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The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024

The perfect saddle bag will carry the essential tools and spares you’ll need for a quick fix or adjustment on the go and will last for years. We tested 11 of the best to help you find the ideal saddle bag for your your bike, riding style, and budget.

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The only time you should have to think much about your bike saddle bag is before you buy it. Pick the right one, and it will sit quietly and securely under your seat and out of the way until you need it. Inside, it will carry the important things you should take on every ride: a multi-tool, and flat repair essentials like a tube, tire levers, inflation, and a few other small, handy items.

The good news is that most saddle bags will work for almost any style of cycling and will fit on the vast majority of road, gravel, and mountain bikes and saddles. What you choose to carry inside will vary, of course, but finding the right saddle bag will keep items out of your jersey pockets and stashed neatly on your bike – keeping you prepared if/when you eventually need them.

But, with so many saddle bags on the market, it can be challenging to choose the right model to suit your specific storage needs. To help, We researched dozens of saddle bags, ranging in size, construction, features, and price, and selected 11 to test and review. Over the course of several months, we analyzed each model’s storage space, layout, attachment system, stability, weather resistance, and ease of use to see how they perform in the real world and compare to each other.

Our top bike saddle bag recommendations for everyday riding are listed below, followed by the best of the rest which are all great options in their own right. Our comparison chart shows all the models we tested at a glance, and if you need help deciding what to choose, our buying advice provides helpful information and you can find answers to common questions in our FAQ section.

The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024

Best Overall Bike Saddle Bag

ToPeak Aero Wedge (QuickClick)


  • MSRP $34.95 (Small), price varies by size
  • Capacity 0.66 L/40 cu. in. (Small)
  • Dimensions 170 x 120 x 80mm
  • Weight 105g
  • Size Options Micro: 0.41 L, Small (tested), Medium: 0.98 – 1.31 L, Large: 1.48 – 1.97 L
  • Mount Options QuickClick (tested), Strap mount
Product Badge The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Sturdy design
  • Quick release
  • Taillight clip
  • Easy to mount
  • Available in four sizes


  • Small size not for everyone
  • Not waterproof
Best Budget Bike Saddle Bag

Deuter Bike Bag 0.5


  • MSRP $18
  • Capacity 0.5 L
  • Dimensions 150 x 90 x 80mm
  • Weight 50g
  • Size Options 0.5 L (tested), 0.8 L
  • Mount Options Strap Mount
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Made from recycled materials


  • No seatpost strap
Runner-Up Best Bike Saddle Bag

Lezyne M-Caddy QR


  • MSRP $27
  • Capacity 0.5 L, 30.5 cu. in.
  • Dimensions 150 x 120 x 70mm
  • Weight 135g
  • Size Options One
  • Mount Options QR: Quick Release, other strap mount options offered
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Big features, small package
  • Quick release
  • Rugged
  • External multi-tool sleeve
  • Good looking


  • Smaller than most
Best Bike Saddle Bag for Road Riding

Silca Mattone Seat Pack


  • MSRP $50
  • Capacity 0.4 L
  • Dimensions 120 x 85 x 40mm
  • Weight 90g
  • Size Options Also comes in Mattone Grande (0.74 L)
  • Mount Options Boa Strap
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Compact
  • Boa strap secured
  • Fits close to seat
  • Easy access


  • Relatively small storage volume
  • More expensive
Best Bike Saddle Bag for Reflectivity (and a good value)

Blackburn Grid Seat Bag (Medium)


  • MSRP $30 (Medium), varies by size
  • Capacity 0.8 L
  • Dimensions 177.8 x 82.5mm
  • Weight 70g
  • Size Options Small: 0.4 L, Medium (tested), Large: 1.9 L, MTB: 0.4 L
  • Mount Options Strap Mount
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Reflective side panels
  • Water resistant
  • Narrow profile
  • Light for its size
  • Zip pullcord


