Topeak Bikepacking bags in a detailed test – Once across Germany on gravel and trails

aktualisiert am: January 26, 2021 in: ,
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Topeak stands as a manufacturer for sophisticated bike accessories in many areas. In the bikepacking sector he already gave bags from Topeak. The Bikepacking bags have been completely revised and now shine with improvements in detail.

There is also a chic olive green in addition to the popular black color.

That made me curious, so I set out on a long test ride with the full Topeak bikepacking bag set.

Topeak’s main bikepacking bags are:

In this review you will learn everything about my experiences with the Topeak Bikepacking bags.

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bikepacking-adventures_helden
Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Experiences Forest
Topeak Bikepacking bags in test: Experiences in the forest and on the Bikepacking Trans Germany

I gained experience with the Topeak Bikepacking bags on sections of the Bikepacking Trans Germany Route. On the route you cross Germany completely from south to north. Side trips to Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Poland included. The surface is mainly gravel and forest paths and also rough mountain bike trails can be found.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Experience Trail
Off to the trail with the Topeak Bkepacking bags

Strapped to the bike I had the complete set of Topeak Bikepacking bags:

✅ Topeak Backloader saddle bag with 16 liters
✅ Topeak Midloader frame bag with 6 liters
✅ Topeak Frontloader handlebar bag with 8 liters

Toploader handlebar bag accessory bag*
Barloader top tube bag*
Freeloader stem bag*
Versacage's Luggage Rack (Cage)*

The reliability of the bikepacking bags was quickly put to the test: As the weather was mixed and the ground was quite trail-heavy, the bags were put to the test. At the latest when I arrived in Berlin, the bags had proven their reliability.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Berlin
Arrived in Berlin: The Topeak Bikepacking bags have proven themselves!

Which bags convinced me and where there are still improvements, you will find out in this practical test.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Experiences
The bikepacking bike is fully equipped: Frontloader, Midloader, Backloader and more bags are on the bike

Note: The Topeak Bikepacking bags I have requested from RTI Sports (Topeak distribution for Germany) as a test copy. I was then provided with the bags for a field report.

You’re in a hurry? The Topeak Bikepacking bags at a glance

Angebot
Topeak Backloader saddle bag with 6, 10 or 15 litres (black or green)

Volume: 6 / 10 / 15 liters
Weight: 15 liters: 413 – 565 grams (manufacturer’s specification).
Weight 15 liters green: 510 grams (self-weighed)

Special features: Drybag waterproof, Harness system, Valve for compression.

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

Angebot
Topeak Midloader frame bag with 3L / 4,5L or 6L (black or green)

Volume: 3 / 4.5 / 6 liters
Weight: 152 – 337 gram (manufacturer’s specification)
Weight 6 liters green: 201 grams (self-weighed)

Special features: Both-sided access

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

Angebot
Topeak Frontloader Bikepacking Lenkertasche mit 8 Liter (schwarz oder grün)

Verfügbar in schwarz und Olivgrün
Volumen: bis zu 8 Liter – hängt vom Lenker ab
Gewicht: 561 – 457 Gramm (Herstellerangabe) inkl. Aufnahme, Packsack, Gummispacer

Besonderheiten:
Wasserdichter Packsack
Packsack lässt sich mit integriertem Ventil komprimieren
schnelle und einfache Montage und Demontage, dank Harness-System.

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

Highlights of the Topeak Bikepacking bags:

✅ Quick loading and unloading thanks to clever harness system (click system)
✅ Bikepacking bags with a particularly attractive price-performance ratio
✅ Completely revised for the current year (especially the Topeak Frontroller handlebar roller )
✅ Available in two colours and with different packing volumes

…the details of the individual Topeak Bikepacking bags I present to you now.

Topeak Bikepacking bags test – All you need to know

I have been curious about the Topeak Bikepacking bags for a long time. First, because they’re different from bags that I’ve known. Secondly, because the bags have these exciting unique selling points:

  • Harness system: Such a system provides comfort and time saving. It also saves a lot of nerves when loading and unloading the bike. A receptacle is permanently installed on the wheel. A second bag, in Topeak’s case a waterproof pack sack, can be quickly clamped in and removed via straps. Topeak incorporates the Harness system again in the new version of the Bikepacking bags. More specifically with the frontloader handlebar roller and the backloader saddlebag. I was very excited about this system. Is it really as comfortable as suspected? What about stability?
  • Favourable price: Bikepacking is often quite an expensive affair. For quite little material you may often open your wallet wide. All the more interesting is the price of the Topeak bags. It’s cheap! What about quality? Is the quality convincing or do you have to make concessions? Are we talking cheap here or can you really get a bargain here?
  • Comfort functions valve and mesh: The bags also have comfort functions such as a valve on the Topeak Frontloader handlebar roll and the Topeak Backloader saddle bag. This allows the waterproof pack sacks to be compressed particularly strongly. The saddle bag in each size also has a fastening net on the top. These are practical features that every bikepacking bag set should have. These extras are also built into the Topeak Bikepacking bags.

In addition, I have with previous products from Topeak< / g> already made good experience, so there was already a certain basic trust in the brand.

How can these points be translated into practice? Here’s what I’ve experienced.

