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Best Bikepacking Bags – Buyers Guide & How To Choose

Jeff Balton

Different Bike Transportation ways

Do you seek the best way to transport your items while riding a bike? In this article, you will learn about everything about bikepacking bags. 

The benefits of riding a bike can be huge. You may find yourself less stressed, more physically fit, and with more energy than ever before. It is for this reason that many people choose cycling as one of their main forms of transportation. However, with benefits, usually comes a few weaknesses.

The biggest one for biking is that it is quite difficult to carry objects around if you aren’t properly set up. Throughout this article, we are going to talk about different carrying and hauling options for cyclists so that you can continue to ride your bike in comfort while transporting goods. In this article, we’re going to speak about the best bikepacking bags and much more.

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Have to carry your laptop for school? No problem. Want a way to bring your groceries home from the supermarket? We have you covered.

What about just bringing along some tools and a water bottle? We will cover that too. No matter what you want to bring with you (while still being realistic (no it isn’t possible to carry a Hippo on your bike)), you will learn what works best for each individual situation.

Let’s begin talking about bags for bikes.

 

Bike Backpacks

Backpack bicycle transportation

Choose a backpack that is designed for cycling.

Let’s start off with one of the most common ways of transporting objects when you are on a bike.

For many people, a backpack or bike pack is their go-to option for carrying just about anything on a bike ride. You can carry your books to school, your office supplies to work, tools, and water for the ride itself, some groceries; the list goes on and on. 

However, it is important to know the limitations and benefits of a backpack.

Before getting into that though, I must take a minute to say that not all bike packs are created equal. There are regular everyday backpacks, and then there are bike backpacks.

DO NOT get an everyday backpack if you want to use it specifically for cycling. They’re versatile but they’re not practical for cycling at all.

Bike backpacks are designed to be ergonomic when in a riding position (usually leaned over a bit), whereas normal backpacks do not offer this benefit and can get quite uncomfortable.

Cycling backpacks also offer better security to your body than a normal backpack, meaning your load won’t swing and bump around.

 

Two Wheel Gear Commute Pack

Two Wheel Gear bikepacking bag

MSRP: $149

  • Capacity: 26 liters
  • Attachment style: Backpack

 

The Two Wheel Commute pack is an excellent travel accessory when it comes to cycling. It not only looks sleek, but it is one of the most functional pieces of equipment on this list. The backpack has a 26 liter capacity across three main compartments.

It’s made of thermoplastic elastomer waterproof coated 600-denier polyester nylon with closed cell foam. It gives it a light waterproof casing, but it does come with a fully waterproof cover hidden in the bottom, which is easy to put over and has high visibility for those night rides.

This is a great bag with enough space to carry most things well, including a 15″ laptop in a padded section. When it’s being worn, it is very comfortable with mesh inserts on the rear keeping great airflow and the pressure in the right place on your back.

The bikepacking bag also comes with a security strap for your waist to ensure it stays tight and is quick and easy to adjust. As far as bicycle bags go, this is an ideal solution in the form of a backpack.

 

Ortlieb Velocity PS Pack

Ortlieb Velocity bikepacking bag

MSRP: $99 – $150

  • Capacity: 17 liters
  • Attachment style: Backpack

 

Ortlieb is known for making some incredible gear when it comes to cycling, and we love that they have gone into making backpacks for commuting or general traveling with gear. The Velocity PS Pack is a great edition for their range.

The Ortlieb backpack offers 17 liters of capacity and is made of polyurethane-coated nylon. It is completely waterproof as standard and is perfect for rainy weather.

The pack comes in many different colors, such as yellow, deep red, light green, and black. Each bag has a reflective logo for extra visibility.

When it comes to wearing it, you have padded shoulder straps and a hip belt to secure it to you so it doesn’t move around while you’re riding.

It has a carrying handle for when it’s not on your back, and it may look compact but still offers enough space for a small laptop. It opens and closes with a roll top which makes it really easy to tighten up when you don’t have much in it.

 

 

Bike Panniers

Using Bike carriers for trasportation

Bike panniers are mostly used for long-distance rides

Let me give you guys a quick breakdown of what bike panniers are before we go into any more depth about bikepacking. Bike panniers (or as some people call them “side bags”) are basically bags that are attached to your bike.

