GROUPTEST: Bikepacking Seatpacks

If you like heading off the beaten track, the LCC team tests the latest bikepacking seatpacks to help you find the right pack to carry everything you need on your two-wheeled adventures:

ALPKIT Koala (regular) £70 

alpkit.com
Capacity (litres): 13
Weight: 275g
Dimensions (cm): 41 x 21 x 17
Carbon seatpost compatible: Not recommended 

Alongside its award-winning climbing and camping kit, Alpkit really came to the attention of cyclists when it launched a bikepacking range — seatpacks, bar bags, custom-made framebags and accessories. The Koala is a great size for short tours or weekend trips, especially when paired with a similar-sized bag up front. We found it could take two inner tubes, minipump, tools, spare midlayer and gloves, plus an insulated jacket — and that wasn’t at maximum capacity. The seatpost straps are the grippiest we tested and don’t scratch, while the compression straps could be cinched up in seconds. Also one of the most stable packs thanks to a solid base strip which prevents flopping. It’s not fully waterproof though, so you’ll need a drybag inside; Alpkit’s Airlok (£21) is ideal but adds 148g in weight. 

ALTURA Vortex £59.99

zyrofisher.co.uk
Capacity (litres): 12
Weight: 260g
Dimensions (cm): 44 x 20 x 20
Carbon seatpost compatible: Not recommended 

Altura’s been making panniers and bar bags for years, so the jump to modern bikepacking kit was an obvious one. There’s also a Vortex framebag (£49.99). Most impressively, as the lightest and cheapest seatpack tested here, it’s totally waterproof; all the seams are welded and sealed, while the outer face fabric sheds rain like your favourite jacket. It swallows bike tools and spare layers easily, though the problem here is the lack of base support. We tried minipumps and tools at the bottom to add rigidity, but in the end cut our own tapered plastic support which worked a treat. The only other issue was the slightly longer ‘nose’ didn’t fit all shorter seatposts. So a couple of things to address but lots of positives too, even small details like the strap retainers which prevent annoying flapping/snagging. 

 

SPECIALIZED Burra Burra Seatpack 20 £120

specialized.com
Capacity (litres): 10
Weight: 450g
Dimensions (cm): 55 x 19 x 10
Carbon seatpost compatible: No

The larger of two seatpacks in the new Burra Burra range, the 20 looks classy and understated with very subtle branding. Rather unusually it features an integrated stabiliser arm — effectively like a bespoke mini rack — which attaches to the seatpost and holds the bag steady. It takes a few minutes to fit and adds a bit of heft to the overall weight, but we found it to be secure and rattle-free; other straps secure lower on the seatpost and to the saddle rails. Like all the bag tested here, a rolltop closure keeps out rain and dirt, while the welded construction has worked well in sudden downpours; there’s even a zipped pocket for safe storage of your wallet/phone. Compression straps clip together to prevent flapping, while reflective tabs aid night-time visibility. It won’t replace a pannier around town, but for overnighters it’s been ideal. The smaller 10-litre version (£110) might be a better pick for minimalist tourers. 

APIDURA Saddlepack (mid-size) £98

apidura.com
Capacity (litres): 14
Weight: 360g
Dimensions (cm): 46 x 18 x 17
Carbon seatpost compatible: Not recommended

We’ve mostly used this mid-size seatpack in one of two ways: as an addition to a 30-litre rucksack for off-road bothy trips in Scotland, or on its own for long Audax-style rides. Either way it holds a lot of kit and the three-point seat attachment means there’s little in the way of sway or unwanted movement when you hit a few cobbles. The four-layer laminated fabric might not be 100% waterproof, but in reality it’s kept our gear dry in pretty heavy showers  without the use of a drybag; as all seatpacks act as a kind of de facto mudguard, it’s been impressive in that regard too. There’s lots of well-considered details that have come in very handy as well: bungee-cord for holding maps or wet clothing, reflective graphics and LED light attachment points, and a bombproof rolltop closure. It’s been scraped along walls and rocks but still looks as good as new. Tough but pricey.  

 

REVIEWS: JK, Rob Eves