The Topeak Bikepacking bags in the test

Topeak Backloader saddle bag with 15 liters

Angebot
Topeak Backloader saddle bag with 6, 10 or 15 litres (black or green)

Volume: 6 / 10 / 15 liters
Weight: 15 liters: 413 – 565 grams (manufacturer’s specification).
Weight 15 liters green: 510 grams (self-weighed)

Special features: Drybag waterproof, Harness system, Valve for compression.

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

I’ll say it directly: I am very enthusiastic about the Topeak saddle bag! The bag is easy to mount on the saddle. Thanks to the Harnes system, the waterproof Drybag with its contents can be quickly and conveniently removed and also reinserted – all in just a few simple steps.

Topeak Backloader 15L Saddle Bag Bikepacking Test
Topeak Backloader with 15L volume: The saddle bag holds firmly to the bike and is modular (harness system).

If you want to remove the drybag with the equipment, proceed as follows:

  1. Open saddlebag
  2. Remove Drybag
  3. It is best to close the saddlebag again now so that it does not hang down

The Drybag itself has a correctly sized opening and can be closed firmly. I really liked the integrated valve: The remaining air in the saddlebag can be pressed out almost completely. This compresses the dybag to the maximum.

To load, simply slide the filled drybag into the saddlebag and close it. With the side straps, the Topeak Backloader bag can now be braced. The ride can go on.

Topeak Backloader Saddle Bag Bikepacking Test Waterproof Packing Bag
Topeak Backloader saddle bag: The waterproof pannier can be removed in a flash

The saddle bag itself is only water repellent, the Drybag inner bag itself is waterproof. So here you do not have to worry in the rain or dirt. The content is protected.

This is how the installation of the Topeak Backloader on the saddle works:

As you can see in the photos, the Backloader saddlebag consists of two parts.

  • The water-repellent saddle bag (outer pocket) and
  • the waterproof inner pocket.

The saddle bag is permanently installed on the saddle. The Drybag is filled with the equipment and can be slid into the saddle bag. The stable closure and the well thought-out tensioning mechanism ensure that the saddle bag and drybag are held securely.

This is how the Topeak Backloader is attached to the saddle:

  • Two sturdy plastic clips are connected to the saddlebag by leatherette straps.
  • The straps have just the right length, so that you can pass them comfortably under the seat tubes.
  • Now the plastic clips can be clipped tightly and will hold securely. With a rigging device you can pull the bag really tight on the saddle.
Topeak Backloader Bracket Saddle Bag Bikepacking Test
Attaches to the bike saddle with two sturdy plastic clips: The Topeak Backloader saddle bag

Really bombproof holds the bag through the attachment of the wide Velcro. This is attached to the seat tube and is attached and securely closed within seconds. With a three-point system, the Topeak Backloader holds to the saddle. The hold behind the saddle is quite exemplary and stable. The complete installation is done with a little practice in under a minute. During the tour, the Topeak Bikepacking bag remains permanently on the saddle anyway, because you only remove the drybag.

If required, the complete bag can of course also be removed.

Topeak Backloader Saddle Bag Bikepacking Test Attachment
Second attachment point of the Topeak Backloader: A large velcro strap holds the bikepacking saddlebag reliably.

How stable is the Topeak Bikepacking bag? Does the Topeak Backloader swing when swaying?

The Backloader is securely and stably attached to the saddle and seat tube. Even on wild off-road descents, the saddle bag holds perfectly to the bike. In the test I had the Topeak Backloader with 15 liters capacity.

I had loaded the bag cleverly: Heavy items close to the bike and light items rather further away from the bike. If the bag is loaded in this way, then it hardly swings. The bag even sits very quietly at the back of the saddle when properly braced.

Topeak Backloader 15 Liter Saddle Bag Bikepacking Test
A lot goes in there: Topeak Backloader 15 litre saddle bag in pocket

Such a large saddlebag without (mini) luggage rack will of course always swing a bit. Above all, loaded bikepacking saddlebags always swing a bit in the saddle.

You often sprint uphill in a cradle kick? Then you probably have a rather lightly loaded bike and get along well with the 5L or 10L variant of the Topeak saddle bag. Due to the lower mass, these bags will also hardly vibrate.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Experiences Czech Border
Bike, rider and Topeak bikepacking bags directly at the czech border

Good

Harness system: Drybag including equipment can be removed quickly and comfortably
Waterproof inner bag: This protects your equipment from water and dirt.
Stability: When properly loaded, the saddlebag hardly swings (except in the saddle).
✅ Practical features like the compression valve on the inside pocket and the accessory net on top of the bag.

Bad

Outer pocket only water repellent – but the drybag (inner pocket) is waterproof. Rides in the rain and in winter are no problem

Conclusion

From the Topeak Backloader saddle bag I am very excited. I especially like the comfortable handling of the bag: The saddle bag can be quickly attached to the bike. Thanks to the harness system, the Drybag inner bag can be attached and removed quickly and comfortably.

With the net on the bag you can quickly stow e.g. a jacket and thanks to the valve the bag can be compressed to the maximum. The outside pocket is only water repellent but the Drybag is completely waterproof. An almost perfect saddle bag with a clear buy recommendation.

The Topeak Backloader is available in the sizes 5, 10 and 15 liters.
The Bikepacking saddle bag is available in black and olive green.
In the test I have the Topeak Backloader with 15 liters in olive green.

