The 7 Best Bike Cargo Bags of 2023

The Ortlieb Back-Roller is our top choice for biking with gear.

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Bike with cargo bag


Thanks to the proliferation of e-bikes (check out our favorites) and a flood of new cyclists, more people are using their bikes for groceries and other errands where they may have once taken a car.

For cyclists without the need for a dedicated cargo bike, the right bike cargo bag can drastically improve their bike’s utility. With our product research and testing experience, we can guide you to the right combination of features for your cargo-carrying rides, including selections made from sustainable materials.

Here are the best bike cargo bags.

Best Overall

Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus

Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus

Courtesy of Ortlieb

The Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus is 100% waterproof, with a roll closure top. Combine that with durable Cordura fabric and you have a bike bag that can reliably protect your gear, making it our top overall choice. I’ve used Ortlieb cargo bags in all kinds of wet weather and have never had one leak.

The Back-Roller's other features include an easy-to-use mounting system, a detachable shoulder strap for off-bike carrying, and reflectors for increased visibility. While the panniers include an interior pocket, they primarily provide a single, open storage space, each with a 20-liter capacity. Optional inserts Ortlieb created for packing or commuting can provide more internal organization.

The Bike-Roller Plus uses a waterproof coating that's free of pollutive PFCs and BPAs, while manufacturer Ortlieb has made robust commitments to reducing its carbon emissions. By combining its own solar panels with a hydroelectric power supply, the company headquarters is carbon neutral as of 2017.

Each Back-Roller Plus bike cargo bag weighs 1.85 pounds and measures 16 inches high, 12 inches wide, and 6 inches deep.

Price at time of publish: $240

Best Budget

Uncommon Goods Recycled Nylon Bike Frame Bag

Uncommon Goods Recycled Nylon Bike Frame Bag

Courtesy of Uncommon Goods

This affordable handmade cargo bag is made from recycled nylon industrial tents and awnings. This means each Recycled Nylon Bike Frame Bag has a unique look, which is why your choice of colors is "Earth Tones" or "Wild Colors."

While it doesn't offer the robust storage of panniers that hang on the side of your bike, the Recycled Nylon Bike Frame Bag makes up for it in convenience, attaching with hook and loop closures to the top bar so it can be easily accessed, like an extra-large pocket.

At 9 inches long, 3 inches wide, and 4 inches high at its peak, the Recycled Nylon Bike Frame Bag is the right size for a pair of gloves, snack bars, your phone, or other mid-sized items.

Price at time of publish: $30

Best Rear Rack

VAUDE Aqua Back Plus Bike Bags

VAUDE Back Plus Rear Pannier Bike Bag

Courtesy of Amazon

These rear rack panniers together can hold up to 51 liters or 55 pounds, plus each cargo bag has both an interior pocket and exterior front pocket for extra organization. Each VAUDE Back Plus Rear Pannier is made of 100 percent polyester, with polyurethane waterproofing that does not contain environmentally harmful PFCs. They also have reflective strips.

This dual pannier set is made by a pioneer in sustainable cycling product development. VAUDE’s headquarters have been climate neutral since 2012, and they plan to make 90% of their products with bioplastics and recycled materials by 2024.

While Ortlieb's Back-Roller Plus took the top spot, VAUDE's Back Plus is another fantastic option for rear rack panniers.

Price at time of publish: $139

Best Front Rack

Swift Industries Peregrine Randonneur Bag

Swift Industries Peregrine Randonneur Bag

Courtesy of Swift Industries

This front rack bike cargo bag is handmade in Seattle with classic box bag design. Adopting a French handlebar bag style, the Peregrine Randonneur sits on a specialized rack that holds the bag above your front tire, attaching with a specialized metal bar attachment called a decaleur.

The Peregrine Randonneur Bag comes in 12 or 15 liter sizes, and allow for a lot of organization, with side and rear pockets; a front pocket; and an interior organizing system that uses flat elastic. While not as capacious as rear rack panniers, the Peregrine's square opening and numerous storage options allow for a lot of flexibility, especially for equipment that is frequently used, like cameras.

However, randonneur bags take a little extra effort to fit and use properly, especially since the front bag hangs between your handlebars and will effect how you steer. There is comprehensive sizing and fitting information available on the product page, or you can watch this tutorial video produced by Swift Industries, which provides a good sense of how this specialized bag design is best used.

