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Best saddle bags for mountain bikes: under-seat storage for essential tools

skingrowsback Plan B
(Image credit: skingrowsback )

Ditch the pack, and strap your spares to your bike with the best saddle bags for mountain bikes. Going on a ride is never as simple as just grabbing your bike and rolling out the door. Among other things, you’re going to need to remember to bring a spare tube, CO2 and inflator, tubeless repair kit, tire levers, multi-tool, and a few other bits and pieces, all to make sure you aren’t left walking back to the trailhead or stuck on the side of a dirt road with no cell service.

If you’re like us you’ll do anything to avoid wearing a backpack, meaning you’ll be strapping as much gear as possible onto the bike itself — we’ve even been known to tape tubes under our saddles and snacks to our bike frame in pursuit of a bagless ride.

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

We have begun seeing a number of bikes now coming with integrated storage, which solves the brunt of the issue but most don't. For those whose bikes don't have an integrated storage cubby, and are of the opinion that tape has no place on a bike that probably out-values your car, choosing the best saddle bags for mountain bikes is the solution.

Saddle bags come in all different shapes and sizes and are attached to your bike using simple velcro straps, and Boa dials, while some of the best mountain biking saddles have fittings for an integrated saddle bag. 

We have tested a bunch of the best saddle bags for mountain bikes, so keep reading to see our picks of the bunch, or read on to discover everything you need to know to make the right choice when picking the best saddle bag for your mountain bike.

Meet the tester

Graham Cottingham
Graham Cottingham

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. Based in Edinburgh, he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK right on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro and, most recently, gravel racing.

The best saddle bags for mountain bikes and gravel riding

Lezyne Road Caddy saddle bag attached to a saddle

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
A great saddle bag that isn't just for the road

Specifications

Attachment: Velcro
Volume: 0.4 liters

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to attach and remove
+
Internal pocket adds some separation and organization
+
Big velcro strap keeps it secure

Reasons to avoid

-
Tricky to access contents while fitted to the bike
-
Zip doesn't fully close
-
Velcro doesn't play well with dirt

It might say road but Lezyne's Road Caddy is equally as good on the trail or gravel track. The woven nylon material feels durable and it's held in place with a wide velcro strap. A water-resistant zipper runs almost the full circumference of the saddle bag and allows it to be fully opened flat once removed from the bike. You can access your possessions without removing the bag from the saddle by just loosening the strap, although sometimes it's easier to just whip it off.

Lezyne has done a great job of balancing size and neatness so you can pack the most important bits and bobs without looking like you're heading out on a bikepacking trip. We were able to fit a lightweight 29er tube, a slim multi-tool and a tire lever comfortably. The little internal pouch can either be used to store some emergency cash or keys but we also managed to squeeze our regular multi-tool in there too to stop it rattling around.

For more details, check out our Lezyne Road Caddy review.

Close up of the Silca Mattone saddle bag

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
Great-looking Boa fastened saddle roll

Specifications

Attachment: Boa
Volume: 0.61 liters

Reasons to buy

+
Super secure fit
+
Great build quality
+
Inner tube protecting divider
+
Opens wide
+
Good amount of storage capacity

Reasons to avoid

-
Fitment trickier on saddles with low saddle rails
-
Rigid construction and shape limits capacity with a full-size 29er tube

Silca is known for its extremely high-quality (and usually expensive) gear and the Mattone is no exception. The Mattone has a stiff rectangular construction and is held in place with a Hypalon strap that's tightened using a Boa dial. Opting for a Boa might add some cost to the bag but it also means the Mattone can be cinched down very securely against the saddle rails. To loosen, simply pop the Boa dial to release the strap tension.

Inside the Mattone has a decent amount of storage and a neat flap that stops your tool from attacking your tube. We found the 0.61 liter storage can over-promise a little on storage if your items don't fit neatly as the rigid construction doesn't allow any conforming to the items inside.  

You can find out even more about it by reading our Silca Mattone review.

skingrowsback Plan B

(Image credit: skingrowsback )
Handmade Aussie saddle bag that comes in loads of colors

Specifications

Attachment: Webbing
Volume: 0.7 liters

Reasons to buy

+
Loads of fun colors and patterns
+
Plenty of capacity
+
Wide opening
+
Webbing loops offer more mounting flexibility

Reasons to avoid

-
The strap is fiddly to adjust
-
Large Fidlock buckle can be tricky to thread through some saddle rails

Aussie outfit skingrowsback makes hard-wearing bags ranging from duffle bags and backpacks, down to the humble saddle bag. The Plan B is a compact nylon saddle pack with heavyweight 1000d nylon used for the exterior while a lighter fabric is used on the inside, and the zipper is PU coated to prevent water ingress. Overall the Plan B feels extremely well made and plenty durable for long days on the trail.

