Only just recently, with the advent of gravel riding the popularity of the handlebar bag has risen across all cycling disciplines. Ingenious new rackless systems have made these bags lighter and more compact, so there's even a case to be made for road cyclists that want a practical alternative to stuffing their jersey pockets with an ever-increasing number of gadgets and accessories.
What do you think when you think of handlebar bags? For many cyclists, these accessories would fall exclusively into the realm of bikepacking and adventure cycling.
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Traditionally, a handlebar bag would need a sturdy metal rack to be mounted on, and that alone would be a limitation for several types of bikes such as full-suspension MTBs and road bicycles.
Also, most road cyclists would always prefer the aero gains of having their spare tube, tools and other essential items tucked nicely inside a bottle cage storage or a light bag under the saddle.
Only just recently, with the advent of gravel riding the popularity of the handlebar bag has risen across all cycling disciplines.
Ingenious new rackless systems have made these bags lighter and more compact, so there’s even a case to be made for road cyclists that want a practical alternative to stuffing their jersey pockets with an ever-increasing number of gadgets and accessories.
Urban commuting has also benefited from these tech developments and currently, there’s an increasing number of versatile commuter handlebar bags on offer.
Style vs functionality controversies apart, there are quite a few advantages to handlebar bags over other types of cargo solutions and these include the ease of access and the peace of mind of having the most valuable items on sight.
Let’s take a look at some top picks for handlebar bags currently on the market.
(*Note: for ease of comparison, the following selection only includes bar bags with integrated mounting systems)
Top Handlebar Bags
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1. EVOC Handlebar Pack Boa®
Let’s kick off with the only option of handlebar bag out there that offers the innovative twist-lock BOA technology. This neat fastening mechanism allows for a really quick way to attach and release the bag to your bike.
However, its day-to-day practicality is partially lost by the lack of a quick aperture such as a zipper but the roll-top openings on both sides are surely good enough for long-distance trips and adventure cycling.
Its handlebar clamp is molded to clear neatly the cables while the bag fabric is highly waterproof and very well constructed, coming in two classy colors (Carbon grey and Gold) finished with the sleek detail of the EVOC logo in white.
Overall the EVOC handlebar pack is not the lightest nor the biggest volume handlebar bag on the market, but it brings a fresh and minimalistic approach with the quickest mounting system and great doses of style.
Best use: Bikepacking, Gravel, Mtb
Volume: 2.5 L / 5 L
Material(s): Abrasion resistant fabric
Weight: 200 g / 260 g
Dimensions: 30 x 12.5 x 12.5 cm / 30 x 15 x 15 cm
- BOA system
2. Arundel Handlebar Czar
Texan brand Arundel is widely known for its state-of-the-art carbon bottle cages but they are no stranger to practical and elegant bag designs.
The Handlebar Czar is a bar bag devoid of any flamboyant design quirks and stripped down to its essence – a black square prism with a zippered compartment and a netting pocket that attaches to the handlebar with a simple hook-and-loop Velcro® system.
However, the beauty of Arundel products resides in the details. All seams are carefully sonic welded ensuring high levels of waterproofing.
The zipper is purposely designed to be operated with one hand, even when riding. And it features twist-tie rubber cables coupled with side cords to increase the stability on rougher terrains.
The Handlebar Czar is one of my personal favorites thanks to its minimalistic design that couples nicely even with the sleekest road bike set up, while still offering plenty of space for tools, food, essentials, and extra layers.
Best use: Road, Commuting, Gravel
Volume: 2 L
Dimensions: 24 x 12.5 x 9 cm
- Limited colors
3. Speedsleev Diego Small
The “less is more” idiosyncrasy can be easily applied to the Speedsleev Diego Small handlebar bag as it is one of the most compact models in the market, big enough to free up space in your jersey pockets but not really a bikepacking-friendly option.
The Speedsleev Diego is really simple, with a couple of Velcro® straps to be mounted on the bars and an extra adjustable elastic strap that fits around the stem. These three fastening points provide enough stability given Diego’s limited cargo volume, enough for keys, cash and credit card, phone, and mini pump.
Thanks to its reduced size and adjustability the Diego doesn’t interfere with your head unit and keeps a neat and minimal frontal area, making it one of the best handlebar bag choices for road bikes.
Best use: Road, Gravel
Volume: 1.25 L
Material: Ballistic Nylon
Dimensions: 20 x 9 x 9 cm
- Not waterproof
4. Rei Co-Op Junction
If you are looking for a versatile bag that can be swapped between your bike and your waist, Rei Co-op’s Junction handlebar bag is the answer. It can be easily mounted and detached to the bars thanks to its hook-and-loop straps that can also be stashed when off the bike, adding a hip belt strap instead to use as a waistpack.
The construction of the bag is fairly simple and compact and it retains its shape nicely thanks to a structural foam liner. The Junction model offers just one main zippered opening from side to side which is pretty basic but it does the trick.
It comes in an inconspicuous asphalt grey color with beige and reflective details and it’s got a durable water repellent finishing to protect against light rain. It’s definitely not the most technical product suited to the rigorous conditions of adventure cycling but it’ll be a nice companion on your city commutes and recreational rides.
