The best handlebar bags for cycle touring and commuting in 2019 compared
Some travelers do not consider the handlebar bag as essential for cycle touring, although you certainly won’t fail your bike trip without one, it’s still one of my favorite piece of equipment when traveling by bicycle Choosing the best bike handlebar bag is not easy, there are quite a few out there, some may be more suited for daily bike commuting or short trips, while others are specifically designed to withstand the hardships of long bicycle expeditions.
With the rise of the bikepacking style, a new generation of handlebar bag has come out, and more and more people are considering the handlebars as a perfect space to store your gear. In this blog post, we’ll cover the more classic style of handlebar bags, trying to help you chose the best bag for your needs.
Classic Style VS Bikepacking Style
The new generation of bikepacking handlebar bags is mostly rolled waterproof bags using a harness to attach them to the bars. They are generally used to store a sleeping bag or even a small tarp tent. Although I find this style cool, good-looking, and maybe more aero-friendly, I think there are a lot of disadvantages that make the handlebar bag lose its original, and in my opinion most interesting feature.
These front bar bags usually, if not always, open on one side, making this almost impossible to reach the gear while cycling, most of the time will be necessary to untie the bag from the bars. You may argue that there’s no reason to access your tent or sleeping bag while cycling, and my answer will be “so why are you storing it in the most accessible place?”.
Traditional handlebar bags, on the contrary, open from the top, usually with a lid on the side of the rider, this way allows easy and quick access to what’s inside.
Why you should consider a handlebar bag
This ease of access to some of the gear is just great. Having what you might need while riding within hand reach, taking it out without dismounting from the bike it’s a huge gamechanger.
Besides that, most handlebar bags have a quick release system which allows you to take them off the bike with a single movement and bring them with you as messenger bags using the included shoulder strap.
What to put in a handlebar bag
The handlebar bag is the best place to store your valuables, such as ID, passport, wallet, keys, and everything else you really do not want to lose or have stolen.
Detaching the bag from the bike and bringing it with you every time you leave your rig unattended will make you sure you have your dearest items always with you.
My favorite piece of gear to put in the handlebar bag is, by the way, my camera. Whether you use a DSLR, a compact camera or just your phone it just amazing having the possibility to shot a picture without getting off the bike, you can just stop, take the camera and shoot! Some bar bags are specifically designed to store DSLR cameras and lens, with padded interiors and dividers.
19 best bike handlebar bags compared
MSX CLS 55 MX
We got to test the previous version of this handlebar bag during our recent North-European tour, and we can guarantee not a single drop of water gets in, even under a serious downpour like those we constantly experienced in Norway.
This revamped version of the MSX-Mainstream Handlebar bag definitely sets itself as one of the best handlebar bags in the market. Stiffened with rigid plastic on all sides, with reinforced lid and the bomb-proof Clickfix mounting system, this as sturdy as a handlebar bag can get. It can be loaded with up to 8kg of stuff!
It comes with a flexible internal separator to create different compartments as the user pleases, it also has two internal pockets (one on the lid and one on the inner side) and two small external side pockets to ensure everything is stored properly an always on-hand. An additional velcro on the top of the lid allows to put on a map-case or any other velcro element.
Two side rings to attach the included shoulder strap turns it in a very comfortable “purse” to carry on your walks. The strap is padded and doesn’t hurt even when the bag is fully loaded.
|Mainstream MSX CLS 55 ||760g|
|25,6 x 23,5 x 15,4 cm|
4 x neodymium magnets
Waterproofness: IP56 – DIN 60529
You can read our MSX review in this article or visit the official website here.
Topeak Tourguide Handle Bar Bag
The Topeak Tourguide is a full-featured handlebar bag with a QuickClick quick-release bracket and shoulder strap that makes it easy to take it with you. For extended touring, day trips, and commuting, this bag features a special space to mount your cycle computer, a clear map cover, a 3M reflective strip and safety light mount for increased low-light visibility, and an included rain cover for additional weather protection.
Topeak’s QuickClick system is built into every bag they make. This Topeak’s proprietary quick-release mounting system allows fast and easy tool-free mounting and removal of the bag. A simple slide and click and the bag is secure. To remove, a simple push of a button unlocks the system for easy removal.
|Topeak Tourguide Handle Bar Bag||1.48 lbs|
5 kg / 11 lb
|1800/840 denier nylon|
Rain cover included
Topeak TourGuide DX with Fixer 8
The biggest of the Topeak handlebar bags with its 7 liters of capacity. This super durable multi-featured handlebar bag also comes with the proprietary QuickClick mounting system bracket. Designed for extended touring, day trips, and commuting, the TourGuide has a divided main compartment, a front zip pocket, top pocket, clear map pocket, a clip for a cycle computer, plus a 3M reflective strip and AlienLux mount for added nighttime safety. Raincover is included.
|Topeak TourGuide DX||2.7 lbs|
5 kg / 11 lb
|1800/840 denier nylon|
Rain cover included
Topeak Compact Handle Bar Bag
The smaller sister of the Topeak handlebar series, it’s a clever handlebar bag that converts into a waist pack. Great for cameras, cell phones and other essentials you want close at hand. Rain cover included. Divided main compartment, Two side zip pockets, equipped with QuickClick mounting system.
|Topeak Compact||1.03 lb|
5 kg / 11 lb
Vol: 2 L
|1800/840 denier nylon|
Rain cover included
The Durango is a cheap handlebar bag for those who are on a budget. It attaches to the handlebar with a 3-point tension mounting system. It features a large exterior pocket with covered zipper and Scotchlite reflective trim.
