Author Topic: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?  (Read 4315 times)

Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« on: 25 April, 2024, 12:09:57 pm »
Hey folks,

After a very long absence from the road, I have just brought a gravel bike for some audaxy stuff, touring stuff and general gentle miles.

I am planning to get some nice matchymatchy bikepacking luggage to go with it but I am looking for opinions. Alpkit would have always been my go to, but I am not happy with them and their customer service (which means they have lost out on both a gravel bike sale, and selling me a lot of luggage to go with it)

So I am looking for alternatives. Currently Ortleib are at the top of my list, but I am open to other suggestions. Things have moved on so much since I last purchased luggage, I literally don't know where to start!

So what do you use, and why? Can you convince me to return to Alpkit and replace my alpkit seat bag and frame bag, both of which have worn through with the use they have had.
Does not play well with others

gibbo

  • Riding for fun, cake and beer.
    • Boxford Bike Club
Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #1 on: 25 April, 2024, 01:44:18 pm »
For touring I use Ortleib front panniers but used on the rear rack. I like them. Good at keeping water out and seemingly hard wearing, plus, I use the carry straps meaning I can walk around with them over my shoulder and still have my hands free.

I also have a seat pack from Birzman used when bike packing. It's ok but if I were going to buy another bag of the same style I'd get a holstered version e.g. Restrap. Reason being the simplicity of removing the bag and not having to refit later which, in the case of the Birzman, is faffy.

I have a "front loader" bar bag from Topeak which uses a cylindrical dry bag with valve which means you can stuff the bag, squeeze it (with the valve open), then close the valve to keep the compacted size. The valve leaks over time and the bag gets slowly bigger. Going forward, I'd probably buy the Restrap version as you can fit, what they call, an food bag.

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #2 on: 25 April, 2024, 06:57:51 pm »
I have Alpkit seat post, frame and handlebar snack bags that I'm very happy with.
I like my Ortlieb panniers (full size for with a tent and stove, small for otherwise).
I have forks that don't lend themselves to bags, so none there.
And, in tourist rather than bikepacker style, a bar bag. Either Haberland or Arkel for with a camera and depending on how big, or a Scourge phone and wallet if bag if it's a lighter day ride.

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Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #3 on: 25 April, 2024, 09:31:38 pm »
I have an Arkel Seatpacker, which I enjoy using. It works much better for me than the Apidura saddle pack that it replaced. Key difference is that it has a light aluminium frame which clamps to my saddle rails. This gives two benefits. It is rock solid and doesn't ever sway, and it only takes a couple of seconds to put on or take off the bike which saves lots of time vs Apidura.
It's also rated as waterproof, which I don't totally rely on but which is a positive.

It's been through two TCRs and a few other trips and is wearing pretty well.

I've got an Apidura top tube bag, which goes almost the full length of the crossbar, so it holds more than the ones that just tuck behind the stem. Works better with a more horizontal top tube. My new frame is quite compact so stuff falls to the back more than on my old bike.

Current bar bag is a Cyclite, which works very well with aerobars and is very good for access when riding. But I do have a reservation about it which is that I think it might affect bike handling when descending in a cross wind.  My previous bar bag was a couple of chalk bag style bags, mounted in front of my bars - I may go back to those.

I've just got a Tailfin to try it out. Normally I don't like roll tops as I think they are a pain to access and not necessary, but I thought I'd try it as lots of people rave about them. Not used it yet.

Edit: just seen you want matching stuff. If that was important to me I would go for alpkit as I think they have a frame for their saddle pack which might do what the arkel one does, or restrap as their holster system probably works OK.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Ride adventurously and stop for a brew.
Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #4 on: 25 April, 2024, 10:21:13 pm »
I used to have an Alpkit saddlepack, yonks ago, but didn't like at all. Too shapeless and too hard to find the things I wanted in it. Might have been good for bikepacking, packing in the morning and unpacking in the evening and that's it, but no good for audax, which I was using it for.

I love my Gorilla fork bags. Waterproof, tough, leave only the tiniest unobtrusive bolts on the forks when not in use.
Riding a concrete path through the nebulous and chaotic future.

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #5 on: 26 April, 2024, 11:39:31 am »
Certain bags suit their certain uses.

Ortlieb panniers are great for carrying more stuff, but add weight and encourage even more weight.
Bikepacking bags are amazing for bikepacking offroad, on-road they work but difficult access isnt offset by any real benfit, for anything but bikepacking they are crap.
Classic handlebar bag and Saddle bag (carradice style), brilliant for general ease of use and access, not great off-road or if you need more space.

