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Bag thoughts

Old 08-02-19, 05:19 PM
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Chris!
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Bag thoughts

I ride with rear panniers on a rack, triangle bag, saddle bag and one blackburn anything cage on each side of my fork. I'm curious about a bike packing style set up. Are there advantages over a more traditional touring set up with panniers that I'm just not seeing. Seems like having all your weight up high would not be ideal. I ride roads so not worried about panniers hitting stuff on a trail. Also looking at a larger bar bag but not sure how it would all work out with drop bars. Anyone have experience with both set up styles have any thoughts.
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Old 08-02-19, 05:39 PM
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I have used both. Depends on your bike, riding style and road/ off road conditions. The panniers are not ideal for singletrack, too wide. Need to get the bar bag between the drops, yes? My usual set up is bar bag, 2 fork cages, main triangle bag and rear rack with 2 small panniers. The one of the rear bags is almost empty, needs to fit beer, ice and more food at the end of the day. Keep your heavy stuff low, water, fuel and food. Revelate will have some good stuff, great products.
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Old 08-04-19, 05:38 PM
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Aerodynamics is better, and significantly so the faster your pace is due to the exponential relationship of air resistance and velocity.
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Old 08-04-19, 07:29 PM
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That article was really interesting. I just dont stee how I can pack everything I need into the space allotted with just a bike packing setup. Thinking I'm gonna pick up a handle bar bag and keep the rear panniers. I dont carry a ton of stuff I travel pretty light, just dont see it all fitting without the panniers.
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Old 08-05-19, 01:19 AM
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Handlebar bags go with drop bars best if they are sitting on a rack like one made by Nitto or Velo_Orange. The rack and bag combo allows the load to sit a little lower, and possibly help handling. VO has an integrated rack with decaleur and bag.
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Old 08-05-19, 04:13 AM
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Actually, as I explained on here the other day, that I am a pannier man, but if you want to carry more, in bags other than the obligatory bikepacking bags, you can also have 2 top tube bags, one at the front attached to the steering tube, one at the back, at the seat tube( their are various sizes), 2 X feed bags, a handle bar bag, or if you have a front rack, with a flat top, a rack bag as well, and these extra bags, may well just be enough for your gear, and you can do it cheaply thru Amazon or ebay, which is what I did.

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Old 08-05-19, 05:12 AM
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I'm a gram weenie and I like to look at the payload-to-weight ratio of packs. A larger, simpler bag with fewer zips, closures and attachments appeals to me. So does lower cost. I'm willing to give up convenience and ease of access. I don't see the attraction of multiple small bags. My current set-up is just two Arkel Dry Lites on a rear rack, a few things on top of the rack as needed. Nothing on front or frame. If it doesn't fit, it doesn't come.
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Old 08-05-19, 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by reppans View Post
Aerodynamics is better, and significantly so the faster your pace is due to the exponential relationship of air resistance and velocity.
Well.. The measured speed difference was a little more than 6% at 200 Watts (30+ kms/hr). I personally push closer to 125W, which would probably translate into less than 3% speed penalty, if at all.

What is not clear to me is how many liters of storage you can reasonably bikepack. I see Revelate selling a 20+L handlebar bag and cannot see myself riding with such a huge contraption tied to my handle bars.

I'd suggest that a bikepacking setup is desirable if (a) you ride narrow trails, or (b) do not have or want racks.
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Old 08-05-19, 08:01 AM
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That study, if I remember correctly, only focuses on the aerodinamic aspect of the setups, but bikepacking is also known to be lighter because the bags are lighter than panniers and racks and also because it's tied to more minimalistic setups.

The point here would be sacrificing comfort, both camping and in ease of packing to increase performance, because you have a lighter bike that holds better in bumpy terrain.

