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Hip packs have gained popularity with riders over the years because they are less cumbersome than backpacks. Even better? Getting the pack off your body altogether and letting the bike carry all the weight.
About a year ago I stopped riding with a hip pack, or any pack for that matter, and it feels amazing. In that time I’ve experimented with several different setups, swapping bags depending on the ride, and have found these work well for everything from quick local rides to all day epics.
Mission Workshop Toro Handlebar Bag
If you’ve ridden with me this summer, chances are you’ve seen a lot of the Toro bag. I’ve used it on almost half a dozen different bikes, and it fits every time. Mission Workshop says the Toro is “super stable with zero bounce even on the roughest trails,” which is hard to believe, but in my experience is absolutely true. The bag stays put and is super quick and easy to attach. Because the Toro is mounted to the bars it’s easily accessible so I’m usually the designated text message sender in the group when it’s time to rendezvous. The position also makes for easy snack grabs without having to stop.
The Toro handlebar bag is surprisingly roomy, with plenty of carrying capacity for any ride up to half a day long. My usual haul includes a wallet, cell phone, glasses, can of Mountain Dew, gloves, and a packable jacket. You could easily swap the Dew for a big ol’ multi-tool and a tube if you’re not feeling too thirsty. I found packing the bag tight is best so things aren’t bouncing around inside. Like Mission Workshop says, the bag itself stays stable, though the contents inside are free to roam. There are even slots on the front to strap on additional items — say an extra layer — if you’re out of space.
I’ve found the weatherproof construction keeps things dry inside and the bag has remained bright and clean despite rolling through some muddy conditions. Priced at $85 this isn’t a cheap bag but honestly it’s more than paid for itself given how much I’ve used it over the past few months.
When Orucase says mini, they mean it. This is basically a half, half (quarter?) frame bag which means it should fit plenty of mountain bikes, even the full suspension kind with complicated front triangles. The shape of the Mini Framebag is rectangular-ish which reminds me of a hip pack without the waist straps. There are pockets on both sides of the waterproof bag; the non-driveside pocket is small and thin, designed to hold a wallet and/or medium-sized phone.
The main pocket is large enough to hold a 29er tube, a multi-tool, and perhaps a pair of gloves. It’s the perfect size for short rides, and on longer rides I like to use it for overflow items from my handlebar bag.
The Orucase Mini Framebag attaches using a couple Velcro straps and a springy cord on one end. The Velcro straps are plenty long to wrap around even the beefiest top tubes, so much so that I needed to trim them to fit on my steel bikes. The bag works best with roomy a headtube as shown above since it isn’t really angled very much on either end.
I really dig the concept behind the Rock Bar case, though I haven’t quite found the perfect use for it yet. The cylindrical shape and small diameter means it’ll fit almost anywhere on the bike: under the top tube, on the bars, or even on your fork. It’s basically like a skinny version of a Pringles can, with zippered access on one end.
If you’ve ever tried to get the last chip out of a Pringles can you know it can be tricky to reach the bottom. The best solution is to place items inside the included nylon pouch and stuff that pouch inside the Rock Bar case, similar to what you might do for an in-frame storage spot. Think of this as external, in-frame storage if that helps.
The shape is especially friendly to a mini pump and other various bike tools. Bar snacks will fit fine too, but not nearly as well as a banana. Rock Bar also sells specially shaped weights (seriously) that you can slip into the case for training rides.
This wedge, half frame bag is the big daddy of the group boasting 2.5L of volume, enough to haul a 1L hydration reservoir and a ton of goodies. The wedge shape leaves space for frame-mounted water bottle access and you can adjust the position of the bottom straps to customize the fit.
Wide, coated top straps provide a secure fit and the ability to carry heavy loads over rough singletrack. The pack seems to be fairly water resistant, though I wouldn’t keep my toilet paper inside without placing it inside a ziplock baggie. You know, just in case.