 23cm (WXDXH)
    • Made in: California, USA

    Handmade by Road Runner Bags of Los Angeles, the Velo Orange Biggish Bag is a modular handlebar / saddle bag that they claim to be the perfect size for running errands, long gravel rides, and everything in between. It has a roll-top interior that can be expanded for larger loads and cinch-down straps to keep contents in place. The large flap closure helps keep the weather out and covers a zippered front pocket for storing smaller items. It has a fully seam-sealed construction, making it 100% waterproof, and has webbing for attaching lights, reflectors, or even a controversial dangle mug.

    • Velo Orange Biggish Bag
    • Velo Orange Biggish Bag
    • Velo Orange Biggish Bag
    • Velo Orange Biggish Bag

    Miles’ Thoughts: I’ve been using the the Biggish Bag by Velo Orange as my go-to commuting and errand-running handlebar bag. It’s reasonably lightweight, 100% waterproof (which is uncommon for bags of this category), and surprisingly roomy. It not be as technical as some of the other bags in this list, but they’ve managed to incorporate some clever, thoughtful features. My only complaint is the cam-lock buckles that are included with the webbing straps—they are awkward and I’d recommend swapping them out for some Nano Voile Straps.

    • Weight: 682 grams (24.1 oz)
    • Price: $180
    • Place of Manufacture: California, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    contract Close
  • £180
    Wizard Works Mini Shazam!

    Wizard Works Mini Shazam!

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 8.3 - 16.6L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 29 x 15 x 19cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: UK

    The Wizard Works Mini Shazam is simply a smaller version of the Wizard Works Shazam! It’s a modern take an a classic saddle bag design, featuring an oversized flap closure, roomy side pockets, multiple attachment points (for a saddle or handlebars), and an optional shoulder strap for off-the-bike errands. The Mini Shazam still provides a generous 8.3L-16.6L of storage (when fully unrolled), while the standard Shazam! has 10.8L-22.5L. It uses a hard-shell construction, an aluminum strut in place of a wooden dowel for extra stability, and is made to order in your choice of colors and fabrics.

    • Wizard Works Mini Shazam
    • Wizard Works Mini Shazam
    • Wizard Works Mini Shazam
    • Wizard Works Mini Shazam
    • Wizard Works Mini Shazam

    Lucas’s Thoughts: I’ve been using the Wizard Works Mini Shazam almost daily since it was first released in October 2020. Although it’s a little on the small size for my loaded bikepacking needs, I’ve found it to be the perfect bag for my commuter bike in Berlin. My favorite feature is the hidden set of buttons underneath the flap that can be undone to expand its length considerably for those times that require extra hauling capacity. It’s the perfect size to swap easily among any of my bikes without worrying if it’ll fit in between the handlebars (which range from 44cm to 55cm), which means it regularly comes along for day rides too. The Mini Shazam is super stable, cleverly designed, and expertly constructed by some lovely folks who are worth supporting, which is about all you can ask for in a saddlebag.

    • Wizard Works Mini Shazam
    • Wizard Works Mini Shazam
    • Weight: 715 grams (25.2 oz)
    • Price: £180
    • Place of Manufacture: London, UK
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • £190
    Wizard Works Shazam!

    Wizard Works Shazam!

    • Type: Saddlebag or Front Top Loading Bag
    • Volume: 10.8 - 22.5L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 31 x 17 x 23cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: UK

    The Wizard Works Shazam! Saddle Bag is a somewhat traditional long flap saddle bag. As with all of Wizard Works’ products, it’s handmade in London, available in custom made-to-order colours only, and exists in one massive size. Similar to the Alakazam Basket Bag, the Shazam! uses a roll-top closure with an exterior long flap closure to keep its contents secure. Unlike other saddle bags we’ve seen, it relies on hardshell construction by way of a 1mm HDPE sheet, which is designed to add stability and structure to the entire bag, while also giving it a recognizable ‘U’ shape. There’s also an internal aluminum reinforcement at the upper attachment point to provide plenty of rigidity.

    • Wizard Works Shazam Saddle Bag Review
    • Wizard Works Shazam Saddle Bag Review
    • Wizard Works Shazam
    • Weight: 840 grams (29.6 oz)
    • Price: £190
    • Place of Manufacture: London, UK
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $112
    Yellow Cat Industries Kitty Pouch

    Yellow Cat Industries Kitty Pouch

    • Type: TOP LOADING FRONT BAG
    • Volume: 6L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 24 x 13 x 15cm (WXDXH)
    • Made in: Arizona, USA

    The Kitty Pouch is just as the name suggests – small and cute! As a design, it’s simple and relatively no frills, which helps keep it light and minimal. For instance, there are no D clips for off the bike shouldering and there’s just one set of attachment points – spaced 17.1cm apart – rather than a daisy chain system. Nor are there any foam spacers provided, in case you need to push the bag out from your stem face plate a little, so you may need to source these elsewhere. Ours came with snazzy purple Voile’s Nano straps, which do a great job of keeping it secure to the bars, without taking up too much space. There are three additional points to cinch the bag into the heatube, via a non elasticated, shoelace-style cord. All in all, it’s very stable over the roughstuff and being so petite, would suit all frame/rider sizes, running flat bars or drops. It even worked with my son’s little Salsa Timberjack 20!

