Bikepacking on a budget - Options besides DIY ?
So, looking to get a setup here for bikepacking for this summer and beyond. I am familiar with and experienced in backpacking. I know how and what to pack for trips of various lengths.
My main problem is, the lack of funds needed to get a full-on custom setup. I don't care to hear how I need to spend $300 on a frame bag, $250 on a seat bag, and $200 on some pannier or a handlebar bag.
Your proclimation that you "get what you pay for" doesn't hold true in every case. Sure, if I had a quadzillion dollars, I'd call up bikebagdude and have him whip up exactly what I want, but I, like many people can't afford $1000+ dollars for some bags for my bike, nor would I at anytime in the near future ever see myself spending that kind of coin on them. So please save your holier than thou, just save your money schtick for someone that cares if thats what you came to this thread for.
So, now that that is out of the way, what are choices are out there for someone thats willing to invest, as little as possible, and maybe up to $200 for setup of a seat bag, frame bag, and handlebar bag, as I am only looking at doing 1-2 night weekenders at this time, so I don't have the need for a huge 4 bag pannier setup.
Obviously theres the DIY method, which I have no issues with, however time is as short as my budget(new baby) so I would like to try and do as little customization as possible intially, if I have to sew on a few velcro straps, or whatnot, thats fine, but I #1 don't have a sewing machine and #2 don't care to spend 40 hours building my own custom setup. If I had that much time, I'd just work and buy a customer setup.
That said, what are some of the lower priced options out there for people in similiar situations as me?
Theres a very nicely priced and reviewed frame bag by "Ibera" which actually measures out very closely with my inner triangle, so that solves that problem.
However I have had an extremely hard time trying to find seat bags or handlebar bags which meet what I am looking for, which is basically a drybag type setup with the proper strapping. I can find a strapless drybag for fairly cheap (<$50) which I find acceptable, however they do not have the required straps a bike would need. Will sewing straps onto such a bag be a factor in keeping it a "drybag" ?
What are typical rates for a mom and pop sewing shop per hour if I were to get all the materials (vx21 + zippers, velcro, etc) cut the panels to size and hand off the remedial labor side of things? Has anyone gone this route before ?
Out of all the custom bag makers listed in the stickied thread on this forum, all of them are (in my opinion) highly overpriced. The best-bang-for-the-buck makers of these I've seen are a russian outfit on ebay "uraltour" and bikebag.co.uk which some people have used.
I really do like how bikebag.co.uk does business in the design, etc stage, the problem is I found is, they want to upcharge me $40 from cordura to VX21, I can understand someone running a business and the costs involved(SBO myself) however when I, as an individual can buy enough material to make 3 bags for the upcharge alone, completely ignoring the already factored in cost of the cordura, then compound that with them wanting to charge $50 for non-expediated shipping, then well I know I'm being raked over the coals and will take my business elsewhere.
Anyone else out there in the same boat? What did you do?
Here is your budget handlebar bag. Outdoor Research Ultralight Compression Sack - 25L - Save 42%
With a couple $2 straps from REI you can lash it securely to your bars underneath the compression straps. It is neither waterproof nor perfect, but its $20. You can always put a plastic liner inside it to keep your stuff dry. I've used this setup for a couple years, it works well.
Sounds like you have the frame bag sorted, and there are plenty of cheap options for top tube bags that will work ok.
I personally like my Revelate seat bag, but if you don't want to throw down the cash for something like that you can get a seatpost mounted rack like this Sette ST-400 Rear Bike Rack | Sette | Brand | www.PricePoint.com and a dry bag to strap on top of it for the rest of your stuff.
Before I got my seat bag I just used an old day pack which held more stuff than my camelback could. Worked ok, but I wanted to get as much weight as possible off my back.
This should be more than adequate for 1-2 nighters. Then you can upgrade later as you need/want/find other options.
Thanks for the bag link, thats pretty much all thats needed for a handlebar bag IMO. I kind of would like something like that in a dry bag format, but that canbe worked around as you stated.
