This durable, functional collection of bikepacking bags and mounts works well with a range of bikes, terrain, and conditions. Plus, the full setup is less pricey than other top-rated bags.
Bikepacking rewards us with exploring more ground and visiting incredible, remote landscapes in relatively short periods of time. Depending on the terrain and itinerary, the trip can also be a huge challenge.
A huge component of the success and longevity of your gear is zeroing in on bags specifically made for bikepacking that work for you and your bike. It’s really hard to “Frankenstein” bike bags and, in our opinion, not worth carrying the weight on your back, which makes riding even tougher. Though, investing in bikepacking bags can be a big chunk of change. Enter Topeak Bikepacking Bags.
In short: These bag and mount designs are tough, fairly universal between bike types, and modifiable. They also offer helpful features and don’t have a top-tier price tag compared to a handful of sexier, popular bikepacking bags out there.
Read more about the types of bikepacking bags and how to choose, as well as a handful of our favorite items, in our Best Bikepacking Bags of 2021. Otherwise, dive into this full review of the Topeak bags.
Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review: Where We Tested
Tested in Colorado’s high country, I first took this Topeak setup through the wringer on a 2-day overnighter with my friend Karin Pocock: 56 miles and 7,633 feet of climbing through the Sawatch Range from Tincup to Sargents.
The singletrack and doubletrack was seldom smooth and mostly loose, rocky, and washboarded. There were stream crossings and boulder gardens, as well as one fast gravel descent. The trip closed with a gnarly, wet thunder-hailstorm dash that put us in our place, and the bags were steadfast.
I rode my Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp EVO with 27.5-inch tires and full suspension. The FOX Float CTD Evolution shock has three compression settings, which I set to Climb with the bike fully loaded.
Later, I used two VersaCage and the TopLoader on a single-night bikepacking trip with a small group of outdoor media. We tested the new Trek 1120 all-terrain off-road touring bike featuring rear and front racks that held a bulk of the gear.
Our 26-mile thru route covered mountainous pavement, gravel, and bumpy dirt doubletrack from Crested Butte to Mill Creek with 2,136 feet of ascent.
In November, as the temps started to drop, I loaded this kit with a single-person bikepacking tent, ample layers for freezing conditions, plenty of food and water, and my 800-fill Mountain Hardwear Phantom GORE-TEX 0-Degree bag (I can’t skimp on sleep).
I took two solo one-nighters in Hartman Rocks Recreation Area, which has 90 miles of singletrack and doublewide dirt roads, totaling 11 miles and 1,400 feet of gain.
Here’s what I learned about the Topeak lineup of bikepacking bags and mounts.
Foundational Kit: Basic, Tough Bags
TopLoader Top Tube Bag
This top tube bag ($45) is an easy way to get must-have items off your back and stash items you’ll need to quickly grab as you travel. (The bag can also attach in the back by the seatpost.)
This is where I like to carry my bike lights, headlamp, bike tool, and snacks plus small or streamlined miscellaneous items like a spork. I usually keep my phone in the mesh side pocket of my bikepacking pack, the Deuter Flyt 18 SL, but it’s nice to be able to slide it inside the TopLoader too.
The durable exterior is a polyethylene-nylon blend that’s water-resistant along with the smooth, easy-to-tug zipper. I appreciate that the interior is completely lined with a soft microfiber-like fabric, which the included Velcro divider easily grabs to create two compartments.
One unique feature: An integrated pull-out rain cover hides in an exterior pocket for extra weather protection.
Overall, this is a well-built classic top tube bag with simple style and a couple of nice design details. The price point is middle-of-the-road: The Oveja Negra Snack Pack is $55 and the Roswheel Bike Bag is $33, for instance.
Top Tube Bag Specs
- Capacity: 0.75 L
- Weight: 169 g (5.96 oz.)
- Size: 23.5 x 12 x 7 cm
- Top Tube Diameter: 35-46 mm
- Head Tube Diameter: 34-75 mm
- Colors: Black or green
MidLoader Frame Bag
Low on the bike, the MidLoader Frame Bag ($90) sits inside the frame’s triangle for transporting the heaviest items like dense food or an extra bladder. Bulky items can fit snugly in there, too: For one short trip, I forgot to refill my small fuel canister, and this design held a 16-ounce canister like a champ.