My favourite road bikepacking setup was an ortlieb handlebar bag and carradice saddle bag. Just enough space for small sleeping bag, tiny tent and a lightweight (i.e. no excess clothing or spare shoes etc.) set-up.
For offroad i use Wildcat gear bags, compact, fit my bike but very much only accessed for camp setup. Frame bag used for general access stuff.

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #6 on: 26 April, 2024, 11:55:36 am »


I've just got a Tailfin to try it out. Normally I don't like roll tops as I think they are a pain to access and not necessary, but I thought I'd try it as lots of people rave about them. Not used it yet.



I'll be interested to hear how you get on Frank.
The issue with the rack-pack for me isn't, necessarily, the roll top it's more the 3 straps that you have to undo to get anything out of the bag. Then you have to connect them all again. With luck, they haven't dropped onto your oily chain.....I know there's a side pocket but that's too small to be any use at all.
OTOH, I love how stable the rack is and the mini-panniers are excellent and they don't wobble around at all.

Back on topic: I don't camp so I don't need a tent and all the other paraphernalia but I've found that even "rigidly" mounted seat-packs cause too much sway when I'm out of the saddle, hence my preference for the Tailfin rack.
I've also got a Tailfin top-tube bag and, on longer tours, I use a small frame-bag and a "quick on-off" Ortlieb handle-bar bag. The Ortlieb is useful for keeping valuables in and it also helps to even up the weight across the bike.

You can get a matching set of Tailfin kit Rabbit but it'll cost you. Rack-pack aside, it works really well.


Cudzoziemiec

  • Ride adventurously and stop for a brew.
Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #7 on: 26 April, 2024, 12:03:22 pm »
A Carradice-type saddlebag used on the bars seems to be the thing among bikepackers particularly transpondic nowadays.
Riding a concrete path through the nebulous and chaotic future.

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #8 on: 26 April, 2024, 04:32:39 pm »

The issue with the rack-pack for me isn't, necessarily, the roll top it's more the 3 straps that you have to undo to get anything out of the bag. Then you have to connect them all again. With luck, they haven't dropped onto your oily chain.....I know there's a side pocket but that's too small to be any use at all.
OTOH, I love how stable the rack is and the mini-panniers are excellent and they don't wobble around at all.

Back on topic: I don't camp so I don't need a tent and all the other paraphernalia but I've found that even "rigidly" mounted seat-packs cause too much sway when I'm out of the saddle, hence my preference for the Tailfin rack.

Thanks for the warning about the straps!  I like the Tailfin rack but I don't like their bag as I would rather trade waterproofness for ease of access.  I will try to see if I can fit a different bag on to it, one with a zip. I'm not a fan of Ortleib bags either as they seem to be obsessed with roll-tops, but I've never owned one.

The best way to cope with poor access - whether tailfin or saddle pack - is to only have stuff in the tail bag that you won't need during the day.  I learned that the hard way!  Also I learned to pack in a modular fashion. While you get the most in by loose-loading, it wastes loads of time unpacking and repacking everything each time you need one item. Now I have four sub-bags (one each for tools/spares, electrics, personal care/medicines and clothes).

I'm not on commission, but the Arkel seat pack really does not sway - it's basically got a rack inside it so it can't, any more than a Tailfin can.  It's a really well-designed piece of kit.  The rack makes it slightly heavier, and it doesn't work with a suspension seatpost (but does with a dropper) but other than that, it's miles better than other seatpacks.

Kim

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Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #9 on: 26 April, 2024, 04:48:17 pm »
Thanks for the warning about the straps!  I like the Tailfin rack but I don't like their bag as I would rather trade waterproofness for ease of access.  I will try to see if I can fit a different bag on to it, one with a zip. I'm not a fan of Ortleib as they seem to be obsessed with roll-tops. 

Agreed about zips being superior for ease of access.  My usual going-for-a-bike-ride rack bag is an old Carradice model with zipped compartments, which I prefer to the flap-closure type.  Obviously it's a trade-off for longevity.  Never had a frame bag or bar bag (I've always filled my DF bike frames with water bottles, and had limited room on the bars), but they seem like the best option for ease of access[1].

Roll-tops are reliable, but they're a faff.  In fairness to Ortlieb, it's their roll-top touring panniers (which, like you say, you mostly access at the end of the day) that they're famous for, and most of their luggage seems to be a variation on that theme.  Great for kitchen-sink touring.