Also, in a bikepacking setup you'd want your stuff ordered by density like:

High density --------------> low density
frame bag -- seat bag -- handlebar bags

With fork cages ussually used for a specific purpose because they are better carrying cilinders.
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Old 08-05-19, 08:37 AM
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I’ve tried both setups. The entire bikepacking rig held maybe (maybe...) just what my rear Ortliebs hold. No matter what I did, I felt the seat pack sway - even with a light load. Full frame bag bulged a bit and made me relocate bottles too. We had no good place for tent poles other than lashed to the frame. Maybe a good solution for summer one nighters with a hammock (no tent). I tried to like it but it didn’t work for me.
Our current setups are like others here: Racks & rollers on the back, small frame bag/bento (snacks, batteries, phone), pack roll on the front and fork cargo cages when needed. It works fine on rough trails we’ve encountered. Tent poles ride on the rack. So much easier to access pannier contents too.
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Old 08-05-19, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris! View Post
I ride with rear panniers on a rack, triangle bag, saddle bag and one blackburn anything cage on each side of my fork. I'm curious about a bike packing style set up. Are there advantages over a more traditional touring set up with panniers that I'm just not seeing. Seems like having all your weight up high would not be ideal. I ride roads so not worried about panniers hitting stuff on a trail. Also looking at a larger bar bag but not sure how it would all work out with drop bars. Anyone have experience with both set up styles have any thoughts.
If it were me, I would carry the panniers on the front and the cages on the rear. With the saddle bag, triangle bag and rear panniers, you are carrying quite a load on the rear of the bike. The tail is wagging the dog pretty hard. The reason for the more traditional setup of 2 pannier front and 2 rear with a 60/40% (front/rear) split is that bikes are more stable that way. With all the weight on the rear, the bike tends to sway and wobble going down the road. Putting the weight up front dampens the steering a bit and makes the ride more manageable.

You are correct in your thinking about moving the load higher and the effect it will have on the bike. Bikepacking gear is just awful in that respect. The only thing worse then bikepacking gear is pulling a trailer. Take a look at my bike, for example

DSCN1146 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

The load is high and rather forward. This makes it challenging to ride on anything that is steep and rocky. I have been pitched over the bars on rough roads because of the weight forward loading. I'd rather have the stability of panniers but for riding off-road, it is difficult to do that. I have done that in the past...distant past...as in this picture

me old by Stuart Black, on Flickr

but the panniers become a liability if the trail narrows. Those old bags also tended to jump off the rack at inopportune times which isn't good for handling either.

I use bikepacking bags because they work better than a trailer but I wouldn't use them on the road. In all honesty, the weight difference between panniers and bikepacking bags isn't all that great. The harness I use upfront, pocket for the harness, top tube bag, wedge and seatbag weigh just about as much as 4 panniers do.

They are also very limiting. They simply don't have the volume that a traditional set of panniers would. For example, I'm planning a 4 to 5 day trip this summer but I'm not sure how I'm going to carry food for all those days. There's not a lot of extra room built into the set up. I look on bikepacking gear as being ideal for a 2 to 4 day ride over rough terrain. Any more than that and the set up just won't handle it.
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Old 08-05-19, 09:49 AM
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It's all about experimentation and finding out what works for you. I've found most conventional wisdom on the subject isn't true.

Here's a HB roll, gas tank bag, frame bag and saddle bag on a Jasper to Vancouver run. It's light but functional and stable.




Here's a couple of years ago on a two week Calgary to Jasper Bike Hike trip. Same HB roll, frame bag, Gas tank bag and a 20L waterproof backpack and solar panel bungee'd to the rack. I used it for hikes along the way. Light but still with a 2 man tent, cookset and warm enough clothes.



Just got back from an overnighter with this set up. With it I could tour indefinitely as there is room for cookset, clothes, food etc... If I wanted to cram stuff I could easily eliminate the HB roll by putting the tent bag on top of the rack as well. It's the same size as the sleeping bag there.