    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Yellow Cat Kitty Pouch
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Yellow Cat Kitty Pouch
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Yellow Cat Kitty Pouch
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Yellow Cat Kitty Pouch
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Yellow Cat Kitty Pouch

    Whilst simple and no frills in design, I like the mix and match vibes of traditional looks with modern fabrics and materials, like the rigid fiberglass rod and the 16oz Coverlight, used to reinforce key areas. Within, there’s a thin plastic stiffener so the bag holds its shape, a bright liner so contents are easily visible, and a clip to cinch it in, to stop contents from jostling around. Whilst the lid is cut in such a way that errant drops don’t run inwards, and there’s a rain skirt that can be cinched tight, in use we found it water resistant but prone to wetting out in heavy rain. Materials are all good quality – ours came with stylish cotton duck X10 X-Pac but others colours use 500d nylon – and so far, nothing is showing any signs of abrasion.

    Saddlebag Bikepacking Yellow Cat Kitty Pouch
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Yellow Cat Kitty Pouch
    • Saddlebag Bikepacking Yellow Cat Kitty Pouch

    The front straps are generous in length, so you can really load it up if need be – a baguette across the top, perhaps? However, there’s no denying that this bag is definitely on the small side, which makes it best suited to day rides and at most, minimal overnighters. As a pleasant surprise, the Kitty Pouch also includes a really nice musette. It’s super light and packs down tiny, perfect for grocery shopping and the like – in fact, it’s so useful that I’d love to see a little stowage pocket within the Kitty Pouch, so it’s always to hand. On a similar note, simple side loops would be a nice feature, too, as the Kitty Pouch is perfectly sized to double up as a shoulder bag, when you’re not riding.

    If you’ve got a cat allergy, just be warned that our Kitty Pouch came complete with cat hair…

    • Weight: 298 grams (10.5 oz)
    • Price: $112
    • Place of Manufacture: Arizona, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • €132
    7 Roads Dandy Bag

    7 Roads Dandy Bag

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 13 - 23L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 33 x 19 x 27cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Ukraine

    The 7 Roads Dandy Bag is a unique take a traditional bike touring saddle and handlebar bag. It is designed to be used without any type of support or rack, attached directly to the handlebar or saddle loops, but can be supported when clearance or space is limited. In true 7 Roads fashion, the Dandy Bag is 100% waterproof, made from glued PVC fabrics. Both sides can accept their included accessory pockets, it accepts a shoulder strap, and it’s offered in three standard sizes ranging from 13 to 23 litres.

    • 7roads dandy bag
    • 7roads dandy bag
    • 7roads dandy bag
    • Weight: 650 grams (22.9 oz)
    • Price: €132 (Medium)
    • Place of Manufacture: Ukraine
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $139
    Acorn Bags Large Saddlebag

    Acorn Bags Large Saddlebag

    • Type: Saddlebag
    • Volume: 8L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 28 x 15 x 19cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: California, USA

    Acorn Bags are handmade in southern California by a small husband and wife team. They specialize in cotton canvas, leather, and high quality hardware that is all proven to stand the test of time. The Large Saddlebag is their highest volume saddlebag, and their take on a classic. They’ve updated the original design to include a plastic stiffener in the base, a thick full width leather strap on the back for greater durability, and two large side pockets with “no fuss” turn buttons. The bag is made from MARTEXIN “Original Wax” cotton canvas, HERMANN OAK vegetable-tanned “English Bridle” premium leather, and SCOVILL DOT hardware—all three of which are manufactured in the USA.

    • Acorn Bags Saddlebag
    • Acorn Bags Saddlebag
    • Acorn Bags Saddlebag
    • Weight: 709 grams (25 oz)
    • Price: $139
    • Place of Manufacture: California, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Atwater Grafter

    Atwater Grafter

    • Type: Saddlebag or Front Top Loading Bag
    • Volume: 9.5 - 12L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 35 x 17 x 19cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Quebec, Canada

    A smaller version of their Marauder bag, the Atwater Grafter bag is designed specifically for saddles with gear loops but can also be run out front as a handlebar bag. It uses a main expandable opening with two webbing straps, two side pockets, Cordura exterior, and an optional VX-21 X-Pac liner. The Grafter is handmade in Montréal, Canada and is available in a variety of colours.

