Bikepacking - What Bags? (& what I use)
There are many opinions on what bags will suit your trip. Here's what I use and why I chose them.
Bikepacking or cycle touring? Bags or panniers? Well - those are the arguments that will never be settled!! And, quite frankly - there is no correct answer and I can't answer what is right for you! Although I would say for long distance touring I'd lean to panniers - for short I'd probably stick with bikepacking bags.
But - use what you have to begin with - even a backpack and a dry bag or two strapped to your bike with bungie cords. Who cares if it works and it gets you out. Buy what you want when you know what suits you.
I am not one to follow trends or get worried if I don't have the latest matching kit that the cool kids have. I have a mix/mash of kit that works for me. I am not sponsored, I don't have spare cash to spend and I would rather not keep buying stuff when I have kit that works.
I chose bikepacking gear when I decided that my old cyclocross bike should go on more adventures than just the rough tracks from home. I had no mounting points for kit. That's it - the whole thought process that went into becoming a bikepacker!
My gravel bike is an XS 47" frame. This leaves very little space for bags. I simply can not fit many of the big name brands on my bike and confidently go over rough surfaces without the worry that the bags will bounce off the tyres. My hardtail is bigger and would fit larger bags - but why carry more if you know you can work with small volume bags?
So - the bags I use -
Handlebar Bag, Seat Saddle bag and top tube bag are all Passport Cycles.
These were the bags that I bought from my local bike shop Alyth Cycles when I started bikepacking in 2016. They have lasted all my trips plus commuting and are still waterproof. They are smaller in volume to many of the big names but they fit perfectly and are fine over rough ground. (They do not sway)
Frame Bag - Blackburn Designs
This frame bag fits both my bikes. For a small frame and tight space a full frame bag I find is far more space efficient that a half frame bag and bottles. Neither is correct or incorrect though - I just prefer this set up. I used to use a half frame and bottles (make sure you get side pull cages though) It is not as perfect a fit as a custom made bag but then my budget does not stretch to that. I often just use the bag for a long cycle and put my hydration bladder in it.
Stem Bags - Alpkit
Mine are the XL size but about 3 designs old (If it works I don't replace until it doesn't! I don't like consumerism for consumerism sake!)
I only use these for extended trips or if I want to carry extra on an overnight for some reason.
Front Accessory Bag - Rockbros
A useful front additional bag that I tend to put my down jacket and bobble hat in for stops. I cu the straps off mine and use voile straps to attach it.
These deserve their own mention - really useful tough straps for anything! I often strap my mechanics kit, spare inner tubes or pump to my frame.
Other than bags, I use a Quadlock phone mount and then mounts for my Garmin Etrex and lights.
Feel free to contact me to ask any questions - I will be doing a post on what I pack where soon!