Some things I have learned for myself. Of course, YMMV:






  • Buying a fancy HB roll system is a waste of money. A simple double ended drybag and a harness does the same job. That is the thinking behind the Revelate system but they are soooo expensive for what you get. In my HB roll always goes my 1 man tent and poles.
  • A gas tank (top tube) bag is convenient for storing things like my camera, phone/wallet, IPOD any line maps I've drawn, a snack and my bear spray or sunglasses. When I stop to go in somewhere the phone and camera (two expensive items) go in my jersey pocket. If I had a traditional HB bag I might forgo it as it would be redundant.
  • I don't like seat bags for some of the reasons stated. I don't like the sway and the failure mode if a buckle lets go over an unprotected rear tire. I'd rather a rear rack with a dry bag on top or a saddle bag. Andrew Claus said he liked cheap and simple and a decent sized simple drybag and bungee works in this case just fine. Put stuff in it you only need at camp.
  • Frame bags are the greatest invention since sliced toast... but you have to pick one that works with your needs. Some are full triangle (which eliminates the water bottle bosses) and some are top of triangle which still allows one or maybe two. Some people tend to over stuff them and cause knee rub but some discretion and design choice eliminates that. In mine goes tools, spare tube, cookset, pump, electronics.
  • I dislike hydration packs or packs on the back in hot weather. They create sweat that runs into the central spine crease and then directly down into the butt crack where it soaks the chamois and facilitates saddle sores and chaffing. Extra water can go in panniers, frame bag or a cage mounted to the bars or somewhere. I like to keep my body light.
  • Stability is more about packing and weight distribution than inherent bag placement. Sometimes a wobble can be eliminated by shuffling gear. For a while now I have avoided the 4 pannier low rider system and find no stability issues but then again, I do not go heavily loaded. Moderate to light shouldn't be an issue.

This is how the double ended drybag snaps over the bars. Yes they lay on the grips but after 2 minutes you push them around a bit and get a hand position. For added security you can run a strap or bungee around the bag and bars but my tent is just over 2lb's and doesn't exert a lot of downward force on the buckles so usually I don't.


Last edited by Happy Feet; 08-05-19 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 08-05-19, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
  • Stability is more about packing and weight distribution than inherent bag placement. Sometimes a wobble can be eliminated by shuffling gear. For a while now I have avoided the 4 pannier low rider system and find no stability issues but then again, I do not go heavily loaded. Moderate to light shouldn't be an issue.
I don't go bikepacking heavily loaded either. However there are only a few places you can put the weight in a bikepacking system and all of them are higher than a traditional pannier system. There's only so much weight you can put in the bottom of a frame bag at the lowest point on the bike. The rest of it will be far higher than any traditional touring system and, at least for off-road riding, you are likely to be on steeper, rockier and more technically challenging bike riding. A higher CG does not make for more stable riding.

I'm also not talking about death wobbles. I'm talking about endos. A loaded handlebar, more weight in the frame and a high mounted load on the saddle all make for more likelihood that the bike is going to turn turtle on you if the wheel hits something. It requires far more attention to how you ride off-road and to how you deal with something that could stop the front wheel.
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Old 08-05-19, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I don't go bikepacking heavily loaded either. However there are only a few places you can put the weight in a bikepacking system and all of them are higher than a traditional pannier system. There's only so much weight you can put in the bottom of a frame bag at the lowest point on the bike. The rest of it will be far higher than any traditional touring system and, at least for off-road riding, you are likely to be on steeper, rockier and more technically challenging bike riding. A higher CG does not make for more stable riding.

