Apidura Packables adds a pair of tiny multi-purpose bags that probably offer more versatility than anything else in their regular bikepacking bag line-up. Packables are meant to offer overflow carrying capacity that you can always tuck away on your adventure setup. And anyone who has ever gone bikepacking can attest, that there’s always a time when you could use a bit of extra storage – whether picking up dinner from a grocery store mid-ride, grabbing a couple gas station beers just before you make it to camp, or even a bag to stuff full of tomorrows clothes for a makeshift camp pillow.
Apidura Packable: light waterproof extra capacity on-body bags
The Apidura Packable backpack & musette are unique in that they are the first bikepacking bags for the company that go on the rider, not the bike.
Apidura’s specialty is outfitting adventurous cyclists with lightweight, weather-resistant bike packs to haul plenty of gear without the need for racks on your bike, you know… bikepacking bags. But their two new Packables – an ultralight backpack & musette – take some of the gear off your bike and onto your back. My first thought to that was, “of course I don’t want to ride with a backpack. The whole reason I like bikepacking bags is that I can carry everything I need, without extra weight on my shoulders & back.”
Of the two new bags, I most understood the idea of a lightweight Packable Backpack. With 13L of storage inside, and two mesh bottle pockets on the outside, I could boost my carrying capacity for short parts of longer rides, then pack it down small when not needed. Head inside to the grocery store to pick up supplies for dinner mid-ride, and carry the spoils of your shopping trip up the road or trail for an hour until you make camp away from civilization. Pack out your trash when you break camp the next day, and once you unload in the first dumpster, the pack gets off your back again.
The £36 / $46.50 / 41€ Packable Backpack uses a roll-top closure to adjust volume depending on what you are carrying (and keep rain out), and gets comfortable lightweight mesh adjustable shoulder straps and an adjustable/removable sternum strap.
Both Packable bags are made from the same ultralight RS20D coated waterproof & ripstop gray fabric. They get heat-welded/sealed seams to keep water out and small reflective logos & dots that sit low on the bags for added visibility while actually riding.
The 7L Packable Musette follows the same formula – just enough storage to carry those bulky items mid-ride or around camp, without the need for a bulky bag or resorting to stuffing things into your perfectly organized (and likely full) bikepacking bags.
The £24 / $31 / 27€ Packable Musette is a bit more advance than your average musette. It gets a length-adjustable shoulder strap to pull it close to the body, a crossing stability strap to keep it from moving while pedaling (that can be swapped from side-to-side), and a velcro flap to keep its contents projected from the elements and securely in place.
The important thing to remember is that Apidura intends these to be used mid-ride, but not for the whole ride. They are designed to be comfortable and stable while riding, then include stuff sacks & velcro straps to stick them on your bike when you aren’t using them.
Review: How packable are they really?
Apidura says they worked for over a year and a half with their own adventurous staff, their friends and the brand’s ambassadors to solve the issue of “how do you carry food on your rides?” Many riders meant many solutions, but several used makeshift setups that they could pack down and get out of the way when not in use. And Apidura knew they could do better.
There solution was to make the Packables super tiny, super easy to pack. Trying to get a sense for how small they really get, the Packable Musette cinches down to about the same footprint as my old Garmin Edge 520 – the bag is little bit more that 5 x 6 x 4cm when packed down tight. The Packable Backpack cinches down to something a bit bigger than my Wahoo Elemnt Roam – roughly 6 x 9 x 5cm when packed. Compare those to my 21oz/620ml Rapha RCC CamelBak Podium bottle or the 25oz/750ml Chimpanzee Nutrition Tacx Shiva Bio bottle.
Both Packables have a lashing point on one side of their stuff sack (which is attached to the bag so you can’t lose it) and include a velcro strap to secure it to you bike frame, seatpost, or stem. Ditch the velcro to save a couple grams if you already have plenty of straps on your bikepacking bag setup to attach one of these.