I really like how spacious and nimble this strong bag is — it maxes out at a 14-pound load — and even fits well in the funky triangle of my full-suspension bike. Not all frame bags are that easily adaptable.
The fabric is a sturdy DWR-treated polyethylene-nylon blend. Two water-resistant zippers span the entire length of both sides of the bag, so you can easily access your gear without unloading everything.
I’ve used other frame bags that can be delicate with seams and zippers that wear down fast or need extra care, but these zippers and the pull tabs seem stout.
Compared to one of our favorite pieces, the Apidura Expedition Frame Pack ($121), and one of my other well-liked bags, the Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag ($105), this bag comes in at a budget price.
MidLoader Bag Specs
- Capacity: 4.5 L (3L and 6L options)
- Weight: 292 g (10.3 oz.)
- Size: 46 x 12 x 6 cm
- Top Tube Diameter: 45-66 mm
- Seat Tube Diameter: 28-60 mm
- Down Tube Diameter: 38-70 mm
- Colors: Black or green
FrontLoader Handlebar Bag
Despite long, rowdy descents, the FrontLoader ($73) remained solid on my handlebars and didn’t jostle around. I used the tube for lightweight, bulky items: my sleeping bag and apparel. At max, it carries 11 pounds.
Once the temps dropped, this roll-top solely carried my zero-degree bag. Each end rolls into itself, dry bag style, with a buckle closure.
The more items you pack inside, the fewer foldovers can be made, which becomes more critical if you are riding through rain, hail, or snow: rolls equal insurance against moisture getting inside.
A robust harness wraps part way around the cylindrical bag held by two buckled straps. The 10,000mm waterproof-rated, polyethylene-EVA bag is grippy, preventing the load from sliding around. There’s a handy exterior air release valve.
The bag and harness attach to the handlebars via two quick-release buckled straps, which thread through a stack of durable, soft rubber spacers: I used all three to ensure that the bag was not rubbing any cables, and they suctioned to the handlebars super well. The exterior buckles were great to carry my tent poles.
I noticed that where the bag’s backside stability strap wraps around the head tube, the rub point tends to squeak when the handlebars pivot back and forth when I travel through rocky terrain.
To help prevent friction — which could eventually degrade the bag or bike — Topeak includes an adhesive strip of 3M transparent protective film, so I’ll add that to the frame. Otherwise, electrical tape is a good fallback.
In contrast to the durable Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness ($95), which fits very securely (and I paired with the Saltyroll Handlebar Bag for $40), the Frontloader was easier to install and costs less. Our other top pick, the Blackburn Outpost Elite Handlebar Roll ($175), is also pricier.
FrontLoader Bag Specs
- Capacity: 8 L
- Weight: 325 g (11.46 oz.) plus rubber spacers (132 g or 4.65 oz.)
- Size: 33 x 28.7 x 5 cm
- Colors: Black or green
BackLoader Seat Bag and DP Mount
Ultimately, the BackLoader ($90) is robust and functional. The compression straps are easy to adjust with the bag loaded. And the buckles that secure the bag below the seat are fairly quick to thread compared to other more complicated seat bags I’ve used. Like the other bags, it’s constructed with polyethylene and nylon.
The upper shock cord on top is a pretty good spot to stash a rolled-up jacket, but be careful that it doesn’t fall out on bumpy segments — you’ll never know, especially if no one is riding behind you!
A handful of loops are integrated on the exterior to strap on safety lights. And an interior waterproof dry bag (rated at 10,000 mm) is included, which I didn’t use, because I like being able to stuff all of my goods into every square millimeter of the bag including my tent, rainfly, and sleeping pad.
A broad Velcro hook-and-loop strap attaches well to the seat post or the DP Mount ($25), a hefty diecast aluminum mount that attaches to the dropper post, which is a great addition for alpine miles in the Rockies.
The mount suspends the load slightly higher off the tire, which helps when I hit bumps and the weight bounces, though that isn’t much of an issue on a hardtail. With a full-suspension bike, the rear shock moves and the bag compresses close to — or can rub against — the tire.