Best Use: Commuting, Recreational
Volume: 1.5 L
Material(s): Ripstop Nylon
Dimensions: 21.5 x 11.5 x 6.5 cm
Weight: 150 g
- Rattling zippers
5. Ortlieb Accessory Pack
If we look towards the performance-oriented and technical bikepacking gear end we have to consider this product from the established German brand Ortlieb.
The Accessory pack it’s a simple roll-top bag with an ultra-rugged construction to ensure the maximum protection of your valuables against the elements on long trips. It meets IP64 waterproof standards (6=dustproof, 4=protected against splash water coming from all directions) while having a generous volume of 3.5 Liters, the biggest out of this particular handlebar bag selection.
It’s got a simple hook-and-loop mounting system and it comes with a shoulder strap to carry the bag also off the bike. Like all the products in the Ortlieb bikepacking range, it comes with nice 3M reflective details for added safety.
I can definitely vouch for the extreme durability of Ortlieb gear, making it a safe option for long-distance adventure rides.
Best Use: Bikepacking, Gravel
Volume: 3.5 L
Material: Polyurethane-coated nylon
Dimensions: 28 x 15 x 5 cm
Weight: 205 g
- Ultra-rugged construction
- No zippered compartments
6. Revelate Designs Egress Pocket
Here’s another versatile, compact, and rackless option for bikepacking, the Revelate Designs Egress Pocket is a simple but very well-designed roll-top handlebar bag suited for the rigors and extreme conditions of long-distance cycling. It’s got quality construction with welded seams for full waterproofing and an innovative and very useful padded liner with a zippered pocket.
The most surprising thing about the Egress Pocket is the option to convert it into a shoulder bag, an option you would expect on commuter models but not so much on robust bikepacking-specific handlebar bags. Another very well-thought feature is the slightly curved side profile of the Egress Pocket, designed to make the bag rest nicely around a bigger drypack.
As far as it goes for bikepacking options, the Revelate Designs Egress Pocket ticks all the boxes. You couldn’t ask more for a bag of this category at the price that it comes. Or perhaps, a wider range of colors?
Best Use: Bikepacking
Volume: 2.9 L
Material: 210-denier ripstop nylon
Dimensions: 23 x 20 x 7 cm
Weight: 280 g
- Versatile padded liner
- No color options
7. Two Wheel Gear Dayliner
Two Wheel Gear’s Dayliner handlebar bag is a rare mix of a sleek and functional commuting bag with a handlebar bag perfectly capable to serve the needs of adventure cyclists.
Coming in a stylish graphite grey, it features a roll-top opening with side fasteners and a convenient padded liner with internal organization compartments. It also comes with a shoulder strap to make it a versatile bag for urban use.
While having all these “commuter” capabilities, its huge volume capacity and great waterproofing make the Dayliner a bag nicely suited for short weekend adventure trips. It’s definitely recommended for those looking for a “quiver killer” bag able to serve their daily commute needs as well as the occasional long-distance excursion.
Best Use: Commuting, gravel, bikepacking
Material: 600-denier polyester/nylon
Dimensions: 22 x 13 x 11 cm
Weight: 225 g
- Adjustment options
8. Chrome Helix
Coming from a brand born in the streets, you would expect a Chrome handlebar bag to be 100% optimized for city use and this is the case with the Helix.
It combines elegant lines with sturdy construction, making it a perfect companion for your daily commutes that will continue serving you off the bike thanks to its cross-body sling.
Adding to its functionality, the Helix comes with several internal compartments to keep your essential items organized, reflective details on the body for added visibility and a PU coated zipper that improves its waterproofing.
For those on the lookout for a stylish urban handlebar with as great durability as good looks, the Chrome Helix will definitely do the trick. It has some slight flaws though, the zipper is not easy to operate with one hand and the straps could be a tad longer.
Best Use: Urban, Commuting
Volume: 3 L
Material: 1050D Nylon
Dimensions: 23 x 14 x 7.5 cm
Weight: 270 g
- Adjustment options
With several options available on the market, what should you look for on a handlebar bag? It depends on an extensive series of factors, most importantly the length of your rides and the type of terrain you will be tackling.
If you do short training rides on your road, mtb, or gravel bike you want to be looking at some of the smaller models, enough to carry your essentials, a spare tube, a minipump, and an energy gel, freeing up your jersey pockets.
For long adventure trips, you’ll benefit from the extra sturdiness and higher loading capacity of the bikepacking-oriented models. The convenience and versatility of commuter convertible bar bags are what you’ll want for your city rides.
The adjustment options are also a crucial factor to make a handlebar bag work well on your bike cockpit setup.
Having to share limited space with other elements such as bike lights and your head unit while finding a tight fit that avoids rattling and bouncing can be a tricky task. The more adjustment options the bag offers the better the chances to find the ideal position and fit.
Waterproof capabilities are critical on long-distance trips but less of an issue on recreational and short training rides. Conversely, a few grams of extra weight might not matter at all on a full bikepacking setup but will affect your handling and performance on the lighter road, gravel, or mtb bikes.
Finally, if you plan to carry expensive equipment such as cameras or electronic devices, a bit of extra padding should be a decisive factor at the time of purchasing your bag.