  • Lacks quick-release
  • Hook-and-loop straps
Best Waterproof Bike Saddle Bag

ToPeak Wedge DryBag


  • MSRP $52.95 (Medium)
  • Capacity 1 L, 61 cu. in.
  • Dimensions 185 x 115 x 110mm
  • Weight 170g
  • Size Options Small: 0.6 L, Medium (tested), Large: 1.5 L
  • Mount Options QuickClick (tested), Strap Mount
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Waterproof
  • Capacity
  • Rigid sidewalls
  • Secure closure
  • Quick release
  • Multiple size options


  • Access to inner pockets
  • More expensive
  • Heavier weight
Best Lightweight Bike Saddle Bag

Blackburn Grid MTB


  • MSRP $20
  • Capacity 0.4 L
  • Dimensions 140 x 51mm
  • Weight 31g
  • Size Options One size for "MTB" version, 3 other sizes of regular version
  • Mount Options Strap Mount
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Simple, functional
  • Super lightweight
  • Interior pocket
  • Affordable


  • Small capacity
  • Hook-and-look strap

Best of the Rest

Another Great Waterproof Option

Ortlieb Micro Bag Two


  • MSRP $45 (0.8 L)
  • Capacity 0.8 L
  • Dimensions 140 x 120 x 90mm
  • Weight 140g
  • Size Options 0.5 L, 0.8 L (tested)
  • Mount Options Quick Release
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Lightweight
  • Good capacity
  • Waterproof
  • Quick release


  • No taillight clip
  • Lacks inner pockets
Unique Tool Roll Style

Silca Seat Roll Asymmetrico


  • MSRP $50
  • Capacity Variable
  • Dimensions Variable: "Hold tubes up to 700x45mm"
  • Weight 85g
  • Size Options One
  • Mount Options Boa Strap
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Super compact
  • Adjustable
  • Lightweight
  • Snug fit to seat
  • Organization pockets


  • Cumbersome to pack
  • Must remove from seat to access contents

EVOC Seat Pack Boa


  • Price $110
  • Capacity 1 L
  • Dimensions 220 x 100 x 100cm
  • Weight 198g
  • Size Options Small (tested), Medium: 2 L, Large: 3L
  • Mount Options Boa and Hook and Loop Straps
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Waterproof
  • Sturdy
  • Dropper post compatible

  • Capacity


  • Single strap closure
  • Heavy
  • Expensive

ToPeak Aero Wedge (Strap Mount)


  • MSRP $29.95 (Small), varies by size
  • Capacity 0.66 L, 40 cu. in.
  • Dimensions 180 x 110 x 85mm
  • Weight 100g
  • Size Options Micro: 0.41 L, Small (tested), Medium: 0.98 L, Large: 1.97L
  • Mount Options Strap Mount (tested), QuickClick
The Best Bike Saddle Bags of 2024


  • Easy to fit and adjust
  • Mesh inner pouch
  • Great value
  • Also sold in Quick Release version
  • Multiple size options


  • Lacks quick-release
  • Not waterproof

Comparison Chart

Saddle Bag ModelMSRPCapacityDimensionsWeightMount Type
ToPeak Aero Wedge (QuickClick)$34.950.66 L (Small)170 x 120 x 80mm105gQuickClick
Deuter Bike Bag 0.5$180.5 L150 x 90 x 80mm50gStrap Mount
Lezyne M-Caddy QR$270.5 L150 x 120 x 70mm135gQuick Release
Silca Mattone Seat Pack$500.4 L120 x 85 x 40mm90gBoa Strap
Blackburn Grid Seat Bag$300.8 L (Medium)177.8 x 82.5mm70gStrap Mount
ToPeak Wedge DryBag$52.951 L (Medium)185 x 115 x 110mm170gQuickClick
Blackburn Grid MTB$200.4 L140 x 51mm31gStrap Mount
Ortlieb Micro Bag Two$450.8 L140 x 120 x 90mm140gQuick Release
Silca Seat Roll Asymmetrico$50VariableVariable85gBoa Strap
EVOC Seat Pack Boa$1101 L220 x 100 x 100mm198gBoa and Straps
ToPeak Aero Wedge (Strap Mount)$29.950.66 L (Small)180 x 110 x 85mm100gStrap Mount

Why You Should Trust Us

With a serious affinity for riding bikes of all kinds, the team at Bikerumor is always searching for the best ways to carry the essentials with us on all of our rides. While on-bike storage is constantly evolving, the humble saddle bag is still one of our favorite ways to ensure that we have our ride essentials at the ready on our rides. We love the set-it-and-forget-it aspect of saddle bags, where our tools and flat repair items are waiting patiently until we need them. We also know that having so many options to choose from can make it harder than you might expect to find exactly what you need.

