While the jury’s out on saddle bags’ style credentials, there’s a unanimous verdict on their practicality. Saddle bags come in handy on longer rides in particular and are ideal for storing essentials such as spare tubes, CO2 cylinders, multi-tools and tyre levers.
Running the tubeless tyres may cut out the need for inner tubes but, in order to repair a tubeless puncture, you’ll still need tyre levers, tubeless repair tool plugs, tubeless repair plugs and tubeless sealant. All this paraphernalia will easily fit in a commodious saddle bag.
The humble pump is also essential to fix a punctured clincher or tubeless tyre. Although the best mini pumps are small, they’re too big for most saddle bags. Stowing smaller items in a saddle bag saves room to carry a pump in your pocket.
Even on shorter spins, a saddle bag declutters the pockets of your best cycling jersey. On long rides, a saddle bag frees up space for things you’ll reach for often, such as energy gels or energy bars.
For really long distances, consider a bigger saddle bag. Our picks of this variety are in the second half of the best list.
Come shine, as anyone who’s suffered a sweaty back on a summer’s day knows, the less you carry in your back pockets the better. And if you like to take photos of your ride, a saddle bag allows you to keep your phone at hand.
Best small and medium bike saddle bags in 2022, as rated by our expert testers
Thule Shield seat bag (small)
- Weight: 141g
- Price: £25 as tested
The smaller of Thule’s two Shield bags still has a capacity of 0.7l – which is enough for a wide 27.5in inner tube, multi-tool and CO2 cartridge – and is impressively waterproofed, thanks to its welded seams and roll-top closure.
It attaches to the saddle and seatpost with the usual Velcro straps, one of which is reflective, as is the rear light loop.
Carradice CarraDura Mini
- Weight: 97g
- Price: £11 as tested
This is a dinky little 0.5l bag with a small opening that will just about take the essential tube, tool, tyre levers and CO2 – but nothing more! The polyester material is tough, the zip is waterproofed and there are reflective details in addition to the reflective rear light loop.
Carradice has also managed a couple of wide elastic straps to secure a mini pump. The CarraDura is a well-priced, fully featured saddle pack if you’re travelling light.
Deuter Bag 1
- Weight: 98g
- Price: £15 / AU$25 as tested
With a rigid top and bottom, and sides that concertina, this 98g bag feels larger than its 0.8l capacity. It easily takes a couple of tubes and all the usual kit.
It’s very tidily made, has a loop zip-pull, and our experience of Deuter bags suggests it should last for years. Velcro straps secure it to your seatpost and saddle, and there are reflective details.
Evoc Saddle Bag
- Weight: 78g
- Price: £17 / $20 as tested
Evoc’s little bag is a weight weenie-friendly 78g, with a 0.7-litre volume that’ll take a pair of inner tubes at a push, tyre levers and a multi-tool. There’s a small elasticated pocket inside too, which is ideal for keys.
Fitting is the usual Velcro straps affair, and there are reflective details and a rear light loop, for what is a very nifty, tough-feeling bag.
Fizik Lin:k medium
- Weight: 79g
- Price: £19 / $30 / €23 as tested
This may only have a 0.5l volume, but the side opening – with a waterproof zip around most of the length – makes it easier to load and use than some of the other similar-sized bags.
It also means it’ll take a wide 27.5in inner tube, tool, levers and canister. The three Velcro straps keep it tight, and reflective logos and piping encircle both sides of this effective seat pack.
Lezyne Caddy (medium)
- Weight: 140g
- Price: £25 / $26 / AU$43 as tested
The 0.5-litre Caddy weighs 98g with an extra 42g for the saddle attachment. It’s a doddle to unclip the Caddy, which is chock-full of features for such a small bag: external multi-tool pocket, internal dividers and a water-resistant zip.
There’s enough room for the essentials – tube, tools, CO2 – and it boasts good build quality and easy carry-and-go portability.
Ortlieb Micro Two
- Weight: 156g
- Price: £25 / $35 / €25 as tested
Unlike the other packs on test, this has a mounting bracket that attaches to your saddle – spare brackets are available. The 0.8l pack will take a wide inner tube and more besides, but the end opening can make it slightly awkward to access.
The flipside is that the roll-top design with elastic drawstrings keeps everything inside bone dry. It’s easy to clip and unclip, and there’s a large rear reflective patch.
These bags scored fewer than four stars, but they are still worth considering if they suit your riding…
Birzman Zyklop Gike
- Weight: 66g
- Price: £16 as tested
The Gike is secure on the bike, light and small, and one for the more minimalist rider – but even with just 0.5l capacity there is still room for a road inner tube, a couple of tyre levers and a CO2 canister.
It’s the usual three Velcro straps attachment and there’s a small Velcro mesh pocket inside. The water-repellent polyester lived up to its name, although we’d have liked reflective details as well as a light loop.
Lezyne Aero Caddy
- Weight: 141g
- Price: £32 / $35 as tested
If you like to carry more than the bare minimum – perhaps adding an energy bar or two to the usual tools, tube and CO2 cannisters – then the Aero Caddy’s 1.1-litre capacity might be for you. It’ll take wider inner tubes, has a Velcro-secured inner pocket, a mesh pocket and an internal key loop.
The zip is waterproof, it has reflective logos and a light loop, and it appears tough and well made.
Topeak Aero Wedge (small)
- Weight: 98g
- Price: £14 / $20 / AU$30 as tested
The Wedge comes in three different sizes and with clip-on or buckle fittings. Our small 98g buckle-on bag has a 0.66-litre capacity and is made from tough Cordura coated with Teflon.
