Handlebar bags are a great and easy way to add extra storage space to your bike. While panniers are the best option for transporting heavy loads, handlebar bags are ideal for storing your essentials and bulky but light items.
Handlebar bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit every need. From waterproof options that can carry all types of cargo to compact versions ideal for carrying just a few things – there’s something out there for everyone!
This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to find the best handlebar bag for your needs, gives you a list of our 15 best handlebar bags below, and answers most of the frequently asked questions.
We hope that you enjoy reading this article as much as we enjoyed writing it.
If you are in a hurry to make a decision, here is a quick snapshot of the 5 best handlebar bags we like the most. Detailed description and overview below.
Our Pick of 5 Best Handlebar Bags
Best Handlebar Bag Overall
Topeak FrontLoader Handlebar Bag
Best Handlebar Bag for Bikepacking & Touring
Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR (Quick-Release) Bag
Best Small Handlebar Bag
Rapha Bar Bag
Best Handlebar Bag For Drop Bars
Roswheel Road Handlebar Bag
Best Handlebar Bag for Commuting
Ortlieb Ultimate Six Classic 5L Handlebar Bag
What do you carry in a handlebar bag?
The items you carry in a handlebar bag depend on the type of cycling you do. For example, on a multi-day bike touring adventure, you want to use a handlebar bag for storing a sleeping bag, tent, clothes, and other lightweight essentials. Also, if the handlebar bag is fully waterproof, you can store a camera, phone, chargers, and any other small times you want to keep dry.
On shorter rides, handlebar bags act as the primary storage space for a wallet, phone, sunglasses, food, nutrition, or a camera. If you don’t use a saddlebag, a handlebar can act as your primary storage space for a multi-tool, a spare tube, mini-pump, or a CO2 cartridge.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of the types of items commonly stored in handlebar bags.
Your setup will depend on the type of terrain and trip duration, translating into the amount of gear you need to bring along.
Most popular and common types of handlebar bags
1. DRY BAG
A dry bag is usually a fully waterproof bag used for storing clothing, sleeping bag or anything else that needs to stay dry and you don’t need access to very often. These bags are usually very compressible and have a roll-down design on one or both sides. In some cases, they are equipped with an air valve for better compression and space optimization. They can also be compatible with an accessory bag or a pouch that you attach to the dry bag.
2. Handlebar Harness
Think of a handlebar harness as a “soft” rack. It needs to be used in combination with either a dry bag, tent, or accessory bag. Most harnesses are used for bike touring or bikepacking when you need to properly secure your overnight gear or essentials you want to keep dry. The good thing about the harness is that you can combine different drybags depending on your ride and the amount of gear you are carrying. Harnesses are most commonly used on rugged terrain since they provide a stable and secure attachment to the main handlebar bag.
3. Accessory Bags
Accessory bags are usually not very large and can be used as a standalone or an additional handlebar bag. They are great for storing small things that you want to have quick and easy access to, like a phone, charger, batteries, action camera, and so on. These bags can also be perfect for storing a filming camera.
4. Burrito Bags
As the name suggests, “burrito bags” are cylinder in shape and are very popular among road cyclists. They are usually small and provide easy on-the-go access to your essentials like candy, energy bars, or a phone. In addition, burrito bags are generally lightweight, compact, and provide just enough space for the essentials while staying maximum aerodynamic.
5. Commuting Bags
Commuting bags can often be converted into a shoulder strap or a hip bag. Also, they often have an easy-to unclip closure system. It is by design since you don’t want to leave the bag behind when your bike is parked. Usually, these bags are fully waterproof to protect contents from getting wet, and also the design is not aerodynamic but more classic-looking.
Does a handlebar bag affect handling?
In short, the answer is YES. A handlebar bag will affect the handling of your bike because of the weight distribution changes. However, the extent of this effect will depend on how much weight you add. Here are few useful points that you need to keep in mind when thinking about the impact of a handlebar bag on bike handling:
- Handlebar bags that weigh less than 1.5kg / 3lbs will have a minimal impact on your bike handling.
- Try to use a handlebar bag for bulky but light items like a tent, sleeping bag, clothing, or small and essential items like a phone, batteries, chargers, keys, camera, and so on. With this strategy, you will keep the weight down but at the same time fit many items.
- Depending on the size, a handlebar bag can prevent you from shifting easily and thus cause problems with overall handling. That’s why you need to check the length of your bars (this is relevant mainly for drop bars) and ensure that the bag and its attachment system will not interfere with your ability to shift.
- The other thing is that the handlebar bag can be interfering with brake and shifting cables (especially when turning the wheel). Try turning the wheel left and right to test if any of the wires are obstructed until you find that perfect spot. Also, try shifting and breaking with your complete handlebar bag set up before you set off on an adventure.