For our bike saddle bags buyer’s guide, we rounded up a selection of 11 different models to test and compare side by side. Review author, Jim Graham, tested all of the bags in this review to see how they perform out on the road or trail, and how they compare to each other. Jim is an avid outdoorsman who lives in southern New Hampshire where he splits his time between cycling, trail running, and coaching a Nordic ski team in the winter months. While he enjoys all types of riding, in recent years, he’s taken a shine to gravel riding and loves going out exploring the wealth of country roads and rail trails accessible from his home, as well as participating in some long-distance cycling events. He also likes to be prepared on his rides, and he’s been using saddle bags for decades to keep his essential gear on the bike to deal with flat tires and other mechanical issues. Jim is enjoying semi-retirement, which gives him even more time to get out and ride and test gear. In addition to this review, Jim has contributed to Bikerumor’s guides of the best gravel biking tires and our favorite bike multi-tools.

After researching the best saddle bags on the market, we gathered a diverse selection of 11 models for testing and comparison. After a close inspection of each bag’s materials, construction, and layout, we packed each one up, mounted it to our test bike, and headed out for numerous test rides to see how they performed in the real world. In the process, we analyzed the ease of attachment, storage space, stability, ease of opening, closing, and removing items, and special features like organization pockets, reflective elements, tail light clips, and water resistance. After installing, removing, and loading/unloading each saddle bag countless times, we zeroed in on our favorites and those that excel in specific ways compared to the rest.

A look at the contents inside a bike saddle bag
Choosing the right saddle bag is usually a function of what type of riding you’re doing, making sure that it fits everything you want to carry, and features like water resistance and attachment style. (photo/Jim Graham)

Buying Advice: How to Choose a Bike Saddle Bag

With so many brands, models, and sizes on the market, it’s easy to get lost comparing specs and details when you’re shopping for a saddle bag. And you have to wonder: Are all those options really necessary, or even worth worrying about?

The truth is that most saddle bags will work well enough across the huge range of cycling styles and fit the vast majority of bike saddles and bicycles. And they will hold the most important essentials that every cyclist should bring on every ride. Depending on your riding style, what you choose to carry in a saddle bag, attachment style preference, and need for water resistance, you should be able to narrow down the choices to find seat pack that perfectly suits your needs.

What Type of Riding Are You Doing?

What you carry with you, and therefore, how much storage you need may vary depending on whether you’re riding road, gravel, or mountain bikes. Here are some guidelines for matching a bag to the type of riding you’re doing, based on our experience, but bear in mind that this may vary depending on what you like to bring with you on a ride and how much of it you want to put in a saddle bag.


The Silca Mattone Seat Pack mounted to a high end road bike saddle
For many road riders, a smaller capacity saddle bag like the Silca Mattone Seat Pack is a perfect size to carry what they need on daily rides. (photo/Zach Overholt)

For road cycling, we’re typically minimalists. Give us a small, lightweight bag with just enough room for a simple multi-tool, tire levers, a spare tube, a tire patch or two, and a car key. Most small saddle bags will also fit a CO2 inflator and cartridge or two, but it’s not a deal breaker for us if we need to mount a mini pump to our frame. Since road tubes are generally pretty small, all this can typically squeeze into small-capacity saddle bags like the Silca Mattone Seat Pack (0.4-liter), Blackburn Grid MTB (0.4-liter), or the Lezyne M-Caddy QR (0.5-liter).


Although the use of saddle bags is a bit less common on modern mountain bikes than it used to be, many riders still choose them as their preferred method for adding some on-bike storage. Riding trails can be harder on your bike, and you’re more likely to be farther away from any place where you can get help, so you’ll want to pack gear that covers a wider range of repairs and adjustments. The basics include a robust, full-featured multi-tool, spare tube (or two), tire levers, a CO2 inflator, and a couple of CO2 cartridges. (Inflators make it much easier and faster to fill a large-volume mountain bike tire than a mini pump.) It’s also wise to carry a quick link to fix a broken chain, tubeless tire plugs, a spare derailleur hanger, perhaps extra tire sealant, and a small first aid kit. A bit of duct tape can’t hurt either!