Midloader frame bag with 6 liters

Angebot
Topeak Midloader frame bag with 3L / 4,5L or 6L (black or green)

Volume: 3 / 4.5 / 6 liters
Weight: 152 – 337 gram (manufacturer’s specification)
Weight 6 liters green: 201 grams (self-weighed)

Special features: Both-sided access

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

The Topeak frame bag uses the upper area of the bike frame. The Topeak Midloader is available in three different sizes: 3L, 4,5L and 6Liter. The range is thus quite broad to fill most frames well.

On the official product page for the Topeak Midloader, you can find the exact dimensions. If you want to know exactly, you can measure your frame triangle and find the right Topeak frame bag for you.

Topeak Midloader Frame Bag Bikepacking Test Overview
Topeak Midloader frame bag: Is available in three different sizes

I ride the Bombtrack Beyond in frame size L. First I had the Topeak Midloader with 4.5 liters. The frame bag was too small though. On all photos in this Topeak Bikepacking bags test is the variant with 6 liters shown. The bag fills the upper area in the frame triangle well and 6 liters is plenty of volume for bikepacking gear.

The bag has a large compartment and both left and right zippers are attached to the Topeak Midloader. You can open the bag on both sides and even with a fully loaded bag you can easily reach the contents. There are no other organizational pockets. Likewise, an additional opening for a drinking tube or a cable grommet is not present.

Topeak Midloader Frame Bag Bikepacking Test 6L
Topeak Midloader with 6L volume: A lot fits in here

Even fully loaded, the bag keeps its shape well and hardly expands. Thus, I never bumped the bag with my knees while pedaling.

Topeak Midloader Frame Bag Bikepacking Test Waterproof
The access can be from the left as well as from the right: There is a zipper on both sides of the frame bag

As mentioned, there is a zipper on both the left and right sides. The zippers are water-repellent and at the same time covered by the fabric of the frame bag during the ride. This gives additional protection.

The important question here is always: How good is the quality and how long does the zipper last? Long-term experience on the durability of the zipper of Topeak Midloader I have not yet. Basically, high quality zippers seem to have been sewn here.

Topeak Midloader Frame Bag Bikepacking Test Attachment
Topeak Midloader attachment: The frame bag holds securely in the frame triangle. As always with bikepacking bags: Do not forget the paint protection film.

Important for the durability of the zipper of bikepacking frame bags is basically the handling how high is the volume and how much is the bag consequently stretched? How heavy do we load the bag and how much weight does the zipper have to carry as a result? These factors will also affect the durability of the zipper on the Topeak Midloader in the long run.

The material used is polyethylene and nylon. The fabric is abrasion resistant and can be cleaned easily. This was also necessary in the Topeak Bikepacking bags test, because the trails on the Bikepacking Trans Germany were partly still quite muddy 😉

Topeak Bikepacking Test Waterproof
Topeak Bikepacking Test: The Midloader is water-repellent but not waterproof

The fabric is water repellent but not waterproof. In my opinion, this is hardly a problem in practice! Due to the mounting in the frame triangle, rainwater reaches many places on the bike but hardly the position inside the frame triangle.

From my experience with other rain repellent frame bags I can say:

  • Commuting in winter and also travelling in countries with a lot of precipitation should not be a problem (e.g. Denmark in April).
  • In case of prolonged, heavy rain I would pack sensitive devices like a powerbank extra waterproof again

Probably a lot has to happen for water to penetrate the inside of the bag. Morning dew could not harm the bag but that should be self-evident.

Topeak Bikepacking Test Frame Bag Waterproof
Topeak Bikepacking Test: The Midloader early in the morning on Bikepacking Tour

Now we come to the attachment of the Topeak Midloader: With many straps, the bikepacking bag is attached to the frame. Experience shows that the assembly takes a while but you do not constantly build the bag on the wheel and then remove it again.

Topeak Midloader Frame Bag Bikepacking Test Assembly
Topeak Midloader Frame Bag Assembly – Three velcro straps on the top tube ensure a secure hold.

The bag is attached to the top tube with three strong velcro straps. The bag itself is reinforced at the contact points of the Velcro straps. The position of the velcro straps is fixed. Fortunately, the Velcro straps on Topeak’s top tube bag, the Cockpit Bag, can be moved. This means that the frame bag and the top tube bag can be attached at the same time.

Two additional straps attach the bag to the head tube at the front and to the seat tube at the back. These straps are made of textile and have a sturdy plastic hanger. The plastic bracket makes me a very reliable impression and helps to attach the bag tightly in the frame triangle. Once installed, the bag holds securely in place and does not swing.

Topeak Midloader Frame Bag Bikepacking Test Mounting Strap
Front and rear holds the Topeak Midloader frame bag securely with a strap

In all three available sizes, the bag has the aforementioned three velcro closures at the top of the bag. I had the bag in 4.5 liters and in the photos you can see the frame bag in the 6 liter version. While the smaller 4.5 liter version hugs the top tube perfectly, the 6 liter version sags a bit. As seen in the photos. Here I would have liked a fourth velcro or a wider velcro in the middle. In addition, I must say: The bag I had also heavily loaded a little too heavy. Among other things, with a lot of tools and a 20,000 mAh powerbank with aluminum housing.