They are mounted onto a rack (see further in the article to learn more about racks), or directly onto your bike frame.

The bags will sit on either side of your back wheels, front wheels, or both and are placed so that they do not interfere with pedaling.

Typically bike touring bags panniers are used for long-distance rides, bikepacking, or for transporting goods around town.

TIP! For balance reasons, always make sure your panniers are loaded with approximately even weight on each side. This will keep you bike from wanting to tip over on one side. Also, remember to buy panniers that suit your needs. Do not buy under-warranted big ones “just in case” as they will unnecessarily weigh your bike down.

Related: Hybrid bike reviews, articles & guides >

 

Co-op Beyonder Saddlebag Panniers

Co-op Beyonder bikepacking bags

MSRP: $99.95

  • Capacity: 25 liters
  • Attachment style: Pannier

 

Pannier bags will always have a place in cycling because they are a great design and just so useful when it comes to touring, commuting, or even doing the weekly shop.

The Co-op Beyonder Saddlebag Panniers are an example of great bikepacking bags that are just simple and work great. It has a huge 25-liter capacity and is made from Nylon. On the inside, you have a simple compartment with an internal sleeve for a laptop. They open and close with a large roll top meaning you can overfill if required.

Not only is it easy to set up, but it also doubles as a bag. When removed, you have a large strap that you can throw over your shoulder and take it into a shop with you and use as a typical bag.

It’s a very inventive idea that few companies have touched on in the past, and Co-op has just nailed it. It also has the Bluesign showing it has been made ethically with protecting the environment in mind.

These are excellent bike touring bags with the ability to also be a normal bag too.

 

Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Panniers

Ortlieb bikepacking bags

MSRP: $200

  • Capacity: 40 liters
  • Attachment style: Pannier

 

The Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers are widely known in the cycling world as probably some of the best panniers money can buy. They have a huge 40-liter carrying capacity over two bags. 

The panniers are highly waterproof thanks to Ortlieb’s PVC-coated polyester. They come in a few different colors, such as red, black, and grey and are a simple yet attractive design, even including some reflective spots for visibility.

What makes these bikepacking bags special isn’t just the large capacity and waterproof qualities. It’s how they mount.

Ortlieb uses a special clip on a secure mounting system meaning these bags not only stay on tight, but you get no movement at all from them when riding.

They are very secure but also easy to take on and off when required, and getting access is easy with the roll top and securing clip.

One thing to mention is that these bikepacking bags come as a pair not just a single.

 

Bike Baskets

Bicycle with Basket

Bike baskets are especially nice on vintage or cruiser bikes as they emphasize the styling and can make your bike look even better.

Baskets are a simple and traditional way to transport items while on your bike. Baskets can be found mounted on a front or rear bike rack or attached to the handlebars and frame.

It is most common for people to only use a front basket but some opt for a front and rear basket for maximum carrying potential.

Some baskets are removable so that you can carry them around when you are shopping. One thing to watch out for is if the basket has a cover or some sort of restraining device.

In some cases, your items may come out of the basket when riding if they are not properly secured. Bungees always work great as well for when the basket doesn’t feature any sort of restraint.

 

Retrospec Woven Basket

Retrospec Woven Basket

MSRP: $39.99

  • Weight Limit: 5lbs
  • Attachment style: Basket

 

If you’re looking for a basket for the front of your bike, the most traditional way to go is a classic woven basket. Retrospec’s Woven Basket is gorgeous and is a modern take on a carrying classic.

The classic design looks ageless, and looks beautiful on commuters or cruisers. It comes in a variety of different colors, natural, dark satin, or black. It will be good in the rain and the wood will not break down but without a cover for the top, you can expect your things to get a little wet.

When it comes to mounting, it has a simple system that attaches to the handlebars.

They use brass buckles with leather straps for strength and longevity. It has a carrying capacity of 5lbs and comes with a strengthened bottom to ensure the bag easily holds the weight.

What does make this basket really special though, is the fact it is hand woven. This basket is a great alternative to cycling bags.