The Plan B pack attaches with a single strip of webbing which runs through the saddle rails and wraps around the clamshell-style bag and is fixed with a Fidlock buckle. The buckle is a little fiddly to attach due to its size, but once in place it's very secure. 

Inside there is a lot of storage space for a tube, tool plus elastic straps to secure CO2 canisters and tire levers. The bags are handmade in Australia and come in a massive range of colors and patterns.

Take a read of our skingrowsback Plan B review for more detail.

Bontrager Elite Micro Seat Pack saddle bag hook and loop strap with the zip tucked in its zip garage

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
Tiny saddle bag to tuck away the ride essentials

Specifications

Attachment: Velcro
Volume: 0.28 liters

Reasons to buy

+
Quick and easy to fit and remove
+
Simple design and plain styling
+
Very compact and discreet
+
Fit and forget

Reasons to avoid

-
Velcro could get clogged with dirt

Bontrager’s range of seat bags extends from those which can carry an expedition's worth of gear down to those that only hold a single tube. The Elite Micro is the latter; with a capacity of just 0.28 liters you're only going to be able to squeeze a few things in there like a multi-tool, tire levers and a CO2. For many that might not be enough, but if you're looking to just move a few lumpy items from your pockets this is a great option. If you're looking to store a tube though you are going to need to look at a saddle bag with a good bit more storage.

Its small size means it's super slimline though so you're barely going to notice it when it's fitted. The velcro strap is super easy to thread through the saddle rails making fitting a breeze although the thin strap could be more susceptible to getting clogged with grit. That said, ours is still going strong after a winter of mucky rides.

Find out more in our Bontrager Elite Micro review.

Lezyne Roll Caddy attached to a saddle

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
Tool roll alternative to the standard saddle bag format

Specifications

Attachment: Velcro
Volume: 0.6 liters

Reasons to buy

+
Well-organized layout
+
Zipped pocket for loose items
+
Stays securely rolled
+
When opened it creates an area to work on

Reasons to avoid

-
Strap isn’t sewn in so rotates when tightening
-
Long shape may touch your seatpost
-
Needs to be removed to access items inside

An alternative to the regular saddle bag is to opt for a tool roll. Lezyne's tool roll is a great option for carrying a your ride essentials. Inside there are two slots which we could neatly fit a lightweight 29er tube and multi-tool plus a zipped pocket, perfect for the easy to lose things like quick links, etc. The big disadvantage is that you need to remove the Roll Caddy from the saddle to access your items but once rolled out on the ground it made a handy work area to stop bits getting lost as you work on your bike.

It's simple to roll up as long as you don't get too ambitious with what you pack, and it has a flap to keep the worst of the dirt and grit away from your tools.

Take a look at our Lezyne Roll Caddy review for more information.

Evoc saddle bag

(Image credit: Evoc)

Evoc Seat Bag

Simple and effective

Specifications

Attachment: Velcro
Volume: 0.5L

Reasons to buy

+
Perfect size for a short MTB ride
+
Clip for rear light
+
Individual straps make for easy setup

Reasons to avoid

-
Not totally waterproof
-
Not suitable for dropper posts

Available in a few different sizes, the Evoc saddle bag is the middle-volume version with 0.5L of internal capacity. The exterior is made from the same PU-coated ripstop nylon used in the brand's backpacks, offering plenty of durability and a bit of weather resistance, too.

Inside, there are mesh pockets to keep your gear organized and the bag is held in place with three velcro straps, making for faff-free mounting. Worth noting that it won't play well with a dropper post as the velcro strap at the back could cause damage to the dropper stanchion. 

Backcountry Research Muthaload

(Image credit: Backcountry Research)

Backcountry Research Mutherload

Deluxe velcro strap with lots of color options

Specifications

Attachment: Velcro
Volume: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Integrated bungees make install fiddle-free

Reasons to avoid

-
Leaves tube exposed to the elements

Backcountry Research’s Mutherload is essentially a heavy-duty velcro strap, with integrated bungees. This means that the elastic attaches your tube and whatever else to the strap itself and the strap holds onto the bike, no more fiddling with rubber bands or awkward one-handed cinching. The Mutherload is best used inside the front triangle and can grab onto a frame with tube circumferences ranging from one to nine inches. 

