Bikepacking bags have come a long way in the past decade. The materials are higher quality, the designs are sleeker and almost all bags are fully waterproof. So where to from here? Quite a few manufacturers are now offering stabilized bikepacking bags which promise a better user experience.
After trading in the rack and pannier set up, adding new rack-supports back on your bike may seem like you’ve come full circle! But there are a few reasons why it makes sense to offer stabilized bikepacking bags, past keeping them still…
Why Should You Go Stabilized?
Cable Clearance – Regular bikepacking handlebar packs naturally rest against the shift and brake cables of your bike. Unless you’re running really long cables, you might be hampering the performance of your brakes and gears. A stabilized handlebar pack will allow you to lift the load off your cables to prevent any performance hinderances.
Eliminating Tail Wag – Ahh, the dreaded tail wag of a bikepacking seatpack! The more modern seatpacks are pretty good at eliminating this, but with a sloppy pack job, even the best will wiggle around a bit. Stabilized seatpacks use rack supports to ensure that your rear load is stable at all times.
Clearance – Sometimes the gap between your seat and tyre, or handlebar and tyre is limited. This often means fitting smaller diameter bags with reduced capacities. Many of the stabilized bags increase this clearance by allowing you to lift a handlebar pack higher up front, or by cinching down a drybag further back behind the saddle.
Reducing Paint Rub – Handlebar packs often have a strap that fits to the headtube of your frame to keep it in place. Over time, this strap will have a go at your paint, along with any other parts of the handlebar pack that are touching your frame. The obvious answer is to fit some clear tape to your headtube so that your paint doesn’t get scuffed, but that’s not necessary with a stabilized bag set up.
Why Should You Not Go Stabilized?
Fragility – The biggest downside to a stabilized system is that they’re way more susceptible to damage. If you come off your bike or accidentally drop it, you can damage the somewhat fragile rack supports (your bags will be fine). Some products are more bombproof than others.
Extra Weight – While most handlebar and seatpacks are in the 300-450 gram range, the stabilized gear is anything from 400-1100 grams, but more often than not, it’s >600 grams. This may be a concern for those who are racing, but won’t make much of a difference to your overall pack weight otherwise.
Stabilized Front Bikepacking Bags and Harnesses
Portland Design Works Bundle Roll // 995g
The Bundle Roll is a new product from PDW which uses a handlebar mount to secure the harness in place. It offers cinching straps on both the inside and outside of the harness which will ensure your drybag is going nowhere. The Bundle Roll without drybag is 820g, and it’s 995g with a Revelate Saltyroll with a 15-litre capacity. The cradle has a 6kg/13lbs capacity.
Viaggiatori A Pedali Butterflyguns Handlebar Sling // 660g
Viaggiatori a Pedali have just started production on a handlebar extension and hanging sling to hold a drybag. The mounting kit includes two 22cm aluminium bars which protrude from the handlebar and offer four locations for the sling to grab on; the front section doubles as a light and GPS mount. The sling is made from a non-slip fabric called ‘Rubbotex’ which is used in the nautical industry, and it’s reinforced with two glass fibre sticks to keep the sling rigid even when not fully filled. The mounting kit and sling weigh in at 490g, which would be boosted up to 660g with a 15-litre Revelate Saltyroll drybag.
Aeroe BikePack Handlebar Bag // 740g, 790g, 840g
The Aeroe handlebar mount allows you to fit a specially designed 9L, 11L or 14L drybag out front. The bags are removable from the circular handlebar dock in a second with a simple side twist. Inside the hardcase drybags you’ll find two cinching straps to keep your gear from bouncing about. This product was successfully funded on Kickstarter, and the products will be shipping at the end of 2018.
Overlander Bike Gear Handlebar Rack // 884g
This unique aluminium handlebar rack is essentially a big cradle to cinch down a drybag. It’s a bit heavier and burlier than other cradle systems, but it’s also expected to take more hits as a result. An interesting feature is that you can fit two bidon cages to the back of the handlebar mount in the location where you’d normally have stem bags. The maximum load capacity is 3.6kg/8lbs and the rack is 704g by itself.
Arkel Rollpacker 15 and 25 // 680g and 748g
The Rollpacker has been in development for a few years now but is finally available to consumers. This dual-access bag also has an accessory bag attached to the front, and it’s all supported with two arms that swoop under the bag to hold it in place. It’s available in either a 15-litre or a rather monstrous 25-litre configuration suited to flat bars. The max capacity is 7kg/15lbs.
Blackburn Outpost Handlebar Roll // 517g
The Outpost was one of the original stabilized bags. It uses a handlebar mount to attach the harness, and once your drybag is locked in place, the red strap keeps your bag riding high. The drybag that is provided with the Outpost is 11.5 litres and the system has a maximum load capacity of 3.6kg/8lbs.
Salsa Anything Cradle // 640g
Released in 2016, the Anything Cradle was another of the first stabilized handlebar harnesses. It’s light, it’s simple and you can also add an accessory pouch to the front of the drybag for your phone, wallet or food. The Salsa drybag is dual-access and has a capacity of 15L. The handlebar mount will support 3.6kg/8lbs and can fit to 31.8mm handlebars only.