Properly attached, the Topeak Midloader frame bag holds bombproof in the frame triangle and nothing wobbles.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Experience Terrain
Test & I have collected plenty of experience in the terrain

Good

✅ Topeak frame bag holds bombproof in the frame triangle.
High-quality zipper on both sides
Favourable price, as with the complete Topeak Bikepacking bags series.

Bad

Water-repellent and not waterproof: Did not yet pose a problem in practice.
Large 6L variant could hold more dimensionally stable on the top tube e.g. with an additional Velcro strap or a wide Velcro strap in the middle.

Conclusion

The frame bag from Topeak is also a recommendation. Especially the 6 litre version offers plenty of space. Thanks to the valuable zippers on both sides you have quick access to the equipment. For the largest of the three bags, I would have liked to see a wider Velcro closure in the middle so that the bag fits even closer to the top tube.

That’s complaining on a high level, because the Topeak frame bag holds bombproof and secure in the frame. Nothing wobbles or swings. You get here a very good bag for comparatively little money. I especially like the olive green color option. Alternatively, the bag is still available in black and black always fits 😉

Topeak Frontloader handlebar bag with 8 liters

Angebot
Topeak Frontloader Bikepacking Lenkertasche mit 8 Liter (schwarz oder grün)

Verfügbar in schwarz und Olivgrün
Volumen: bis zu 8 Liter – hängt vom Lenker ab
Gewicht: 561 – 457 Gramm (Herstellerangabe) inkl. Aufnahme, Packsack, Gummispacer

Besonderheiten:
Wasserdichter Packsack
Packsack lässt sich mit integriertem Ventil komprimieren
schnelle und einfache Montage und Demontage, dank Harness-System.

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

With a harness system on the handlebars, the equipment can be packed and removed easily and quickly. During my Bikepacking Trans Germany Tour I especially appreciated this comfort. I usually have my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and my tent stowed in the handlebar roll. I want to unpack this quickly and also stow it away again.

With a fixed handlebar roller, loading and unloading is more time-consuming and fiddly: either the handlebar roller is filled and unloaded while hanging on the bike. Alternatively, you can remove the entire handlebar pulley, including the fixing straps, fill it and then mount the handlebar pulley on the wheel again – in any case, the process is more complicated than a harness system.

A harness system works differently: a handlebar mount sits securely and firmly mounted on the bike. The handlebar roller is held securely in place by a belt system. With the Topeak Frontloader, the drybag is held firmly by 2 straps. To remove, simply loosen the 2 straps and remove the caster.

Topeak Frontloader Handlebar Bag Handlebar Roll Bike Bikepacking Test Mounted
Topeak Frontloader: The handlebar bag fits a tent and an Ultralight sleeping pad.

Topeak is now launching the second generation of the Frontloader. Compared to the previous year, there are the following innovations:

  • The handlebar harness has been fitted with an additional plastic brace on the top. This makes the shot even more stable and I think the new look is brilliant. Keyword optics
  • The harness is still available in black. New is the color Olive Green
Topeak Frontloader Handlebar Bag Handlebar Roll Bike Bikepacking Test Top
Topeak Frontloader handlebar bag: Even on a flare handlebar there is enough space left and right of the bag.

The new look really did it for me with the bag. Probably influenced by this, I had high expectations of the Topeak Frontloader. Before you use the Bikepacking handlebar caster, of course, it wants to be mounted:

Sturdy straps hold the mount securely to the handlebar and head tube. The rubber spacers allow the distance between the mount and the handlebars to be adjusted in three stages.

Topeak Frontloader Handlebar Bag Handlebar Roll Bike Bikepacking Test Attachment
Topeak Frontloader: The handlebar bag is secured to the handlebar with straps. Spacers provide enough space to grip the handlebars

The handlebar harness itself is now attached to the handlebars bombproof. Even after several days of the roughest trails, I didn’t have to readjust the straps.

The receptacle itself is made of EVA composite material. A frame made of polyethelene provides the necessary stiffness of the receptacle. The rubberized anti-slip texture (PU leather) provides special grip of the handlebar roller in the harness. A correctly tensioned handlebar pulley is held by the harness quite excellently. Nothing moves or shifts here, even on a bumpy ride.

Topeak Frontloader Handlebar Bag Handlebar Roll Bike Bikepacking Test Harness
Topeak Frontloader handlebar bag: The receptacle has an anti-slip texture made of PU leather.

The drybag is now attached to the harness. This is a waterproof pack sack with openings on both sides. The water column is specified by Topeak with 10 000 millimeters and thus the front loader is waterproof.

With the volume of 8 liters I was a little skeptical at first. Is 8 liters enough? After my practical test I can confirm: The handlebar pulley from the Topeak Frontloader is quite a rag! There goes a lot purely 😉 Tent and sleeping pad I have stored in the handlebar roll. The good news: There is still enough space left and right to the handlebars for shifting. Absolute freedom for the hands.

Topeak Frontloader Handlebar Bag Handlebar Roll Bike Bikepacking Test Place Handlebars
Topeak Frontloader handlebar roller on handlebars

The Topeak Frontloader pannier also has a vent valve. This is practically the icing on the cake of the handlebar roller: The valve allows the remaining air in the handlebar roller to be pressed out almost completely. This reduces the packing volume again significantly! The valve can be opened and also closed again. So you don’t have to worry about water accidentally getting in.

