Want to ditch your rucksack on shorter rides or go on a multi-day “bikepacking” adventure? If so, then you will probably need a saddle bag. There are bags of different sizes and types available so knowing what makes the best mountain bike saddle bag can be challenging.
Here at The Adventure Junkies, we do not want you to be confused when it comes to choosing your equipment. We have written this article for you so you can learn what makes a good saddle bag and what you need to look out for. We have also included a list of what we think are the best saddle bags so you don’t have to do all the research yourself.
For more of our top mountain bike gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:
QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SADDLE BAGS
1. EVOC SADDLE BAG
2. TOPEAK WEDGE DRYBAG MEDIUM
3. DEFIANCE PAK RATT 2
4. ORTLIEB MICRO
6. TOPEAK AERO EXPANDING
7. TIMBUK2 SEAT PACK XT
8. TIMBUK2 SONOMA
9. ORTLIEB SEAT PACK
10. TOPEAK BACK LOADER
COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SADDLE BAGS
MTB SADDLE BAGS REVIEWS
EVOC SADDLE BAG
BEST FOR: Overall
PROS: Stylish, durable rip stop nylon, light
TOPEAK WEDGE DRYBAG MEDIUM
BEST FOR: Budget
PROS: Waterproof material and roll closure to keep contents dry, 3 sizes available
CONS: Rigid material makes noise if items inside are loose
DEFIANCE PAK RATT 2
BEST FOR: Budget
PROS: Roll closure, robust material
CONS: Not waterproof, buckles are prone to breaking
PROS: Roll closure to remove extra space, reflective logo
CONS: Opening is small
TOPEAK AERO EXPANDING
BEST FOR: Tools
PROS: Expanding compartment to carry more gear, internal elastic secures contents
CONS: Attachment can be tricky
TIMBUK2 SEAT PACK XT
BEST FOR: Tools
PROS: Just the right size to hold the essentials, durable, attachment for rear light
CONS: Attachment can be fiddly
BEST FOR: Bikepacking
PROS: Extra small for the bare essentials, lightweight, attachment for a rear light
CONS: Fiddly attachment
Check out the latest price on:
BEST FOR: Bikepacking
PROS: Large capacity, roll closure, waterproof
CONS: Heavy items need to be packed close to the saddle otherwise it will sway
TOPEAK BACK LOADER
BEST FOR: Backpacking
PROS: Mount and compression straps prevent swaying, included waterproof liner keeps contents dry
CONS: Dry bag is not the same shape as external bag
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SADDLE BAGS
SIZE AND USE
The first thing you need to think about is how much gear you need to transport. Do you just want somewhere to stash your tools on your regular rides so you can leave the rucksack at home? If this is the case then you will only need a small bag to fit a spare tube, multitool and maybe a CO2 inflator. A pump is unlikely to fit but can be attached to your frame.
If you want to go on longer rides without your rucksack, then you might need a slightly larger bag to hold a jacket or snacks. Remember that if the bag is only half full, then the contents will rattle around. The consequences of this are not dire, but you may have to put up with the sound of tools jingling around. If your bag is not full, consider wrapping your multitool in a cloth or wrap your spare tube around it to reduce noise.
Large saddle bags are generally used for bikepacking when you need to transport extra layers, camping equipment and food. On a bikepacking trip, you are unlikely to be able to fit everything you need into one saddle bag, even if it the biggest available. For this reason you should also take a rucksack and consider using other frame bags or handlebar bags. Check out this article to learn more about how to set up your bike for bikepacking and www.cyclingabout.com have a great overview of some recent tech that has entered the bikepacking market.
Due to its position on the bike, a saddle bag will be constantly bombarded with dirt, stones, mud and water that get kicked up by the rear wheel. You want your bag to be made out a material that can put up with this abuse. Unless you are OK with the contents of the bag getting wet, you should also look for a bag that is at least water resistant or waterproof. This is especially important when bikepacking because you do not want your warm camp clothes to be soaking wet when you need them to keep you warm. The same goes for your sleeping bag.
How securely the bag attaches to the saddle or seatpost is important for two reasons. The first is that you do not want your bag to fall off while you are riding. This shouldn’t be a problem with any good quality bag however. A problem that bigger bags encounter is that the more they extend rearwards, the more they sway from side to side while you are riding. This can be very annoying. If you are looking for a bikepacking saddle bag, choose one that has been specifically designed not to sway. Some have additional braces to prevent it, but you can play your part too by packing the heaviest items nearest to the saddle.
DROPPER POST COMPATIBILITY
Some bags are designed to work with dropper posts. Others may work with them but it is not guaranteed and some manufacturers with discourage using their bags with dropper posts. The reason for this is the extra weight and forces that big bags can exert on the seat post.
If you ride a hardtail, you can just strap a bag on and get riding. If you are on a full suspension bike, then you will need to think about if a bag will fit before you purchase. As the shock compresses, the distance between the rear wheel and saddle decreases. Depending on how much travel you have and how high your saddle is (especially if you have a dropper post), there may not be enough space for a saddle bag when the shock is fully compressed. You can check how much space you have by releasing all the air from your shock and letting it compress. Measure the distance between the saddle and tire.