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bikepacking without panniers
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Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
bikepacking without panniers on 02/03/2014 18:24:35 MST Print View

I'm trying to see whether I can carry what I'd need to go on a multi-day trip in fair weather using a regular road bike without panniers or a rear triangle-mounted rack. I think I can get things down to about 6 lbs (including a pound of food but not including water or the packs themselves) and a pretty moderate volume. I could just carry most of it on my back, but that won't be as comfortable as if I can get most of the weight onto the frame.

Tips as to best aerodynamic, functional handlebar packs? (I have some inclination to clip my old aero bars onto the front and just myog a sil bag that'll attach to the aero bars.)

Tips on good frame packs? I like my triangular frame-mount pack, but it does do battle with my water bottle and shrink what I can carry in the seat tube bottle-holder. My post-head tube Bento doesn't carry a lot of volume. I'm guessing I could do better.

Tips on best seatpost-mounted or saddle-mounted packs?

Thanks in advance for ideas!


Bill S.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: bikepacking without panniers on 02/04/2014 08:33:56 MST Print View

A full frame bag, while expensive, is your best friend here. You'll be able to fit a lot in a good, including keeping a bottle or two handy.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: bikepacking without panniers on 02/04/2014 09:21:46 MST Print View

"I'm trying to see whether I can carry what I'd need ... without ... a rear triangle-mounted rack."

You'll be camping, not motelling, right? With all attendant gear and food?

Just curious... Why not a rear rack?

A seat bag will be higher and less stable.

A front bag, of any size, will never be "aerodynamic", unless you limit it to inline under the aero bars. (Again high, And affecting steering.) BTW,what are you using for a sleep pad?

A rear "trunk" or "torpedo" Seems like the best solution for capacity, optimal CoG, and aero.

Just asking...long road trips are on the horizon....

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
bikepacking without panniers on 02/04/2014 10:15:28 MST Print View

In case you aren't already familiar, Revelate Designs has awesome offerings to address your needs.

As to frame bags interfering with water bottle - I carry a bladder in the frame bag with a hose and find it works just fine.

David T
(DaveT) - F
frame bag makers on 02/04/2014 10:32:44 MST Print View

This thread might help:

If you don't want (or can't attach) a light rear pack and panniers, going the route of large seat bag (attached to seat post and saddle) or rear rack (off seat post) might be good. Frame bag is another option.

Let us know what your setup looks like once you are up and running!

Christopher *

Locale: US East Coast
Re: bikepacking without panniers on 02/04/2014 11:13:24 MST Print View

I have a custom set-up from Porcelain Rocket that I love. It was made for my 29er, but my 29er's frame geometry is similar to a road bike and I run drops.

I went with a full frame bag with that kit, but after some self-discovery I realized I prefer a partial frame bag with access to my bottle-bosses. A full frame bag gets all tight and corner-y at the bottom of the triangle and I just don't feel like I put that space to good use.

A handlebar bag that fits inside your drop bars is great, but the weight will be high and will effect steering so you need to keep its contents light if agility is a concern. I prefer a harness "sling" type bar bag set-up, because I think it is easy ... all you have to do is detach the dry bag and you have all you stuff as opposed to playing with all the frame/handlebar attachment points. Plus if you get one with foam spacers you can still use the flats of your bar. Webbing along the sling is good too for lashing a wind breaker or shell as you adjust layers throughout the day.

I personally do not like to tour with aero bars. The additional weight of my gear just makes the aero position seem too unstable, but I frequently see them in other peoples set-ups. I run Salsa Woodchippers and I feel like they give me plenty of grip options without compromising space for my handlebar bag, which is the middle-ground I want.

A small top tube bento box style bag is good for phone, SPOT, snacks etc, but I also pair mine with at least one Revelate Designs Mountain feed bag. Otherwise the capacity for "at-hand" snacks seems too pithy. I also use a small "gas-tank" top tube bag back in front of the seat-post for my repair kit and tools. I like to have that kit separate and organized for painless access when I am angry and cursing at my stupid broken stuff.

I hear people talk about stability issues with seat packs, but I have never had a problem and I usually tour off-road with rough terrain. I think the problem comes down to weight. If you are on BPL, I assume your gear weight is in check, in which case you shouldn't have issues with over-weighting the seat-post mounted bag. (Volume and capacity is where most issues arise.) Whatever weight you do load into the seat-tube bag should kept back toward the post.

Sometimes I also use small fork mounted bags in modified Salsa Everything Cages (modified because they always break), but I personally don't like much weight up front on the fork. That just comes down to personal riding style and the type of terrain you are riding. If you do put weight up front, try to keep it as low as your gear and the terrain will allow.

For a short trip, or particularly a front-country trip with regular access to resupply you should definitely be able to get away with just the packs on the bike. For longer unsupported tours, volume tends to be the killer. In those cases I wind up using use a pack for my food, happy in the knowledge it will get lighter as I progress. I have a Wingnut Gear Enduro that I love for this purpose.

Good luck.

Edited by cfrey.0 on 02/04/2014 11:15:46 MST.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: bikepacking without panniers on 02/04/2014 11:13:36 MST Print View

There's always a small trailer behind your bike...

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: frame bag makers on 02/04/2014 20:46:56 MST Print View

"rear rack (off seat post) might be good"

That's one of the main additions I'm now thinking. Any thoughts on particular brands/types?


Bill S.