Price at time of publish: $285

Best Saddle Bag

Ortlieb Saddle Bag Two

Ortlieb Saddle Bag Two

The spacious Ortlieb Saddle Bag Two squeezes a 4-liter capacity into a type of bike cargo bag more often used for small tools and spare parts. Saddle bags attach beneath and behind your seat, and are usually about the right size for a spare inner tube and some other small repair equipment. Ortlieb's Saddle Bag Two hits a larger sweet spot, providing as much room as a small backpack—enough for both your repair tools and a few extras, like a jacket and lunch.

The Saddle Bag Two uses a mounting system that lets you quickly detach and reattach the saddle bag, plus there's an extra Velcro strap that can be tightened around your seat stem to keep the bag extra steady. As in our overall best pick, also from Ortlieb, the Saddle Bag Two uses a polyurethane-coated nylon that provides waterproof protection without forever chemicals like PVC, PFC, and BPA.

The back of the Saddle Bag Two includes both a Scotchlite 3M reflector and a daisy chain where you can attach your own rear light of choice.

Price at time of publish: $65

Best Trunk Bag

Axiom Cycling Gear Seymour Oceanweave Trunk P9 Bag

Axiom Cycling Gear Seymour Oceanweave Trunk P9 Bag

Courtesy of REI

Trunk bags sit on top of your rear rack and provide a more easily accessible alternative or supplement to hanging pannier bag. Axiom Cycling Gear's Seymour Oceanweave Trunk P9 trunk bags are made from recycled polyester sourced from fishing nets, with a polyurethane coating that make them highly water resistant.

Axiom Cycling Gear trunk bags attach easily with a Velcro mounting system. Sporting a more traditional bag design—completed with carry handles on top—the Trunk P9 bag is ideal for anyone who prioritizes flexibility, rather than the more bike-specific design of cargo panniers. Providing 9 liters (or 549 cubic inches) of storage, the main compartment is insulated to keep food warm or cool. There are also mesh side pockets and a rear zippered pocket for extra organizing and storage.

Price at time of publish: $100

Best Handlebar

AGU Venture Handlebar Bag 1.5L

AGU Venture Handlebar Bag 1.5L

Courtesy of Bike Inn

The AGU Venture Handlebar Bag allows for easy access to your phone, energy gels, snacks, or a lightweight raincoat, plus it's made from 100% recycled polyester, with water-resistant coating. The bag's roomy main compartment has a 1.5 liter capacity, with a mesh pocket on each side of the main compartment. It attaches using three hook-and-loop straps, two which attach to the handlebar and a third that wraps around your bike's stem. The front of the bag includes a reflective logo and loops for attaching a light for nighttime visibility.

Final Verdict

The Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus is our best overall pick, thanks to its great combination of high-capacity storage and waterproofing prowess. But if you're not carting groceries or bikepacking, and just need something for bringing along the essentials, then we recommend the Recycled Nylon Bike Frame Bag from Uncommon Goods. It's affordable, colorful, and gives you a little extra room for toting around snacks, gloves, or anything else you might need on a ride.

What to Look for in a Bike Cargo Bag

Where the Bag Attaches to your Bike

Consider what you want to carry, how accessible the items are, and where to carry the load. Saddle (or seat) packs are great for those road cyclists who want to travel light but have a safe spot to carry a spare tube, patch kit, and an energy bar.

Panniers easily attach to the front or rear bike racks, offer tons of storage space, and handle a heavy load. They also tend to be made of waterproof material.

Need your phone or camera handy? Consider a handlebar or top tube bag. Some handlebar bags even have a clear plastic sleeve that allows you to see a map of your ride on your phone, which can help tour cyclists.

A trunk bag is more significant than a saddle bag but smaller than a pannier. These roomy bags can hold extra clothing, bike tools, and your lunch. They often have pockets for sorting small items away from larger ones for easier accessibility.

How the Bag Attaches to Your Bike

One final thing to consider is the attachment point. Panniers are usually quickly detachable, thanks to clips or spring-loaded hook systems. Trunk bags often click onto a rear rack, and many bags use Velcro to connect to different parts of a bike’s frame so that they can be easily attached or removed. It’s always a good idea to take your bag with you when you leave your bike for extended periods.

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Treehugger is committed to helping our readers find eco-friendly alternatives in pursuit of a more sustainable lifestyle. We conduct product research and testing in a variety of categories, including cycling products that empower people to employ transportation alternatives that don't burn fossil fuels.

Author Heidi Wachter has been writing about travel and adventure for over a decade. When she’s not writing, you’ll likely find her riding one of her six bicycles—even in the winter.

View Article Sources
  1. "Quality and Materials." Ortlieb.