In general, the mount prevents the bag from resting back and rubbing against the post. It’s designed to allow the dropper post to compress while carrying the BackLoader (note: dropper posts differ in size). The mount comes with interior rubber shims, and can also be used to attach a tail light or water bottle cage.
Revelate Designs also manufactures one of our favorite seat bags: the Terrapin. Though, the Terrapin System 8L ($179) is double the price tag of the BackLoader.
BackLoader Bag Specs
- Capacity: 6 L (10 L and 15 L options)
- Weight: 445 g (15.7 oz.)
- Size: 50 (max) x 16 x 15 cm
- Minimum tire clearance: 9 cm
- Dropper Post Diameter: 22-27 mm
- Dropper Post Weight: 63 g
- Colors: Black or green
Longer Trips, More Gear: Topeak Offers Extra Storage
The VersaCage ($31) mount is extremely useful for dropping weight lower on the bike frame and carrying a large volume of goods. These mounts require the most setup and removal, which can be a bit time-consuming if you’re doing day rides between longer trips.
Compared to the other bags, the cages also needed the most refinement on the trail. At first, they shifted a bit around the forks when I rode over rocky terrain, and the plastic clamps (which I hadn’t trimmed back, yet) started smacking the spokes. Once I dialed in the tightness, the cages stayed.
Topeak makes these clamps of strong engineering-grade plastic and anti-slip rubber pads, which wrap around the tube and attach the cage to the frame. The design is a good alternative to panniers, of which one of our favorite designs is the set of Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers, but is nearly quadruple the cost at $270.
For mounting to the suspension forks, I recommend using two and keeping the weight balanced on each side. I packed each of mine with dry bags stuffed with a water filter, first-aid kit, rain pants, Sea to Summit cook set, portable charger, extra water, down slippers, and snacks. The mounts can also attach to the downtube.
Topeak VersaCage Specs
- Capacity: 6.61 lbs. (per VersaCage)
- Weight: 128 g (4.51 oz.) plus buckle straps (44 g) and clamp (48 g)
- Size: 22 x 12 x 7 cm
- Height adjustability: 64 mm
- Colors: Black
Barloader Handlebar Bag
The high-performance waterproof TPU Barloader handlebar bag ($83) is tenacious yet malleable and boasts strong ultrasonic welded seams. The style reminds me of a riding fanny pack or laptop bag: it can fit my lunch, sunscreen, anti-chafing cream, a rain jacket, pair of gloves, and more. (It’s more spacious compared to the TopLoader Top Tube Bag.)
Again, this nifty design gets more items out of my backpack and onto the bike. In a similar style is the smaller volume 2.8L Revelate Designs Egress Pocket ($75) and 3L Oveja Negra Lunchbox Handlebar Bag ($50).
The roll-top has a beefy buckle closure, and I like how easy the wide opening makes it to find what I need. With three hook-and-loop fasteners and two far-reaching quick-release buckles, the bag is quick and easy to secure on the face of the FrontLoader Handlebar Bag. I never noticed it shift around while riding on rugged ground.
A shoulder strap is included for off-bike use, but I would not want to carry the extra piece bikepacking. If I dismount an entire bag, it’s at camp.
There’s also a removable neon yellow interior bag that sits in the bottom of the Barloader, attached via two Velcro strips. The travel case reminds me of a toiletry bag and is perfect for keeping my small toiletry items from getting lost.
I love organization, and I really appreciate the three zipper-enclosed pockets layered inside. Though, the items stored in the case are only accessible if you remove whatever is stacked on top. For high-volume routes, I would leave this addition behind in lieu of filling the pack’s volume with necessities.
Handlebar Bag Specs
- Capacity: 6.5 L
- Weight: 276 g (9.73 oz.)
- Size: 31 x 25.8 x 8.9 cm
- Colors: Black
Topeak Bikepacking Bags: Final Notes
From the attachment points to the openings of the bags, I found each of these bags fairly effortless to use. The reinforced materials feel hardy and dependable.
And, the bike bags include additional design details for ease of use and to withstand rougher conditions, like the stashable rain fly in the TopLoader Top Tube Bag and the waterproofness of the Barloader Handlebar Bag.
Whether you’re an experienced bikepacker or just getting started: consider the Topeak collection, especially with its low price point.
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