Going on a ride is never as simple as just grabbing your bike and rolling out the door. You’re going to need to bring a spare tube, CO2 and inflator, patch kit, tyre levers, tyre boot, multi-tool and a few other bits and pieces to make sure you aren’t left stranded on the side of the road, calling a friend to come pick you up.
For the Velominati types, all of this can be stuffed in a pocket but will take up room that would otherwise be used for all-important snacks. For the rest of us, a saddlebag is the way to go.
They come in all different shapes and sizes and are attached to your bike via the saddle rails and sometimes seatpost. Some use simple Velcro straps, while others employ Boa dials or more permanent clip-on attachments.
What to look for?
1. Size and shape
How much stuff are you going to need on a ride? Are you headed out for a few hours, or a week riding the entire Colorado Trail?
The former is what applies to most of us and a 0.5-litre bag will fit two road tubes, CO2 canisters and an inflator, a small multi-tool and some tyre levers with a bit of Tetris. Pro tip: re-roll your innertubes with the valve in the middle (keep the valve cap on), it will be about half the size it was when you started.
Many saddlebags use basic velcro straps attached to your saddle. This is the lightest weight and arguably the most secure option - just make sure to watch where the rough side of the hook and loop ends on your seat-post, if it's in a bad spot or peels up a bit you may wear a hole through your shorts.
Of course, every brand in the bike industry is continually searching for a point of difference, and thus seat packs that use a bracket on the seat post or saddle rails also exist. These are often a bit heavier, and we have seen a few hit the eject button over rough sections of road.
Regardless of how they attach to your bike, most bags will utilise a zip to keep everything inside, while strap-on tool rolls may use buckles or even Boa dials.
The best saddle bags you can buy today
Evoc Seat Bag
Simple, bright and effective
Attachment: Velcro | Volume: 0.65L
Available in a few different sizes, the Evoc Saddle Bag is the middle-volume version with 0.65L of internal capacity. The exterior is made from the same PU coated ripstop nylon used in the brand's backpacks, which is durable and has a bit of weather resistance, too.
Inside, there are mesh pockets to keep your gear organised, and the bag is held in place with three velcro straps, making for faff-free mounting. Beyond the quality finishing, we love the Evoc seat pack because it comes in bright colours rather than the stock standard black or flash yellow.
Scicon Phantom 230 Roller 2.1
Best for swapping between bikes
Attachment: Bracket | Volume: 0.23L
Scicon’s Roller 2.0 system uses a bracket attached to your saddle rails and the bag clips on with a quarter-turn mount - similar to your cycling computer. The hold is secure, provided the bracket is tight and the Phantom 230 Roller 2.0 is one of the easiest bags to swap between bikes. To free up a bit of space inside the bag, the Phantom 230 features mounts for two tyre levers on the exterior of the pack.
A zip runs two-thirds of the way around the bag so you don’t have to pull everything out in search of a quick link, though the interior doesn't feature any pockets to keep things separate. The majority of the bag is made from nylon, while the mounting base is 'carbon optic'.
Arundel Dual Seat bag
Traditional bag with heaps of space
Attachment: Velcro | Volume: 0.4L
Arundel calls this bag the Dual because it’s designed to carry two tubes, in addition to the other essentials you need to fix a flat. A single strap loops around the saddle rails and the bag without needing to be anchored to the seatpost.
The zip runs up the middle of the bag and the carrier sits up almost underneath the saddle to offer a small degree of protection from water and grit being flung off your rear wheel. That said, the bag could benefit from a DWR coating or a waterproof exterior fabric.
Silca Seat Roll Premio
Great-looking, super-secure Boa-fastened saddle roll
Attachment: Boa | Volume: N/A
Silca is known for its extremely high quality (and expensive) gear and the Seat Roll Premio is no exception. Made from waxed canvas, the Silca seat roll has three internal pockets, with enough room for a tube, tyre levers, a multi-tool and a small patch kit - even with that amount you’ll have to pack carefully to make it all fit.
The pack rolls up and is attached to your bike using a Boa dial, with the cable looping through the seat rails - Silca has included a rail guard to protect lightweight carbon rails.
Bontrager Elite Small Seatpack
The best traditional style wedge pack you can buy
Attachment: Velcro and rubberband | Volume: 0.65L
Bontrager’s assortment of seat bags ranges from those capable of toting an expedition's worth of gear, down to those that only hold a single tube. The Elite Small bag leans towards the latter yet, with a capacity of 0.65L, it still can hold a couple of tubes and everything you need to change a flat one. On the inside, there are mesh pockets to keep your kit organised.
What we really love about this bag is the way it attaches to your seatpost. The rubber strap that hangs onto the seatpost is easy on the finish but it also won’t eat through shorts. Even better, it comes in a few different sizes for those that need more or less gear.
Speedsleev Ballistic Nylon Seatsleev
Minimalist alternative to a traditional saddle bag
Attachment: Velcro | Volume: N/A
The Speedsleev Seatsleev is not your traditional saddle bag; instead, it's a velcro compression strap with slots for all your essentials. It’s actually made up of three velcro straps, with the innermost used to create a pocket for a tube, the middle strap has sleeves for tyre levers, CO2 canisters and the like and the outermost hook and loop secures the whole thing to your saddle rails.
It all lays out flat for easy access to everything and comes with a rain cover to keep your spare tube grit-free. Even though it only attaches to your saddle rails it hangs on tight and is swing free - even over rough terrain.
Volie Strap 12in Nano series
It’s like a toe strap but considerably more useful
Attachment: Buckle | Volume: N/A
Voile is actually a ski brand based in Utah and its trademark orange straps were invented more than thirty years ago as a unique way to keep skis together and attach glueless climbing skins. They are also this writer's preferred way to attach spare tyre kit to his bikes.
Traditionally, roadies have used a toe strap to attach spares to the underside of their saddle; a Voile strap performs the same task but does the job better - they work so well, in fact, OneUp Components and Abby Tools sell copycat/logo licensed versions. Made from UV-resistance tested rubber these things are tough and neither the strap nor the glass-filled nylon buckle scratch carbon components, meaning they can be used to strap things to your frame, too.
They come in lengths from six to 32-inches, two widths and enough colours to match any bike.
skingrowsback Plan B Micron
Handmade aussie saddle bag
Attachment: Webbing | Volume: 0.4L
Aussie outfit skingrowsback makes hard-wearing bags ranging from duffles and backpacks, down to the humble saddle bag. The Plan B is a compact nylon saddle pack with heavyweight 1000d nylon exterior and a PU-coated zip to prevent water ingress.
Similar to the Arundel bag, a single strip of webbing runs through the saddle rails and wraps around the clamshell-style bag. Inside there are elastic straps to secure CO2 and tyre levers. The bags are hand-made in Australia and come in a massive range of colours and patterns.