Turn A Camera Bag Into a Handlebar Bag

The perfect camera handlebar bag for a DSLR doesn’t exist yet, and it may never. I say this because there just isn’t a bag out there that’s the ideal size, comfortable to carry off the bicycle and ruggedly weatherproof. So I made one, complete with a bar attachment system, with the Crumpler Kashgar camera bag.

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On a longer bike tour it’s nice to have a handlebar bag that enables quick access to the camera. But there just aren’t that many options fro a camera handlebar bag. Ortlieb is the go to company with three different size variations in their ‘Ultimate’ series. They also offer camera inserts for the larger versions, but they are boxy, bulky and just don’t seem comfortable to carry off the bike.

Camera Handlebar Bag

I brought the small Ortlieb Ultimate bar bag on our last trip, but I also limited myself to the somewhat dainty, fixed 35mm, Fuji X100. It and a pair of sunglasses were about all the Ortlieb could carry. No complaints about the camera or the bag, but for a trip to Africa I wanted a bigger kit with a couple of lens options. To accommodate a DSLR and 2-3 lenses a larger bag was necessary. I ran across the Crumpler Kashgar (large) and thought it was the perfect bag for the job.

The Kashgar Outpost, although very lightweight, is fairly rigid with a bottom plastic sheet, a semi-rigid foam body and plenty of padding. However, I felt that to make it perfectly rugged it needed a coroplast backing sheet. Here is the step-by-step process used to convert the Kashgar to a very solid bar bag using the Rixen and Kaul KLICKfix system.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Crumpler Kashgar Outpost

The Crumpler Kashgar Outpost on the cutting table.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Crumpler Kashgar Outpost

(1) Split the stitch along the back of the inside flap; this will give you access to the back recess to add a rigid piece of coroplast.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Crumpler Kashgar

(2) Remove the foam backing to use as a template.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag

(3) Cut a piece of 1/8″ coroplast to match the foam backing.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - KlickFix

The front and backing plates of the KLICKfix system.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag

(4) After finding the center and drawing a line, position the KLICKfix plate toward the top of the bag.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag

(5) Trace the holes to prepare for punches.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag

(6) Using a 1/8 or 3/16″ leather punch, add holes at your traced circles; do this by positioning a piece of wood under the layers of fabric to be punched and use a rubber mallet to apply a couple solid blows.

Make your own handlebar bag

(7) Insert the blank coroplast piece and trace holes where you punched the fabric; then retrace using the backing plate and punch accordingly.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag

(8) Use a fray-stopper on the holes in the fabric and allow to dry.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Crumpler Kashgar Outpost

(9) Reinsert foam and coroplast (on the outside) into cavity and hand sew with a simple loop-stitch.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Installing Klickfix mount

(10) Bolt the KLICKfix plate – backing plate goes between the coroplast and foam (this keeps padding between the backing plate and your gear. The low-profile KLICKfix plate does not cause any discomfort when shouldering the bag.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Klickfix

The KLICKfix mounting hardware that goes on the handlebars, or an accessory bar as I have.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Crumpler Kashgar Outpost

The main compartment of the Kashgar Outpost (L) comfortably houses a Canon 6d with a long-lens (135mm f/2) and a 24-70 f/4 with room to spare for a t-shirt, another lens, or maybe a rain jacket.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Crumpler Kashgar Outpost

The front pocket has plenty of room for a sketchbook, filters, passport/docs, maps, etc. There are also two side pockets for SD cards, a hard-drive or other items of that size.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Crumpler Kashgar Outpost

The Kashgar also comes with a rain-fly that, when reversed, perfectly breaks at the KLICKfix mount.

Turning a camera bag into a handlebar bag - Crumpler Kashgar Outpost

My only complaint about the Kashgar is that the shoulder strap is fixed and can’t be removed easily. Not a big deal though. Check back, I’ll update this post once I get my bike buit and have it mounted…

Camera Handlebar Bag

  • Camera Handlebar Bag
  • Camera Handlebar Bag

UPDATE: Ultimately this bag survived a big Africa bike trip from Cape Town to Tanzania, then through Morocco and Spain. With tons of rain… it’s still going strong.

