Bikepacking Stem Bags: Accessory Bag Roundup 1 of 3
In the first of our three part bikepacking accessory bag roundup, we take a look at stem bags. These handy cockpit pouches are a crucial part of any bikepacking kit, and can be quickly added to almost any bike – whether you’re racing, out for the afternoon, or embarking on a multi-day ride.
Although stem bags are primarily used for snacks and trail food, they can stow almost anything you need to keep handy – a water bottle, a phone, sunglasses, a compact camera, a lens, gloves or even a clothing layer. According to Revelate Designs’ Eric Parsons, the first commercially manufactured model was the Mountain Feedbag, created by Christa Olsen, an Oakridge, Oregon local. In response to the need she witnessed during races such as the Cascade Cream Puff 100, Christa started making these bags in 2006-7. The Mountain Feedbag has evolved considerably since Eric bought the business from her in 2010, and with it, we’ve seen a number of stem bags inspired from Christa’s original design hit the market too.
Below you’ll find our thoughts on 7 different designs that hail from Alaska to the U.K., from manufacturers both small and large. If you have anything similar to recommend that’s not included in our list, let us know about it by leaving a comment.
Revelate Mountain Feed Bag
Made in Alaska, USA
Revelate’s Mountain Feedbag is a far cry from the original Feedbag of the mid-2000s. But the concept is the same… an on-the-go aid station for endurance riding, with one handed access via a simple drawcord. The latest incarnation differs in its detailing, materials, and bells and whistles.
The primary materials used in the construction of the Mountain Feedbag are X-Pac and Cordura. With a loop on either side, the Feedbag can be fixed to either the right or the left side of the stem (better yet, get two!). The front of the bag features a fixed velcro strap for attaching it to the handlebars. The Feedbag is further stabilized via a webbing strap, buckled around the head tube. The MFB has dual mesh pockets which serve as a great place for sunscreen, a lip balm, or food wrappers that need to be contained. It also has a snapped liner which can be pulled out for cleaning.
- Weight: 82g
- Internal Circumference: 9 Larabars
- Price: $39
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “The Mountain Feedbag has all with attention to detail as their larger bags… all the right fabrics in all the right places; this is another one that will last forever. The dueling mesh pockets are great as well… the elastic top keeps stuff from flying out of the rather expansive pockets.” – Logan
Randi Jo Fab Bartender Bag
Made in Oregon, USA
It’s hard to beat the name Randi Jo gave to her stem bag. And it’s a great little bag to boot. In order to accommodate a universal right and left side design, the Bartender Bag comes with three eight inch soft velcro straps that can be placed anywhere along the full daisy chain. The bag is foam insulated and has one handed access via a drawstring closure.
Did we mention that the Bartender bag is fully customizable? Not only is it available in waxed canvas as stock, it can also be made from an array of colored Cordura fabrics, and even feature your own embroidered logo.
- Weight: 72g
- Internal Circumference: 10 Larabars
- Price: $34
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “Although Randi Jo’s Bartender isn’t what I’d call feature-packed, it does everything I want: it’s stood the test of time, it’s rugged, and it’s stylish to boot, thanks to a classic waved canvas construction (note – this differs from the examples above). Available in a range of colours to suit your whims, mine has seen a eclectic life toting granola bars, Mongolian dried cheese and a spare camera lens. Most of the time though, its in charge of hydration, being the perfect size for a water bottle.” – Cass
Nuclear Sunrise Stitchworks Silo
Made in Texas, USA
Nuclear Sunrise Stitchworks is the brainchild of Dave Wilson in El Paso, Texas. Dave makes a lot of Silo stem bags, and he makes them well. The Silo stem bag has several great features. The grommet on the bottom of the bag allows for drainage of both dust and water. It also has a webbing strap that goes around the entirety of the bag and allows for left or right sided placement. And the bottom strap and loop allows the bag to be secured by an included head tube strap.
Another feature on the Silo that’s worth mentioning is the sewn sheath on the drawstring fabric, a touch that’s lacking in all of the other bags, bar the Rock Geist. Snuggly containing the drawcord in a narrow loop keeps it at the top of the fabric, and makes for a rather tidy closing.