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: bikepacking without panniers on 02/04/2014 20:50:43 MST Print View

Thanks for all the great replies, especially the practical advice about various types of frame bags! I suspect I'm going to try going with something on the front (either standard handlebar bag or an myog attempt at something light, aero, and adequate), some more things on the frame (probably a partial frame bag with more capacity and less water bottle interference than my currrent triangle bag, and a larger post-stem bag), and a seatpost mounted rear rack. Will send more info when I've had a chance to test it out. It would help if it would stop snowing!


Bill S.

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Re: bikepacking without panniers on 02/04/2014 20:53:12 MST Print View

"Just curious... Why not a rear rack?"

I'm not opposed to a seatpost-mounted rear rack. Indeed, I think it's probably the best way for me to add additional space to what I can mount up front and some sort of frame bag. But if I want to ride my road bike, I don't have the mounts for a standard rear triangle-mounted rack.

"A front bag, of any size, will never be 'aerodynamic', unless you limit it to inline under the aero bars."

I'm not so sure of that. A bag of the right shape might be partially fairing my body. IMO, it'd take some good testing to know what might or might not be achieved - I'll do it with roll-downs, since I don't have my own wind tunnel :)

"BTW,what are you using for a sleep pad?"

Neoair small.


Bill S.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: bikepacking without panniers on 02/04/2014 21:05:12 MST Print View


Arkel Seatpost Rack
$100, 495 grams

...and possibly...
Ti Tubus Airy
$180, 210 grams, 30kg load limit

Edited by greg23 on 02/04/2014 21:09:03 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: frame bag makers on 02/05/2014 06:58:28 MST Print View

Seat post beam racks will break. All of them. If you don't tour a ton it might not be an issue.

OMM makes hardwear to clamp a rack to the seatstays. If your bike has oversized or weirdsized alu or carbon tubing this won't work.

Rear seat bags are fantastically stable if packed correctly. Only downside here is expense and space limitations.

I'm not a fan of much weight on the bars, but a few light and bulky items strapped under the bars/stem won't be noticed, either with handling or aerodynamics (unless you're looking to set a loaded speed record).

Greg Wheelwright
(gdw) - F
A few basic questions... on 02/05/2014 08:15:00 MST Print View

Are you camping or staying in motels?
What are you planning to carry? Tarp, sleeping bag/quilt, sleeping pad, clothes, shoes, food, water....
What model and size bike are you going to use?
How much of the seatpost is exposed between the top of the seat tube and saddle clamp?
What's the distance between the top of your rear tire and the base of your saddle?
" " the front tire and handlebar where it's held in the stem?

The answers to those questions will give us a better understanding of the volume of the gear you're planning to take and whether your bike is large enough to accommodate a front harness, rackless saddle bag, or larger frame pack. The model of the bike is important because some road bikes aren't designed to carry gear and the added weight can effect handling.

Megan Webb
(meganwebb) - MLife
Re: bikepacking without panniers on 02/05/2014 12:53:19 MST Print View

You seen

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: frame bag makers on 02/05/2014 15:20:25 MST Print View

"Seat post beam racks will break. All of them. If you don't tour a ton it might not be an issue."

I'm thinking Blackburn spec'd to carry 21 lbs isn't going to be stressed too much by carrying the 3-4 pounds I might put on the back end. (I'll put the low density items front and rear and the high density items on the frame.)

When you say they'll break, you mean under closer to spec'd load? Or should I be less optimistic?

Thanks also for suggesting seatstay clamps. I probably should be giving more consideration to a very light rack that uses seatstay connection to give it structural integrity. Might even weigh less than an over-engineered seat post beam rack.


Bill S.

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Re: bikepacking without panniers on 02/05/2014 15:21:20 MST Print View

"You seen"

I had not, Megan. THanks, that's a great site!



PS - I particularly like the behind-seat compression bag with spacer to prevent thigh rub. Will definitely be giving that a try.

Edited by sbill9000 on 02/05/2014 19:23:08 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: Re: Re: frame bag makers on 02/05/2014 15:52:15 MST Print View

Every beam rack I've know personally, which had at least a couple hundred miles on it, broke. This includes my wifes years ago, after nothing more than hauling ~5 pounds of flipflips and clothing for 4.5 days of RAGBRAI. I'm sure there are plenty of counterexamples out there, but it's still a fundamentally flawed design, so why bother?

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: frame bag makers on 02/05/2014 19:22:17 MST Print View

I take your point, David. THanks for the info.

Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
framebag on 02/10/2014 19:50:59 MST Print View

I have a small front rack. It's maybe 12" x 5". I set my 40L backpack vertically on top, tucked between the hooks on my drop bars. I run a bungie cord around the pack and head tube. Works great around town with up to 35 lbs. $20. Perhaps you could come up with a strapping arrangement secure enough for fire roads. Not single track.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Aero storage on 09/14/2014 21:25:39 MDT Print View

You mentioned aero.
That means panniers or anything cages are out.
A seatpost rack is not only unreliable, but also silly heavy if you only want to carry 5 pounds in it, since it weighs more than pound on its own, plus it needs a bag and straps, meaning you'd be carrying close to 1/4 of your load just in carry system.
A frame bag might even make your bike more aero, is one of the lighter options for bike bags and can store quite a bit.
After that, a seat bag is most likely quite aero but doesn't offer a great weight/capacity ratio.
Like you said, a front bag might be aero, but it might not, my guess would be not, since it's hard to design a lightweight bag attached to the bars that would be smooth and not to wide.
Gas tanks bags are likely very aero, and very convenient as well, but they are quite heavy for their tiny size, so poor weight/capacity ratio. Their convenience factor might make them worthwhile for you though.

In short if you want aero with weight kept to a minimum I would start with a full frame bag, then add a top tube ga stank bag and a seat bag last.