My sample Packable Backpack weighs just 113g with stuff sack & strap, and the Packable Musette weighs just 65g, again with stuff sack & strap. Those are both up from the 105g / 55g that Apidura claims, which maybe didn’t include those straps which weighed 5g a piece on our scale.
Compare that to the 155g for a similarly-sized ultralight backpack I have without most of the bike-specific Apidura features & takes up 3x as much space, or 75g for my lightest cotton musette that has zero useful features and is 1.5x as bulky.
OK, so… How useful are the Apidura Packables?
First off, I replaced the regular cotton musette that I would occasionally carry a laptop to the office by bike with the Packable Backpack. I figured with the ever-changing spring weather I would more comfortably carry not just my 11″ MacBook Air, but I could throw a rainshell and a long sleeve shirt in as well in case it got cold. On the second day with the bag, I got caught in a proper thunderstorm on my 15-minute ride home. And my computer (and rain jacket which I was too slow to get to) stayed perfectly dry why I quickly was drenched from head to toe, and my full coverage fenders on the Sour Clueless could not longer help.
Mission 1, accomplished. The regular musette would have been trouble. The Packable meant I didn’t have to worry, and could just ride home in the rain. And when I didn’t need the bag, it sat neatly strapped to the seattube out of the way.
Taking the Apidura Packables on some proper bikepacking trips proved equally successful. A quick spring sub 24 hour overnighter included about 20 hours of rain of varying intensity. As they were intended, the Packables stayed packed to the bikes – the musette in between the top of the seatstays & seattube, the backpack tucked behind an Apidura Racing Frame Pack in the extra space in front of the seattube – one for each rider. They stayed in place, and came out when we found a gas station to load up on cold beers, cheese, crackers & some super healthy sausages to grill over the campfire. Yes, it rained some more. And yes, the contents stayed dry.
Then at night, the backpack served well to bring some extra gear to my tent and keep it dry in the vestibule of my tent, while more of my waterproof Expedition Series bikepacking bags could stay outside in the rain attached to the bike. At the same time, I could shake the musette dry, and stuff my down jacket inside, and voila… a down pillow for the night!
Mission 2, accomplished.
Riding impressions & final thoughts on packables
The 13L Packable Backpack was always going to be an easier sell for me, and at just 41€ seems like a solid deal to me. I’ve used ultralight, barebones backpacking bags in the past, and the versatility is hard to argue with when carrying lightweight items for a short time. The fact that the Apidura Packable Backpack is so tiny and completely waterproof has been great, and I’ve used it off the bike too. The bottle pockets work well while riding, essentially giving you place to carry whatever was already in your jersey pockets.
Of note, it is made of completely waterproof fabric that sits directly against your back. When you start climbing hills, you will be sweating quickly, and your back will be wet. Zero breathing, zero breathability. To be honest, it never bothered me on the bike, but when I took the bag along on an afternoon family hike, I noticed it quite a bit. It’s a tradeoff you have to accept, coming with the light weight, waterproofness & packability.
I was less sure of the idea of the 7L Packable Musette. In the cycling industry musettes are a dime a dozen (or close to it). I have them from races, granfondos, industry insider shows, and several that came as a gift with some other bike-related purchase. I even have a couple that are already lightweight and designed to pack down small. But what I don’t have are any that are close to as useful as this one (btw, for empirical reference that’s 4 x 0.5l adult camp beverages with space for at least another 4, above).
It’s going to hurt more to pay 27€ to buy a musette with a several hanging in the closet at home. But I get the feeling that I’m going to use this thing until I wear holes in it, while the others stay at home collecting dust. It’s just so much more useful that a basic cotton one. And it packs down so small that it’s really hard not to just always have it on the bike when you go off on any adventure.
These Apidura Packables officially went up for sale over the weekend, and they apparently are selling like hotcakes. Word is that they are still available, but Apidura warned that you should probably act fast if you want to get this first batch before they sell out.