Since mountain bike tubes are much larger than road or gravel tubes, you need a little more space in a saddle bag to fit them. Some of the larger and mid-sized bags we tested, like the Blackburn Grid (medium), Ortlieb Micro Two, ToPeak Wedge DryBag, and the EVOC Seat Pack Boa are capable of fitting a slightly larger load, and the latter three of those claim to be waterproof as well.

It is important to mention, however, that on modern full-suspension mountain bikes with dropper posts, rear tire clearance can be an issue. You’ll want to check and make sure that a saddle bag won’t conflict with your rear tire when the rear suspension is compressed and that it works with your dropper post (if you have one). For this reason and others, many mountain bikers will opt to carry their gear in a quality hip pack or hydration backpack.


A saddle bag mounted on the Fezzari Shafer gravel bike
A mid-sized saddle bag is often a good choice for gravel riding to fit mid-sized tubes, extra CO2, etc. (photo/Jeremy Benson)

For gravel riding, we like a saddle bag that’s somewhere in between. We find that mid-ride stops for repairs and adjustment are generally less frequent and serious than in mountain biking. On the other hand, gravel rides usually require more frequent pitstops than road rides. For this reason, we like a mid-sized bag that’s not as bulky or heavy as one we’d use for mountain biking, but which will also carry a little more gear than we would on the road, especially a master chain link and a spare tube or two. Depending on what you put in your saddle bag, some of the small capacity options could work well, but something with a medium capacity, like the ToPeak Aero Wedge (0.66-liter, size small), makes it a little easier to squeeze in slightly larger gravel tubes and/or extra CO2 cartridges.


Bikepacking bags loaded up on an adventure gravel bike
Bikepacking requires lots of storage space, and there are lots of great bikepacking bags on the market to choose from. (photo/Cory Benson)

Overnight or multi-day adventures require significant amounts of storage space to carry things like sleeping bags, jackets, cooking gear, etc. Thankfully, there is a growing number of brands putting out amazing saddle, frame, and handlebar bags made specifically to meet the demands of modern bikepackers. While the products tested and reviewed here are generally more appropriate for everyday rides that don’t involve camping, several of the models we tested come in larger sizes that might speak to the bikepacking audience. The EVOC Seat Pack Boa is a good example. The 1-liter size we tested is the smallest of the three options, with 2-liter and 3-liter sizes offered for those who need more storage. Otherwise, brands like ToPeak, Blackburn, Ortlieb, Restrap, and many others produce a wide range of bikepacking-specific bags to suit those with greater storage needs.

Attachment Style

These days, saddle bags typically come with either a strap mount system (hook and loop straps or Boa) or a quick-release attachment. Some bags are even offered in both so you can choose whichever you prefer. Generally speaking, this comes down to personal preference.


Quick-release attachments, like that on the Lezyne M-Caddy QR, use a bracket to mount the saddle bag to the seat and make for quick and easy removal of the bag when needed. (photo/Jim Graham)

Quick-release attachments are sturdy and secure because they bolt onto a saddle with a durable bracket. They also suspend the bag slightly away from the saddle rails which reduces the chances of the contents rattling against them or the material rubbing and causing abrasion. A quick-release tab makes removing your saddle bag fast and easy, which is a nice feature if you need to leave your bike in a place where your bag might be the target of thieves. The downsides are that quick-release bags weigh a tiny bit more than those with hook-and-loop straps, they don’t fit some saddles with widely spaced seat rails, and some are not recommended for use with fancy carbon rails. The Lezyne M-Caddy QR, Topeak Aero Wedge (QuickClick), Ortlieb Micro Bag Two, and ToPeak Wedge DryBag all use some sort of quick-release system.

