Bike Trunk Bags
The term “bicycle trunk bag” typically brings to mind a do-it-all bag with a simple design, and small stature. But trunk bags can be defined as any bag that can mount to the convenient spot atop your rear rack. Trunk bags come in various shapes and sizes and their usability spans many types of cycling. From light commuting, to traveling, to long touring expeditions, trunk bags are a quick and easy solution for increasing carrying capacity on a bike.
A commuter style trunk bag is sleek and easy to use for quick trips. Made for convenient access to cargo, trunk bags are designed to face backwards in relation to the bike for easy opening while the bag is still attached to the rack. A carrying handle or shoulder strap is usually included as well for easy mobility off the bike. Trunk bags can attach to racks in a few different ways. The most popular styles utilize Velcro® straps. Other trunk bags have a specially mated bag-to-rack compatibility system, which allows you to more quickly pop the bag on and off the rack as needed. Commuter trunk bags, can equip a Towney bike with enough capacity for comfortably commuting to work with a lunch, a spare jacket, and other small necessities.
Rack Packs may be considered the most standard or traditional style trunk bags for touring. These bags work best when used in conjunction with a pair of rear panniers. By resting over the top of the panniers, the Rack Packs can be cinched down tightly with the side straps, using the panniers on each side as an anchor. Rack Packs can hold bulky items such as a tent and sleeping bag, freeing up your pannier space while protecting your gear from the elements. The large carrying capacity and the waterproof roll-top closure make Rack Packs a favorite among enthusiasts who enjoy multiple outdoor activities. As a multipurpose bag with a convenient, boxy shape, the Rack Packs easily transform from bike bag to a shoulder bag, great for hiking and cycling areas, or for just exploring the town. Vaude expanded on this idea of extra top-loading space with their Karakorum Pannier Set, which integrates both panniers and trunk bag into one bike bag. This hybrid approach includes an innovative top section that can be zipped off and used as a backpack.
Trunk bags also come in handy when traveling with your bike, and using public transit. Rack-top cases look professional, are easily removable, and are designed in the style of a suitcase. These travel-style trunk bags make it possible to ride up to the gate, check a bike, and carry on the case as standard luggage. Small details like outer mesh pockets for putting shoes, lockable zippers, internal organization for clothes, and telescoping push handles make rack top cases ideal for the biking professional or traveling bike enthusiast.
Mountain bikers aren’t left out. Vaude has made a trunk bag that attaches directly to the seat post, so eyelet racks aren’t necessary to set up your mountain bike with cargo capacity. Available in different sizes, these seat post mounted trunk bags integrate the bag and rack together as one piece. Made for small mountain bike excursions, or traveling ultra light. Carrying the necessities on your bike instead of on your back makes skirting over those baby heads much more enjoyable.
Bike Trunk Bag Styles:
- Rack-Top Bags: Traditional rack-top bags such as those by Lone Peak have been used by cyclists for decades and are by far the most common and recognizable bike bags, perhaps even more so than bike panniers. Great as a first cycling bag, this style of trunk bag is useful for bike commuting, errands and adding basic cargo capacity to a bicycle. Over the years, features such as drop-down panniers, locks and integrated mounting systems have added to the utility and appeal of this abundantly useful style of bicycle bag.
- Rack-Top Cases: These cases are a newer addition to the trunk bag genera. Made to look professional off the bike, while still offering durability on the bike, Rack-top cases are the double agent of trunk bags. They usually include places to put a change of clothes, a netting pocket for shoes, and sleeves for legal sized documents.
- Rack Packs: A roll-top, waterproof bag geared for touring. Ortlieb offers four sizes: S, M, L, XL. We find the Medium Rack Pack to be the most useful size for touring. A good in-between size for fitting bulky items like a tent and sleeping bag.
