Finding the right bikepacking bags for an affordable price can be a challenge. Cheap bikepacking bags can be hard to find if you also want lasting quality and knowing how to pack for bikepacking can also by less than obvious. That’s why we’ve decided to put this post together in order to highlight a few excellent picks for entry-level, affordable, and cheap bikepacking bags for anyone getting started with bikepacking.
Big and small companies are now catering to the rising bikepacking demand. Companies like Big Agnes have even released bikepacking-specific tents, like their Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL Bikepack made with shorter tent stakes. And, of course, there has been a huge rise in the number of cottage-industry bikepacking companies putting out handmade bikepacking bags, llike BedrockBags, RandiJofab.com or Three Sisters Threadworks.
But for those just getting started with bikepacking these custom, high-end bikepacking bags can be very expensive. After all, many of us are just wanting to dip our toes into the bikepacking world before dropping big cash on more expensive equipment.
It is with that in mind that we will cover some of the cheap bikepacking bags that you can find if you are looking for something affordable, yet still durable. We’ll also take a look at how to pack for bikepacking.
Our Suggestions for Cheap Bikepacking Bags
If you don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of how to choose bikepacking bags, see the table below for our suggestions on cheap bikepackings bags that are simple, affordable, and will get you started with bikepacking without any extra bells and whistles.
|Frame Bags||Our Choice|
Moosetreks Frame Bag
Blackburn Outpost Frame Bag
|Porcelain Rocket 52 Hz|
Roswheel Handlebar Bag
RockBros Handlebar Bag
Rhinowalk Seat Bag
Blackburn Outpost Seat Bag
Ortlieb Seat Bag
|Top Tube Bags||Our Choice|
RockBros Top Tube Bag
Topeak Fuel Tank Top Tube Bag
For reviews of our cheap bikepacking bags picks, jump to each section below:
- Moosetreks Framebag Review
- RockBros Handlebar Bag Review
- Blackburn Outpost Seat Bag Review
- Topeak Fuel Tank Top Tube Bag Review
Combine these suggestions with our section on How to Pack for Bikepacking and our posts on Bikepacking Gear Lists and our picks for Best Bikepacking Tents and you will be all set to take on your first bikepacking trip.
For simplicity, we will divide our suggestions into the four main types of bikepackings bags: frame bag, handlebar bag, seat bag, and top tube bags. We’ve divided each of these into “Entry-Level”, “Mid-Level”, and “High-End”. See our Cheap Bikepacking Bags vs High-End Bikepacking Bags section to see what constitutes cheap bikepacking bags (entry-level), mid-level bikepacking bags, and high-end bikepacking bags.
Types of Bikepacking Bags
Now that you have a better idea of which cheap bikepacking bags exist on the market, let’s dive into the different types of bikepacking bags and what they’re used for. We’ll also give a review of our choice for the best cheap bikepacking bag of each type. The four main types of bikepacking bags are the frame bag, handlebar bag, seat bag, and top tube bag.
The bikepacking frame bag is perhaps the most ingenious use of unused space on a bike. It sits in the middle frame triangle, which is generally only used to mount one or two bottle cages and nothing else. The beauty of this frame bag is that it capitalizes on all of that other room between the top tube, down tube, and the seat tube.
Frame bags usually come in full-size or half-size. Full-size bags fill the entire triangular area. Half-size (or less) will only fill a part of that area (often just the top section) leaving room for bottle cages. Some bikepacking framebags, like the Blackburn Outpost frame bag, give you both options by making it collapsible. A cool feature in our opinion.
Sizes tend to vary in order to fit various bike frames. The cheap bikepacking framebags will oftentimes come in only one size, so make sure you take dimensions of your bike to ensure it fits. High-end bikepacking framebags will offer different sizes of the same framebag to suit your bike frame. The straps on these bags allow for some error so the dimensions don’t have to match exactly.
In terms of waterproofing, we feel that not having a completely waterproof framebag is ok if one of two conditions are met. First, if you know that the chances of rain or wet weather are low, it is obviously unnecessary. If you’re a fair-weather rider, you can absolutely get away with just a water-resistant frame bag. Second, if you use the framebag to pack items that are ok to get wet (tools, camp fuel, repair items, tent poles, water bladders, etc), don’t bother with the waterproof frame bag. At worst, use drybags, like these Sea to Summit dry bags, to store your vulnerable items and you’re good to go.