This is a well-made bag for the price. If you are expecting high-end touring gear, this is not it. Although the plastic insert definitely helps the bag hold its shape, the bag itself droops due to the strap mounting system. The Bushwhacker Durango needs a rain cover to be waterproof. A useful and cheap handlebar bag for everyday commuting and occasional touring.
|Bushwhacker Durango||0.7 lbs|
|heavy duty 600 denier polyester.|
3-point tension mounting system
ZETOM Cycling Bicycle Bike Bag
Another budget handlebar bag with an interesting concept. The multi-purpose Zetom Bike Bag Waist Bag features belt buckles that allow it to be used as a bike handlebar bag, top tube bag, shoulder bag, waist bag, and seat post bag. A convenient design for easy style changes.
Made of real 800D high-density nylon oxford and inner PU waterproof layer, this heavy-duty bag is scratch resistant and anti abrasive. With durable belts and buckles, you can hang it up on your bike with no worry even in the rain, at least according to the manufacturer.
The 6L volume and multiple pockets make it big enough to easily organize and carry your gear. Some of the belts are expandable for loading extra small bags and hanging stuff like sunglasses, flashlight or to tie the bag to a bigger backpack.
|ZETOM Handlebar Bag||1.1 lb|
Inner PU Waterproof Layer
Roswheel 11491 Bicycle Handlebar Bag
Roswheel is a Chinese company making some interesting and incredibly cheap bikepacking and cycle touring bags. This model features additional zipper pocket on both sides, three-point strap mounting system, safety reflection bindings on both sides.
The bag is filled with PE cotton and contains a plastic stiffener to keep the bag in shape. it includes a shoulder strap to carry it off the bike. A great bag for cell phone, camera, snacks, and some gadgets
|Roswheel 11491||0.7 lbs|
Water Resistant Polyester
Roswheel 111271 LOHAS Series 3L
The small Roswheel LOHAS Series 3L handlebar bag comes with a built-in map holder. Made with 400D Nylon, PU leather, and transparent PVC, the whole bag is filled with EVA cotton for better protection and better shape-keeping.
Like most bike handlebar bags it comes with an adjustable shoulder strap. The Roswheel has a well-structured design, 3L capacity, one main compartment, two zippered side pockets, and front pouch, besides the top map holder.
Roswheel claims this bag to be fully waterproof. It is attached to the handlebar using T-shape velcro straps.
|Roswheel LOHAS Series 3L ||0.62 lbs|
Vol: 3 L
|400D Nylon, PU leather and PVC|
EVA cotton pad
Roswheel Adjustable Handlebar Bag Waterproof
Last but not least of the Roswheel series of handlebar bags, simply named Waterproof (Chinese brands often lack creativity when it comes to engaging names). This versatile and budget handlebar bag is fully waterproof with welded seams and roll-top closure system.
While cycling, it’s a bicycle front bag. While walking, it turns out to be a shoulder bag, coming with a shoulder strap and buckles on each side. The PVC fabric makes it easy to clean. Thanks to three velcro straps and two buckles on each side, it can be installed in a few seconds without any tools. The reflective LOGO print increases visibility at night.
|Roswheel Waterproof||0.6 lbs|
Ortlieb Travel Ultimate 6 Classic
Ortlieb doesn’t need any introduction. These German brand is leading the bike touring bags’ market for decades. The Ortlieb Ultimate 6M Classic has been tested by thousands of long-distance cyclist on countless bicycle tours. Made of waterproof polyester, it includes a top reinforced with magnetic closure and the proprietary Ortlieb locking system that provides stability and security, once the bag is fixed to the handlebar, both the top and the bag can be secured with one hand.
Wallet, id, and keys can be safe inside the interior compartment with zipper, which incorporates also a carabiner for the keys, while a detachable shoulder strap allows you to carry the bag with total comfort when off the bike. The bag is suitable for handlebars of up to 31.8 mm and tapered handlebars but not suitable for carbon handlebars). The front carries a 3M Scotchlite reflective element. It’a compatible with Ortlieb maps and mobile cover. The bag comes in two different sizes.
This is for sure one of the best handlebar bags for bicycle touring on the market, but the price is almost double the second most expensive ones.
|Ortlieb Travel Ultimate 6||1.57 lbs|
Ibera Bike Mini Camera Pack Handlebar Bag
Specifically designed for DSLR cameras the Ibera BIke Mini Camera Pak is the small version, a bigger version is also available for those carrying more lenses or bigger DSLR. The stored gear can be easily accessed. The bag has a sturdy click mounting system which makes it suited for extended bike tours, besides daily commutes and day trips.