- Seat Post Mounted Bags: This setup is an excellent solution when the benefits of a trunk bag are sought after without the requirement of mounting a bike rack. Limitations of this style include limited weight capacity and the inherent inability to increase capacity by adding bike panniers into the mix.
Methods for Mounting Trunk Bags to Your Bike:
- Rack-top/Strap Mounted: The most common method for mounting a bike trunk bag is to the top of a rack, utilizing the variety of straps built onto the bag. Both Lone Peak and Vaude Rack-Top Bags have Velcro straps that fasten securely to the rack.
- Rack-top/Integrated Mounting: Some rack-top bags, are designed to integrate with a specific rack and have interfaces on the bottom for attaching to these racks. Most of these mounting systems are only compatible with racks which include the integration system.
- Rack-top/Mounting System: Some rack top bags are designed to work with a rack attachment system similar to the above mentioned rack integrated systems, however these systems offer a separated piece that can be mounted to a bike rack. This allows the system to be more universal, working with most any bike rack. The Ortlieb lineup of rack-top bags and cases utilizes this type of system with the E159 Rack-Top Bag Mounting Set. The Ortlieb Rack Top Bags can easily work with multiple bikes by installing the E159 system onto each bike rack. The mounting set also offers a convenient lower rail for hanging panniers so they will not interfere with the removal of the trunk bag.
- Seat Post Mounted: This system allows the trunk bag to be used without a standard rear rack. The rack portion of the bag is clamped to the bicycle’s seatpost. Most seatpost mounted bags, such as those by Vaude , can be removed with a push of a button, separating off the front portion of the rack’s seatpost mounting clamp, allowing the bag to be removed for off the bike activities.
- Pannier Mounted: Bike trunk bags that are intended to add additional capacity to rear pannier setups often utilize the panniers for mounting. The Ortlieb Medium Rack Pack is best mounted by running its end buckles through the handles of the Ortlieb Panniers. A strap or bungee, such as the Tubus/Racktime Rack Straps, is then run over the center of the bag and clipped to the front and rear of the rack.
Features to consider:
- Side pockets and top bungees: These features are great for organization. The question is, in what kind of weather you will be riding. Zippers and pockets, and bungees are what you’ll want for a sunny forecast, but reach for an all-weather Ortlieb bag when the clouds start rolling in.
- Drop-down Panniers: An instant solution for adding cargo space. Bags like the Vaude Silk Road Plus offer drop-down panniers which zip into the side pockets when they are not needed. A compact way to travel, when that quick trip to the grocery store turns into an unexpected shopping spree.
- Use off of the bike: Most trunk bags include a carrying handle, shoulder strap, or both. The convenient location of rack top bags makes it a natural transition to carry your bag with a messenger style shoulder strap, or lunch-pail style with the top handle.
- Rain Protection: All of the Ortlieb trunk bags protect against most any weather condition, but if you’re looking for something a little less burly, or you don’t need full weather protectio Lone Peak, or Racktime bags are good options. With outer pockets and more internal organization, these water resistant bags have rain cover options for those unexpected showers.
- Size and Capacity: From the small Racktime TrunkIt Front bag to the Ortlieb XL Rack Pack, there are a multitude of different size trunk bag options available for everything in between. Keep in mind that rack top bags are made to carry lighter items. As the weight of the bag increases, so does the center of gravity, which can make your rig unstable. The typical rule of thumb is to pack heavy objects as low as possible, and have a fairly balanced load from left to right, and from front to back. This comes more into play with a heavy touring setup more than with a standard lightweight commuting set up.
Vaude: Vaude offers both rack-top bags and the innovative seatpost mounted bags. Vaude’s range of rack-top bag includes the basic Silk Road II, the roomier Silk Road Plus with drop-down panniers and the voluminous Karakorum integrated pannier, rack-top bag and backpack system. The Vaude Offroad seat post mounted bags are geared towards light-weight day trips on more aggressive terrain. The Offroad bags offer a quick solution to adding carrying capacity without having to deal with mounting a rack to your suspension mountain bike.
