So my bike just got stolen a week ago. A little Fixie Thruster that I put a lot of miles on commuting, and joyriding. I went as far a 250mi weekend trip on it. My gear was just kind of lashed on with in various places. I had a torn handlebar bag that I had to tie on and a little rear trunk rack.

Well I just bought a 2016 Specialized Rockhopper as a commuter and to hit the trails. I chose a hardtail 29'er so that I could go on the occasional bikepacking trip with greater efficiency. Probably not more than 10 days at a time, usually just a weekend, or week long trip.

This is my first real MTB and I assume it will hold up well with whatever I try to do with it. So I wanna load it down, but the more I look into panniers and handlebar bags and racks and frame bags and this and that, the more lost I seem to become.

Can some one just kind of point me in the direction of some sturdy, durable gear. Or at least what to look for when buying. I think I'm most concerned with a good set of rear panniers, a handlebar bag, and a frame bag. I can improvise for storage on the front forks and other little places. Any advice is welcome

Old setup enter image description here

  • We avoid making specific product recommendations, because they're of limited use in the long term and tend to be region-specific. From your photo, you had a rear rack that hung off the seatpost (ie had no stays to the rear axle) and a handlebar bag. You don't have any front or rear panniers ? Is there anything strapped inside the frame? Can't really tell in the photo. – Criggie Jan 14 '17 at 4:10
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    Since you've already got the new bike - does it have mounts for racks and panniers? – Criggie Jan 14 '17 at 9:34

Bikepacking tends to be more lightweight and generally doesn't involve panniers or racks. Just look at the rigs used by tour divide riders (http://bikepacker.com/2016-tour-divide-rigs/). If you think you need pannniers, then perhaps you are talking about touring rather than bikepacking.

Bikepacking luggage will typically require one or more of the following:

  • handlebar harness
  • seatpost pack
  • framebag

This sort of setup is especially useful for off road/trail riding as weight is kept to a minimum and storing your heaviest items stored at the bottom of your frame bag will keep your centre of gravity low and improve handling. Something not so important in touring

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I agree with Mark W's answer above but as both a commuter and an off-road tourer I will give you another option/opinion as to what to look for in panniers if you want to have a setup that double duties for commuting and bikepacking.

I have a pair of Specialized Ground Control Off-Road panniers circa 1993... they have a feature that is essential for off-road... the panniers attach to the rack via a compression straps. If looking to use the same setup for bike packing and commuting I would steer clear of pannier systems that use bungy cord attachments or engineered plastic attachments for quick connect-disconnect. The bungy cord systems tend to bounce off, the I would fear the quick connect systems may break or get compromised by dirt, mud, or grit.

Downside to the pannier system: For off-road touring pannier systems do not distribute the weight as evenly as bike packing bag systems. Additionally, pannier systems are wider and can result in a clearance issues on narrow singletrack.

For commuting the downside to bike packing setups is there is no large easy to disconnect storage. It would be nearly impossible to carry a computer (if that is your thing).

For me, I would love to have both setups... however the downside to my off-road panniers for bike packing is less than the downside to bike packing gear for commuting. So if I was looking for one system to double duty for both applications it would be the correct set of panniers. I don't know of anyone making panniers like my Specialized off-road panniers so that option may be off out of reach for a new setup.

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    +1 but not all plastic QR attachments are equal: I've retrofitted Carradice ones onto my cheap pannier and they're rock-solid -- better than the Altura mounting on my other pannier. They're individual fairly chunky levers which aren't likely to get blocked by mud etc. unlike the Altura with a button that doesn't work so well when dirty. – Chris H Jan 19 '17 at 16:06
  • Thanks Chris... I dont have a lot of experience with the quick connect systems.... I did a little web searching and some folks agree they can be rock solid but tend to be a bit noisy with rattling sounds. There are lots of resources for retrofitting straps to make them very secure – dafew Jan 19 '17 at 17:12
  • The noise can be an issue - or would be if it wasn't for the rattling of my locks (and mudguards). It all depends on how often and where the OP is off the bike so they'll have to choose – Chris H Jan 19 '17 at 17:22
  • If you have no attachment points for panniers you can find seatpost mounted pannier racks. – Mark W Jan 20 '17 at 10:10

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