I'm also not talking about death wobbles. I'm talking about endos. A loaded handlebar, more weight in the frame and a high mounted load on the saddle all make for more likelihood that the bike is going to turn turtle on you if the wheel hits something. It requires far more attention to how you ride off-road and to how you deal with something that could stop the front wheel.
I am finding that is more a function of seat post height and one reason I am looking to a dropper post for my next purchase. Fortunately both my road bike and fat bike take the same diameter post so, as with the bags, it will be interchangeable due to bike choice and conditions. Bonus is my current road post is carbon so... best of both worlds.
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Old 08-05-19, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris! View Post
I ride with rear panniers on a rack, triangle bag, saddle bag and one blackburn anything cage on each side of my fork. I'm curious about a bike packing style set up. Are there advantages over a more traditional touring set up with panniers that I'm just not seeing. Seems like having all your weight up high would not be ideal. I ride roads so not worried about panniers hitting stuff on a trail. Also looking at a larger bar bag but not sure how it would all work out with drop bars. Anyone have experience with both set up styles have any thoughts.
I have generally found that I prefer more weight on the front than the back when I can manage it. For a while I ran a front rack and packed most of my gear into my Backrollers on the front rack. But the front rack didn't get much use outside of touring, unlike the rear rack, so my more current solution is to use the rear rack with panniers, and then go with bikepacking gear everywhere else: frame bag, handlebar roll, and, if I can't avoid it, fork bags.

I was curious about weight/efficiency, and even though I'm about as far from "ultra-light" as possible, I thought I'd look at what's the most efficient in terms of weight per volume. Not surprisingly the most efficient items were the ones that didn't require a rack (because I factored in the weight of any required hardware). Using the published weights of my Revelate seat, handlebar, and frame bags and the Ortleib pannies along with the rack I'm using, I found that in terms of the best weight/volume, the rank was:
  1. Seat bag
  2. Handlebar Roll
  3. Frame bag
  4. Fork bag with the Anything Cage
  5. Backroller Classics with my rear rack
  6. Fork bag with the Anything HD cage
  7. Frontroller Classics on my rear rack.
Of course that's not the whole story, but I like playing with numbers. Worth considering that while the handlebar roll and seat bag are the best in a volume/weight ration, they also hold the load up higher, and so might have a greater affect on handling.
And while both my pannier sets fall to the bottom of the list, they figure in the weight of my rear rack, which, when present, usually has some gear on top of it, so it's probably more efficient than the numbers would make it appear. And, of course, there are always lighter racks, especially if you were to go with front, low-rider racks. But I like a rear rack for more than just carrying panniers, so generally the only time I'll go without is when I'm traveling, and it presents a packing issue.

Fork bags, at least the Anything Bags I'm using, can vary a lot in efficiency based on the attachment mechanism. I have recently replaced my fork cages with Problem Solvers Bow Tie anchors, which look like they weigh next to nothing. But then we're also talking about 4.5 liters per Anything bag, so they are the lowest capacity overall in my setup. Even though they are more efficient than my Frontroller panniers, I struggle to make the best use of them, and they are the first thing to go when I can eliminate enough gear to justify removing a bag.
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Old 08-05-19, 10:28 PM
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So I'm into ultracompact camping, a 'small' niche of ultralight. My standard warm weather kit tends to be ~25L with ~3days of food, whether traveling by boot, bicycle, yak, or ADVmoto. I think I'm going to run with this set-up for my gravel bike (~6L frame bag and 20L drybag backpack).



I prefer the rack's more solid handling feel over a large seatbag, and I like the option to unweight the bike and wear the backpack while riding through rough off-road sections (despise the feel of unsuspended panniers on rough terrain). The backpack option is good for carrying the bike into deep stealth camping spots, and I also want to take my pricey, painstakingly-assembled camping gear with me with inside restaurants, museums, or when playing pedestrian tourist. The frame bag will hold heavy, cheap, easily replaceable stuff (bike lock, water, food, tube, tools) that I tend leave in small seat bags on locked bikes anyways. The drybag backpack will be ~10lbs so handling isn't be too bad (primarily noticeable when stand-up climbing). I'll also take a small pack-away daypack for the option to load-up on groceries at the end of the day.

For me this is looking to be the best compromise between a nice road ride, great aerodynamics, rough off-road capabilities, deep-carry to stealth camping, and good off-bike gear security.
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Old 08-06-19, 06:46 AM
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I was pretty happy on my last trip. I dont do any single track so I'm gonna keep the panniers. I think I'm just gonna add a smaller handlebar bag for those few extra overflow items.
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