I'd also like to stay away from racks as well, I would really prefer a seat bag, that Revelate is pretty much exactly what I want, but just abit more than I'd prefer to drop and the exposed seat post requirement are just abit too long for me.
I honestly can't find too many of these, most of the bike bag makers stickied here do not make or publish prices for seat bags. The best/only deal I could find would be
Uraltour Cycling Bicycle Bike Saddle Packs Seat Bag Tracking Number | eBay
Anyone have any experience with these guys?
Is there a specific search term the google gods would favor in my quest?
I'm planing my first overnighter...on the cheap. I'm ordering one of these for the bars. $12 (currently 50% off) ALPS Mountaineering Cyclone Compression Sack | Backcountry.com It's compresses into more of a tube shape rather than a ball shape of a typical top/down compression sack, plus it has three built in straps that I plan to supliment with other straps if needed. Not waterproof, but it's durable and cheap (currently just $12 for the medium if you use the coupon code).
I might make this work on my 575 for a frame bag, I think I can run it 'upside-down'. $29 Amazon.com: Jandd Frame Pack, Black: Sports & Outdoors
-cheap wedge bag: $11 Amazon.com: Eleven81 Frame Top Triangle Bag Black: Sports & Outdoors
the medium compression sack measures 8'' x 19'', large 10'' x 21''. I plan to put my 2.5lb down bag, lightweight air mattress $50 (Klymit Static V Amazon.com: Klymit Static V Camping Mattress (Green-Grey, Large): Sports & Outdoors) and a piece of Tyvek in the bag. Not sure which bag to get though, med or large...any thoughts? I'm thinking med as I can easily stuff my bag down to about 8'' x 11'' in a stuff sack, so I think making it less tall and longer in a compression sack should be easy enough to allow the mattress and Tyvek.
EDIT: I see the compression sack listed earlier is 23'' x 9''. Maybe I'll go with the large Cyclone and if it doesn't pack down enough with just the bag, bed i can always add stuff like a compressible puffy jacket to help fill it out...or any clothes items for that matter.
The Uraltour bag looks ok. Fits 10-11L whereas the Revelate fits up to 14L. Customer service could be iffy or nonexistent if you have problems.
Originally Posted by steveohio
I've seen a few people strap bags to the seatpost/rails like this, looks like it would work ok with a dry bag: bikepacking.net > Personal setups > 29er Singlespeed Bikepacking Setup
If you find you're doing a lot of bikepacking then shelling out $130 for the revelate or similar bag shouldn't be a big deal in the long run. Lots of options out there. Unfortunately none of them are cheap for the high end stuff.
Eatdrinkride, that ALPS bag looks pretty nice. I like the idea of the reinforced side panel that the compression straps are sewn into. Should provide protection from rubbing by brake lines and shifter cables.
delete, I'll start my own thread so as not to hijack - thanks evdog
My first few times out bikepacking I strove to use only items I already owned. Here is a link to that first trip:
High Altitude Homestead: July 2012
If you have a rack and can attach it to your bike, I would personally recommend using that. I actually still use a rack because, well, I already own it and it costs the same as a large seatbag. Like you, I have done a lot of camping, backpacking and canoe tripping, so I am ok on the equipment front. But I try to keep the additional costs down as it is hard to justify given how often I get out.
I actually now own a handlebar sling from Bolder Designs which I really like. But for two years I simply strapped a bag directly to the bars and never had a significant issue beyond some shifting periodically. I have done some trips with my son as well and that's what I do with his gear as well.
I sometimes use panniers if I am carrying more gear, but usually I just strap a drybag or stuff sack to the top of the rack. Together with a pack and the handlebars, that's plenty (except for colder weather)
Its not rocket science, especially if you are an experienced backpacker. Plus, I am not riding the tour divide - just doing mostly overnighters when I can for fun. I've come a long way since that first trip, but really, it was one of the funnest and most successful to date.
