It seems that bikepacking bags are all the rage these days (frame bags, handlebar rolls, big saddle packs).

To me it seems that they are prone to moving around and getting in the way, and it also seems that they make the centre of gravity very high. I can understand it if using a bike without rack mounts, but otherwise - what is the advantage of using these things over a traditional rack and panniers?

  • Ease of access, without having to stop, or get off the bike. Plus weight-forward instead of on the rear.
    – Criggie
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 19:17
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    Do you have a photo? I don't know what the difference is between the two.
    – gerrit
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 23:20

4 Answers 4


They usually keep the bike narrow, suitable for trail riding where branches might snag panniers.

They use soft attachments (usually), so extreme vibration doesn't make undue noise or wear things out. There are people with damaged racks simply from plastic pannier clips bumping along on them for months on end.

Cheap "bikepacking" (with scare quotes) bags are cheaper than cheap panniers plus cheap racks.

Bikepacking bags also help packrats reduce their load, simply by being more constrained than large panniers.

They're also suitable for rental bikes, when you're away from home.

  • Exactly - for MTB.
    – Vorac
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 15:48

For road bikes, bikepacking bags are better for going fast since they are lighter and keep the bike narrow which helps with aerodynamics. This may make a significant difference going fast and far, as for example in Mark Beaumont's record-breaking speed run from Cairo to Cape Town in 41 days. Having toured on a road bike with both types of bags, I would add that the vibrations from a traditional handlebar bag can be quite annoying at high speeds, especially on rough pavement. By contrast, a bikepacking handlebar bag tends to be more snug against the bars.

While being faster, lighter, and more portable, I find bikepacking bags to be less straightforward to pack and access, and they typically don't fit as much kit as panniers.


I hang a tool belt over my handlebars because I can easily reach things in it, and because there is a definite advantage to having some weight on the front for steep climbs.

Another advantage is it's easy to take off whenever I stop so no one can take my expensive tools and I don't need an expensive lockable pannier.

  • 1
    I totally get that - I am a big fan of handlebar bags and always use them for touring. I guess my question was wondering more about the merits of the strap-on bikepacking-style handlebar bags versus the "traditional" sort...
    – John M
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 21:14

Using a bikepacking bags is always depends on your choice. There is no rule that says you must or must not use a handlebar bag. But for those bikers who are planning to spend weeks, months, or years on the road, having a handlebar bag can really come in handy.

If you want to keep your essentials like camera, smartphone, your touring guidebook etc, a handlebar bag is the must for easy touring.

  • 2
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    – jimchristie
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 12:24
  • Welcome to Bicycles! Our goal as a Q/A site (rather than an typical forum) is to have detailed and relevant answers to fairly specific questions. Because the link you included appeared to be an attempt to force shoppers through an affiliate link to Amazon, and it included several results that were not bicycle specific, I have removed the link.
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    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 13:26

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