Topeak Frontloader Handlebar Bag Handlebar Roll Bike Bikepacking Test Valve
With the valve you can push out remaining air from the Topeak Frontloader handlebar pulley: This ensures a smaller pack size

The deflated pack sack is now inserted into the holder from the front and the two straps are clipped tightly. The tensioning device on the straps makes it very easy to adjust the length and tension on the straps. The two straps hold the handlebar roller securely. Thanks to the adjustment possibilities of the straps, both a thick and a thin roll is held well in place.

The maximum weight of the reel is given with 5 kilos which is a lot. As an example, my tent and sleeping pad weigh about 1.7 kilos. That’s far less than half the allowable weight.

The length of the straps are quite long for my loading technique ie they hang down a bit which I do not find so nice. Functionally, there is no impairment here. Also, the straps are very far from getting caught in the spokes. I felt safe there for the whole ride.

Topeak Frontloader Handlebar Bag Handlebar Roll Bike Bikepacking Test Attachment Clip
Secure hold: The handlebar roller is fixed in the holder with two straps. Once tightened nothing slips

If you want even more storage space, you can expand the Topeak Frontloader with an accessory bag. This handlebar bag is called Barloader and we’ll get to it in a minute 😉

Topeak Frontloader Handlebar Bag Handlebar Roll Bike Bikepacking Test Handlebar Harness
The handlebar harness (mount) of the Topeak Frontoller is permanently installed on the handlebar. The caster can be removed

Harness system or fixed handlebar pulley?

approx. 80 grams less weight with fixed caster.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Experiences Fichtelberg
Topeak Bikepacking bags in the test: On the Fichtelberg

Good

Safe hold: Once tightened nothing moves 😉 Harness and handlebar pulley sit firmly!
Fast loading and unloading thanks to Harness System
Expandable with Topeak Frontloader

Bad

More weight: Compared to fixed mounted handlebar roller approx. 80 grams heavier.

Conclusion

The Topeak Frontloader leaves hardly anything to be desired! Topeak has carried out sensible product maintenance and upgraded the bikepacking handlebar bag both visually and functionally. The loading and unloading is lightning fast and the system sits bombproof on the handlebars. The Topeak Frontloader thus comes very close to my ideal idea of a bikepacking handlebar pulley.

Topeak Barloader handlebar bag accessory bag

Angebot
Topeak Barloader Bikepacking handlebar bag (black)

Volume: 6.5 liters
Weight: 276 gram (manufacturer’s specification)

Special features:
Fully waterproof
Compatible with Topeak handlebar roller
Alternatively can be installed directly on the handlebar (without caster)
Removable inner pocket

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

With great interest I have looked at the Topeak Barloader: A handlebar bag extension for quick access. The accessory bag can be used independently or with the Frontloader Harness System. The contents are well protected in the weatherproof Topeak Barloader: The roll closure protects e.g. camera or other electronic items from rain, dust and also dirt splashes.

The bag is completely waterproof in case of rain. However, you should not submerge them under water for example when bikerafting.

Topeak Barloader Bikepacking Bags Test Overview
Topeak Barloader: The bikepacking accessory bag can be used on its own or together with the Frontroller handlebar roller.

Such a weatherproof bag is ideal, especially if you travel a lot in autumn and winter. Even snow and continuous rain can not harm the bag. If you only need the most necessary, you can mount the bag directly on the handlebar. If you need a little more on your bikepacking trip, the storage space of the bikepacking bags can be quickly expanded with the Topeak Barloader.

On my bikepacking Trans Germany trip I had a small compact camera and arm warmers in my accessory bag. Both items I want to have quick access to.

The robust bag is made of TPU. When touched, the material feels similar to imitation leather.

Topeak Barloader Bikepacking Bags Test
The Topeak Barloader Bikepacking accessory bag is closed with a roll closure on top and is then waterproof against rain and dirt splashes.

By loosening the two straps, the bag can be taken off the bike:

  • A carrying loop facilitates carrying
  • An included shoulder strap turns the Topeak Barloader into a handbag

The bag holds six litres. So a lot goes into the Topeak Barloader. Overall, I find the bag already quite large. Practical & large 😉

Topeak Barloader Handlebar Bag Bikepacking Bags Test Top
The Topeak Barloader from above: A lot of gear fits in but the bag is also quite big

Closing and opening is done via a roll closure at the top of the bag. For optimal protection and optics you should roll up the bag about 3 to 4 times. The bag is then securely closed with a tilt lock including a tension strap.

The inner lining is yellow, which I find really good: Thanks to the strong contrast, you can find objects inside again. There are also many organizational pockets inside the bag and a zipper closure. That’s where I put the key to my bike lock, for example.

Topeak Bikepacking bags test experiences forest trail terrain
With the Topeak Bikepacking bags on the trail: departure ahead!

Good

✅ Important equipment quickly at hand
Very Resistant: Provides protection from rain, mud, dust.
✅ Can be used with front loader caster or without
Many extras: carrying straps, removable inner compartment.

Bad

❌ By the 6 liters volume quite large

Conclusion

If you want to have important items quickly at hand, the Topeak Barloader is a practical bag. For many more tourist-oriented bikepackers, this makes handling bikepacking bags much more comfortable. The bag can also be attached directly to the handlebar, making it a lightweight alternative to a classic handlebar bag.