I'm with you. I wanted to get into this on the cheap. Of course, I'm a lot of talk and no do on this, but I did get a bunch of bags and gear together to start messing with my setup. I'm hoping to do my first overnighter when we get out of rainy season this spring or summer.
I basically bought a few various cheap bags off fleabay. Their claim on waterproof-ness is questionable, but for the difference in price I can buy a lot of ziplock bags. I don't think I'll be out in the wet much anyway, being in NorCal and doing summer trips. If I really get into it I'll invest in better gear.
I also have a rear rack with some nashbar waterproof bags I got on blowout sale. With those, my bar bag, frame bag and a trunk bag I think I'll have all of the storage room I need for an overnighter.
All in all, I think I spent less than $150 for the bags and the rack, and I probably could have done it even cheaper without giving up much in function or quality. The hard part was finding a beefy rear rack that fits over a 29er wheel with disc brakes without spending fat cash for an old man mountain rack or a surly nice rack.
I forgot about that thread! Some good stuff in there.
While I can certainly understand your desire to not spend huge money on a bikepacking setup, I think it makes sense to spend some money on a few key pieces. One thing I have not seen mentioned it that you will enjoy your trip more and have less issues with actual bikepacking gear. You can probably get by with a dry bag strapped to the bar, but it will be finicky, require constant adjustment, and will affect bike handling if not secured well. If you have some time before you leave for your tour, the best thing to do is scour the internet for deals. You can often times find quality gear for cheap prices, but it takes time.
The obvious start place is Ebay, but unless someone doesn't know what they have and list it for a low BIN, you usually can't find great deals there anymore. The only thing I came across was the below seatbag, which I think you are already aware of:
Uraltour Cycling Bicycle Bike Saddle Packs Seat Bag Tracking Number | eBay
I have never seen or used one, but it looks to be a decent bag for like 1/3 of the price of the big names for $59 shipped. I think it pays to get a dedicated seat bag, as it's harder to rig something there.
Also check the MTBR classifieds as well as the Bikepacking.net classifieds. Stuff pops up there from time to time.
Next, check all of the manufacturers web sites. They sometimes post discounted stuff that is slightly used, an older design, or slightly out of spec., etc for cheap. This is how I picked up a bunch of my stuff. Here are a couple of ideas:
Revelate Designs LLC
BLEMS, PROTOTYPES, and USED STUFF - Welcome to the NUKE Stockpile
Cleaveland Mountaineering: Cleaveland Mountaineering Christmas Sale!
One thing to remember about the above internet resources is that you have to be religious about checking them often. When good deals come up, they will go fast!
I think that Ibera frame bag will work fine for a while, but I would suggest the above seatbag and finding a cheapish handlebar harness and cheap drybag (go to Sierratradingpost for that). You should be able to find all that stuff for less than $150, well below your $200 budget. Add 2 water bottle cages to your fork with hose clamps (or a backpack/camelback) and you should be all set.
Good luck, and have fun!
When I first got into touring I bought cheap panniers and racks, all of which have been replaced with quality items. In hindsight the money I spent trying to get into touring cheap was wasted as everything was replaced with more durable/practical gear. I have done some lightweight touring (handlebar bag, large saddle bag and Revelate Tangle) but am just getting into offroad bikepacking.
If you were to get a Revelate Tangle, Harness and Terrapin your cost would be around $225. Dry bags can be found pretty cheap if you look hard enough. The tangle bag will not be a waste as mine is moved to different bikes when I want storage for day rides/warm weather commuting etc.
I agree, having better equipment does and will make it more enjoyable. Its a world of difference going from an older external frame backpack to a newer internal framed pack, so I'm sure the difference on a bike is there as well.
The nicer thing about bikepacking however is less strain on yourself over long distances, which is why I have been looking into pretty hard. Firstly, the old lady isn't a fan of lugging that much weight around, and with the addition of a baby who will be 1 in April, it makes backpacking nearly impossible for a few years, whereas with bikes it makes it a whole lot easier for everyone.