 

FengWu Folding Basket

FengWu Folding Basket

MSRP: $29.99

  • Weight Limit: 44 lbs
  • Attachment style: Basket

 

The FengWu Folding Basket is a strong iron basket that can hold 44lbs of weight. If you’re not a fan of a traditional classic woven basket, then this is the solution. They come in a pack of two, so if you have two bikes, you have one for each, or you can give one to a friend.

It’s a simple basket design, and not only is it strong, but it’s also very lightweight. It’s painted, so the iron basket is water resistant and blends in with the handlebars (color-wise).

Attaching this basket is a simple job, and it is wrapped around your handlebars and screwed in.

It sits very tight to the handlebars and even comes with protective sleeves to ensure you don’t scratch your bike.

These baskets are a good solution when it comes to carrying all different items, but if you are riding in poor weather, you do have very little protection from the elements.

 

Bike (Cargo) Racks

Bicycle with racks

The biggest benefit of having racks on your bike is the ability to attach things to them – goods, bike panniers, rear basket and so on.

For the purpose of this bikepacking article, when we say bike rack we mean the kind that you attach to your bike for carrying things (not ones to put your bike on).

Bike racks can be attached to either the front or back of the bike and are almost always held on via brackets attached to the bike frame.

The biggest benefit of having cargo racks on your bike is the ability to attach things to them. Bike racks are a necessity for most panniers and rear baskets.

The other great use of bike racks is to transport items without using other methods. You must strap the object down using bungees so it doesn’t come off when riding.

 

Topeak MTX BeamRack Rear Bike Rack

TopPeak MTX cargo rack

MSRP: $69.95

  • Weight Limit: 20lbs
  • Attachment style: Rear Rack

 

If you look for cycling accessories often, you will have come across the name Topeak often. The Topeak MTX BeamRack is a great example of Topeak’s quality.

It is a rear rack designed to hold luggage on the rear of your bike. This cargo rack comes in three sizes small, medium, and large, depending on the size of your bike. It’s made of lightweight aluminum and comes in less than 650g.

The rear rack is designed to clamp onto your seat post and has a clamp that can work with different sizes of round posts.

It holds nice and strong, and you won’t get movement while riding. It has runners to mount your bags onto and also straps so you can secure things down if required. It’s a great addition that will work with nearly every bike and looks great too.

Although it is an excellent rack, a thing to mention is it doesn’t work with all panniers easily. 

 

Portland Design Works Everyday Rear Rack

Portland cargo rack for a bicycle

MSRP: $99.00

  • Weight Limit: 55lbs
  • Attachment style: Rear Rack

 

If you’re looking for a rack to work with panniers, look great even when not carrying anything, and hold a decent amount of gear, then look no further than Portland Design Works.

This rear rack will work with bikes with rack mounts and a quick-release skewer. You will also require a bike with 26″ or 700c wheels. When attached, it is going to help you mount panniers or any type of bag on the rear. It’s made of aluminum in the tubing and bamboo on the wooden top.

The rack is strong with its 55lbs weight capacity and can be adjusted to sit closer or further from the seat post. The touch of bamboo gives this rack a classy look.

If you’re planning on a long tour and need a rack that is going to handle anything looking good, this rear rack is perfect and only weighs 1lbs in total.

 

 

Frame & Saddle Bags

Bicycle With Frame & Seat Bag

Saddlebag is ideal for carrying a repair kit & frame bag for just everything. Both are aerodynamical.

Frame and seat bags are exactly what the name suggests. They are bags that are designed to be strapped to your frame or under your seat to help ease the transport of goods. Frame bags are known as bikepacking bags.

Seat bags are often stuffed with small repair kits that include a tube and a few select tools. They are excellent bags for bicycles and make carrying small loads very easy.

Frame and Saddle bags are the best option for bikepackers who want to carry plenty of weight but remain aerodynamic.

Related: Road bike reviews, articles & guides >

The greatest perk of using frame or seat bike bags is that they usually don’t need any special hardware to attach to. They typically just attach to the frame or seat using straps (often Velcro).

Frame and seat bags are also great as they come in many different sizes but still tend to be more aerodynamic than panniers.

They can fit a wide variety of items and can be found in hard or soft shell versions. Finding a great saddle bag cycle touring can really improve the experience.

