Bikepacking bags and panniers, oh my!

You’ve probably noticed that lots of folks are getting out and adventuring by bike. I mean, you’re here on the Ramble site right?

Unlike earlier days where Bicycle Touring was popular and typically involved long trips and heavy ladened bikes and bags (in 1990, I set off for a year in Europe on a bike that weighed 80lbs fully packed!), bikepacking as an off shoot has become popular as gear has become lighter, smaller and folks have realized that even a weekend trip is good to recharge the soul. Bikepacking, while similar to touring, does have some differences that exist that have led to some changes in gear. Panniers are still viable, but for shorter trips, bags that attach directly to the frame of your bicycle are more popular.

For the Ramble, we recommend frame-mounted bags. Because they attach directly to the bike, there’s less to deal with. Off road adventures have a tendency to rattle racks loose and if you don’t check while on the ride, having a bolt or nut lost is a possibility. It’s happened on the Ramble and though not the end of the world, just one more thing that can go wrong.

Frame bags also typically have less volume, and in this case this is a good thing. Pairing down what you need to carry (or think you need to carry) can be an art and evolve over multiple trips but frame bags often focus you on the essentials. You might be surprised what you can do without for three days.

Another benefit of frame-mounted bags is that they’re separates. Panniers being larger are often packed like a suitcase: it all goes in. So if you need to access items while riding, being able to reach into a smaller bag or one that is more accessible is easier.

A typical frame-mounted setup has a seatpost bag, main triangle bag and handlebar bag. Some folks add a top tube or “gas tank” bag for small items like food, camera, sunscreen or other items one might need on the roll.

Main triangle bags typically are expandable and allow you to size as needed. Lots of riders place a hydration reservoir in the bags in addition to clothing or other items. Side pockets let you carry the essentials like a GPS or other refreshments.

Handlebar bags are a great place to stuff your sleeping kit or tent. With lots of webbing for attachments, you can strap a lot of gear here from tent poles, sandals, hat, or mascot lion. Dry bags like what you find on the Blackburn products make sure your gear stays dry in the eventual downpour.

Lastly, a seatpost bag has the ability to expand to fit a lot of clothing or other gear. Attaching to your seatpost and saddle, it’s out of the way and keeps an often larger load streamlined with your bike. As with the handlebar bag, multiple lashing points let you attach gear that you might need to get to quickly such as a jacket or rain gear.

With so many options and ways to carry your gear, there is no right way. Chances are, your style and needs will evolve over time. Head over to Blackburn and check out all they have to offer in bags, racks and tools whether you’re heading out on an overnighter, 3-day Ramble or 3 month trip across America. Plus, when you sign up for the Ramble, you get a code for 25% off Blackburn gear at


photos by Devon Balet.

Leave a reply