[1] Honourable mention to the back pockets of Brompton bags, which aren't very bikepacky, but are certainly clever non-traditional bike luggage.

vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
    • Audaxing
Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #10 on: 26 April, 2024, 05:06:20 pm »
I have a Restrap framebag and a Restrap saddlebag

The framebag is not absolutely audaxing-in-wales-waterproof but it is waterproof enough that I have not actually had any problems with damp stuff in it.  Despite riding in the rain in it.  It must be more than 4 years old now and it is still in excellent working order

The "saddlebag" isn't a Carradice idea of a saddlebag.  It is a holder for a tapered dry bag which is attached to the saddle.  The holder is very good, light and quick and secure to fit.  It is slightly newer than the framebag but again it is a few years old and still good to go, no signs of wear

Prior to this I had various homemade dry bag based things

I still have a large double ended dry bag that I can strap to the handlebars, that worked as a thing

I did at one point try using an Alpkit Stem cell but it wasn't a success.  It got in the way and didn't shut effectively.  Alpkit don't make them now so i guess i wasn't the only one not using them :)

One of my mates has a Apidura saddle bag (same design as described above) and this seems to be reliable etc

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #11 on: 26 April, 2024, 06:04:14 pm »
I have this:

https://www.ortlieb.com/uk_en/seat-pack-qr+F9904

I mostly put it to inappropriate use on the commute. I like it because it is properly waterproof, rock solid on the bike, and more than big enough.

It needs a certain amount of room around the saddle rails to work - the Ortlieb site has details of what won’t fit. Another point to be aware of is that the adjustable QR bits are on the bag rather than a bracket attached to the bike, so depending on your setups it is not necessarily swappable between bikes.


Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #12 on: 27 April, 2024, 02:54:23 pm »
Hey folks,

After a very long absence from the road, I have just brought a gravel bike for some audaxy stuff, touring stuff and general gentle miles.

I am planning to get some nice matchymatchy bikepacking luggage to go with it but I am looking for opinions. Alpkit would have always been my go to, but I am not happy with them and their customer service (which means they have lost out on both a gravel bike sale, and selling me a lot of luggage to go with it)

So I am looking for alternatives. Currently Ortleib are at the top of my list, but I am open to other suggestions. Things have moved on so much since I last purchased luggage, I literally don't know where to start!

So what do you use, and why? Can you convince me to return to Alpkit and replace my alpkit seat bag and frame bag, both of which have worn through with the use they have had.
I don't have a matching set on my bike, but I can say that tailfin bolt on top tube bag is great. Their smallest, zippered bag is great, does not sway, waterproof and my knees don't rub it.
I'm also liking Carradice's Colorado bikepacking bag. It uses a small rack that clamps to seat rails, much like their bagman racks.
It doesn't sway, and contents don't need to be strapped tightly to prevent sway. It is very fast to remove or put on the bike.
So far only one trip with it, but liking it and not too expensive compared to Apidura et al.

I also use an older Alpkit half frame bag that I don't love but does the job.

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ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #13 on: 27 April, 2024, 04:17:37 pm »
Nothing matching here either.

On my upwrong (Faran 2.5) I use
- Alpkit cylindrical top-zipped bar bag (tried a double-ended thingy with a valve, but it was too big and fouled the light)
- Fork cages/bags from Planet X
- Tailfin and rackpack
- Ortlieb gravel panniers

I also sometimes use a top-tube snack pack.  I'm thinking of front rack for this and panniers at the front with the fork cages mounted on the Tailfin instead for more even weighting.

On the 'bent I have bananananana bags, and a Carradice rack pack with pannier options as well.  Snack pack gets use on there as the middle jersey pocket becomes unavailable
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #14 on: 28 April, 2024, 07:09:00 am »
My gravel bike and bike packing set-up includes:

Apidura Racing top tube pack. I chose the Racing over the Expedition for the magnetic closure. It works well.
Apidura Expedition frame pack, handlebar pack and cargo cage pack (x2). Cargo cage packs attached to Tailfin cargo cages.

On the rear, I decided to avoid the huge seat pack and opted for an Ortlieb dry-bag (the one with the valve) strapped to the top of a Tubus Vega rack using Voile Rack Straps. It is stable, gives extra flexibility and avoids the exclusive and expensive nature of the Tailfin alternative.