The frame bag is a bit of a unicorn when it comes to how to pack for bikepacking. To see what typically gets stored in a bikepacking framebag, go to the How to Pack for Bikepacking section.
Our Choice for Cheap Bikepacking Frame Bag: Moosetreks Frame Bag
Our choice for a cheap bikepacking bag in the framebag category goes to the Moosetreks Frame Bag. Here are our reasons why:
- Fantastic price – Compared to the high-end framebags, the Moosetreks Frame Bag offers incredible value. Honestly, we think it’s worth more than what Moosetreks is asking for it.
- Various sizes – Various sizes allow you to choose the bag that best fits your frame.
- Small (6.5L) – 11.4” x 15.7” x 17.7”
- Medium (12L) – 12.6” x 17” x 19.7”
- Large (14L) – 13.8” x 18.1” x 21.0”
- Durable – The Moosetreks Frame Bag uses ripstop nylon, making it wear-resistant as well as water-resistant. We like that it is not a cloth material, meaning it will not absorb water.
- Compartments – An internal, removable divider allows you to separate items and store heavier items, like ebike batteries or water bladders, in their own compartment. You can access both of the compartments using two YKK zippers.
- Customer Service – Moosetreks is a company in the United States and does an excellent job of responding to customer needs. Some of their redesigns on these bags come from listening to customer feedback.
The bikepacking handlebar bag is next up. There is no shortage of cheap bikepacking bags to use on handlebars, so choosing a half-way decent one can be a little tricky. Although it may not seem like it, designing a handlebar bag that is functional, stable, and practical is not easy. The handlebars see a lot of movement (duh!), receive a lot of vibrations, and have limited attachment points. In order to make a handlebar bag for bikepacking that is useful, the designer has to think of all these things at once.
There are two common setups for handlebar bags: rolls and harnesses or cradles.
Rolls are one-piece bags that usually have roll top closures on each end. Straps are built into these bags in order to fix them onto the handlebars and the steering stem. These would be considered “soft mounts”.
Cradles or harnesses, on the other hand, use hard mounts clamped on the handlebars, with a cradle on the other end. A harness system is used to mount a separate soft bag (can be a dry bag) to the cradle. We like cradles because they are more stable and give your brake cables and shifter cables ample room. However, cradle designs are much more expensive. So if you’re looking for cheap bikepacking bags for your handlebars, you’ll want to look for the roll-types.
When choosing a roll-type handlebar bag for bikepacking, the design is actually important. Specifically, you want the attachment points to be strong and widely spaced. Why? For one, the straps need to be able to deal with all of the constant movement and shock the handlebars experience. You also want them to be spaced wide enough that your roll bag doesn’t droop at the ends. Finally, make sure the bikepacking handlebar bag you choose doesn’t interfere with the cables too much, or else you may be constantly having to adjust your shifter indexing (a royal pain) during your ride.
To see what typically gets stored in a bikepacking handlebar bag, go to the How to Pack for Bikepacking section.
Our Choice for Cheap Bikepacking Handlebar Bag: RockBros Handlebar Bag
We’ve chosen the RockBros Handlebar Bag as our cheap bikepacking bag option in the handlebar bag category. These are the reasons why:
- Great price – RockBros has done a great job of competing with high-end handlebar bikepacking bags by keeping the price extremely reasonable. We don’t think you’ll find a better choice for a cheap bikepacking bag in this category.
- Adjustable size – This roll-type bag adjusts in length and volume to fit your handlebar setup. Length varies from 14”-28” and volume ranges from 7L-14L.
- Drop and Flat bar compatible – As mentioned above, this bag can be used on both flat and drop bars thanks to its adjustability. For drop bars, make sure your drops are at least 15.75” apart to ensure the bag will fit when collapsed to its smallest size.
- Cables – Because it uses foam spacers to keep the bag offset from the handlebars, it doesn’t interfere with your cables.
- Stability – This is huge. The RockBros handlebar bag has 5 attachment points: two foam spacers on the handlebars, two straps with metal clips (no plastic!), and one strap at the steering tube. Stable as can be.