    • Atwater Grafter
    • Atwater Grafter
    • Atwater Grafter
    • Weight: 650 grams (22.9 oz)
    • Place of Manufacture: Quebec, Canada
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $190
    Buffalo Bag Big Buffalo

    Buffalo Bag Big Buffalo

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 6 - 30L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 28 x 25 x 18cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Bangkok

    Available in three sizes and variety of different colors, the Big Buffalo is modeled after a traditional saddlebag and can be run up front or in back, with or without a rack. It is offered in either an X-pac or Canvas construction with a 210pu ripstop inner liner, a 1.5mm HDPE sheet for stability and structure, Duraflex buckles, and 2″ velcro straps for attaching to the bike. Pricing ranges from $138 all the way up to $250 USD, depending on size and fabric choice.

    • Buffalo Bag Big Buffalo X-Pac VX07
    • Buffalo Bag Big Buffalo X-Pac VX07
    • Buffalo Bag Big Buffalo X-Pac VX07
    • Buffalo Bag Big Buffalo X-Pac VX07
    • Buffalo Bag Big Buffalo X-Pac VX07
    • Buffalo Bag Big Buffalo X-Pac VX07
    • Buffalo Bag Big Buffalo X-Pac VX07
    • Weight: 680 grams (24 oz)
    • Price: $190 (Medium / X-Pac)
    • Place of Manufacture: Bangkok
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • £60
    Carradice Lightweight Audax Saddlebag

    Carradice Lightweight Audax Saddlebag

    • Type: Saddlebag
    • Volume: 9L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 28 x 15 x 16cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: UK

    The Lightweight Audax is the lightest saddle bag in Carradice’s lineup. Like most of their bags, it is handmade in the UK and has that classic saddlebag styling that is timeless and easy on the eyes. It’s specifically designed to be used as a saddlebag, and includes three leather straps to attach it to the seat post and bag loops on the saddle. The Lightweight Audax Saddlebag has two external pockets, an internal zippered organizer, d-rings for lashing gear to, and reflective detailing for added visibility. It is made from 1000D Cordura and comes in a variety of different colours.

    • Carradice Lightweight Audax
    • Carradice Lightweight Audax
    • Carradice Lightweight Audax
    • Weight: 440 grams (15.5 oz)
    • Price: £60
    • Place of Manufacture: England, UK
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • £90
    Carradice Super C

    Carradice Super C

    • Type: Saddlebag
    • Volume: 23L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 33 X 17 X 24CM (WXDXH)
    • Made in: UK

    Another classic from Carradice is the Super C, which has a similar design to the Camper Longflap, but uses plastic buckles instead of leather straps, has slightly less capacity, and is overall a little smaller. Like the Camper Longflap, it attaches to your bikes using three leather straps, the bag itself is made from 100% waterproof 18oz waxed cotton duck fabric, and there are two external pockets with storm flaps for smaller items. The top flap doesn’t wrap as far across the bag, like the Longflap, so it’s less ideal for stuffing gear under or for expanding when you need more room.

    • Carradice Super C
    • Carradice Super C
    • Carradice Super C
    • Weight: 910 grams (32.1 oz)
    • Price: £90
    • Place of Manufacture: UK
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • €199
    Dyed in the Wool Camera Bag

    Dyed in the Wool Camera Bag

    • Type: FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 6L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 25 x 15 x 16cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Poland

    The new roll-top Dyed in the Wool Camera Bag is available in an X-Pac (pictured here) or Dyneema construction and is built with HDPE and HD foam throughout the base and sides to keep your precious cargo safe. Inside, there’s an internal padded divider for added protection and organization, plus a fluorescent interior lining to keep items from getting lost at the bottom of the bag. Around the outside, MOLLE webbing provides several mounting positions, D-rings allow for attaching a shoulder strap to use it as a shoulder bag, and an upper flap offers a small pocket for storing essentials. The bag uses a Voile strap attachment system, and a shock cord around the head tube to keep it from bouncing around.

    • Dyed in the Wool Camera Bag
    • Dyed in the Wool Camera Bag
    • Dyed in the Wool Camera Bag
    • Price: €199 (Cordura)
    • Place of Manufacture: Warsaw, Poland
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • €170
    Dyed in the Wool Toaster Bag

    Dyed in the Wool Toaster Bag

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT BAG
    • Volume: 10L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 32 x 17 x 19cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in : Poland

    The Dyed in The Wool Toaster Bag is yet another modern take on the classic top-flap-style saddle bag. Their idea was to create a bag with an easy-access main compartment, three internal pockets, and an additional waterproof pocket on the main flap. The Toaster Bag comes with two removable side pouches, and Molle-style webbing across the sides and front of the bag provide plenty of attachment points for lights, dangle mugs, and trailside finds. Hidden under the main flap is a section of elastic that provides yet another spot to lash down a light jacket or to dry socks out. The bag comes with two cam lock buckles and a large velcro “pocket” underneath the bag that can be used to secure it to a saddlebag support such as the Carradice Bagman Support or Erlen Saddle Bag Support. Dyed in The Wool also let us know that it can be mounted to a rear rack as well. The Toaster Bag is made to order in Warsaw, Poland, and can be sewn in X-Pac, Cordura, or Dyneema in a wide range of colours and is offered with or without the two pouches.