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #15 on: 29 April, 2024, 10:11:00 am »
Goodness, so many helpful replies! Thanks all, I will go through and digest all this info bit by bit and do some more research. I agree about the roll top bags, I hate them and would rather a zip...........but then, zips always seem to break and never seem waterproof so I am guessing there is compromise there.

Ortlieb panniers are great for carrying more stuff, but add weight and encourage even more weight.

That sounds like just up my street  ;D  I like a lot of luggage room when touring, although not so much when audaxing I admit.

I have a Restrap framebag and a Restrap saddlebag

The framebag is not absolutely audaxing-in-wales-waterproof but it is waterproof enough that I have not actually had any problems with damp stuff in it.  Despite riding in the rain in it.  It must be more than 4 years old now and it is still in excellent working order

The "saddlebag" isn't a Carradice idea of a saddlebag.  It is a holder for a tapered dry bag which is attached to the saddle.  The holder is very good, light and quick and secure to fit.  It is slightly newer than the framebag but again it is a few years old and still good to go, no signs of wear

Prior to this I had various homemade dry bag based things

I still have a large double ended dry bag that I can strap to the handlebars, that worked as a thing

I did at one point try using an Alpkit Stem cell but it wasn't a success.  It got in the way and didn't shut effectively.  Alpkit don't make them now so i guess i wasn't the only one not using them :)

One of my mates has a Apidura saddle bag (same design as described above) and this seems to be reliable etc

This is very interesting, thanks for the feedback. I was almost sold on restrap due to their ethics and UK production. But I am not sure now if they aren't completely waterproof. I have two of those Alpkit stem cells. I think I used them about 4 times and they have been sat in the cupboard ever since. Drove me bonkers, but some people seemed to love them. I also hate my alpkit top tube bag, it was floppy and annoying. But the frame bag I have from them was brilliant unit it wore through where my leg rubs it if it is filled, and my seat pack has now got straps held on by barely any fabric and also big holes wearing in.
Does not play well with others

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #16 on: 29 April, 2024, 10:13:14 am »
I have an Arkel Seatpacker, which I enjoy using. It works much better for me than the Apidura saddle pack that it replaced. Key difference is that it has a light aluminium frame which clamps to my saddle rails. This gives two benefits. It is rock solid and doesn't ever sway, and it only takes a couple of seconds to put on or take off the bike which saves lots of time vs Apidura.
It's also rated as waterproof, which I don't totally rely on but which is a positive.

It's been through two TCRs and a few other trips and is wearing pretty well.

I've got an Apidura top tube bag, which goes almost the full length of the crossbar, so it holds more than the ones that just tuck behind the stem. Works better with a more horizontal top tube. My new frame is quite compact so stuff falls to the back more than on my old bike.

Current bar bag is a Cyclite, which works very well with aerobars and is very good for access when riding. But I do have a reservation about it which is that I think it might affect bike handling when descending in a cross wind.  My previous bar bag was a couple of chalk bag style bags, mounted in front of my bars - I may go back to those.

I've just got a Tailfin to try it out. Normally I don't like roll tops as I think they are a pain to access and not necessary, but I thought I'd try it as lots of people rave about them. Not used it yet.

Edit: just seen you want matching stuff. If that was important to me I would go for alpkit as I think they have a frame for their saddle pack which might do what the arkel one does, or restrap as their holster system probably works OK.

Thanks so much Frank, good to get an opinion of a seasoned ultraracer as yourself. The seatpacker sounds particularly good  :thumbsup:
Does not play well with others

vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
    • Audaxing
Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #17 on: 29 April, 2024, 12:27:57 pm »
I was almost sold on restrap due to their ethics and UK production. But I am not sure now if they aren't completely waterproof.

The saddlebag is completely waterproof as it is a Drybag

The framebag is made of waterproof stuff.  The level of dampness inside the bag during apocalpytic rain is low.  Cardboard boxes in the LHS narrow pocket are slightly moist.  Batteries and food in the main compartment are always ok

Ortlieb panniers are water proof to the "throw in a river" extent
Carradice Saddlebags, when new, are water proof to the "leave outside the YHA overnight in rain" extent

The saddlebag is the same as an Orlieb pannier.  The framebag is not quite as good as a Carradice Saddlebag but it's not far off

Alpkit claim to have 100% waterproof framebags but I am not sure I believe them

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #18 on: 29 April, 2024, 12:54:15 pm »


I started with an ortlieb 19l saddle bag. And managed to destroy it. There just isn't enough room on a small bike for a saddle bag of any useful size.