With 1 less income and 2 more mouths, I don't have the nowhere near the income I used to have when I was single. I'll have to end up buying 2 setups as well, so the nicer custom stuff is DIY or wait a few years. I do have the option of using a trailer for the kid, and putting some stuff on it( 100lb capacity, 2 person wide, but only 1 kid) but that will eliminate the single track option for a family trip. On those type of trips, I have a road/sport bike with a nice sunlite 55lb clamping rack that I can get a cheap 65L rear pannier bag for like $35 on the 'bay.
I'd still like to get a full setup for myself when flying solo, or without the woman and child. As I do like to do some "stealth" camping in the park system near me on quick overnighters.
I do agree with you on the seat bag.
I will more than likely go with that uraltour one, but I will test the "upside down" drybag with straps on the bike before I pull the trigger on it though.
Its alot easier when everything is secure and does not move. You will expend alot more energy, make things more difficult and unsafe by not securing and packing your gear properly.
The Ibera bag is nothing fancy, but for a frame bag that is basically the full triangle, theres no better value out there. The materials alone for me to make one myself would run me that much or more. Heres a link incase anyone was interested
Amazon.com: Ibera Bike Large Triangle Frame Bag - For Bike Tube Frame,Quick-Access, 2014 Model: Sports & Outdoors
I plan on getting 1 to try it out before I get another. As of right now, I only have solo adventures planned, so hopefully by next year I will be able to make or buy something better and pass this one down. I already plan on modding it to attach to the frame mounts as it doesn't have bottom straps, it should really help the "sway" effect. Quite a few people are running these and they get great reviews, and for $15 its worth a gamble..
In regards to handlebar bags, any compression sack or cylindrical bag should work. I think my main issue with that is that a larger bag will "crunch" the cables, so I need to try and find one that can fit underneath them. Not sure if anyone else has run into this problem at all? At least if they did I havn't seen much about it. I have seen some people running drop bars that have had to use brake L guides in order to position the brakes outta the way, but I have hydrolic brakes and run 1" carbon riser bars, so my space is tight there.
I often debate with myself between getting the more expensive stuff the first time vs. trying out more affordable items before diving in for more professional grade. This applies to lots of things, not just bikepacking. True, in the long run you might pay more. But sometimes you learn that bikepacking or whatever just isnít your thing and then you havenít run out and purchased a bunch of stuff you maybe couldnít really afford. I am a proponent of getting out there with what you have first and building from there.
Personally, for the kinds of adventures I have had (none of which have been more than an overnighter) I have never had any issues just strapping a bag to the bars and another on the rack. Maybe I have just been lucky, but I have put things to the test pretty well. But again, I am not a competitor or going for extended trips (I would like to, but lack the time at this point in my life). That being said, I am still constantly reworking how I attach things to the bike and haven't settled on what I think is the "best" system. I am sure I would be excited to have a big seatpack. But its a little too rich for me at the moment. Still, I really admire the fine craftsmanship of many of those companies, many of which are start-ups by enterprising individuals.
Here is a link to another tip where I actually did not use a rack but strapped some smaller stuff sacks to the seatpost and seat rails. It worked great. I live in the desert southwest, so I have a good idea if rain is in the forecast before heading out. The odds are usually in my favor and so I don't worry too much about the waterproof factor. But even then, its not hard to line your sacks with plastic bags to keep things dry. For backpacking and canoe tripping I used to simply slide a trash compactor bag (which are virtually indestructible) inside the backpack to keep things waterproof.
High Altitude Homestead: Bikepacking the Chain of Craters
I also just remembered there was a thread in here or possibly bikepacking.net that had a title that included "dirtbag" I think and was also about these kinds of budget strategies. Folks might search and see if you can find that one too.
When I started it was because my GF at the time and I realized that we should combine our love of backpacking with our love of mountain biking.
So I bought 2 old commuter racks from my LBS for $5 a piece (a smoking deal). They were missing all the hardware so I then spent about $5 getting them functional, including P-Clamps. I fixed them to the mountain bikes.