    • Dyed in the wool toaster bag
    • Dyed in the wool toaster bag
    • Price: €170 (Cordura, No Pouches)
    • Place of Manufacture: Warsaw, Poland
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $174.99
    Ellum Bag Works Ursa Major

    Ellum Bag Works Ursa Major

    • Type: Saddlebag
    • Volume: 14L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 34 x 17 x 20cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Texas, USA

    The Ellum Bag Works Ursa Major is an extra-large saddle bag that’s designed to hold a lot and last forever. It’s made from burly 1000D and 500D cordura, secures to your saddle and post using three Mil-spec nylon webbing straps, and uses a hardwood dowel for internal stabilization and support. The Ursa Major requires 9″ of clearance from your saddle tab to the top of your rear tire, otherwise a rear bag support or rack is recommended. Like most of Ellum Bag Works’ bags, they are made in small batches and tend to sell out quickly.

    • Ellum Ursa Major
    • Ellum Ursa Major
    • Ellum Ursa Major
    • Price: $174.99
    • Place of Manufacture: Texas, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Ellum Bag Works Ursa Minor

    Ellum Bag Works Ursa Minor

    • Type: Saddlebag
    • Volume: 10.5L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 25 x 18 x 20cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Texas, USA

    The Ellum Ursa Minor is a smaller version of the Ursa Major, but still offers plenty of capacity at around 10.5L (including pockets). The bag features an expandable top flap, an interior wooden dowel for rigidity, and has loads of different attachment points for lights, mugs, and whatever else you’re looking to dangle. The bag is made from a mix of burly 1000D and 500D Cordura, has a bright nylon liner, and high-vis reflective accents. The two exterior pockets can flatten when not in use, there are two smaller mesh pockets inside for keeping things organized, and includes six d-rings for lashing gear or for use of a shoulder strap.

    • Ellum Ursa Minor
    • Ellum Ursa Minor
    • Weight: 680 grams (24 oz)
    • Place of Manufacture: Texas, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $350
    Fifth Season Key Pa Saddlebag

    Fifth Season Key Pa Saddlebag

    • Type: Saddlebag
    • Volume: 24 - 34L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 36 x 22 x 26cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Vermont, USA

    Fifth Season in Vermont describes the Key Pa Saddlebag perfectly: “No compromises, Vermont made saddle bag of all US made parts. Brass. Leather. Canvas. Big enough for all but the coldest tours. With a modicum of care, this bag will outlast you.” The Key Pa is made in Vermont by Dave at Waxwing and appears to be inspired by Carradice’s classic look, which includes a lot of metal hardware and leather straps.

    • Price: $350
    • Place of Manufacture: Vermont, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $325AUD
    Framework Designs Overlander

    Framework Designs Overlander

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 18L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 40 X 20 X 18cm (WXDXH)
    • Made in: Australia

    Made by Framework Designs in Australia, The Overlander is a flap-style bag that can be mounted to a saddle, handlebar, or even a rack. It has plenty of different daisy chain attachment points, including two different heights on the back and several lengths along the base as well. It uses a large flap closure with side release buckles, covering a roll-top closure underneath for a waterproof construction. There is one larger exterior front pocket and two smaller side pockets with drainage holes for quick-access items and two concealed pieces of dowel for structure and stability. The Overlander includes 2 Voile Nano Straps, an elastic for head tubes/seat posts, and comes with your choice of hardware. Custom colours are also available.

    • Framework Designs Overlander
    • Framework Designs Overlander
    • Framework Designs Overlander
    • Price: $325AUD
    • Place of Manufacture: Melbourne, Australia
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $235
    Frost River Gunflint Trail Seat Bag

    Frost River Gunflint Trail Seat Bag

    • Type: Saddlebag
    • Volume: 20L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 45 x 25 x 18cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Minnesota, USA

    Duluth, Minnesota based Frost River specializes in handmade packs, bags, and accessories made from the highest quality materials and components. The Gunflint Trail Seat Bag is made from US-made waxed canvas and leather, and is designed to last a lifetime. It has two external pockets, d-rings for a shoulder strap, and storm flaps over all pockets. Check out Frost River’s Caribou Trail Bike Bag if you’re looking for something a little smaller that is designed to double as both a handlebar and saddle bag.