- Poor attachment systems can create bouncing and rattling of your handlebar bag, which will further affect handling. Ensure that the bag is secure and clipped on snugly, but don’t overdo it. A properly strapped handlebar bag will improve the handling.
Always test your handlebar bag set up before you set off on your first ride. This way, you will avoid unexpected problems down the road.
Can a handlebar bag damage my bike?
Yes! Unfortunately, many handlebar bags come with an attachment system that can rub against a fork or a frame. So if you own an expensive bike, this is a critical factor to account for.
Additionally, when you fit a handlebar bag, your brake and shifting cables will be moved around, and they can start rubbing your frame (especially when turning).
But don’t worry, investing a few bucks in protective tape or film can prevent all damages. So just stop by your local bike shop, and they should be able to hook you up with the best protective tape for your needs.
Make sure you test your setup and ensure that all of the rubbing spots are protected.
Our Pick of 15 Best Handlebar Bags:
1. Revelate Designs Harness & Saltyroll
The Revelate Designs Harness and Saltyroll is the perfect solution for all of your bikepacking or touring needs! The combination of a harness and a dry bag makes this setup extremely versatile as you can easily switch between drybags.
Also, the Saltyroll drybag is fully waterproof, so nothing gets wet or damaged during the trip. And with its large capacity, this bag can hold everything from clothes to tents or sleeping bags.
Both the harness and the drybag are durable and lightweight. The drybag also has a few reflective elements, so cars see you at night and don’t hit you when they pass by!
Finally, the total price for a harness and a drybag is competitive and an excellent investment for any biker.
The only minor downside is that the harness isn’t compatible with some brake systems, but it won’t be an issue if you have disc brakes.
2. Ortlieb Accessory Pack Handlebar Bag
The Ortlieb Accessory Pack is the perfect standalone or an additional handlebar bag for your next adventure or everyday use. It’s fully waterproof, so no matter what kind of weather you ride in, your stuff will stay dry. Plus, the excellent quality and stylish look make it stand out from other bags on the market today.
This bag is also super versatile. For example, it converts into a shoulder bag which increases the number of uses cases. Also, it can be used as an additional bag with the Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack, which we also included in this review. So if you need a lot of space, combining it with the Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack is the way to go.
Since Ortlieb Accessory Pack is an extremely high-quality bag is also priced accordingly and might be too expensive for some cyclists.
3. Topeak FrontLoader Handlebar Bag
Topeak FrontLoader is an excellent handlebar bag for carrying your sleeping bag, spare clothing, and other bulky items. What’s great about it is a combination of a harness and a dry bag. This is very useful, as all you have to do is install and adjust the harness once while the dry bag can be easily strapped in or taken off when you need to access the contents.
The drybag is fully waterproof and has an air release button for better compression so you can fit more things while minimizing its size. In addition, this handlebar bag is very price competitive, and it is really difficult to find an alternative in the same price range.
The one thing to watch out for is its compatibility with drop bars. Make sure your handlebar is wide enough, but you don’t have to worry about this if you are using a flat bar.
4. Rapha Bar Bag
The Rapha Bar Bag is the perfect combination of style and function. It’s made from durable, waterproof materials that are built to last.
It comes with an adjustable strap so you can wear the bag over your shoulder or waist when riding or walking. It comes with a quick-release mount system making it very easy to take off and clip back on.
This is an excellent choice for a road cyclist looking for a stylish and functional bag.
The only downside we could spot is that the zipper is not fully waterproof.
5. Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR Bag
The Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR (Quick-Release) Bag is the perfect choice for bikepacking or bike touring. It’s fully waterproof, so you can rest assured that your belongings will stay dry no matter what weather conditions you encounter.
This bag is super durable and made of high-quality materials that will last for years to come. And it comes with additional side pockets that are great for storing small items like snacks or even a water bottle.
The narrow design makes this bag fits most drop bars – great if you have multiple bikes to switch between.
The capacity offered should be enough to store lightweight but bulky items. Overall, this is an excellent choice but retails at a hefty price.
6. Lead Out! Mini Handlebar Bag
The Lead Out Mini Handlebar Bag is a great way to carry all of your essentials while cycling. It’s water-resistant and has secure straps to ensure that it stays in place no matter how bumpy the ride gets. Plus, quick-release buckles let you easily take it off when you don’t need it. And for an extra bit of safety, there are reflective elements so drivers can see you from afar!
The quick-release buckles are secure and won’t come undone even if you’re going over bumps in the road. And with its price tag, there’s no reason not to get one today.
The only downside is that Lead Out Mini Handlebar Bag is not fully waterproof, so your belongings can get wet.
7. Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack Handlebar Bag
Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack Handlebar Bag is fully waterproof, has excellent quality and durable design, and comes in 2 sizes to accommodate your needs. And don’t forget about its stylish look that will make you stand out from the crowd.
It has an excellent buckle system that makes it easy to attach and detach from your bike in seconds. And if additional space is needed, this bag can be combined with Ortlieb Accessory Pack Hanlebag Bag, which is also included in this review!
The smaller size is compatible with most drop bars, while the larger one will be more suitable for flat bars. However, there is no denying that Ortlieb makes outstanding products, and we felt obliged to include them in this review.
On the downside, this handlebar bag is quite heavy and not the cheapest one out there.
8. Lezyne Hard Caddy Handlebar Bag
The Lezyne Hard Caddy Handlebar Bag is a great way to keep all of your belongings safe and secure. It’s made from water-resistant fabric to provide some protection from the rain. Plus, there are reflective elements that make sure you stay visible in low-light conditions. And if you need some extra visibility for nighttime riding, there’s even a light clip available.
We also really like that this bag does not get in the way of a cycling computer so you don’t need to worry about that. The minimalistic design and overall look are also great.
The only downside to keep in mind is that it is not waterproof so maybe don’t store items that should not get wet if you get caught in some heavy rain.
9. Ortlieb Ultimate Six Classic 5L Handlebar Bag
The Ortlieb Ultimate Six Classic 5L Handlebar Bag is fully waterproof, has an excellent attachment mechanism that creates minimum bouncing, and it’s super easy to access your essentials on the go.
It is ideal for carrying a camera and filming on the go since opening and closing can be done with one hand. Plus, it has a classic design, which could be a deal-breaker if you are into this type of look.
On the downside, this bag occupies the space you would typically use for lights or a cycling computer. Therefore an additional mounting adapter or some engineering would be required to make everything fit.
10. Chrome Helix Handlebar Bag
The Chrome Helix Handlebar Bag is the perfect companion for your daily commute. It’s made from water-resistant fabric and has inside pockets to keep all of your valuables organized. You can even convert it into a shoulder or waist bag when off the bike! Plus, its stylish look is hard to ignore.
Unfortunately, it is not fully waterproof, but the fabric resists water well enough to keep your contents dry in light rain. Another downside is that it’s not easy to open on the go, which could be a problem if you need quick access to your contents.
11. Roswheel Road Handlebar Bag
The Roswheel Road Handlebar Bag is made from high-quality materials that are both waterproof and durable so that it can stand up against even the roughest conditions.
Plus, it has a large capacity that makes it easy to fit everything in one place. And with an air valve for better compression and reflective areas, this bag will keep you safe while also looking great!
This bag is also compatible with Roswheel Accessory Pouch so if you need some extra storage space when touring, simply attach the Accessory Pouch on top using quick-fix straps.
On the downside, this bag will fit only wider drop bars or flat bars, so make sure to account for the measurements before buying.
12. Topeak BarLoader Handlebar Bag
The Topeak BarLoader Handlebar Bag is the perfect solution for carrying all your essentials while bikepacking or bike touring. It’s fully waterproof and can be used as a standalone or an additional bag to Topeak’s Frontloader we also included in this review.
The bag is spacious and offers a very good and secure fit that keeps your essentials safe and sound while looking stylish on any bike. It is also very reasonably priced for the quality.
Also, the good news is that we could not spot any downsides for this bag, which does not happen that often.
13. Roswheel Tour Handlebar Bag
The Roswheel Tour Handlebar Bag is the perfect option for bike touring and commuting. It is fully waterproof, spacious, with a secure fit, and a stylish look. Definitely great features that will make this your go-to accessory for all of your cycling adventures.
It also includes a light clip so that you can always be seen when riding at night!
The quick-release and mounting system on this bag are also excellent and will minimize bouncing. The contests are easily accessible on the go, which is especially useful for getting out your camera.
However, one downside that we want to point out is that this bag mounts relatively high and might obstruct your cycling computer, which is not a problem if you are not using one.
14. Apidura Expedition Handlebar Pack
The Apidura Expedition Handlebar Pack is an excellent option for bike touring and bikepacking. It is available in 2 different sizes to accommodate your needs. The bag is fully waterproof, and the stylish look will make this your go-to accessory.
It also comes with an air release valve that makes it easy to compress the bag and minimize its size. Also, the bungee cord on this handlebar bag offers additional storage if you need it!
On the downside, this bag will fit only wider drop bars or flat bars, so make sure to accounts for that before buying.
15. Rad Power Bikes Handlebar Bag
The Rad Power Bikes Handlebar Bag is an excellent option if you are looking for an affordable bag to carry beverages. It has an insulated liner that can keep your drinks cold or warm! You could also use it for small items like sunglasses, snacks, keys and so on.