- Waterproof – 600D Ripstop Nylon with a waterproof membrane makes this 100% waterproof. Since we generally put our tent, sleeping bag, or clothes in the handlebar bag, we do think it’s important that this bag be waterproof.
- Customer Service – RockBros is another company in the United States and does an excellent job of responding to customer needs. Contact and warranty issues are handled easily through their New York office.
- What could be better? We wish the bag could be separated from the attachment points. But then again, that would likely cost more to have the same robust design. We think the bag is great as-is.
The bikepacking seat bag (also known as a saddle bag) is maybe the most quintessential of all the bikepacking bags. Mounted directly below the rider’s saddle, it is the bag that sticks out the most. It’s also the bikepacking bag that has the possibility to carry the most capacity. Because of the limited attachment points below the saddle, companies have struggled to find robust designs. This is why we suggest not skimping by buying ultra cheap bikepacking seat bags. Sure, they cost very little, but we can almost guarantee that they won’t last long.
A good bikepacking seat bag is waterproof. If you’ve ever ridden a bike in the rain without fenders, you’ll know exactly why. The seat bag is where all the road spray will end up. After a few days of rain, you can be sure that the bottom of this bag will be coated in dirt and mud. The seat bag is also where most of your soft items that shouldn’t get wet will go. This means your sleeping bag, puffy jackets, and other clothes. It’s important to keep those things dry. Luckily, most manufacturers have realized this.
Another key feature to look for in a cheap bikepacking bag for the seat is that it is modular. This means that the seat bag can be physically removed from the bike without having to undo the attachment points. Why? It makes packing this bag much, much easier. You will be going into the seat bag daily, so making it removable with the snap of a clip is handy.
Finally, choosing a bikepacking seat bag that is specifically designed to minimize sway is critical. Those ultra cheap bikepacking bags out there usually don’t have a very well thought out attachment system. This means that they are not stable and will sway back and forth as you crank on the pedals. This does several things. First, it slows you down by causing you to lose forward momentum as the bag swings sideways. Second, it greatly increases wear on the bag itself as it rotates about the seat post and puts excess strain on the attachment points. Third, it is just plain annoying to feel that thing going back and forth nonstop behind you.
Instead of going for the bargain bin seat bags, we suggest jumping directly to one of the mid-level bikepacking seat bags right off the bat. If you’re going to spend a tad bit extra on a bikepacking bag, make it the seat bag. Better quality goes a long way.
Our Choice for Cheap Bikepacking Seat Bag: Blackburn Outpost Seat Bag
For all the reasons we listed above, we’ve chosen the Blackburn Outpost Seat Bag as the cheap bikepacking bag of preference in the seat bag category. What we like about it:
- Price – When compared to the other high-end seat bags that offer the same features, the Blackburn Outpost Seat Bag is still a bargain. The Revelate Terrapin (which is a fantastic seat bag), for example, runs above $150. If you’re following our suggestions for cheap bikepacking bags, this will be the one you spend the most on. But we highly recommend not skimping on a bikepacking seat bag.
- Waterproof Dry Bag – The 11L dry bag, which is 100% waterproof, is included.
- Modular – The dry bag can be completely removed from the harness system, which stays on the bike. No annoying straps to deal with every time you want to take your bag off. Also very handy for packing the bag inside your tent when it’s raining outside.
- Stability – Of all the cheap bikepacking bags, the Blackburn Outpost Seat Bag has the least amount of sway. Maybe 1 or 2 inches side to side as you ride. To completely eliminate sway, you’d have to go to the high-end bags like the Revelate Terrapin or the Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion. Both great bags, but much more expensive.
- Customer Service – Blackburn is based out of the United States and is good about returns, repairs, and customer service in general.
- What could be better? For the price, not much. We are happy with how it is.
The seat bag takes some finesse when it comes to how to pack for bikepacking. So, to see how we load up this bag go to the How to Pack for Bikepacking section.
Top Tube Bag
Of all the cheap bikepacking bags you can choose from, we think the top tube bag is the one where going with the cheaper option is ok. Sure, it might not look as cool as the more expensive options, but it will do the job just fine.
The one area that warrants good quality in the top tube bag is the zipper. The top tube bag is the one you will open and close the most frequently. It is placed right in front and below you while you ride, so it usually has your wallet, keys, phone, and some snacks. Having a zipper that can handle the constant opening and closing is important. Being able to open and close the top tube bag is also a nice feature, as oftentimes you’ll be accessing it while you’re riding (to check navigation on your phone or to grab a snack).