    • Frost River Gunflint Trail Bag
    • Frost River Gunflint Trail Bag
    • Weight: 952 grams (33.6 oz)
    • Price: $235
    • Place of Manufacture: Minnesota, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $190
    Jack Supply Co Slugger

    Jack Supply Co Slugger

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 13 - 21L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 38 x 18 x 24cm (WXDXH)
    • Made in: Oregon, USA

    The Jack Supply Co Slugger is handmade in Oregon, perfect for commuting, touring, and every day use. It uses a HDPE liner to keep the bags shape, two daisy chains for multiple attachment points, two exterior pockets, and a large flap closure with side release buckles. The Slugger can carry 13L but can expand up to 21L for when extra carrying capacity is needed.

    Looking for something a little smaller? The Jack Supply Co Little Slugger holds about 5.5L, and uses a drawstring closure instead of a roll-top like it’s larger sibling. While it might not be the best option for bikepacking, it looks like a great bag for commuting or smaller riders / kids.

    • Price: $190
    • Place of Manufacture: Oregon, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $290
    Makeshifter Outback

    Makeshifter Outback

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 11 - 20L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 33 x 18 x 20cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Oregon, USA

    Makeshifter is a small-scale maker from Portland, Oregon. Each bag is made to order. We haven’t had a chance to try the Outback, but we’ve used other Makeshifter products and are impressed. Originally made for (and named after) the Oregon Outback ride – a dusty, self-supported gravel route that traverses over 350 miles of Eastern Oregon – Makeshifter says this a “classic saddlebag design built for touring, bike camping, and grocery-getting.” Features include super durable and waterproof heavyweight waxed canvas, ‘wings’ on front flap deflect rainwater, multiple D-rings for lashing extra gear to the bag’s exterior, a drawstring closure to keep gear inside (and dust and dirt out). We should note that the beautiful front flap, made of natural canvas & felted wool in a typical Makeshifter design, really sets this bag apart visually. Thanks to Kyle Heddy / Treading Light Photo for use of imagery.

    • Makeshifter Outback Saddlebag Bikepacking
    • Makeshifter Outback Saddlebag Bikepacking
    • Weight: 795 grams (28 oz)
    • Price: $290
    • Place of Manufacture: Oregon, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $92
    Plasmo Senderito

    Plasmo Senderito

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 15L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 28 X 17 X 18cm (WXDXH)
    • Made in: Chile

    Handmade in Chile, the Plasmo Senderito is a mid-sized long flap style bag that is designed to be mounted on a handlebar, but can be used as a saddle bag as well. It secures to your bar using two large velcro straps, has an internal plastic stabilizer, two exterior pockets, and a roll-top closure covered by a large flap-style lid. Plasmo sells a Voile Strap kit with foam spacers designed to be used with flat bars, to leave room for cables up front.

    • Plasmo Senderito
    • Plasmo Senderito
    • Plasmo Senderito
    • Weight: 510 grams (18 oz)
    • Price: $92
    • Place of Manufacture: Chile
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $170
    Ptap Designs Chonker

    Ptap Designs Chonker

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 14L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 33 x 18 x 18cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Maryland, USA

    Handmade in Baltimore, Maryland, the Ptap Designs Chonker is a mid-sized saddle / handlebar bag named after Ptap’s resident chonky boi pupper Bodie. It has tapered side pockets that fold flat when not in use, a semi-rigid and removable HDPE liner to help keep shape whether empty or full, a birch dowel and Voile Nano Strap attachment, and a large flap for maximum water resistance, but isn’t 100% waterproof.

    • Ptap Chonker
    • Ptap Chonker
    • Ptap Chonker
    • Weight: 623 grams (22 oz)
    • Price: $170
    • Place of Manufacture: Maryland, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • £104.99
    Restrap Bar Pack

    Restrap Bar Pack

    • Type: FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 10L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 29 x 16 x 23cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: UK

    Handmade in Yorkshire, UK, the Restrap Bar Pack is a described as “ideal for shop runs, off road adventures or audaxes, the Bar Pack is the perfect all day companion.” It features a top accessed roll-top closure, a quick-access front pocket that can accommodate a u-lock, and a drawcord on top for lashing on smaller items. It has an internal stiffener to help keep its shape and foam spacers with spring-loaded cam locks provide a stable and reliable attachment to your handlebars. The Bar Pack comes in black or orange and costs £104.99.

