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A guide to bikepacking bags and bicycle packs

A bike with plenty of packs fitted all around the frame.

Bikepacking is a popular pursuit, although it does require a lot of organisation. Thta's where bikepacking bags come into their own. Alternatively, you could book a luggage transfer service and reduce your number of day-to-day packs. Let's run through the different packs so you can decide what will be most useful to you, depending on your style of cycle tour.

Bike packs for all uses

In contrast to traditional cycling panniers, bikepacking bags fit more neatly around the frame of the bike. There are different bike packing bags that fit to different parts of the bike and used for different items.

Choose your bike packs to suit your cycling adventure.

Top tip: Buy waterproof bikepacking bags, or pack them in lightweight dry bags inside the packs.

Bike packs come in different shapes and sizes to fit neatly around the frame.

Bikepacking handlebar bags

Handlebar bags attach to the handlebars. No surprise there then! They fit in front of the bars and above the front wheel. These bags are best used for carrying lightweight yet bulky items, such as an insulated jacket, sleeping bag, inflatable mattress or the fabric part of your tent.

The best way to pack a handlebar bag, especially if it’s a roll-top dry bag, is to stuff in loose items to fill the space.

If the handlebar bag is more of a solid and square construction, this is where you can place lightweight items that you want easy access to, such as your phone, snacks and map.

Saddle bags or seatpost packs

Saddle bags fix to the seat stem and under the saddle of a bike. They stick out at the rear of the bike, The saddle or seatpost bag is usually the largest pack you will carry.

This bag is for spare clothes and other items, such as a camping stove, gas, food and parts of the tent if you are not carrying them in a handlebar bag.

The bag can carry some of your heavier items because once it's attached securely, it should remain fairly stable at the rear of the seatpost. Some larger saddle bags have a

harness system so it's easier to attach and remove the pack.

Pack the items that you will not need regular access to at the bottom of the saddlebag and other items further to the top that you will be taking in and out more regularly.

Frame bags

Frame bags usually sit under the top-tube of the bike frame. The bags are long and thin so that you don’t catch your legs or knees on the bag when cycling. This means you should use them for items that are smaller, or long and thin.

This is the ideal bag for tent poles and pegs, if you are carrying a tent. Many people also stow puncture repair items and a pump in a frame bag. The weight of the items doesn’t matter too much because this bag is less likely to affect the balance of the bike.

A cockpit bag. Credit:

Cockpit bags

A cockpit pack sits on the top-tube and close to the handlebars. This is a great location for a mobile phone, snacks and small items, such as spare batteries or a bike light. This bag is very useful for items that you want quick and easy access to.

Front fork packs

Depending on type of bike and the clearance between front fork and the wheel, you might be able to attach a front fork pack. Again, this is best reserved for lighter items, such as a sleeping bag or insulated jacket. You do not want this bag to be too heavy because it will upset the balance and steering of the bike if it is.

What about a rucksack?

Some cyclists carry a small backpack. If you don’t have back pockets on a cycling jersey or jacket, or you prefer to carry a pack on your back, this is a useful place to put a hydration bladder and items that you need quick access to, such as a map, waterproof jacket and spare clothing.

Don't load your rucksack with heavy items because you will end up with sore shoulders after miles of cycling.

Keen to try a cycling holiday in Scotland?

Highland Transfer offers a range of cycling tours, such as Badger Divid and NC500. You can contact us to find out more.

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