From a compact seat pack to a clip-on pannier, these 5 bike bags really pull their weight

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If you want to carry more on your bike than what's in your water bottle holder, the best bike bags will store all of your essentials in a hardy, weather-resistant build — ideally, with a few features that make your time on the open road easier, whether that’s a headphone port so you can listen to music out or an insulated compartment to hold your lunch. In terms of crunching the specs, you'll want to take into account bag size, capacity, and weight to ensure it's up for your ride.

A small seat pack or handlebar bag will encourage you to pack only the essentials. Larger bags, like panniers, are great for carrying a lot at once but might be an adjustment for the casual user since they can be bulky. A rack trunk (or rack bag) is a good compromise that offers more cargo space, although you can’t fit a full load of groceries (for that, panniers are the way to go). Keep an eye out for the bag's total capacity, typically measured in liters, to help determine if the bag is sized to your needs. For longer commutes or bike-packing, you'll want a bag that's also lightweight (think: less than 2.3 pounds).

No matter what kind of bag you're considering, it should at least be water-resistant but if you're a serious cyclist, you may want to consider paying more for a solidly waterproof option that will keep your stuff dry even if you yourself get drenched. You can also invest in a waterproof nylon sack to ensure that, no matter what bag you go with, your gear stays 100% dry even in the most gnarly weather.

With all that in mind, these are the five bike bags that stand out.

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The compact seat pack

  • Dimensions: 9 inches long, 3.22 inches wide, 3.93 inches high
  • Bag weight: 0.65 pound
  • Capacity: Not specified

A waterproof bike seat bag will keep your essentials secure while you ride, and this one from ROCKBROS has a sturdy shell design that attaches securely to your bike via two Velcro straps and a soft rubber buckle. Inside, you can store tools and other riding necessities in the top mesh pouch, as well as the two side mesh pouches. Plus, the entire length of this seat back is outlined in thin reflective tape for extra visibility in low light. As for colors, you can get it in red or black.

"First bag we bought of another brand broke almost right away," wrote one reviewer. "This bag is tougher, stays up high so no rubbing on the tires over bumps and has solid straps. We also have fit a heck of [a lot] of gadgets in there."


The clip-on bike panniers

  • Dimensions: 15.7 inches long, 5.9 wide, 11.8 inches high
  • Bag weight: 4 pounds (for the pair)
  • Capacity: 19.8 pounds

These solid, budget-friendly bike panniers are made of water-resistant nylon and come equipped with a waterproof rain cover in case of a downpour. They're compatible with most bike racks, and they're just as easy to detach as they are to mount thanks to their clip-on system — and a three-point connection ensures they stay securely fastened. The exterior features reflective patches and buckled tie-downs on the lid, while the interior can hold up to 19.8 pounds, with two pockets to keep items from getting lost. One shopper tested these panniers with a full load of groceries — including eggs — and noted, "These bags are exceptional and they passed my test."

Serious bikers ready to invest should also check out these premium waterproof Ortlieb bike panniers.


The insulated handlebar bag

  • Size: 11.9 inches long, 7.6 inches wide, 2.2 inches high
  • Bag weight: 0.64 pound
  • Capacity: 3.5 liters

This useful little handlebar bike bag has a clear window so you can keep an eye on your phone and an insulated interior that’s sturdy enough to store more than just snacks. The water-resistant polyester exterior keeps your belongings dry, and there’s a large mesh pocket on the side that’s ideal for bottles or umbrellas. A long reflective strip across the bag’s front helps you stay more visible at night. Granted, it doesn’t position your phone at the ideal angle for operating at a glance but, as one reviewer observed, "When going to new places I can have my phone maps up and just glimpse at it for directions," adding, "Good bang for buck!"


The insulated rack trunk

  • Size: 12 inches long, 6 inches wide, 7 inches high
  • Bag weight: 1.39 pounds
  • Capacity: Not specified (approximately 4.7 liters according to a reviewer)

This large rack trunk features a padded main compartment with insulation and two full-length exterior zippered pockets. The bag's high-quality polyester is sturdy and water-resistant, while its four-point attachment system is easy to mount and ensures your bag remains stable through every turn. If you want more visibility in addition to their reflective tape, there’s a clip attachment to add a light.

"Been using this bag for a couple months now and it's working great," one reviewer wrote. "This past week I had the pleasure of commuting in a couple of monsoon storms...I looked and felt like I fell in a pool but my stuff in the bag was completely dry."


The tech-savvy frame bag

  • Size: 7.8 inches long, 3.2 inches wide, 3.2 inches high
  • Bag weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Capacity: Not specified

Backed by more than 1,700 five-star Amazon reviews, this front frame bag has several smart features to make your life easier in little ways, like a sun shield so you can always see your phone screen and a built-in port for headphones. An ultra-sensitive touch screen window allows you easy use of your phone, and the bag's waterproof build promises not to let any leaks through. The storage compartment underneath has a small mesh pocket for additional organization, and reflective trim keeps you visible in low light conditions.

"This is a great product – well made and performs as advertised," one reviewer wrote. "It fits my [iPhone] X with Lifeproof case, the velcro straps hold it securely to the frame and the touchscreen works. Plenty of room for keys, a battery for the phone or bike light"


Also handy: the tried-and-true bike rack

  • Size: 6 inches wide and adjustable from 3 to 9 inches in length, 14 to 15 inches in height
  • Item weight: 1.65 pounds
  • Capacity: 55 pounds

A good heavy-duty bike rack is worth the investment so that you have the option to add more weight down the line. This one is built from lightweight anodized aluminum with an adjustable height and length to fit a range of bikes. A built-in splash guard keeps your gear dry and helps the rack carry loads up to 55 pounds. It might take some finagling to mount your specific quick-release gear, but bikers of all brand allegiances seemed to agree this was a solid all-purpose rack for the road. "It is definitely one of the stronger, lighter, yet cheaper solutions to pack for anything from daily commutes to international tours," one reviewer observed. This one fits frames between 26 and 29 inches.