    • restrap bar pack
    • restrap bar pack
    • restrap bar pack
    • Weight: 585 grams (20.6 oz)
    • Price: £104.99
    • Place of Manufacture: UK
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $160
    Road Runner Bags Jammer

    Road Runner Bags Jammer

    • Type: TOP LOADING FRONT BAG
    • Volume: 11L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 25 x 13 x 15cm (WXDXH)
    • Made in: California, USA

    The Jammer is Road Runner Bags’ smallest front top-loading bag, but still looks like it could make a great option for lightweight overnighters or daily use. Like all of their bags, the Jammer is 100% vegan and crafted with the finest USA-made materials and hardware. It has two expanding front pockets, a roll-top closure with two cinch straps / buckles, adjustable mounting points, and reflective detailing. The exterior shell is made from a burly 1000D Cordura, with a high denier, seam taped, Rip-Stop nylon liner. It’s offered in a range of different colours and is handmade in California. Looking for something larger? Check out their Middle Earth Jammer and Jumbo Jammer, which are both in this Gear Index.

    • Road runner jammer
    • Road runner jammer
    • Road runner jammer
    • Weight: 453 grams (16 oz)
    • Price: $160
    • Place of Manufacture: California, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $205
    Road Runner Bags Middle Earth Jammer

    Road Runner Bags Middle Earth Jammer

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 10 - 19L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 30 x 15 x 20cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: California, USA

    Although the Road Runner Bags Middle Earth Jammer is designed for the everyday commuter, it offers a generous capacity that is maxed out at a whopping 19L, thanks to its roll top design. It has two external expanding front pockets, webbing compressions straps, adjustable mounting straps, and can be used on your handlebars or attached to a saddle with appropriate saddle loops or mounting hardware. The Middle Earth Jammer requires 10-12″ of clearance from the top of the handlebars to the top of the tire, otherwise a small rack or support is a good idea.

    • Road Runner Middle Earth Jammer
    • Road Runner Middle Earth Jammer
    • Road Runner Middle Earth Jammer
    • Weight: 680 grams (24 oz)
    • Price: $205
    • Place of Manufacture: California, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $275
    Ron’s Bikes Fabio’s Chest

    Ron’s Bikes Fabio’s Chest

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 20 - 46L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 43 x 23 x 22cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Connecticut, USA

    Ron’s Bikes Fabio’s Chest features a massive long-flap and an expandable roll-top closure that can hold between 20 and 34L (small) or 30 and 46L (large). The roll-top closure can be folded down inside the bag, and a one-handed magnetic snap can be used instead of the two side release buckles for easy access while on the move. There are two expandable side pockets, a bright yellow liner, and there are several different daisy chain webbing attachment points for mounting on saddles or handlebars.

    It’s offered in a waxed canvas version or made from Dimension Polyant’s X50 which they describe as “the TECHEST fabric in your science class.” The latter is just $10 more, and slightly lighter weight, than the waxed Fabio’s Chest, but otherwise shares all the same specs.

    • Ron's Fabio Tech Chest
    • Ron's Fabio Tech Chest
    • Ron's Fabio Tech Chest
    • Ron's Fabio Tech Chest
    • Ron's Fabio Tech Chest
    • Weight: 1.05 kg (2.31 lbs)
    • Price: $275 (Small - Tech Chest)
    • Place of Manufacture: Connecticut, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $265
    Ruthworks Audax

    Ruthworks Audax

    • Type: Saddlebag
    • Volume: 5.9L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 25 X 15 X 15cm (WXDXH)
    • Made in: California, USA

    The Ruthworks Audax is a transverse rear bag that is supported by a rear rack or bag support like the “Bagman Support”. It features a large main flap, a folding interior closure, two side pockets, and a front sleeve for smaller items. The 5.9L capacity doesn’t include side pockets, and is offered in several different fabric and colour combinations, including Cotton X-Pac and Waxed Canvas. Ruthworks is a one-person custom cycling luggage company located in the Mission District of San Francisco, California.

    • Ruthworks Audax
    • Ruthworks Audax
    • Weight: 593 grams (20.9 oz)
    • Price: $265
    • Place of Manufacture: California, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • $250
    Waxwing Longflap Saddlebag

    Waxwing Longflap Saddlebag

    • Type: SADDLEBAG OR FRONT TOP LOADING BAG
    • Volume: 14L
    • Minimum Dimensions: 36 x 19 x 22cm (WxDxH)
    • Made in: Vermont, USA

    Handmade by Waxing Bag Co in Vermont’s Green Mountains, the Longflap Saddlebag is a roomy long-flap style bag with an expandable opening and drawstring closure that can be tucked away when not needed. Two massive side pockets, big enough to fit a Nalgene bottle, add some significant packing space, and the main opening uses a leather strap and buckle that can be substituted for a standard side-release buckle if requested. Each Waxwing Longflap Saddlebag is made to order, so you have your choice of colour, size, and fabric type. For something smaller, without the expandable flap, check out their standard Waxwing Saddlebag.