Ortlieb : Ortlieb offers fully functional, completely waterproof rack-top bags and cases with a bomb-proof design. The Ortlieb Rack Packs are best used for storing light, bulky items, and are a great choice for increasing capacity on your bike touring rig. For travel and commuting, Ortlieb brought the rack top bags and cases to their lineup. The bags have all of the tough Ortlieb outer components for weather protection, but with added features like internal organization, locking zippers, and an included mounting system.
Bike Saddle Bags
Saddle bags are the standard for cyclists looking to carry the bare minimum: tools, spare tubes, tire inflation kits, keys, and the like. Saddle bags offer convenient access, easy mounting, and an out-of-the-way position underneath your saddle. They are an economical choice, both financially and physically, as their small size and self-mounting capabilities make them light-weight and affordable. Here at Bike Bag Shop, bike saddle bags are not to be confused with bike panniers, which mount to a bike rack. Saddle bags, in this context, refer to small bags that are mounted on the rails of your bicycle’s saddle.
Saddle bags are small and sleek and don’t call much attention to themselves. They are an important item for a multiplicity of cycling styles, from the weekend warrior to the hardcore commuter to the bike touring expert, both on-road and off-road, as they generally accommodate all of the necessary items you would need to change a flat tire, make minor repairs on your bicycle, or stash your spare cash, phone, wallet, or maybe a small snack. Not to mention, saddle bags are located conveniently underneath the rails of your saddle, where you have easy access to your tools and other small necessities, while their mounting systems prevent them from bouncing off your bike no matter how bumpy things get. They are very easy to mount with either integrated velco and buckle systems or brand-specific mounting hardware. Last but certainly not least, saddle bags generally don’t impede your leg movement or the mounting of other bags or accessories to your seat post or above your bicycle’s rear wheel.
Bike saddle bags come in a range of sizes to accommodate your needs, from the very small to the rather large. On the smaller end, bike saddle bags such as the Ortlieb Micro might only be able to carry a single tube, patch kit, CO2 air inflator, tire lever, and a small multi-tool. On the larger end, a bike saddle bag such as the Vaude Tool Saddle Bag, which comes in sizes small to extra-large, could accommodate the previous items, as well as an additional tube, a wallet, phone, and perhaps an energy bar or two. Saddle bags also come in a variety of materials, which provide different levels of water-resistance. Ortlieb has a number of waterproof saddle bags made from soft foam that keep your tools from getting wet and rusting. Standard saddle bags are generally constructed from canvas and are lighter-weight and more pliable than their foam or plastic counterparts but are only water resistant.
Beyond carrying the bare necessities, saddle bags are convenient to use in combination with a variety of other bags. They also provide a great option for cyclists who are looking to add a little cargo capacity on their bicycles without having to install a bike rack. For even more “rackless” capacity, the combination of a handlebar bag and saddle bag provides a good amount of easy-access space. You can also pair a bike saddle bag with a bike backpack or bike messenger bag if you prefer to keep your tools separated and organized in the small, toolbox-like bags that are bike saddle bags. Even when using panniers, a saddle bag is a handy place to keep your tools and flat kit separated from your other stuff. So whether you are commuting to work, out for a short ride, or on a long bike tour, be prepared for the unexpected flat tire or broken chain by carrying all the small tools you need to get rolling again in a bike saddle bag.
Features to Consider
- Hard or soft: When selecting the right saddle bag to meet your cycling needs, it is important to consider what conditions you plan to use the bag in, as that can dictate the saddle bag case material you might want. Soft saddle bags, like the Ortlieb Micro, Plus, or Classic, or any of the Vaude saddle bags, are great for daily riding in good to moderate weather conditions where the bag won’t be exposed to a lot of water or mud. Remember that your saddle bag is in the direct stream of any water or mud thrown up from your rear tire, so if you will be riding in wet conditions relatively often, a hard saddle bag, such as the Ortlieb Mud Racer, is a good choice.