Crumpler Kashgar Outpost (L) Specs (from Crumpler)

  • Width: 28 cm / 11 inches
  • Height: 28 cm / 11 inches
  • Depth: 17 cm / 6.7 inches
  • Volume: 7 L / 427 cubic inches
  • Empty Weight: 0.8 kg / 1.8 lbs

Storage (from Crumpler)

  • 7 litre padded main compartment with dual adjustable dividers
  • Front accessory compartment with dual internal mesh pockets
  • Rear slip compartment for an iPad or other compact e-vice
  • Left and right side stuff pockets with velcro closures

Features (from Crumpler)

  • Zipper/clasp combo closure for maximum main compartment security
  • Fully adjustable, 38mm wide shoulder strap to lighten your load
  • Removable non-slip shoulder pad with sweat vents to keep you cool
  • Pivoting, padded grab handle stays out of the way until needed
  • Stowable elasticised rain cover to keep your gear high and dry
  • Water resistant 600D Field Twill outer with oversized front flap and hooded rear compartment zipper for wet weather shooting
  • Ultra durable, anti-abrasive materials inside and out to pamper and protect
  • Reinforced joining/stitching on all stress points for maximum strength
  • The famous Crumpler lifetime guarantee to ensure your Kashgar carries on, and on and on
  • bob

    quickflick sucks… I’ve tried it for thousands kilometers, if it loaded it will move down…

  • I assume you meant Klickfix. Mine will be reinforced on a front rack platform, so I don’t have to worry about that…

  • Andrew

    Nice mod. Also, your photos on this site are terrific, Logan! Seems like you mostly carry the 6D, even in your minimal kits, which has gotta be a beast to haul around with multiple lenses. Out of curiosity, have you considered moving to a smaller mirrorless system, like the Sony Alpha 7 or Fuji XT1?

  • Thanks Andrew! I have actually thought about it quite a bit. On our central America tour in 2012/13 I brought only the Fuji x100 (which I love), but going to Africa I felt I needed a full frame sensor with a few more focal length options. The A7 had just been released… and I am intrigued by it, especially now that zeiss released a couple of nice primes. The 6d is definitely a mammoth, but for now it will be my beast of burden until it’s run its course and i’m ready to plop down a load of cash for a lighter option. Have you used the A7?

  • Andrew

    Nope, haven’t used the A7 either, but I’m considering it. The XT1 also has my eye, and paired with the excellent fuji lenses, looks like a sweet little travel system (although not FF unfortunately). In any event, I’ll report back if I decide to pick either one of these up…

  • Michael Viglianco

    I’ve used both the standard Ortlieb and the Klickfix and found the Klickfix infinitely better.

  • Dirk Cajada

    Hi Logan. Great post. Living in SA I was a keen follower of your
    Africa posts. In 2011 we got to ride unsupported through Baviaans –
    camped at Rooihoek. This question has been asked a thousand times on
    the net; what’s your take on shock & dslr gear on the handlebar? I
    ride full rigid with voluminous 29er tyres (not 29+). The hbar placement seems perfect except for this one concern. Thanks

  • Thabks for following! Man… I wish we could have ridden that big scenic portion… we had to see it from the back of a truck. I haven’t had any issues with gear failure or malfunction as a result of shock, yet. I have heard of a couple people having shutter issues, but my 6d seems ti be holding up. I was thinking about making something slightly smaller… maybe with the smaller size Kashgar…

  • Tim Gilbertson

    I’ll chime in 7 months after the fact as I was looking for what you haul around for a camera kit. I recently sold all of my pro Canon gear after getting out of the biz and bought an A7s with the Zeiss 55/1.8 and a 16mm pancake (crop lens). It fits in a jersey pocket with the pancake on, and after shooting slide film/full frame forever I couldn’t force myself to go APS-C no matter the size/price advantage. The sensor in the A7s is the best I’ve ever seen, which somewhat makes up for a garbage lens selection. It’s weatherproof (whatever that means), and seems to be a fantastic bike/ski/travel camera.

  • Thanks Tim. I am very tempted by the A7, for sure.

  • Valerie Hor

    Thanks for the idea. I manage to do a handlebar bag. K save money.

  • Ant

    Awesome post! Do you have any photos with this setup on a bike?

  • Dana Greenlaw

    Great writeup. I’m going to mimic this. Where exactly did you get the plate part that you mounted in the bag? Can’t find it anywhere!

  • I think I got it from bikebagshop.com

  • Tom Macleay

    This is just the inspiration I was looking for! I was about to throw out an nice old camera bag, but I think I will give it a new life on my winter beast. My bag is considerably bigger, but I think it will do the trick.

  • B. Gann

    Where did you acquire the plates that attached to the bag?

  • See comment several down with a link

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