    • Waxwing Longflap Saddlebag
    • Waxwing Longflap Saddlebag
    • Waxwing Longflap Saddlebag
    • Price: $250 (Large / Canvas)
    • Place of Manufacture: Vermont, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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Attaching Saddlebags to the Handlebars

Although traditionally run behind the saddle (hence the name), saddlebags are increasingly being designed to be front and rear interchangeable – there are even handlebar-specific options, such as Ortlieb’s Handlebar-Pack QR. When used on the handlebars,  different mounting systems are available. Some bags still use leather straps and metal buckles, for that classic look. Others feature velcro straps that can be cinched in super tight, or nylon webbing and buckles, offering good long-term durability. More recently, we’ve seen that Voilé straps are increasingly the default option and they do work very well – their hardwearing rubber has a little give, allowing them to be cinched in very tightly, and the straps are grippy, too, helping hold everything in place. They also don’t mar the finish on handlebars, as some webbing straps do. When used with foam blocks – as shown in the image below – you can space the bag out to allow more hand positions on the tops of your drop handlebars. The thinner and shorter Nano Straps, a more recent addition to the range, are perfect for smaller bags or for securing bags to your bike’s head tube. Just note that some handlebars work better than others, depending on the sweep of the bar and the position of the brake levers, or its style, so some experimentation may be required.

  • Fabio Chest Velclosure
  • Voile Straps on saddlebag

In our experience, saddlebag designs that feature mounting points on the underside of the bag work best for burly dirt road touring; a well-placed strap or two will prevent the bag from bouncing up and down or side to side, destabilising the bike. Be sure to check every once in a while to make sure there are no stress points. This kind of secondary attachment system is less important for gravel road bikepacking, where a single attachment behind the saddle is usually just fine.

Options abound as to exactly how to set your bag up, depending on criteria that includes trail conditions and the physical distance from your tire to your handlebars – the minimum distances required are listed for each bag above. Saving considerable weight and making them compatible with a wider variety of bikes, some bags are now designed to be set up without the need for a front rack support, such as the Fabio’s Chest, Roadrunner, or Tribulus. However, if you prefer the idea of extra support, we can recommend the excellent Rivendell/Nitto Mark’s Rack, a minimal rack that’s surprisingly stout despite its officially limited weight limit. Other options we’ve tried include the Rawland Rando Rack ($70). We’ve spotted some nice custom options from Arizona-based Jonathan Zuchi and Surly’s 8-Pack Rack ($125) is a recommended option too, though given the weight of the rack itself, it’s probably more than you need. We’re also in the process of testing several other options, which we’ll post about soon.

  • nitto mark's rack carradice
  • Jay Ritchey's Tumbleweed Prospector
  • voile strap saddlebag

 

Saddle Attachment systems

Many riders will likely choose to run saddlebags behind the saddle, which offers the most capacity, given that the lids can be expanded upwards, or D-rings loaded with extra gear when needed.

The traditional option is to use a saddlebag in conjunction with a saddle that features integrated loops, like the classic Brooks B17 or one of the models in the Brooks Cambium range. For those who already have their preferred perch, there are attachment systems available that allow saddlebags to work with modern, “plastic” saddles bereft of saddlebag loops. The Restuvus from Hobo Pieces ($60, various colors) is solidly made option and keeps your saddlebag extra secure. Velo Orange’s Saddle Loops ($15) are a more affordable alternative – although they work surprisingly well for off-road use despite their lightweight build, they’re somewhat fiddly to install and run straps through.

  • Brooks Cambium C19 Carve Saddlebag
  • Restuvus Saddlebag Support Hobocross
  • VO Saddlebag Loops WTB
  • Restuvus Saddlebag Support Hobocross
  • dowel saddlebag fabio chest

Alternatively, there’s a spring-loaded quick-release system from Carradice, under the Bagman brand (£27). Although this offers welcome convenience,  we’ve not found it suited to extended off-road use, as the retention pins have a tendency to fall out over rough terrain (place some duct tape over the ends to be sure you don’t lose the sliders as a result). Carradice also has their own simple saddlebag loops (£10).

 

Minimal Rear Racks and Saddlebag Supports

Whilst some riders are happy running their saddlebags without a rear support, we find the bags tend to rub too much against the thighs for this to be a recommended solution, though a few foam spacers can sometimes be enough to make a difference. To support your rear saddlebag and distance it from the seatpost, there are two kinds of options to choose from – either a saddlebag support that hangs off the saddle rails or a rear rack, assuming your frame has provision for one. The former is lighter and suited to gravel roads, while the latter is preferred for heavier loads and rougher conditions.