The Blackburn Grid saddle bag mounted to a bike saddle
Many saddle bags, like the Blackburn Grid, use simple hook and loop (velcro) straps to attach to the saddle rails (photo/Jim Graham)

Strap Mount

Hook-and-loop closures are highly and easily adjustable and can fit virtually any bike seat with rails. They also allow a saddle bag to be cinched up tight against the saddle, a feature we like because it keeps the bag tucked up out of the way. The downside is that hook-and-loop straps generally aren’t as durable as quick-release clips, and the grip can become worn and less effective over time. In our experience, hook-and-loop straps are plenty strong and can last for years, but it pays to inspect them regularly and avoid cramming your saddle bag with heavy items that will stress the bag over time.

The Silca Mattone attached to a bike saddle with a Boa strap
Boa straps are a bit less common, but they work well to secure some saddle bags, like the Silca Mattone, to the saddle rails. (photo/Jim Graham)

A few bags use a Boa strap to attach them to the bike. The two models we tested with this system are the Mattone Seat Pack and the Seat Roll Asymmetrico, both made by Silca. In both cases, a wide strap wraps around the pack and seat rails where it is joined and tightened with a Boa dial and thin wire. We’ve found this type of attachment to work relatively well, especially on the Mattone. The EVOC Seat Pack Boa also uses a Boa, but in this case, it secures the pack around the seatpost.

Size Options

Some saddle bags come in a single size, while others are available in multiple size options to cover varying storage needs. For example, the ToPeak Aero Wedge models we tested come in 4 sizes, extra small (0.4 liters), small (0.66 liters), medium (0.98 – 1.31 liters), and large (1.48 – 1.97 liters). This size range provides options for everyone from the light packers to the “everything but the kitchen sink” crowd. Similarly, the ToPeak Wedge DryBag, Blackburn Grid, Ortlieb Micro Bag, and EVOC Seat Pack Boa also come in multiple sizes.

Other brands simply make other models of varying sizes. For example, the Silca makes the Mattone (0.4 liters) and the Mattone Grande (0.74 liters). Lezyne makes a large range of saddle bags in their Caddy lineup with varying sizes, attachments, and designs to choose from, plus they offer a number of kits, like the M-Caddy – Tubeless Kit, that includes a saddle bag, multi-tool, tubeless repair tools, and CO2 canisters.

Water Resistance

The waterproof Ortlieb Micro Two saddlebag mounted on a gravel bike
Some saddlebags are made with waterproof materials, taped seams, and water-tight closures, like the Ortlieb Micro Two pictured here. (photo/Jim Graham)

A saddle bag’s position under the tail of your bike saddle means that it’s directly in the line of fire from spray coming off the rear tire whether you’re riding wet pavement or gravel, or splashing through streams and mud puddles on a mountain bike. Most saddle bags are made from nylon or something similar with some claiming to be water-resistant and others claiming to be completely waterproof. For those who ride in wet conditions frequently, water resistance may be an important factor to consider, while for others, it may not matter much at all.

The water-resistant options typically have a DWR (durable water-repellant) finish and a water-resistant zipper. They can usually shrug off light amounts of moisture, but with a proper soaking, it’s still likely that the contents will get a bit damp inside. If your bag’s contents get wet, it’s usually a good idea to let them dry out between rides so your multi-tool doesn’t start to rust.

Saddle bags claiming to be waterproof are generally made with a material that’s been coated to repel water and feature sealed seams to prevent water ingress. They may have waterproof zippers, but drybag-style roll tops are another common way of sealing up the opening. The three waterproof models we tested are the ToPeak Wedge DryBag, the Ortlieb Micro Bag Two, and the EVOC Seat Pack Boa.

Multiple Bikes?

The contents of a bike saddle bag
One saddle bag might work well for some riders across different bikes and riding styles, while others may have dedicated bags for each bike so they don’t need to swap the bag or contents around. (photo/Jim Graham)

Depending on how much you ride, how many bikes you have, what you bring with you on different bikes, and your budget, it makes sense for many riders to use just one saddle bag that gets switched between a road, gravel, or mountain bike. This can save you a few bucks, and it works just fine – until it doesn’t. Inevitably, you might forget to swap out the road tube for a gravel tube (or some other snafu) and find yourself with the wrong tube for your bike. Similarly, if you have just one multi-tool, which you use both to work on your bikes at home and to take with you on rides, there could be times when you forget to put it back in the saddle bag. It’s aggravating and embarrassing to cut a ride short because you left a simple but incredibly important multi-tool at home.

