The waxed canvas-looking fabric, water-resistant properties and stylish yet durable construction of the Bontrager Adventure Bags will be well received by Gravel and Adventure purists.
When preparing for a self-supported multi-day bikepacking adventure into the wild, a big day out, or simply looking at better ways to carry essentials, there are a few basics to remember. The main idea is to keep it simple and keep it light. If your bike is too heavy it will feel slow and sluggish, sapping your power and diluting the froth of the mission. Another key piece of advice is to pack the heavier items as low as possible on the bike – this will reduce the perceived weight and also improve handling.
Your sleeping and cooking arrangements will also determine what you need to carry. If you are venturing into remote areas you’ll naturally have to carry more food and water. Overnighting under the stars means you’ll need to carry a roll mat, sleeping gear and personal hygiene essentials. Also, a basic first aid kit is always a great idea. So where do you put it all? Well, turns out Bontrager is making a big push into the adventure space and recently sent us three new bags to check out.
Bontrager Adventure Boss Frame Bag
The Bontrager Adventure Boss Frame Bag is size-designed around the Trek Checkpoint but will fit just about any bike. Our 56cm test bike requires a 3.3L size measuring 51cm long, 5cm wide and 12cm high.
The bag is available in six sizes and we found installation to be very straightforward. The Trek Checkpoint has three threaded boss mounts under the top tube accepting thumb screws to fasten the bag, consequently, we ran it without the three top tube frame straps. The rearward side of the bag has a velcro quick-release that secures to the seat tube. A soft rubberized tension strap holds the bag onto the down tube and should reduce abrasion.
- Available in six sizes
- Two pockets
- Hi-Viz lining
- Five mounting points
- Optional thumb screw top tube mounts
- Cargo capacity from 1.3L to 5.9L
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The bag has a bigger pocket on the left-hand side and a smaller pocket on the right; both feature Hi-Viz lining making it super easy to find exactly what you are looking for. The left pocket has one main compartment plus velcro straps for a long pump or tent poles. The right-hand pocket has a sleeve insert with several interior pockets, providing plenty of space to stash essentials.
3.3L is more than sufficient capacity to carry essentials for a big day out. It is ideal for storing things like your ID, phone, pump, multi-tool, chain-breaker, tubeless repair, spare inner tubes, brake pads, a spare mech hanger, first aid kit, nutrition and tent poles. Pack it neatly and you’ll have ample space for an extra layer, like a gilet or minimalist rain jacket.
IMPRESSIONS | It’s easy to install, fits well and is sufficiently sized to carry lots of items. The soft rubber coatings will go a long way to reduce frame abrasion but it’s probably still a good idea to fit some protective film to your frame, especially if you are in for some wet and muddy rides. So far I’ve experienced no leg rub, no issues with straps coming loose and it seems very durable. The Hi-Viz lining is a very nice touch. It’s a great product that is not intrusive and adds so much convenience.
Bontrager Adventure Handlebar Bag
The Bontrager Adventure Handlebar Bag has a roll-top side entry into the main compartment and a separate, front zippered pocket, for smaller items. The total capacity is 9L and the bag measures 54cm long and 24cm wide, when open. Rolling the top closed reduces the length to about 35cm.
It is another robustly constructed bag with waterproof materials to help keep your kit dry. Two straps secure the bag to the ‘tops’ of the handlebars and a third wraps around the bike’s head tube. The front of the bag has an external bungee cord for easily accessible additional storage – like when the weather is tricky and you can’t decide if you need that jacket on, or off.
- 9L cargo capacity
- Dual compartments
- Roll-top and buckle closure system
- Hydration bladder compatible
- Three mounting points
- External bungee cord
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The front pocket is bladder-compatible and can hold a 1.5L lumbar bladder, which will come in handy on long missions. Bontrager has paid attention to the small details too; a magnetic release mechanism holds the bite valve in place and a small port feeds the bladder hose into the bag. It’s a big capacity bar bag that is perfect for light and bulky goods like sleeping gear, a roll mat, a tent, a puffer jacket, and the like.
IMPRESSIONS | When mounted, the bag sits under the bars and doesn’t interfere with computers or lights – that’s neat! I do think shorter riders on bikes with short headtubes (like 100mm) and low bars might need to run some stem spacers to get enough tyre clearance – so if you are riding a size 52 or smaller bike, be aware of that. Although I haven’t ridden it through a deluge, the roll-top closure system looks like it will do a good job of sealing the bag from the elements and it also helps roll the bag down to a smaller size.
Bontrager Adventure Saddle Bag
When installed and closed, the Bontrager Adventure Saddle Bag measures 43cm long, 20cm wide and 16cm high. It is made of the same robust and lightweight materials as the other two bags featured here.
The saddle bag has a single large compartment that Bontrager states is a 9L capacity but it looks like it could hold more than that. The roll-top and cross-buckle closure system creates a secure seal and there’s a single side-entry zipper for quick access – which will come in handy when you’re in a hurry or have forgotten to pack something. An external bungee and strap enable additional storage capacity for things like your off-the-bike footwear, sleeping mats or puffer jackets.
- 9L capacity
- Single compartment
- Roll-top closure with secure buckles
- Zipped side-entry
- External bungee cord
- Internal, removable skeleton
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This size saddle bag is ideal for carrying things like camping equipment, toiletries, first aid kits, clothing and food. If you are looking to carry heavy items on your mission, it is a good idea to pack them deeper inside the bag (closer to the frame) to lower the center of gravity a bit.
Installation is easy. The two top straps loop through the saddle rails and a single lower strap holds the bag onto the seatpost. A removable internal skeleton helps the bag hold its shape when you are carrying very little cargo.
IMPRESSIONS | This bag is massive. In fact, without adding panniers and racks to the bike I don’t think it’s possible to carry a bigger saddle bag. As with the other bags in this lineup, the construction is best described as overbuilt. The materials and finished product look durable enough to last multiple seasons of the gnarliest adventures in all weather conditions. Again, it surprised me just how sturdy this bag is – even on rough sections.