Bikepacking on a budget - a review of cheap bike bags

How do unexpensive bags fare on short and long bike trips? I’ve tested and reviewed some of the most popular models.


Bikepacking? What is that?

Bikepacking is all about equipping your bike with bags and the lightest possible gear for multi-day adventures.

As I have a road bike I can’t mount panniers nor a carrier. The lack of a rear rack greatly limits the volume of stuff I can carry. I had no choice but to research bikepacking thoroughly. I tried to select inexpensive models, offering the best bang for the buck. The following list should help you choose bike bags on a budget!


Bags mentioned in the article are widely available in Poland and therefore are more likely to be available in Europe. However, a good chunk of them is made in China, so even if you’re from the USA, they still may be available. Try checking Aliexpress and similar websites!

I’ve used Polish prices and converted them to EUR based on the exchange rate during the day of writing.

Frame bags

Sport Arsenal Art. 624

Mounted Sport Arsenal art 624
Mounted Sport Arsenal Art. 624
Capacity Price
2,5L 17 EUR

Sport Arsenal Art. 624’s selling point is definitely the capacity to price ratio. The bag features two separated compartments being 5 cm and 1 cm wide. An empty bag might very slightly fold in an unaesthetic manner, as the whole structure is tightly stiffened. The frame bag isn’t waterproof, but rather water-resistant. Despite this, the unit I own proved itself when riding in heavy rain, as the items inside remained fully dry. The build quality is a subtle flaw: after several months of use, one zipper began to slightly jam.

As the bag has a triangular shape, I had to dismount one of my bottle cages. In order to carry more watrer, I bought a cheap one-liter bottle from KELLY’S. Sadly, it’s quite unwieldy. Putting the bottle into the cage while keeping my eyes on the road is hard. Side winds with this setup became noticeable despite not using deep section wheels.

Despite its flaws I can wholeheartedly recommend the Sport Arsenal art. 624 frame bag. It shines in the best bang for your buck segment. It can fit everything you need for a single-day cycling trip: spare tubes, a pump, your phone, and lots of food :)

Crosso Zipper

Mounted Crosso Zipper L
Mounted Crosso Zipper L
Capacity Price
1,5 - 3,5L 27-32 EUR

Crosso Zipper is manufactured in 5 different size variants (S - XXL), so you can select the best fitting one. Its long shape doesn’t interfere with bottle cages - a 0,7 L bottle might very slightly rub against the bottom of the bag, but I assume it varies between bikes. The build quality is really solid and makes it feel great to use! The bag is waterproof and features reflective elements. I can recommend Crosso Zipper as a frame bag.

Saddle bags

Zefal R17

Zefal R17 fully loaded
Fully packed Zefal R17
Capacity Price
8-17L 46 EUR

I’ll start off with the verdict - I strongly recommend the Zefal R17 saddle bag!

Its adjustable size makes transporting items for bike-packing trips easy. It can handle one-day trips as well as multi-day adventures, making it multi-purpose. The capacity varies from “almost fully hidden under the saddle” to “how did it fit a Quechua MH100 tent and a sleeping bag at once?” :)

Shortened Zefal R17
Shortened Zefal R17

Zefal R17 can be reliably mounted to the saddle. Once you tighten the straps you will forget you’re carrying extra load. It still swings from side to side during cornering, but it’s virtually unnoticeable. The sway amplitude depends on the bag length and I assume the weight distribution. At the minimum size there is absolutely zero swing.

Drawstrings at the top allow you to carry additional items, especially unwieldy ones (think of flip flops). The bag itself is waterproof, which I can confirm after a ride in pouring rain.

I’ve encountered only one minor drawback. The material on the seatpost part of the bag has worn through, which I assume happened because I mounted it against the guidelines (it rubs against a screw). It doesn’t negatively affect the usage, as the stiff padding behind it has remained intact.

SAHOO 131372-SA

Sahoo 131372sa meme
Failed purchase
Capacity Price
7L 32 EUR

Avoid the SAHOO 131372-SA bag!

It didn’t last a single 150 km trip on an asphalt EuroVelo route from Poznań to Wrocław. Its stiff part simply broke despite carrying a light load. At this price point it’s possible to buy notably better gear.

Sport Arsenal Art. 622

Sport Arsenal art 622
Sport Arsenal Art. 622
Capacity Price
11L 32 EUR

Sport Arsenal Art. 622 is a water-resistant saddle bag. It performs well in every aspect, nothing more needs to be said. It doesn’t swing too much from side to side, it can be shortened via rolling, and you can mount additional items to it thanks to the reflective drawstrings. There’s also a rear light mount at the back. You cannot go wrong if you buy this bag.

I have to admit that Sport Arsenal’s products deliver great value for money. I’ll mention that a fully waterproof bag variant exists, the Sport Arsenal Art. 612 made from PVC. Its price is however too high for this article (75 EUR) and I do not own it nor know an owner.

Top tube bags


Mounted PROX NEVADA 203
Capacity Price
1,5L 8,5 EUR

PROX NEVADA 203 is a spacious bag with a dedicated compartment for a phone. You can use it during riding due to a touch-screen friendly material. The bag’s advantage is definitely its capacity. Currently I carry in it two spare tubes, a large multitool (Topeak Alien II) with enough remaining space to fit a few large wafers. The double sided zipper makes taking out items during riding safe and easy.

As for downsides, the saddle bag is definitely wider than the frame in my road bike. I kept hitting my knees against its sides. Fortunately it was possible to DIY narrow it using a bent metal plate combined with a piece of an old rubber tube. Also prior to my unconventional mount, the bag kept really swaying from side to side. On the top of that, it produces a squeaking sound whenever I turn my handlebars. Despite its low price, I do not recommend the PROX NEVADA 203 top tube bag.

SKS Traveller Smart

Mounted SKS Traveller Smart
Mounted SKS Traveller Smart
Capacity Price
1,35L 17 EUR

SKS Traveller Smart is a top tube bag from a slightly higher price range. The build quality and the dedicated powerbank slot compensate for the cost. As the bag is slightly thinner on its bottom side, you don’t have to worry about hitting your knees against it. The phone compartment is mounted to the bag using velcro. Despite sounding unsafe, it’s really solid and helps you prevent theft on a short shop stop, as you can easily dismount the phone.

The bag doesn’t sway from side to side if you tighten the straps well. In some bikes it may negatively affect steering. Also, not every phone will fit into the bag, so make sure before buying that the bag will comply with your setup. To paint a picture of its storage space, I’ll quote the owner: “inside you can fit an oreo box and there still will be space left” :)

Handlebar bags

SAHOO 111369-SA

SAHOO 111369-SA
Mounted SAHOO 111369-SA
Capacity Price
3-7L 27,5 EUR

SAHOO 111369-SA is a simple, sturdy handlebar bag. The classic roll-up closing method allows you to significantly reduce the length of the bag and ensures water resistance, but prevents you from removing items while riding. It’s great for carrying things that you need at the end of the day, such as clothes. Included mounting straps firmly attach the bag to the handlebars. You won’t feel any excess movement on potholes nor during cornering. I highly recommend this bag!


Bikepacking doesn’t have to be an expensive investment. As you’ve just seen, most cheap bike bags perform really well. Carrying your luggage without using a backpack will save you from lumbar pain.

If you use an unmentioned model and want to include your review, feel free to send me an e-mail!

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