 

Roswheel Road Frame Bag

Roswheel frame bag

MSRP: $90.00

  • Capacity: 3.5 liters
  • Attachment style: to the frame with straps

 

Bikepacking is a lot of fun, but it can be made awful by using the wrong equipment. Going with a reputable brand like Roswheel goes a long way.

This Road Frame bag has been made with a lot of thought and doesn’t just look great. It works. The bikebacking bag has a 3.5-liter capacity and is made of Lightweight TPU polyurethane-coated 420-denier nylon. So it has a great level of waterproofing and also is going to be strong enough to withstand heavy use.

The bikepacking bag mounts to the frame with rubber straps which is rare to see on this kind of bag but does offer a great level of frame protection. Another great feature of this bag is the fact it has holes where you can run cables out of.

It makes charging navigation devices on the go really easy and keeps the bike looking clean.

The bag looks fantastic, and with the reflective panels on the side offer a bit more visibility than others on the market.

 

Ortlieb Frame Pack

Ortlieb bikepacking bag

MSRP: $165.00

  • Capacity: 6 liters
  • Attachment style: to the frame with straps

 

The Ortlieb Frame Pack is a pretty popular in the cycling world and honestly, it’s easy to see why

It’s a frame bag with capacity of 6 liters. This bikepacking bag is waterproof and comes with a heavy-duty zip to keep the water out and also keep your goods safe and secure. It has a simple triangular design that will work with all different kinds of bikes and is still going to give you space for water bottles on most frames.

The bag mounts using a simple strap system, and the mounting points can be adjusted depending on the bike you attach to.

It’s safe on any frame, even carbon fiber, and looks sleek. It comes in a stealthy black with an orange zip for visibility and only weighs 8.8 ounces.

This is no the cheapest of bags, but you won’t need to replace it for a very long time as it’s just so well made.

 

Ortlieb Saddle Bag Two

Ortlieb saddle bag

MSRP: $65

  • Capacity: 4.1 liters
  • Attachment style: saddle rails

 

Another excellent product from Ortlieb, the Saddle Bag Two, is a great solution for carrying goods on the back of your saddle.

The first thing to mention about this bikepacking bag is the size. It comes in at a capacity of 4.1 liters which is actually not a size seen very often in a saddlebag.

It has plenty of space for tools and maybe a rain jacket but isn’t overkill. It’s made of polyurethane-coated nylon giving it great waterproofing qualities and is a very strong material.

The saddle bag mounts on the rails of your saddle and typically will work with 99.9% of saddles on the market.

Related: How to Choose Saddles

It is snug to the rear and very easy to remove if required. You can access it while on the bike with the simple clip securing system.

Although it might look quite weighty, it actually comes in at only 9.2 ounces. We also love the reflective elements which it has pointing out to the rear to make you more visible.

Saddlebag cycle touring has become very popular and we can see why!

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Depending on where you plan to go and what you plan to take, on light trips, you can normally get away with a frame bag, saddle bag, and a roll bag. If you do require more panniers bags are will be a better solution.

A good figure to aim for is about 15 to 20 liters of carrying capacity, that should be enough for light traveling. For long tours, 30 to 40 liters would be better using bike touring bags.

Typically bikepacking is a much shorter trip where you will really only carry the bare minimum. Touring you generally go away for a very long time and carry a lot more.

Frame bags are 100% worth it. They give you so many options when it comes to carrying extra goods while cycling. So many people invest in a set not just for bikepacking, but commuting and even general club rides.

 


Where to shop for bikepacking bags?

 

For an in-depth guide, read the BicycleWarehouse.com article here.

 

Final Thoughts

There are a ton of ways to transport goods while riding a bike, such as bikepacking bags. The hardest part is, of course, deciding what method will work best for you. We hope that this article clears up some confusion as to what carrying method works best for certain things.

Overall, it is important to realize that every option has its weakness. Sometimes you may even combine different bags to suit your situation. For example, you may always have a seat bag containing a repair kit left on your bike, and then you bring a backpack for everything else when the need is there.

No matter what you decide to use, remember to enjoy the ride and all of the benefits that it has to offer.

 

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