I then bought 4 cheap Axiom commuter panniers on closeout at some online store, plunking down about $120 total.
We had the camp gear already which made things easy and is arguably the most expensive part. And we had the bikes; and entry level front suspension Trek and an entry level SS rigid 29er
We stuffed our panniers and strapped what we could to the handlebars with cheap webbing and off we went. It worked and while I've upgraded most, I still have my $5 rack on a new bike 6 years later.
Here is a pic of my LHT in lightweight mode for a late spring weekender. Drybags and racks can be pretty light and stable. No real off road riding but the bike doesn't like that anyway. http://
SSL22951 by DennisLitto, on Flickr
I like bikepacking bags better than racks and panniers, but you can get racks and panniers dirt cheap and there are ways to improve them so they are more dirt friendly. If you are short on time and $$ that might be a way to go as an initial setup combined with a backpack.
I'm in agreement with you guys that you should start with what you got, or on the cheap in the beginning. In general, the backpacking type crowd is a fairly intuitive and out of box thinking type, you really have to be a lot of the time without amenities on hand. The more you do it, the more you learn the ins and outs of it. Pretty much every first timer I've seen will either over pack, or forget something they needed.
I think its a real shame sometimes when I read threads on the interwebs where people rip on others for having less than high-end bikes and setups. As if you cannot have fun or engage in the same thing without the ''best'' stuff out there. It makes me wonder if a lot of people are just out there to brag about their stuff rather than the enjoyment they have riding.
^^^ This. It's not about the gear, it's about the experience. Especially for an S24O, a rack & compression bags (or even kittie-litter panniers) get the job done. The high-end stuff is definitely nice, but generally you'll also need high-end stuff to put in it (lightweight down sleeping bag, lightweight tent, etc.) since they're somewhat limited on space compared to what you can haul with racks.
Originally Posted by steveohio
You might not go as fast or as easily with racks, but again, starting out, that's not what it's about.
If you're into backpacking/hiking just put your pack on your back and go ride (although you should try to strap as much heavy/dense stuff as you can to your bike - octopus straps, gaffa tape, stuff sacks etc. will all get stuff on your bike and off your back). Weekenders do not need a lot of gear, a special bike etc...
Also, I wouldn't complain about the price of custom bags. I've made all of my own, but would have preferred to pay someone if I could have got exactly what I needed. It is a very labor intensive process and I really think most of the frame bag makers offer pretty good value for money.
Second the cheap gear for beginners. I can't tell you how many swap meets I've been to where folks are unloading their high end stuff that got used only once (if at all). Seems like a big waste of cash to me (but hey, bonus for me for cheap second hand gear).
Then again, I've never actually been out on a bike camping trip yet.
I got everything including a dedicated expidition bike for less than $600.00. The bike was around $400. The sleeping bag, tent, stove, food, etc was around $200ish for the lot. Do you research and then hit amazon and ebay for your gear. I saved easily a couple hundred bucks.
My thread from 2012 is here and gives a brief intro to my bike packing journeys. PS. I still use all the same gear.
My 600HT Journey
"I think im gonna go to walmart and look at the mountain bikes and see if i can salvage the rear frame."- Nick_Knipp 3/21/12
I got some quality inexpensive bags from NiagaraCycles. YOu can see some of their selection here:
Accessories - Bags - Niagara Cycle
I really like the Sunlite Epic Tour Frame Bag at about $26. It's sold out at NiagaraCycles so you'll have to look around online. Couple that with a gas tank (easily had for ~15$ on that website), a seat triangle bag (again ~$15), and a handlebar bag (~$20) and a seat bag.
I did spend a little more on a seat bag. I like the Jandd Mountain Wedge at $56. Mountain Wedge III
Lastly, I wear a backpack. It's likely you already have one of those.
One other thought for the handlebar bag. Army/navy stores have lots of canvas bags with all kinds of straps on them, I use one with a 3 gal ziplock bag inside, works great.
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