- Mounting system and ease of removal: Saddle bags are easy to mount and remove from your bicycle’s saddle. Some saddle bags use mounting systems that are meant to be permanently installed on your saddle, while other bags use a velcro or buckle style mounting system that is integrated into the bag itself. The Vaude Tool Saddle Bag features a twist adapter mounting system, one piece of which left on your saddle when you remove the bag. Ortlieb saddle bags also feature a more permanent mounting system that provides a great deal of security when the bag is installed on your bicycle’s saddle. Many other saddle bags have mounting straps with buckle or velcro closures that are integrated into the bag itself and are very easy to use. Both systems are generally very easy to remove, so you can quickly access the contents of the bag. Lastly, most saddle bags have a small, round velco strap that goes around your seat post to keep the bag from bouncing around.
- Closure: There are two common types of closure systems for saddle bags, which include zipper closures and roll-top closures. The most common type of closure system is a zipper closure. Ortlieb’s Mud Racer and Mud Racer LED feature covered zippers, which are extra waterproof. Ortlieb’s soft case bags feature a roll-top closure system, which also helps keep water out of the bag.
- Waterproof or water resistant?: When selecting the right saddle bag, think about how often it will be exposed to lots of water and mud. If you answered weekly or even daily, you should probably opt for a waterproof saddle bag, of which Ortlieb has a great selection. However, if you answered only monthly or less, you can probably opt for a water resistant saddle bag. Many saddle bags have an interior lining, which will keep your gear protected in light or occasional water or mud.
- Expandability: If you want a saddle bag that can wear many hats, depending on what you demand from it and what your riding plans are, then an expandable saddle bag might be right for you. Vaude’s Tool Saddle Bag and Tool Stick have great expandability when you need more carrying capacity.
Micro to macro? Which saddle bag is right for you?
- Small: A small saddle bag carries just the bare essentials and is generally good for a situations in which you don’t need to carry very much or have other bags to carry the things that won’t fit in the saddle bag. The Vaude Race Light (size small) and the Ortlieb Micro are our smallest saddle bags and are perfect for a tube, C02 canister and inflator, tire lever, and small multi-tool.
- Medium: If you want a little extra space to carry the bare essentials, as well as a few other not-so-bare essentials, then you should check out a medium-sized saddle bag. Medium-sized saddle bags can carry every thing you need to fix one or two flat tires, do minor bike repairs, and hide a snack or extra money to buy one.
- Large: Carry the whole tool chest with you in a large saddle bag! Ok, maybe not the whole tool chest, but a large saddle bag offers a ton of carrying capacity so that you can be prepared for anything when you are on the road or the trail. Large saddle bags are also great for cyclists who use thorn-resistant tubes, which don’t fold down as small as regular tubes and may not fit in a small or medium size saddle bag along with your other essentials.
- Size Options: Most of the saddle bags we offer come in a range of sizes. So if you are really keen on a particular bag, check to see what size options it offers. Additionally, both the Vaude Tool Saddle Bag and Tool Stick are expandable.
Ortlieb: Ortlieb bags are famous for their rugged, durable, waterproof quality, and their lineup of saddle bags is no different. Ortlieb bags are superior for riding in wet and muddy conditions, as the waterproof fabric or soft foam saddle bag options keep your gear and tools from getting wet and rusting. Ortlieb saddle bags feature snap-on and velcro mounting systems, which are easy to install, and roll-top or covered zipper closures, which are waterproof, as well as a wide range of sizes to fit your needs.
Vaude: German-engineered and designed bags by Vaude can withstand all of your adventuring and daily commuting with style. Vaude’s line of saddle bags are made from high quality materials and come in a range of sizes and levels of expandability to accommodate all the tools and other small items you need. The velcro and twist adapter mounting systems make Vaude saddle bags easy to install and use.