We’d have appreciated reflective details on the sides as well as the rear, but that’s the only downside on a sturdy bag that’ll take two tubes, a multi-tool and more.
Best large saddle bags in 2022, as rated by our expert testers
Restrap Race Saddle Bag
- Price: £106 / $159 / €128
- Volume: 7l
- Weight: 253g
Made in the UK, Restrap’s Race saddle bag has a semi-rigid holster that attaches by threading Nylon webbing through two buckles. It is is fiddly, but once fitted, can be left.
A locking rubbery Hypalon strap holds on to the seatpost. The dense foam blocks separate the holster from your bike.
A good-sized roll-top waterproof drybag looks after your gear brilliantly, but without an air-release valve, needs squeezing to keep it from ballooning.
With the drybag compressed, and the rear webbing strap passed through its looped closure, it can’t slip off.
Its Fidlock magnetic buckle provides security and rapid access, and with everything tightened, the 253g Restrap barely wobbles.
Zéfal Z Adventure R5
- Price: £50 / €46
- Volume: 5l
- Weight: 399g
Zéfal’s Adventure R5 has a TPU plastic, polyester and Hypalon (synthetic rubber) construction. It’s hardwearing and resilient to muck and moisture.
The base has a rubbery layer to add extra spray protection, there’s a light loop, and several reflective elements too.
Its saddle rail and seatpost straps keep this compact pack perfectly stable. Adjustable straps neatly secure each side of the roll closure.
The red, heat-sealed interior is waterproof, and ideal for a couple of extra layers, plus a spare inner tube or two.
Two Velcro straps on top allow you to carry a little more behind the saddle as well.
Campagnolo Ekar Cluster 7 Gravel Bag
- Price: £160 / €169
- Volume: 7l
- Weight: 262g
Campagnolo’s Ekar Cluster 7 Gravel Bag is a light, robustly made pack that wedges neatly under the saddle.
The nylon and polyester ripstop fabric has a waterproof internal polyurethane resin coating. The outer front section and underside are well shielded from the elements.
The seatpost and saddle straps are beefy and well-positioned, so the bag didn’t move much when I was out of the saddle.
The roll closure and rear strap are efficient. There are webbing loops on top to attach extras, such as lights.
Evoc Seat Pack Boa
- Price: £125 / $150
- Volume: 3l
- Weight: 218g
There’s nothing standard about the compact EVOC seat pack Boa, including the price.
The rigid plastic nose has a ribbed rubber seatpost-gripping insert, secured by a Hypalon strap, and a cord tightened with a BOA dial.
The load space has reinforced, flexible sides. Velcro straps wrap it solidly to your saddle rails.
The tough single-layer polyurethane body material has welded seams and a waterproof lining. Again, you close it with Velcro tabs, before rolling up and securing using a quick-release webbing strap.
These saddle bags scored fewer than four stars, but they are still worth considering if they suit your riding…
Brooks Scape Seat Bag
- Price: £120 / $160 / €140
- Volume: 8-10l
- Weight: 532g
The Brooks Scape seat bag has large enough capacity for an overnight stop. The bag’s size and premium materials do bring weight though.
Its large clamshell polyester holster has a reinforced, hardwearing top and base with a drain hole.
Webbing saddle rail straps with cam-lock buckles are riveted to Hypalon wings, and two Hypalon Velcro straps grip the seatpost.
The spacious welded Nylon drybag is certified waterproof, has a roll-top with buckle closure, and an air-release valve.
A broad webbing strap secures the drybag and its aluminium hook attaches to the daisy-chain loops on top. But this didn’t prevent the Brooks Scape rocking side to side when our tester rode out of the saddle.
- Price: £65 / $87 / AU$121 / €77
- Volume: 6l
- Weight: 400g
The Topeak Backloader has a lightweight and very flexible Nylon outer. The curved base is fairly rigid and side panels are stiffened at the front.
The thin outer offers reasonable weatherproofing, and the separate waterproof, internal roll-top bag keeps your gear dry.
A handy air-release valve on the outside helps reduce its volume, and means you don’t need to remove the whole seatpack during stops.
The internal volume seems generous, a reflective external bungee increases capacity, and there are rear light mounts.
But, even with the compression straps pulled tight and buckles locked, the Backloader always swung from side to side when our tester was out of the saddle.
Buyer’s guide to saddle bags: how to choose the best saddle bag for your riding
How do I choose a saddle bag?
Unless you’ve got a support crew or team car following behind, the longer the ride the more stuff you need to carry.
For example, on a weeknight club run, you won’t need loads of spares and tools, and you could go without a saddle bag.
But venture further on Sunday, solo or in a group, and a saddle bag becomes nearly essential unless you want to ram your pockets.
It’s best to save these for nutrition and spare layers.
Gravel riding requires more kit than road outings, and the same goes for long day trips on any surface.
Here, larger saddle bags and seat packs come into their own because having the right tool to fix a mechanical or extra layer for a change of weather take precedence over bulk and aerodynamics.
What do I put in a saddle bag?
Our expert bike testers reveal what they put in a saddle bag in this video.
A short, far from exhaustive list is: multiple inner tubes, gas canisters, tyre levers and, if you’ve ditched clinchers, a tubeless puncture repair kit.
You can put a pump in your pocket or strap it to your bike, but a multitool will also fit in a saddle bag.
Are saddle bags secure?
Yes, they are. The best saddle bags have sturdy straps to attach to your bike and reliable zips to hold their contents.
That makes them much more secure than the alternative. By no means all jerseys have a zipped pocket, and many riders reserve this for valuables, such as a mobile phone.