Topeak Toploader top tube bag

Topeak Toploader Top Tube Bag (Black or Green)

Volume: 0.75 liters
Weight: 160 grams (weighed by myself)

Special features:
Holds securely and does not get in the way of the knees
Water repellent (incl. waterproof rain cover)
Mounting at the front of the head tube or at the rear of the seat tube

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

The Topeak Top Loader I find really good! The bag sits stably on the top tube. Even on bumpy trails, the top tube bag does not tip to the side. Bravo 🙂

Topeak Toploader Top Tube Bag Bikepacking Bags Test Fastening Page
Reliably fastened with velcro straps: The Topeak Toploader top tube bag

The installation is done with three velcro straps:

  • Two are mounted on the top tube
  • One is attached to the head tube

The velcro fasteners are really very long. Thus, the bag can also be attached to very thick bike frames. I attached the bag, then did some test rides and then shortened the velcro straps on the down tube to the optimal length. So here you are very flexible.

The position of the Velcro straps at the bottom of the top tube bag is variable. Here there are several loops through which the Velcro straps can be passed. If this were not the case, the Velcro straps of the top tube bag could possibly collide with the Velcro straps of a frame bag. So the way it’s solved on the top loader is exemplary.

A note: The Topeak Toplader can not be bolted to the top tube (Bolt-On). Some gravel bikes like my Bombtrack Beyond have bottle cage bolts on the top tube. A corresponding bag can be screwed there. Unfortunately, this is not possible with the Topeak top tube bag. Too bad, because that would have been the cherry on the cake 😉

Topeak Toploader Top Tube Bag Bikepacking Bags Test Assembly
Firmly mounted and does not tilt to the left or right: Topeak Toploader top tube bag

The zipper is smooth-running and I can open it quite relaxed with one hand.

The bag itself is rain-repellent. If it does rain heavily, a pull-out rain cover is integrated into the left side panel of the Topeak Toploader.

0.75 liters of volume are offered. On my Bikepacking Trans Germany Tour there was enough space for the following things: Large USB charger, Ziplock bag with money & credit cards, gloves, wireless earphones. A power bar would have also gone in or a powerbank instead of the charger with a different packing order. The volume is totally fine.

Topeak Toploader Top Tube Bag Bikepacking Bags Test Storage Space
With a volume of 0.75 liters, the top tube bag is sized just right and offers direct access to the equipment

The inner lining of the Topeak Toploader is also yellow. This provides excellent contrast and the equipment inside is easily visible at first glance.

Topeak Toploader Top Tube Bag Bikepacking Bags Test Top
Topeak Toploader by obe: The zipper can also be operated with one hand while riding

Topeak indicates on its website the mounting option on the top tube and seat tube (back of the top tube). I tested this and my knees often touched the bag while pedaling.

I install the bag actually always as seen in the photos: Front on the top tube near the handlebars. There pedaling is problem-free and the bag does not get in the way of my knees here 😉

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Experiences Fichtelberg Downhill
The descent from the Fichtelberg goes over gravel and later over a ski slope – the Topeak Bikepacking bags hold the bike in an exemplary way.

Good

✅ Holds reliably on the top tube and does not tilt to the side
Slim pocket profile: Thus does not get in the way of the knees
One-handed operation easily possible: Zipper simply opens and closes
Waterproof rain cover integrated

Bad

❌ No possibility to bolt the bag on the top tube (Bolt On)

Conclusion

I am very fond of the Topeak Toploader: The bikepacking top tube bag is well thought out and does exactly what it should. With the Velcro straps it holds reliably on the top tube. At 0.75 liters, it’s well sized for essentials like energy bars, a powerbank, cables and a mini wallet.

It’s also designed narrow enough so that you don’t bump your knees against the bag. A practical as well as well thought out product that I like to use.

Topeak Freeloader handlebar bag (bike handlebar stem bag, bottle cage bag)

Angebot
Topeak Freeloader (black)

Volume: 1 liter
Weight: 125 gram (manufacturer’s specification)

Special features:
Mesh side pockets for small items
floor drain
Easy cleaning: Inner lining can be turned inside out
Contents immediately in view: Thanks to yellow inner lining

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

A bikepacking handlebar bag is an important part of any bikepacking setup! Such a bag is quickly attached to the bike and also fits on almost every handlebar. Actually, the bag is intended for snacks but it fits almost everything purely: A water bottle, smartphone, GoPro or compact camera, an extra layer of clothing or arm warmers.

With the Freeloader handlebar bag, the high-quality workmanship is immediately noticeable and the handling of the bag is also very well thought out.

The Topeak Freeloader can be mounted on the right or left side of the handlebar. If the stem is long exactly, then two freeloaders can also be mounted. The bag is attached to the bike at a total of three points:

  • With a Velcro fastener each on the handlebar and stem as well as
  • With an adjustable strap either on the fork or on the head tube

Thanks to the three-point attachment, the Bikepacking handlebar bag holds particularly firmly to the bike. The adjustable strap on the fork or head tube holds the handlebar bag down. This is important so that the bag remains fixed even when the drawstring is pulled firmly upwards (to open the bag) and works very well in practice: once the bag is installed then it holds securely in place. Nothing wobbles here, even on the toughest trails.