Specialized Burra Burra Harness // 500g and 520g
The third OG stabilized handlebar harness is the Specialized Burra Burra. This one is available with either a 13 or 23L drybag. The handlebar mount is a bit more adjustable than others as the handlebar clamp AND harness can be rotated to put the bag in the most ideal location. A nice feature of the single-sided drybag is the zip across the front that gives access to your valuables without needing to jump off your bike.
Vincita Strada Handlebar Bag // 1100g
Little known Thai brand Vincita produce a really neat bag called the Strada which uses a Klickfix handlebar mount to attach and remove your drybag from your bike. The supplied drybag is pretty narrow for drop handlebars at 8.9L, but the Vincita harness will easily fit a 15L drybag if you use a flat handlebar.
Stabilized Rear Bikepacking Bags
Portland Design Works Bindle Rack // 520g
The Bindle Rack has been a pretty popular option for those with minimal clearance between their seat and tyre. You can use the included straps to cinch down a drybag such as the Revelate Terrapin pictured here, or alternatively, you can add in a harness made by Andrew The Maker that makes taking the drybag on and off the bike that a bit easier. The max capacity is 5kg/12lbs.
Aeroe BikePack Seatpost Mount // 940g, 990g and 1040g
This seatpost-mounted rack allows you to fit a specially designed 9L, 11L or 14L drybag to the top. The bags are removable from the circular dock in a second with a simple side twist. Inside the hardcase drybags you’ll find two cinching straps to keep your gear from bouncing about. If you want, you can also run the mount sideways to fit a drybag on either side of the rack for a total capacity of 28 litres! This product was successfully funded on Kickstarter, and the products will be shipping at the end of 2018.
Carradice Super C with Bagman QR Support // 1499g
Carradice have been making canvas saddlebags since forever, and there are now more than a dozen models to choose from. These saddlebags can mount directly into the saddle loops behind some saddles, but it’s recommended to use Carradice’s stabilizing rack called the Bagman QR that both keeps your bag stable and allows your bag to be fitted/removed in seconds. The Bagman QR support is good for up to 10kg/22lbs and is not rated for off-road use.
Overlander Bike Gear Dropper Rack // 882g
Overlander Bike Gear also make a rack to attach a drybag such as the Revelate Terrapin 14-Litre. The aluminium rack itself weighs 712g and the maximum carrying capacity is 3.6kg/8lbs.
Arkel Seatpacker 9 and 15 // 640g and 720g
The Seatpacker is the narrow bikepacking seatpack option by Arkel. It uses a mini-rack that mounts to both the seatpost and saddle rails to ensure the bag is free from tail wag. Given the design, it can be mounted to a dropper seatpost too if you’re that way inclined. The Seatpacker is available in 9 and 15-litre sizes and will handle 5kg/13lbs.
Arkel Rollpacker 15 and 25 // 817g and 900g
The same front Rollpacker bags can be used on the rear too, but you’ll need the quick release saddle rack for it to work. You can mount these 15 or 25-litre bags on top of the rack if you have limited distance between your saddle and tyre, or if you’ve got the clearance, you can hang it underneath the rack for a lower centre of gravity. The maximum capacity of this system is 7kg/15lbs.
Porcelain Rocket Albert Dropper Seat Pack // 450g
The Albert is a 9-litre bag which is designed specifically for dropper seatpost use. It’s supported by two arms which connect from the saddle rails to keep the bag stable. It has a 2.25kg/5lbs load capacity only.
Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion Mini, Regular and XL // 440g, 450g and 480g
The larger sized rack supported bags by Porcelain Rocket are the Mr Fusion series. A mini-rack juts out from the seatpost to make sure your seat harness system can’t wag about. You can get the Mr Fusion bags in a 9, 13 or 17-litre capacity.
Specialized Burra Burra Seatpack 10 and 20 // 415g and 450g
Specialized also makes a 10 or 20 litre waterproof seatpack that employs a similar mini-rack to the Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion, albeit it’s on the top of the bag rather than the bottom. The mini-racks will fit either a 27.2mm or 30.9mm diameter seatpost.
Tailfin AeroPack Carbon and Alloy // 600g and 780g
Recently funded on Kickstarter, the AeroPack is a little different because the rack connects at both the seatpost and rear axle. The included 20-litre drybag ends up sitting on top of the rack where you’d normally find a standard seatpack. Two long cinching straps allow you to expand your volume even further if you need by adding an extra drybag as pictured. Given the solid rack design, the Tailfin is good for 12kg/26lbs and will be available early-2019.
WOHO Saddle Bag Stabilizer // 125g
And finally, a product designed to stabilize any other bikepacking seatpack you like. WOHO came up with this rather simple aluminium stabilizing bracket, which I think you’ll agree is pretty damn neat. Mounting on the saddle rails, the Stabilizer cradles either side of your seatpack and stops any swaying. The bidon mounts on either side of the bracket are simply a bonus.