It fits large DSLRs, lenses, and additional camera accessories which are sure to stay in place thanks to the padded removable divider, with reinforced sides to protect fragile items. The lid is angled with a clear map sleeve for easy viewing of maps or even a phone.
With multiple compartments, external bungee cords, padded shoulder strap for off-road use, reflective trim to add to low light or nighttime safety, and an all-weather rain cover shields, this bag looks like great value for its price.
|Ibera Mini Camera Pak||1.45 lbs|
11 lbs (5 kg)
Vol: 4.5 L
|Water resistant 1680D nylon|
Vaude bike bags handlebar Discover Box waterproof
Another king brand when it comes to bicycle touring and outdoors in general is Vaude. The Discover Box is a great single compartment handlebar bag, made of fully waterproof DiPD620/PS490 and featuring a strong and reliable Click Mounting.
It features reflective elements, an inner removable zip pocket, and a shoulder strap. The quality is very close to the Ortlieb but the price tag is lower.
|Vaude Discover Box ||2.01 lbs|
Vol: 6 L
|Polyester with PU coating||$$$$|
Altura is another top brand in the cycle touring universe. This bag though is a little outdated and not easy to find, meaning there’s probably a new Altura handlebar bag behind the corner. It features a removable map case fixings. (Map case not included). The top lid just fastens with velcro and can bounce when full. Comes with a removable shoulder strap.
|Altura Arran Handlebar||730g|
Max Load: 7KG
|P-Tec 600 fabric||$$$|
Blackburn Barrier Handlebar Bag
One of the biggest handlebar bags in this list, the Blackburn Barrier is also one of my personal favorites. The welded-seam waterproof construction and roll-top, zipped openings provide ultimate weather protection while the compression and load system offers a great level of safety for your cargo.
It features a clear phone/GPS top panel, magnetic attachment for Barrier Map case, quick release mounting system, multiple interior pockets, and shoulder strap. It is compatible with 25.4 mm to 31.8 mm handlebars
Thule Shield Waterproof Handlebar Bag
Here comes the King-Size of the handlebar bags. This compact but huge waterproof bag allows the bike expeditioners to keep important items close at hand when traveling or commuting.
It keeps your phone and map visible and dry in the clear map sleeve, features a phone pocket, keeps contents dry and dust free due to the IP54 welded construction and the roll-top closure. The visibility is increased thanks to reflective accents, and safety is added by the integrated attachment point for safety light. Quick access to snacks or other small items is made easy by the mesh side pockets.
Note that some sellers do not include the mounting piece in the shipping, which must be purchased separately.
|Thule Shield||1.8 lbs|
|IP54 welded construction|
Nylon, plastic, steel
RockBros Multi-purpose Messenger Bag
Back on the budget-friendly side, the RokBros Multi-Purpose Messenger bag is made of tough seamed material and TPU coatings for 100% waterproof performance. RokBros offers a lifetime warranty for the bag.
This bag really is multi-purpose, it can be used as a bike handlebar bag, bike saddle bag, and messenger bag with the included shoulder strap.
It’s easy to clean thanks to the high wear-resistant composite nylon, a wet cloth should be enough to get rid of dust and oil stains
It features an inner mesh pocket and a built-in PP board for non-deformation. The bag is secured with velcro straps.
|Rokbros Messanger Bag||0.75 lbs|
Vol: 3-4 L
Axiom Seymour Oceanweave handlebar bag
Every bag in the Seymour series uses a new fabric which they call Oceanweave, that contributes to reducing the amount of plastic in our oceans. These bags are the world’s only cycling bags to be made out of recycled fishing nets. They hope this product will inspire others to become a part of a solution to this environmental crisis.
Red interior liner improves internal visibility, the mounting system consists of lightweight strap and buckles. The zippered main compartment opens towards the rider. A zippered internal convenience pocket for keys/phone, a bigger external compartment, and shoulder strap are included.
Oceanweave Handlebar P7
Vol: 7 L
|600D recycled fishnet polyester|
Waterproof polyurethane coating
Nashbar Waterproof Handlebar Bag
The Nashbar Waterproof Handlebar Bag is a single compartment bag made with rugged 400 denier nylon which is scuff, puncture, and tear-resistant, and treated with EPU coating on the inside which literally seals the deal. A roll-top closure, secured in place via a pair of buckles, makes it impossible for water to work its way in to dampen your food, maps, electronics, clothing, or whatever else you may have stowed away.
The easy clamp-on mounting piece, fitting 22.2mm-28.6mm diameters as well as 31.8mm diameter handlebars, make the installation/removal of the handlebar bag easy and convenient, while a plastic liner helps bag retain shape. A reflective front logo increases visibility in low-light conditions.
|Nashbar Waterproof||1.1 lbs|
|12.6×9.4×7″ 32x24x17,6cm||400 denier|
Quick Release Click