Thanks to the three-point attachment, the bag sits practically floating next to the handlebar. This dampens vibrations somewhat. The Topeak Freeloader is therefore one of the more suitable places for sensitive technical devices such as compact cameras.

Topeak Freeloader stem bag handlebar bag bikepacking test
Does a lot of things right and sits reliably between stem and handlebar: The Topeak Freeloader stem bag

The front of the Topeak Freeloader is reinforced with dimensionally stable EVA foam. This means that the bag always retains its shape and you can use the full volume of the 1 litre bag. I usually have snacks, my smartphone or a GoPro in my bag. Things I want to have at hand quickly.

If you need additional storage space then there is a nylon mesh pocket on the left and right. A good place for e.g. a bar or also practical for packaging waste.

The yellow lining provides good contrast. Thus, objects inside are quickly visible. In addition, the inner lining can be turned inside out for quick and easy cleaning. Crumbs Ade 😉 At the bottom of the bag is a water drain attached, which allows the water to drain very quickly.

Topeak Freeloader stem bag handlebar bag bikepacking bags test
The inner lining of the Topeak Freeloader is strikingly yellow: objects can be quickly spotted in it

The operation of the Topeak Freeloader is practically implemented and you can open and close the bag even while riding with one hand. At the top of the Bikepacking handlebar bag are two elastic bands with cord stoppers. A strong pull on the first elastic band opens the bag. Another pull on the other elastic band and the bag is closed again. You have to pull a little too hard on the straps for my taste.

The entire bag including the straps are impeccably made and should last many years of use in the field.

Topeak Freeloader stem bag handlebar bag bikepacking test experiences
Topeak Freeloader: This bikepacking bag can also be easily opened and closed with one hand.
Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Experiences Landscape
On the Bikepacking Trans Germany the Topeak Bikepacking bags were tested by me

Good

✅ Sits bombproof on the handlebar, thanks 3-point fixation
Open and close with one hand while driving
Practical mesh pockets on left and right side

Bad

❌ Nothing

Conclusion

The Topeak Freeloader is a thought-out bikepacking handlebar bag. Due to the EVA plate in front, the bag is very dimensionally stable and a water bottle of up to 1L fits well inside. Even while riding, the stem bag can be opened and closed with one hand. So nothing stands in the way of the bar enjoyment during the ride 😉 Thanks to the 3-point mounting, the bag sits bombproof on the handlebars, even if you sweep away over rough trails.

The Freeloader works exactly as it should and is therefore a clear recommendation.

Topeak Versacage Luggage Rack (Cage)

Angebot
Topeak Versacage

Weight incl. Packing Straps: 172 gram (manufacturer’s specification)

Special features:
Extends the packing volume by approx. 5 litres

* Aktualisierung am 2021-10-17, Preis kann gestiegen sein, Werbung, Bild:Amazon

The Topeak Versacage is designed for longer tours with more luggage. The cage can be attached to the frame at various points. As is well known, we bikepackers always find a place on the frame where you can still attach a luggage mount 😉 I had the Versacage attached to the fork in the test. Other places that are suitable are e.g. the one at the down tube or in the frame triangle. Panniers with a volume of up to 5 litres can be attached to the luggage carrier bracket. If the bikepacking trip or the trip goes longer than 2 weeks then you can think about such a holder.

Note about the Drybag: The Drybag is from Decathlon.

Topeak Versacage fork bag bottle cage bikepacking test drybag
Topeak Versacage: The fork bag can be used as an oversized bottle cage, e.g. for a 1.5 liter Nalgene bottle, or hold a 5L pannier securely on the bike fork.

The Topeak Versacage is delivered with additional mounting material:
3 x Versamount adapters for mounting on forks and frames without bottle cage threaded holes
2 x packing straps for tightening the DryBag

Topeak Versacage fork bag bottle cage bikepacking test
Topeak Versacage: The fork mount is made of sturdy plastic and should be screwed to the fork on three screws (I have used here only 2)

The luggage rack should be attached at three points. Either your bike has the appropriate bottle cage eyelets or you use the supplied Versamount adapter clamps. Three of them are included in the scope of delivery. This allows you to mount the bracket e.g. on a suspension fork without bottle cage eyelets or anywhere on the frame.

Topeak Versacage fork bag bottle cage bikepacking test straps
Topeak Versacage fork bag: The retaining straps are included and can be attached at different heights

It also comes with two packing straps. This allows the DryBag to be securely lashed down. The securing system of the harnesses is well thought out. If you fix the equipment and close the straps correctly, they will not come undone even during the ride. I would still recheck the equipment every now and then.

Topeak Bikepacking Test Drybag
Topeak Bikepacking Test: The 5L Drybags from Decathlon are held securely. I rarely had to check the belts

I have two Versacages mounted on the front fork of my Bombtrack Beyond Gravel Bike. In it I had rather light items like sleeping clothes on one side and my down and rain jacket on the other. This meant that the handlebars were still absolutely fine and the extra storage space was really handy. Of course, the extra weight is noticeable and the bike as a whole becomes more cumbersome due to the extra weight. Who would have been surprised.