Made in Bozeman, Montana, the Mutherload will hang onto a tube, a couple of CO2 canisters or a mini pump, tire levers, and a multi-tool. Even better, the UV and rot-resistant webbing come in over 50 colors and patterns to match any frame. 

Speedsleev Seatsleev

(Image credit: Speedsleev)

Speedsleev Seatsleev

Minimalist alternative to a traditional saddle bag

Specifications

Attachment: Velcro
Volume: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Made of Ballistic Nylon 
+
Sleek and compact when rolled up

Reasons to avoid

-
Raincover seems like an afterthought

The Speedsleev is not your traditional saddle bag; instead, it's a velcro compression strap with slots for all your essentials. It’s actually made up of three velcro straps, with the innermost used to create a pocket for a tube, the middle strap complete with sleeves for tire levers, CO2 canisters, and the like and the third to secure the whole thing to your saddle rails.

It all lays out flat for easy access to everything and comes with a rain cover, to keep your spare tube grit-free. Because it attaches only to the saddle rails, it plays nicely with dropper posts.

Voile Strap

(Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Voile Strap 12in Nano series

The ski strap we take on every ride

Specifications

Attachment: Strap and buckle
Volume: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Inexpensive
+
Extremely durable
+
Flexibilty to attach things to saddle rails, frame, bars, etc

Reasons to avoid

-
Must be packed correctly to avoid losing all your gear

Voile is actually a ski brand based in Utah and its trademark orange straps were invented more than thirty years ago as a unique way to keep skis together and attach glueless climbing skins. They are also pretty good at attaching 'spare tire' kit to bikes. 

Along the same lines as the Backcountry Research strap, a Voile strap can be used under your saddle or inside the front triangle. How much stuff it can hold is only determined by the length you use. Made from UV-resistance tested rubber these things are tough, and neither the strap nor the glass-filled nylon buckle scratch carbon or paintwork. They come in lengths from six to 32-inches, two widths, and enough colors to match any bike. 

How to choose the best saddle bags for mountain bikes

What are bike saddle bags for?

Saddle bags are great for stashing everything from a few little essentials to a jacket and other larger items. The question is, how much stuff are you going to need on a ride? Are you headed out for a few hours, or a week riding the entire Colorado Trail?

At the very least you’re going to want to carry a 29er tube, CO2 canisters and an inflator, a small multi-tool, and some tire levers which makes for a bit of a Tetris-like packing exercise. Why a 29er tube you ask? Because they can be made to fit any wheel and tire size except for fat bikes. 

We have only covered the smaller saddle bags for mountain bikes in this guide so if you're riding is more on the adventures end of the scale check out our best bikepacking bags guide.

Pro tip: re-roll your inner tubes with the valve in the middle (keep the valve cap on), it will be about half the size when you’re done with it. 

How do saddle bags attach to the bike?

Many saddlebags use basic velcro straps attached to your saddle rails. This is the lightest weight and arguably the most secure option. But, if you're using a dropper post, a bag that utilizes a velcro strap around the seatpost to stabilize the bag may prevent your saddle from lowering all the way. 

Of course, every brand in the bike industry is continually searching for a point of difference, and thus options that use a bracket on the seatpost or saddle rails also exist. These are often a bit heavier and we have seen a few hit the eject button over drops and through rock gardens, but they make swaps between bikes painless.

Regardless of how they attach to your bike, most bags will utilize a zipper to keep everything inside, while others will be more of a roll type which may use buckles or even Boa dials.

When it comes to carrying spares, there is no reason to restrict yourself just to strapping a tube, multi-tool and a couple of CO2 canisters under your saddle; there is a heap of great options that utilize the front triangle of your bike for storage. 

Can you put a saddle bag on a dropper post?

It really depends on your saddle and bag setup. As long as your bag doesn't touch the delicate stanchion then there is no problem using a saddle bag with a dropper post. Some saddle bags do need to attach to the seatpost and these should be avoided. There are a number of neat solutions that can be fitted to help avoid damage although these are predominantly for larger bikepacking bags.

Graham Cottingham
Graham Cottingham

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. Based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK right on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro and, most recently, gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotlands wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect and the muckier side of Cyclingnews 


Rides: Canyon Strive, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg

With contributions from