It costs a bit more initially, but we’ve found that the ultimate solution is to have a dedicated saddle bag for each of our bikes. Inside each of those are the right tools and spares, and they always stay on that particular bike. For the home shop, we have separate tools, too. Otherwise, it’s just too tempting to take a multi-tool or spare tube out of a saddle bag and think, “I’ll put it back later” and forget. The upfront cost of multiple saddle bags and tool kits may deter many riders but it can save the frustration of trying to track down the right saddle bag and tools before every ride or, worse, forgetting them altogether.


There’s great news when it comes to durability. The quality of design, materials, and construction in all the bags we tested felt rock solid, and they are highly recommended in many user reviews. Additionally, many bags come with lifetime warranties against manufacturers’ defects. 

However, saddle bags are made of nylon or other fabrics and they wear over time – especially if you don’t tighten them up against your seat or frame. Loose bags tend to rub, which can cause abrasion that eventually weakens the material, and can also contribute to annoying rattling noises over bumpy terrain. But if you tighten those bags up snugly, they should rub less and last longer, while sitting more quietly and securely under your seat for years of hassle-free cycling.

Some holes from abrasion on a very heavily used saddle bag
Saddle bags will eventually wear out, but most will last for many, many years before you encounter holes like these caused by abrasion. (photo/Jeremy Benson)


When you’re spending thousands of dollars on the bike of your dreams, it makes sense to shop around for a saddle bag that will fit your bike just right, carry and organize all your essentials, and last for thousands of hassle-free miles and many years. It’s a small investment for such a useful, durable piece of gear that ensures you have your tools when you need them.

The most expensive saddle bag in our guide is $110, while the least costs less than $20. And, they all held up well enough through nasty conditions, although some are much more water-resistant than others. We’ve owned saddlebags that have lasted 10 years, which is a tremendous bang for the buck, and the construction quality and functional designs of the newest bags are even better. As mentioned above, making sure your saddle bag is attached properly will help not only to keep it quieter over rough surfaces but also prevent abrasion and extend its lifespan.

Saddle bags have a relatively easy job, and even the least expensive options we tested will get the job done with simpler designs, materials, and constructions. Generally speaking, as the price goes up, it’s due to the use of more advanced materials, constructions, water-resistant zippers, and features like Boa straps or quick-release systems. Size may also play a role as it takes more material to produce a larger bag than a smaller one. So, for example, if waterproofness is high on your list of priorities, you can expect to pay a bit more to get it. Still, even the most expensive options we tested should last for many years of normal use which helps to offset the initial sticker shock.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use a saddle bag?

A good saddle bag is a simple and affordable way to add storage to your bike in a discreet and out-of-the-way place below your bike’s saddle. For most riders, regardless of discipline, they are super useful on daily rides as a great spot to store tools and flat repair items to keep them out of your jersey pockets and ensure that they’re on the bike and ready to go when you eventually need them. They are arguably most popular among road and gravel cyclists, although many mountain bikers still use them (though factors like dropper posts and rear tire clearance must be considered).

Outside of daily rides for fun, fitness, and training, saddle bags are highly useful for those going on overnight bikepacking adventures. The storage needs of those going on longer adventures are typically greater than those of folks going on short to half-day rides, and there’s a growing range of products to suit those needs. Our selection focuses primarily on daily riding, although several of the products we tested are also offered in larger versions that may appeal to those who need more storage.

What essentials should go in a saddle bag?

A few essential things should go with you on every ride: A quality multi-tool that can handle basic adjustments and minor repairs. A spare tube, or two. Tire plugs if you run tubeless tires. Tire levers to remove a flat tire. A CO2 inflator and spare CO2 cartridge, or two. A credit card and/or a little cash. A mini-pump can also be helpful, but they don’t fit in compact saddle bags and are better mounted to your frame or carried in a bike jersey pocket or hip pack.