  • Wizard Works Shazam Saddle Bag Review
  • Ratking minimal T rack bikepacking
  • Tubus Vega - Rack for Surly ECR

As such, most of Carradice’s saddlebag supports work best for light gravel touring, like the QR Support Expedition, which is rated to 10kg (though we’d recommend less for off-road use). The Bagman 2 Expedition is the most resilient model that we’ve tried for dirt road use, though it appears to be out of production at present. Ocean Air Cycles’ Erlen ($120), which slots in alongside the saddle rails rather than being bolted on, is currently being modified but looks like an interesting option too. Again, it’s more suited to a gravel road bikepacking, though keep the weight under 4.5kg (10 pounds). In a twist on a take, Carradice’s SQR system also serves to move the bag away from the thighs, leaving behind a small plastic mounting fixture when unclipped. We’ve found it more suited to forest roads and gravel riding than technical trails.

For dedicated off-road use, a lightweight, minimal rear rack is a great way of supporting a saddlebag, especially if you intend to really load it up on a long trip. There’s no need to choose a rack that’s especially heavy-duty. Depending on the bag and rack combination, experimentation is generally required for the right setup, especially when it comes to the height between your saddle and the rack platform. Take note of the minimum clearances required, as listed above.

Tubus’ minimal Vega rear rack is amongst our favourites; it fits 3″ tires but only just. See here for Logan’s hack on adding water bottle cages to this model. Otherwise, Tumbleweed’s T-rack ($130) is an excellent and reasonably lightweight option for supporting a saddlebag, offering ample room for 3″ tires, too. Different fork legs are available depending on eyelet placement on your frame, and they have provisions for a couple of water bottles or Anything/Manything Cages, a great way of making extra use of the rack hardware without adding significantly to its weight.

 

 

DIY Saddlebag

If you like working with your hands and have access to a good sewing machine, making your own bikepacking bags can be quite rewarding. While the classic saddlebag may not be the easiest piece of luggage to build from scratch, it’s certainly not the most difficult. Typically, some heavyweight cotton duck cloth, webbing, grosgrain, a few buckles, and a dowel rod are all you need. However, saddlebag fabric can range from timeless waxed canvas, to more modern and rugged Cordura, to lightweight X-Pac. Most materials you will need can be found at craft stores, or fabric suppliers such as Rockywoods.com. Find a full article on Logan’s DIY longflap saddlebag that he made way back in 2013 (with plenty of photos) here.

 

  • DIY Long Flap Saddlebag - like Carradice Camper Longflap - for bike touring
  • DIY Long Flap Saddlebag - like Carradice Camper Longflap - for bike touring
  • Waxed Canvas Saddlebag
  • Waxed Canvas Saddlebag
  • Waxed Canvas Saddlebag

 

Saddlebags vs. Seat Packs (& Handlebar Rolls)

So, saddlebag or seatpack? Which is best for you? We’re big fans of the new wave of bikepacking gear; it’s increasingly refined and there’s certainly nothing to match it when it comes to saving weight. This said, the modern bikepacking setup also requires a very specific and practised packing style to work at its best. Traditional-style saddlebags definitely don’t offer the same ‘performance’ benefits. Inevitably, they’re heavier (especially if a rack is involved) and they’re more unwieldy on singletrack. But in the saddlebags’ favor is that they’re a whole lot easier to access and use, whilst also suiting a more varied payload.

Pros

  • Super easy to access thanks to the practical boxy shape and top-loading design
  • Generally straightforward to repair, depending on materials
  • Potentially massive capacity that’s well suited to longer trips and makes wearing a backpack unnecessary
  • Perfectly stable enough for dirt road touring
  • Potentially as capacious as panniers but less wide and clattery on rough roads
  • More adaptable; internal structure and dowel means you can pack pretty much whatever you want, however you want it
  • Doubles up well for daily commutes and grocery shopping, unlike modern bikepacking gear, which is far more specialist

Cons

  • Heavier than their seatpack counterparts, for the most part
  • When positioned behind the saddle, saddlebags generally require a rack or support to avoid thigh rub, adding hardware and weight to your setup (and ruling out full-suspension bikes)
  • Unsuited to tents with long poles compared to handlebar-mounted cradles/roll bags
  • Most designs aren’t completely waterproof (though an ultralight dry bag takes care of this)
  • Not hike-a-bike friendly; being wider than a modern seatpack, saddlebags are less suited to pushing a bike
  • Often fiddly to remove and install compared to many seatbags, especially the holster style
  • Can feel imbalanced at the back when riding rough roads or trails if not tightly lashed down

In conclusion, if you need weight savings and ultimate stability – think challenging bikepacking routes like the Colorado Trail) – seatbags and rollbags remain our go-to choice. But if you don’t – for gravel and dirt road forays like the Oregon Outback – saddlebags may well be a more practical solution for your bike travel needs.

If you’re not counting every last gram, why not mix and match and create a system that works for you? For some, teaming a top-loading bag off the handlebars – whether it has a lid or a rolltop – with a lightweight seatpack may well prove to offer the best of both worlds.

As always, we may have missed a couple of saddlebags or top-openers in this Index. If you have experience with one and would recommend it, please let us know in the comments below!