Installing this bag on your bike is super simple, too, and you can access contents on the go without a need to stop.
So if you want to grab a bottle of warm tea or coffee, this might be just the bag for you!
A bike handlebar bag can be a great addition to your bicycle, but you need to choose it wisely based on your needs and the type of rides you plan to do. If you need any advice drop us a comment below and we will try to help out.
Frequently asked questions:
1. What is a handlebar bag and why would you use one?
As the name suggests, the handlebar bag is a bag that you attach to the bike’s handlebar. These bags come in different shapes, sizes and offer various features, but the primary purpose is to provide you with extra storage space. The main benefits of using a handlebar bag are:
- provide extra storage space
- keep essentials within reach at all times
- usually fits most bikes and requires no extra tools, racks, and panniers
2. What to look for in a handlebar bag?
Size & volume
The size of the bag is a critical factor since it will determine how much gear you can fit and carry. Also, you don’t want to overload the bag since you can damage the clipping mechanism and lose the bag. Most of the manufacturers will specify the bag capacity (volume) and weight limit. Also, do consider the length of the bag since it might not fit your handlebar (especially drop bars). The smallest handlebar bags offer around 2L | 122 cu. in. carrying capacity, while larger bikepacking handlebar bags could go up to 15L | 925 cu. in. and even more in some cases.
It is always a good idea to get a fully waterproof handlebar bag. This way, you don’t have to worry about your gear getting wet and spoiling during a rainstorm or when riding through puddles of water on the road.
Bike lights are actually required by law in most countries around the world. This is why you need to make sure you have space to clip the front light. Some of the handlebar bags out there are equipped with a light clip or will simply leave space on the handlebar for the light to be attached.
Sometimes a handlebar bag can interfere with a front tire. This can happen due to several reasons. For example, the bag is too big, overstuffed, or the bike’s stem is relatively short. To avoid these issues, double-check the bag’s size and its attachment mechanism. Also, pictures can help to determine if it generally sits higher or lower.
Drop bar compatibility
You need to consider if a handlebar bag you are about to buy will fit your handlebar (especially if it is a drop-bar). The last thing you want is to buy a bag that doesn’t fit. You can check this by looking at the handlebar’s width and comparing it to the bag’s width. Make sure to leave a small gap on each side so you can still use shifters and the brakes.
Cycling computer compatibility
Some handlebar bags fit pretty high of the handlebar, which can interfere with cycling computer mount. It is possible to engineer a solution, but it will require additional effort. Therefore do a bit of research and confirm that the handlebar bag you are about to buy will be compatible with your cycling computer.
You want a handlebar bag that will last for years and will not let you down in the middle of a ride. Generally, by getting a reputable brand with a history of high-quality products, you should be safe. Also, once the bag arrives, please give it a good look before ripping off the label. You can tell the quality by just examining it. Also, be sure to check out what kind of warranty the manufacturer offers if something goes wrong with your bag in a few months after purchase.
Versatility & convertibility
Many handlebar bags can be converted into a shoulder or a hip bag. It is incredibly convenient during coffee rides or commuting when you want to take the bag with you and don’t carry it in your hands all the time.
Look & Style
This one is very subjective but also an essential factor to consider. It is not only about the quality of materials and stitching but also how it looks on your bike. The more stylish the bag, the better you will feel be about it.
Weight is a crucial factor in performance cycling. It’s simple, the heavier your equipment, the more effort, and energy you need to apply to cycle at the same speed and distance. Therefore, going for a lighter handlebar bag is always a good idea. You will be carrying essentials and gear, so why add the extra weight of a handlebar bag?
Accessibility has to do with how easy it is to access the contents of a handlebar bag. In some cases, easy access to the bag is crucial. For example, if you are road cycling and use a small burrito bag, you most likely have some snacks and food inside you want to access on the go. However, when you are bike touring and using the handlebar bag for carrying a sleeping bag or clothing, you might not need easy access that much.
Why should you trust us?
In order to feature and review any products on our website we do extensive research, read user feedback, carefully review forum threads, look at search trends, brand popularity, try to actually use and test as many products as possible ourselves, and evaluate other factors depending on the product category. By doing extensive research and incorporating it with our own experience we are able to shortlist only a handful of products out of thousands of options.
We want to bring value to our readers and help them find answers to questions and buy the most appropriate cycling products. Brands and cycling professionals always try to innovate and improve to get the best possible outcome. Unfortunately, innovations and product improvements these days result only in marginal gains, but the price increase for these gains is not equally proportional. In economics, this behavior is defined as “diminishing returns”. Knowing this we focus on featuring the best value for the money products that are affordable, but at the same time have a lot to offer. We don’t want our visitors to overspend on something they will not benefit from.