Bikepacking bags are a real game-changer for bicycle touring and adventuring, allowing you to do multi-day rides on virtually any bike. Mounted to the bike’s frame, seatpost and handlebars, they do not require dedicated mounting points like a rack and pannier set-up, meaning that you are not limited to a touring bike or hybrid bike but could also go away for long rides on your road, mountain, gravel or cyclocross bike.
A bikepacking setup also has other advantages compared with the traditional rack and pannier set-up; it is lighter weight, more aerodynamic and more suited to rougher terrain. Although overall capacity will be lower than a full four pannier setup, this enforced minimalism is part of the attraction of bikepacking for many. If you are sceptical that you can do proper touring with a bikepacking setup, why not check out our bikepacking kit list showing what can be fitted into a standard bikepacking setup (in this case using Restrap’s saddle, bar, frame and top tube bags)?
Interested? So what do you need to check before picking your bikepacking bags? Although the bags will fit to all bikes in theory, in practice you do need to check the space available on your bike, including available handlebar space, seatpost length and clearance above the rear tyre, and available space inside the frame triangle.
Measuring for saddle bags
Most bikepacking saddlebags mount to the saddle and seatpost, and the important measurements here are exposed seatpost height and clearance between the saddle rails and top of the rear tyre.
The minimums for our key bikepacking saddle bags are:
Porcelain Rocket (excluding the Albert)
Minimum exposed seatpost height: 3" / 7.6cm
Minimum clearance between the saddle rails and top of the rear tyre: 6” / 15.3cm
Minimum exposed seatpost height: 6” / 15.3cm
Minimum clearance between the saddle rails and top of the rear tyre: 6.5” / 16.5cm
Minimum exposed seatpost height: 3.9" / 10cm
Minimum clearance between the saddle rails and top of the rear tyre: 7.9" / 20cm
Minimum exposed seatpost height: 3.9" / 10cm
Minimum clearance between the saddle rails and top of the rear tyre: 5.9" / 15cm
Minimum exposed seatpost height 9” / 23cm
Minimum clearance between the saddle rails and top of the rear tyre: 7.1" / 18cm
If you use a dropper seatpost, make sure you measure the distance between the saddle rails and rear tyre when the dropper is in its lowest position, and if your bike has rear suspension measure with the suspension at its most compressed. Bags which attach to the seatpost as well as the saddle may have an impact on the available dropper travel so this is something to consider too. Porcelain Rocket have made a dropper post-specific saddle bag (the Albert) which is well worth a look at if you have a dropper post and are looking for a suitable saddle bag.
Lacking clearance between the saddle rails and the rear tyre? If so the Porcelain Rocket Albert is a good option, as is the PDW Bindle Rack.
Measuring for frame bags
For frame bags, the key measurements are the internal length of each tube: top tube, seat tube and down tube. We've included the approximate measurements of each of the frame bags we sell on their product page, so you can compare these to the measurements of your bike and make a decision based on this. If you have rear suspension finding a frame bag that will work with your bike is a bit more tricky, and a custom option might be more appropriate. Something like the small Restrap Frame Bag might work for you depending on the design of your bike - time to get measuring!
Depending on the size of your frame and the space available in the main frame triangle, you may be able to fit both a frame bag and a bottle cage or cages. If this is something you would like to explore you can work out roughly how much space you have available by estimating the space needed to get a bottle in and out of the bottle cage when measuring the inside of your frame. Side loading bottle cages are a good way to save space if it's a bit tight.
Measuring for handlebar bags
The key measurements for a handlebar bag are the width between the drops (if using a dropped bar bike), and the distance between the bars and the top of the front tyre (or mudguard if you have mudguards fitted). If your bike has a suspension fork you'll need to measure the tyre clearance with the fork at its maximum compression. For caliper, cantilever or V-brakes you'll also want to think about how a handlebar bag would fit on your bike without interfering with the brake.
When measuring the space between your drops it's worth bearing in mind the space you'll need for your hands on the inner side of the bars too. It's also worth thinking about where the bag will strap on, especially if you have crosstop levers, a front light, Garmin mount or other bits attached to your bars already. The handlebar bags are all designed to have fairly flexible mounting points to fit around various cockpit setups.
The minimums for our key bikepacking handlebar bags are:
Width of holster: 8.7" / 22cm
Minimum clearance between the bars and the front tyre: 7.9" / 20cm
Width of bag: 12" / 30cm
Estimated minimum clearance between the bars and the front tyre: 7.9" / 20cm
Width of bag: 10” / 25cm
Minimum clearance between the bars and the front tyre: 7.1" / 18cm
So, now you know what you need to measure to check which bags will fit on your bike, why not check out some of our top picks below or view the full range here? As well as saddle, frame and handlebar bags we also have smaller stem and top tube bags to add extra capacity to bikepacking setups.
Shop Bikepacking Bags From Restrap, Road Runner and Porcelain Rocket