Waterproofing is less of an issue for us on this bag. It doesn’t receive road spray and your body is usually somewhat protecting it from direct downward rain. And aside from your phone, there usually isn’t anything in here that can’t get wet. For your phone, we suggest simply keeping a Ziploc bag in there just in case.
We should mention that you’ll have to make sure that the top tube bag you choose can be installed with the frame bag you’ve chosen. The straps for each bag attach to the top tube, so if the straps aren’t adjustable along the length of the top tube, you run the risk of them overlapping. Just something to keep in mind.
Large top tube bags are great for larger storage capacity, but they also tend to flop over to one side or another if they are overloaded, don’t have reinforced sidewalls, or don’t have well-designed attachments.
Our Choice for Cheap Bikepacking Top Tube Bag: Topeak Fuel Tank Top Tube Bag
We’ve chosen the Topeak Fuel Tank as the cheap bikepacking bag of preference in the top tube bag category. And this is why:
- Price – At about half the price compared with high-end top tube bags like the ones offered by Rogue Panda or JPaks, the Topeak Fuel Tank is a great value.
- Stability – We like that the bottom of this bag has two straps (one that is adjustable along the length of the top tube) that can be used. This ensures that the bag can be used in conjunction with basically any frame bag. The two straps also make sure it can be cinched down properly to prevent the bag from tipping to one side.
- Sizes – Two sizes to choose from, Large (0.75L) and Medium (0.5L)
- Bright inner liner – The inside of this bag is a bright yellow, which makes finding things much easier.
- Organization – A couple inner mesh pockets and an adjustable divider help with keeping things organized.
- Cable port – A built in cable port is perfect to run headphones or a charging cable through to your smartphone.
- Water resistant – The material used can deal with anything except for maybe a heavy downpour. The zipper uses a special coating to keep water out as well.
How to Pack for Bikepacking
We often get asked how to pack for bikepacking. Bikepacking bags offer a very limited storage space, so knowing how to pack is critical. Packing is made easier if you have the right gear, of course. But it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have the lightest tent or most compact sleeping bag. In the end, the important thing is just to strap whatever you have onto your bike and get out riding. That said, your ride is going to be much more enjoyable if you have properly selected bikepacking gear and know how to pack it. So, in this section, we’ll run through how to pack for bikepacking, what goes where and why, and give other bikepacking planning tips.
How to Pack Frame Bags
The bikepacking frame bag is likely the oddest bag to try to fill. Its shape makes it awkward to fill up correctly and its relatively narrow width makes you wonder how you can fit much in there. However, once you actually go to pack a frame bag, you’ll realize how versatile it actually is.
The key thing with a frame bag is where it is located; low and in the middle of your frame. Because of this, you’ll want to try to pack the heaviest items in your frame bag. Things like water, tools, repair materials like spare tubes and sealant, food, stoves, and cooking equipment. The goal here is to keep your system’s center of gravity as low as possible. This will conserve energy by keeping your ride stable. It’s also the reason we like to avoid riding with backpacks, though sometimes it’s necessary.
Many frame bags only have one access zipper, so you want to avoid putting things that you will be needing often at the bottom of the frame bag. Food, snacks, water bladders should be near the zipper so that they’re easy to access during a break. A great place for a water bladder is resting parallel to the downtube.
Here is a list of items we recommend packing in your frame bag:
- Tools (multitool, pliers, chain tool)
- Flat tire repair kit (patches, sealant, tire levers, thread and needle)
- Spares (chain links, brake pads, cables, tubes, derailleur hanger, spokes)
- Chain lube (though you may want this in an accessible location, since you will be using this on your chain often)
- Water bladder (don’t put this on your back! Your butt will hate you)
- Cooking kits (if they’re collapsible like the X-from Sea to Summit)
- First aid kit
- Heavy food
How to Pack Bikepacking Handlebar Bags
Bikepacking handlebar bags are tough to give advice on because it depends on their style (harness/cradle vs rolls). Harnesses will basically accept any auxiliary items you can fit within the harness system. With a roll bag, like the Revelate Sweetroll, you are limited to the size of the integrated rolltop bag.