Then I switched to a tailfin. And it's been a revelation. Is it cheap? No. Is it good. oh very much yes. Absolutely no regrets in my purchase.

I then have a alpkit frame bag, with a small frame I had to go for a full bag to get any useful volume from it. Bottles are on the handlebars in stem cells. The top tube has a bag for all my tools. Again, alpkit.

In total I have 4 stem cells on the handlebars. Two for bottles. Two for food. Then under the aerobars I have a side pocket from a backpack bungee'd in place. This I use for food.

Am very happy with all of it. The tailfin especially.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #19 on: 29 April, 2024, 01:46:27 pm »
Based on your various comments above, have a look at Wildcat (https://wildcat.cc/) and Wizard Works (https://www.wizard.works/).
The pleasure of pain endured
To purify our misfit ways

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #20 on: 29 April, 2024, 08:16:44 pm »
Me again, with a couple of extra thoughts...

On the basis of today's rough stuff touring, I'm going to anti-recommend anything with a rixen and kaul bracket. They're not designed for it. And say that panniers that are easy to get on and off make ill-advised hike a bike and trains easier than a load of carefully adjusted velcro.

Any waterproof bag is only even somewhat waterproof while closed. I have a load of colour coded dry bags to put stuff in. So I can get to other things in the rain without getting my spare socks wet.

On which topic, I reckon a good bag selection just helps a what gets packed where strategy. A properly waterproof small roll top might be just the thing for overnight gear, a stem cell with a drainage hole in the bottom ok for individually wrapped snacks.

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Kim

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Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #21 on: 29 April, 2024, 09:42:35 pm »
On the basis of today's rough stuff touring, I'm going to anti-recommend anything with a rixen and kaul bracket. They're not designed for it. And say that panniers that are easy to get on and off make ill-advised hike a bike and trains easier than a load of carefully adjusted velcro.

I'm a proponent of the pair-of-Ortlieb-Front-Rollers-on-the-rear-rack approach for, well, pretty much anything that needs more than a waterproof jacket and a puncture kit, but less than kitchen-sink touring.  But being shaken around as you bounce over tree roots and shark-infested potholes on hardtail mountain bicycle is going to push the fixings to their absolute limit (crossing the straps over should stop you losing a bag, but they're still going to come unhooked and flap about).

Very good point about trains.  The pannier advantage is considerable if the Stuff needs to be separated from the bike and carried for whatever reason (eg. hotels or similar).

Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #22 on: 29 April, 2024, 10:58:28 pm »
I use very short bungees on my front panniers to stop them popping off when things get a bit rough. Bit of a hack, but works really well.
Those wonderful norks are never far from my thoughts, oh yeah!

Cudzoziemiec

  • Ride adventurously and stop for a brew.
Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #23 on: 01 May, 2024, 11:32:24 am »
If by Rixen and Kaul bracket you mean the bar-bag bracket, as used by almost every conventional bar bag nowadays, then I agree. It's an abomination, placing the weight way too far off the front, with adverse effects on both handling and bounceability. It's only advantage AFAICS is that it makes the bag easily removable, but unless you're doing that a dozen times a day (in which case I'd be thinking about something a lot more comfortable to carry), undoing a couple of straps isn't a big deal.

Trains I'm not sure about. On a CrossCountry dangle-spacer a few years ago I had a conversation with a couple of bikepackers returning from Glasgow. They'd simply hoisted their light and narrow bikes onto the hooks with bags attached, whereas I'd had to remove my panniers even to get the bike through the external door. Which means leaving them on the platform then dashing out for them before they get knicked or knocked off a crowded platform, hoping no one complains about the bike blocking the gangway in the meantime. I suppose a traditional transverse saddlebag represents a win-win here, being both easily detachable and fitting within the overall envelope of the bike. Of course it depends on the ratio between your arm strength, the loaded bike weight and the height and shape of the lift required.
Riding a concrete path through the nebulous and chaotic future.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Ride adventurously and stop for a brew.
Re: Bikepacking Bags - what's your favourite/hated and why?
« Reply #24 on: 01 May, 2024, 11:34:07 am »
A non-bag tip: a tightenable strap (I use a Restrap "fast strap" I happen to have anyway) round the brake lever is a great way to keep the bike steady in both a wheels-on-the-floor carriage and a dangly space, where it can also be tightened round bars or other suitable protrusion and an available bit of train furniture.
Riding a concrete path through the nebulous and chaotic future.