My Bombtack Beyond only has two bottle cage threaded eyelets on the front fork to attach the Versacage to. Topeak recommends three threaded eyelets for the attachment, however. Even over very rough trails I could still ride well with the Versagaces and had a lot of fun on the bike during the downhill sections. The DryBags held securely to the bike. As a precaution, I still checked the load a few times a day. After five days of trail-heavy terrain and constant shaking, the left Versacage unfortunately came loose from the bike and the luggage rack including down jacket and rain jacket lay on the forest floor for the time being. I was then able to screw the bracket back on. That wasn’t a problem at all.

Topeak Versacage fork bag bottle cage bags test pack bag
Topeak Versacage fork bag with drybag in detail

My recommendation at this point: The bracket should be attached with three screws, as recommended by Topeak. You should also check the screws at least once every few days.

Topeak Bikepacking bags test experience gravel landscape
Free ride over the bumpy track with the Topeak Bikepacking bags

Good

✅ Additional storage space when bikepacking: approx. 5 litres per versacage are possible (maximum 3 kilos each).
✅ Packing straps hold the load securely in the Versacage holder
✅ Clamp adapters for mounting on almost any bike are included (not tested)

Bad

❌ Fastening screws should be checked every few days
❌ Luggage holder is made of polycarbonate (plastic) – yet seems very robust and is light for it

Topeak Bikepacking bags experiences & conclusion

The Topeak Bikepacking bags are well thought-out products. The years of experience in the field of bicycle accessories and bikepacking are noticeable in these bags. This is immediately noticeable in the bags: Topeak Frontloader, Midloader, Backloader, Toploader, Freeloader, Barloader and the Versacage are a lot of fun to use and work exactly as they should.

Buy Topeak Bikepacking bags – Yes or No?

If you are looking for reliable bikepacking bags, Topeak offers well thought-out travel companions from front to back. The bags do almost everything right and there is hardly anything to complain about:

Topeak frontloader handlebar roller with 8L*: For those looking for a harness system, the Frontolle is a well thought out handlebar reel that is fun to use. Uncomplicated in handling, gripping in fastening, maximally compressing in space and waterproof to boot. The Topeak Frontloader comes very close to my ideas of the ideal bikepacking handlebar roller. For long tours, the Barloader handlebar bag is a recommendable addition. The bag is easy to handle and waterproof against rain and mud.

Backloader saddle bag with 6L / 10L or 15L*: With the saddle bag, the equipment is quickly loaded and unloaded. I am very enthusiastic about the operation. Also with the Backloader you can compress the bag with the valve to the maximum. While the outer bag is water repellent, the inner pack sack is waterproof. I am very happy with the largest of the three bags and look forward to further adventures with the Topeak Backloader.

Midloader frame bag with 3L / 4,5L or 6L*: If you are looking for a reliable frame bag, you can also take a look at the Topeak Midloader. The Topeak Midloader is recommended and can be a good choice as a bikepacking frame bag. In my testing, the bag has proven to be reliable. Considering the price, the bag is a particularly attractive bikepacking frame bag.

Toploader (top tube bag): The top tube bag from Topeak has convinced me in the test. If you are looking for an inexpensive and at the same time reliable top tube bag, you should take a close look at this bag. The bag sits securely and centrally on the top tube. Even in the cradle you do not touch the bag and thanks to the rain cover, the toploader also defies the elements. I’ll give it a recommendation.

Freeloader (stem bag): The Topeak Freeloader stem bag is fully thought out and has proven itself in practice: In the handling it is simple and in the processing of high quality. The manufacturer has thought along with the product design here. The Freeloader works particularly well in combination with the Topeak Frontloader (handlebar roller): The attachment to the handlebar is particularly space-saving in this case.

Versacage (luggage holder): When Versacage you should follow the mounting instructions of Topeak (and not disregard them like me 😉 ). The Versacage luggage rack is well worth a look if you want to attach more luggage to your bike and are on a big tour.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Test Experiences Conclusion
Topeak has built up a lot of experience with well thought-out and reliable bike accessories over the years. This is noticeable with the Topeak Bikepacking bags. A clear recommendation 🙂

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Alternatives

Ortlieb Bikepacking bags

If you talk about panniers, you can’t avoid Ortlieb, of course. The Ortlieb bags are also well thought-out products. For several years I tested the Bikepacking bags in Germany, Europe and around the world in practical use. The bags are more expensive. Since they are fixed, they are a little more complicated to handle and take longer to load and unload. In return, the bags are a few grams lighter. If you are looking for waterproof bikepacking bags, then the frame bag is worth a closer look. You want your bags to be easy to use and affordable? Then reach for the Topeak bags.

To the detailed practical test of the Ortlieb Bikepacking bags (test & experiences)

What do you think of the Topeak Bikepacking bags? Do you have any questions? Feel free to write me your comment!

The bikepacking bags tested here don’t suit you? In the comprehensive Bikepacking bags guide you will find many recommended bikepacking bags clearly compared. I regularly update this overview article. Best check out the overview article now.

Geschrieben von Michael Luplow
Hallo, ich bin Michael, Bikepacker, Abenteuerfan und der Mensch hinter Bikepacking-Adventures. Die Idee für bikepacking-adventures.com entstand direkt hinter dem Fahrrad-Lenker! Nämlich als ich auf einer Fahrrad Tour von Deutschland nach Istanbul war. Hier geht es um Abenteuerreisen mit dem Fahrrad und um Bikepacking auf allen Kontinenten dieser Erde! Du möchtest mehr wissen oder hast Tipps? Schreib mir einfach!

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