In general though, the handlebar area is a great place to keep soft, bulky items, like tents and sleeping pads. Because these are big items, you probably won’t have enough room to put much else. Again, this completely depends on the size of your bag and the style. With a harness system, you can also get away with sliding your tent poles in there.
The main takeaway with the handlebar area is to keep your weight as centered as possible. With a roll top handlebar bag, for example. Don’t put a rain jacket (light) in the left side of the bag and a can of soup (heavy) in the right side of the bag. This will make the bag tend to droop and mess with your handling.
Here are the items you should put in your handlebar bag:
- Sleeping pad
- Tent poles
- Food if it doesn’t need to be accessed often
- Camera (if you have a pouch like the one that comes with the RockBros Waterproof Handlebar Bag)
How to Pack Bikepacking Seat Bags
Unlike frame bags and handlebar bags, bikepacking seat bags are all generally the same shape, though they vary in size (volume). Their ability to carry weight also greatly differs. The high end bags like Porcelain Rocket’s Mr. Fusion have a built-in lightweight frame that makes carrying heavier loads no big deal and keeps the bag from swaying or drooping. Cheap bikepacking bags have a harder time dealing with weight and maintaining their structure unless you pack them correctly.
However, it is totally doable to pack a bikepack seat bag correctly even with cheap bikepacking bags. To maintain the seat bag’s structure, you want to fill it tightly with items that compress. You really want to use this bag as a compression sack, so that when it is full and sealed, the contents are exerting pressure outward, not just being held in by the bag.
What does that mean? Stuff the seat bag with your sleeping bag first, then stuff it with your puffy jacket and rain jacket and pants. If you still have room, fill it first with clothes, camping pillow, and other lightweight, bulky items, then stuff your sleeping bag into it to fill the rest of the space. Make sure you don’t put heavy items at the end (the opening) of the seat bag, as that will make it droop. It’s ok to dangle some flip flops, camp shoes, or tin cups off this bag (if it has the loops). Just be mindful to keep the weight as close to the saddle as possible.
Items to stuff into the bikepacking seat bag:
- Puffy jackets (synthetic or down like the Northface Thermoball)
- Sleeping bag
- Camp pillow
- Rain jacket (the lighter the better, which is why we like the Outdoor Research Helium II)
How to Pack Bikepacking Top Tube Bags
The top tube bag should hold all the things that you will want access to every time you get off the bike as well as everything you’ll need to access while you’re riding. The way top tube bags are mounted (onto the top tube and the stem) make them vulnerable to tipping to one side or the other unless the top tube bag is very well designed. For this reason, we suggest not overloading these too much.
Some people like to ride with two top tube bags. Both are mounted on the top tube, with one up front right at the steering stem and the other further back attached to the seat post. This gives ample storage space. Just make sure that you have clearance between your legs when you’re standing over the bike, as mounting a top tube onto the seat post can sometimes interfere with that.
Here are the items that should go into the top tube bags:
- Smaller bike tool
- Toiletries (toilet paper, hand sanitizer, etc)
- Anything else you want to make sure you can reach while you’re riding.
Cheap Bikepacking Bags vs. Expensive Bikepacking Bags
Cheap Bikepacking Bags (Entry-Level)
Entry-level cheap bikepacking bags are the bare minimum bags you’ll need to sustain you on your bikepacking trip. From our experience, they will last you 1-2 seasons of riding before something may stop working correctly. Usually this is in the form of a strap coming undone, stitching starting to come loose, or zippers starting to snag. These are also not necessarily waterproof, though this is not a huge deal for certain bags.
Affordable bikepacking bags usually have very basic designs. This means that their sizes tend to be universal, not customized to your specific bike. Sometimes they will not offer different sizes at all, though some do. Many of the designs used in cheap bikepacking bags are not novel. Rather, they’re just recreations of existing, big-name brands like Revelate, Apidura, or Salsa.