- Weight: 54g
- Internal Circumference: 10 Larabars
- Price: $35
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “This is a great bag. It happens to fit my Snow Peak Ti mug just perfectly. After breakfast, I can stow the mug and some trail snacks (an orange and the ubiquitous protein bar) within reach. After snack time, I’ve got a great place to throw my sunglasses for easy access. The design looks sharp, and, best of all, this feed bag is made by a really cool guy who takes pride in great craftsmanship.” – Virginia
Bedrock Bags Tapeats To-Go Bag
Made in Colorado, USA
Although Bedrock Bags also has a traditional stem bag design – the Wingate – we’re featuring their unique Tapeats To-go Bag. The Tapeats is based around a roll-top design, and has a velcro closure system that allows for easy one-handed operation. Technically speaking though, the Tapeats isn’t a stem bag at all, as it’s attached by two straps that connect at the handlebars, and one at the head tube or fork bend.
One of the most interesting aspects about the Tapeats is its near water-proof design. While it won’t shield its contents from the heaviest of deluges, it’s damn close, and is considered ‘extremely water resistant’. The bag is constructed with a VX-21 outer and TX-07 inner liner.
- Weight: 91g
- Internal Circumference: 14 Larabars
- Price: $49
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “The Tapeats is a really neat bag with a lot of potential uses. It makes a good case for a micro 4/3 or small to medium mirrorless camera, such as my Fuji X100. It’s worth mentioning that it works better with a flat bar, bend bar, or drop bar; a riser style handlebar can be a little tricky to keep it nice and level.” – Logan
Wanderlust Rattlesnake Stem Bag
Made in Virginia, USA
Even though Wanderlust is located in Virginia, their stem bag is named after the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area in Montana. The Rattlesnake Wilderness area is a quick jaunt from the town of Missoula, and that ease of access is what really inspired this bag.
The Rattlesnake is constructed out of 400d Cordura, with a closed cell insert that helps provide structure, and a little insulation too. The bag has a square shape which actually nests nicely in the stem, and allows the rider-facing mesh pocket to remain quite usable. The bag affixes to the bike using a simple 3-strap system, including an integrated head tube strap.
- Weight: 114g
- Internal Circumference: 13 Larabars
- Price: $38
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “The square construction of the Rattlesnake bag is kind of refreshing. It also seems really well built, and I like the generous mesh pocket. The drawstring cover, at only an inch and a half, isn’t quite long enough, so you have to really cinch it down to get it closed. On the other hand, when left slightly agape, there’s nothing standing in the way of you and that Butterfinger.” – Virginia
Alpkit Stem Cell
Made in Nottingham, UK
Alpkit’s Stemcell bag bag is a relatively simple bag with two daisy chains and a 2 strap system, although a third could easily be rigged to secure the bottom. A foam insulation layer is sandwiched between an inner layer of thin Cordura and a VX21 outer layer.
Features include a small outer mesh pocket and a design that allows placement on either the right or left side of the cockpit. It’s also worth noting that unlike those from Randi-Jo Fab or Nuke Sunrise, there’s no lip where the upper drawstring fabric meets the bag body; this prevents a funneling effect during heavy downpours, or conditions that might produce a lot of dust.
- Weight: 66g
- Internal Circumference: 12 Larabars
- Price: £18 ($27)
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “The Alpkit Stemcell is a tough little bag that doesn’t sacrifice usability in its simplicity. It’s also the least expensive bag in the group – making it a great option if you’re on a bikepacking budget.” – Logan
Rock Geist Trillium Honey Pot
Made in North Carolina, USA
Out of all of the cylindrical stem bags featured here, Rock Geist’s Trillium Honey Pot boasts the most water resistant design. This is in part due to the generous length of the drawstring upper and the fact that it doesn’t have a split opening. This also makes the Trillium the deepest bag of the group.
The Trillium is constructed almost entirely of VX21, save the mesh pocket, the fabric right at the drawstring, and the bright inner Cordura liner. It features a two-sided design with a rider-facing mesh pocket. The Honey Pot also has a grommet in the bottom for drainage as well as a head tube strap.
- Weight: 79g
- Internal Circumference: 13 Larabars
- Price: $39
BIKEPACKING.com’s Take: “The main different between the Trillium Honey Pot and other bags is in its depth – this is great for stowing larger items, especially those you need to protect from the elements. And it’s sturdy; even without built in insulation, the Trillium still feels solid. I also really like how the drawstring is contained in its own sheath of fabric… it feels a little more refined.” – Logan
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