More importantly, you should know how to perform a few simple repairs, such as changing a flat tire and adjusting gears. Local bike shops, cycling clubs, and even YouTube videos can be great sources for basic repair and maintenance tips. It helps tremendously to have practiced basic repair and adjustment skills at home before you need them on the road or trail.

What else should go in a saddle bag?

Saddle bags can reflect a cyclist’s personality. For instance, many experienced riders are minimalists at heart, and they like to keep things simple and light. So, they stick with just the basic essentials. We’ve also noticed that longtime and serious cyclists tend to keep their bikes well-maintained and adjusted between rides, which greatly reduces the need for mid-ride fixes and adjustments in the first place. So, they seldom actually need anything in their saddle bag beyond a multi-tool and flat repair kit.

Other cyclists like to be prepared for every possible scenario, even those that rarely happen: Broken chains and spokes, bent or broken derailleur hangers, multiple flats, loose cranks, etc. They also want to carry back-ups, such as multiple inflator cartridges, a mini-pump, an extra spare tube, and self-adhesive tube patches. And if that’s what makes you feel more comfortable, who are we to argue?

You could also carry a small first aid kit, sunscreen, bug repellant, extra energy bars or gels, along with a mobile phone and a bike cable lock, but you’d need a truly large, heavy saddle bag to fit all that. We think you’re better off with a smaller bag, and fitting those extras in a bike jersey or jacket pocket. Or, better yet, consider adding a quality handlebar bag or frame mount bag to your bike.

How can I know what will fit?

Fortunately, most manufacturers give examples of what each of their saddle bag models will hold, and they also list the total interior capacity so that you can compare. Check out our comparison chart for a quick look. It’s also a good idea to visit your local bike shop, so you can see the different saddle bags before you buy and ask the shop staff their opinions. Better yet, find one at the shop that works and buy it from them, we’re sure they’ll appreciate your business.

What special features should I look for?

One feature we really like is a separate, easy-to-access pocket for a mini-tool, which is the most frequently used item in a saddle bag. Extra pockets or interior panels are also a nice option that helps keep things organized. Lightly padded fabrics and internal pockets prevent tools and spares from jostling around and rattling over rough surfaces. Finally, a taillight clip is ideal for a flashing red safety light.

How can I keep things from rattling around inside?

Even in the best saddle bags, loose tools can rattle around noisily. The easiest way to avoid this is to get the right size to begin with and pack your saddle bag so that everything fits nicely and snugly inside. It also helps to separate metallic items from contact with one another – for instance, by putting a spare tube or energy bar between a multi-tool and a CO2 cartridge. We much prefer a saddle bag that is exactly the right size for what we carry in it, as opposed to one that is too large where the contents have the ability to bounce around inside.

Do I need a waterproof saddle bag?

Need? No. Want? Sure. It really depends on the type of conditions you’ll be riding in. Our review features some great bags that are waterproof, or at least highly water-resistant. It’s a nice feature if you ride frequently in wet, muddy conditions, although we don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for most riders. If you’re riding in the rain or on muddy gravel roads or trails, moisture will be flung directly onto your saddle bag which is in the line of fire from tire spray.

So, it is nice to have the peace of mind that a waterproof bag brings, but in our experience, few bags are 100% watertight all of the time. And the things we like to carry – a multi-tool, spare tube or plugs, CO2 cartridges, etc. – can withstand a little moisture. Just make sure that if your saddle bag gets soaked, you dry your tools between rides so they don’t get rusty. It can also help to apply a light drop or two of chain lube to your multi-tool’s joints to keep the individual tools limber and easy to move.

What other on-bike storage options should I consider?

While saddle bags used to reign supreme as the most common way to add some on-the-bike storage, there are plenty of other great options these days. Handlebar bags are becoming increasingly popular among road, gravel, and adventure cyclists for keeping essentials at arm’s reach. Top tube bags are another great option for keeping things you want close at hand, like nutrition, a phone, or other mid-ride essentials. There is also a dizzying number of frame mount bags available in various configurations. Tool canisters are another solid option for stashing your tools in a plastic container that mounts to your water bottle bosses. Of course, there are also accessory mounts/straps and a plethora of bikepacking-specific gear out there for those who wish to dial in their setup to meet their specific needs.

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