The price you pay is low because new engineering and testing probably isn’t done on the bags that are produced. Honestly, if all you’re looking for is cheap bikepacking bags to get you started, then it’s ok to forego all that engineering. If you get bitten by the bikepacking bug after trying it out with these cheap bikepacking bags, you’re probably going to upgrade in a couple seasons anyway. And if you decide bikepacking isn’t really for you, or you just want to seldom go out on a longer ride, then these affordable bags are a good solution that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Overall, entry-level, cheap bikepacking bags are perfect if you’re just getting started with bikepacking, don’t want to overthink the gear selections, and you want to learn how to pack for bikepacking. The bags we’ve chosen in this post are easily the most affordable, cheap bikepacking bags that will serve their purpose without exploding their contents all over the ground in the middle of nowhere. To summarize, entry-level cheap bikepacking bags usually have the following characteristics:
- Durability: 1-2 seasons of riding
- Waterproofing: None or Minimal
- Materials: Cheap or common materials
- Design: Basic, but practical
- Customer Service: Varies on manufacturer
- Companies: Moosetreks, RockBros, Rhinowalk, Roswheel, and many others
Mid-Level Bikepacking Bags
Mid-Level bikepacking bags are a step up from entry-level, cheap bikepacking bags. These generally include waterproofing, better quality construction, some extra features, a robust design and some semblance of customer service from the manufacturer. Mid-level bikepacking bags can be expected to last 2-3 seasons of use before some attention needs to be paid to them. The failures usually come in the form of stitching coming loose, zippers starting to snag, straps needing to be sewn back on, or plastic clips becoming brittle and breaking.
The design of these mid-level bags usually tends to be marginally better than the cheap bikepacking bags that you might buy if you’re just starting to get into bikepacking. This means that at least some thought was put into the construction of the bag and how it will function. Some ergonomic features might be integrated into the design to make it easier to use. Materials are also chosen a bit better. Rather than the entire bag being made of one material in order to save costs, you might have a bag with multiple types of materials.
Finally, customer service is usually at least somewhat responsive with these mid-level bags. Customer service from a bikepacking company can go a long way, since bikepacking gear, especially cheap bikepacking bags, tend to be used and abused on the trails. When something goes wrong, you can count on the manufacturer to at least give some sort of compensation or product support. In summary, mid-level bags usually offer the following:
- Durability: 2-3 seasons of riding
- Waterproofing: Waterproof, or water-resistant at the very least. Also depends on the type of bikepacking bag (frame bag, handlebar bag, etc)
- Materials: Durable, multiple materials possible per piece of gear
- Design: Practical with some extra features
- Customer Service: Average
- Companies: Blackburn, Topeak, RockBros, Moosetreks
High-End Bikepacking Bags
These are what the pros, like Jay Petervary or Lael Wilcox, use. They’re high quality, well-built, engineered, and costs more than you’d like. But you get what you pay for. With time, prices will likely come down for the big high-end bikepacking companies like Salsa, Revelate, or Apidura. But that’s because these companies mass-produce their bikepacking bags. Smaller, cottage industry bikepacking companies like JPaks, Rogue Panda, Oveja Negra, and Porcelain Rocket will have a difficult time competing. However, we think it’s important to support small businesses, especially if they’re local. So, if you’re going to be spending the big bucks on bikepacking gear, look what is offered locally first. Chances are you’re going to get products that fit you and your bike like a glove and last for years.
High-end bikepacking bags have detailed designs. Everything that has to do with form and function is thought of on these, from the way the zippers tuck away into little hoods so they don’t flap around, to roll-top designs on frame bags, to the way a top tube bag can be opened using only one hand.
Materials tend to be top notch. You can expect to get more than 3-4 seasons of consistent use with these bags without having to worry too much. Who knows, they may be the only bags you ever buy. The main thing to look for is basic wear and tear in the form of abrasion. This happens simply from the material rubbing against the frame of the bike and slowly wearing down. These bags mitigate that by usually having some sort of material reinforcement in those areas though. Like we said, you get what you pay for. If you save your pennies, these are well worth the extra cost.
To summarize, high-end bikepacking bags have these characteristics:
- Durability: 4-5+ seasons of riding
- Waterproofing: Waterproof, unless it explicitly uses non-waterproof materials (which we think is reasonable for certain types of bags).
- Materials: High quality and very durable.
- Design: Feature-heavy and very well thought out.
- Customer Service: Great, especially if you buy local and can walk into the store.
- Companies: Revelate, Apidura, JPaks, Rogue Panda, Rockgeist, Oveja Negra, Porcelain Rocket.