The New Revelate Designs Harness: Trail Tested

Revelate Designs recently revamped their classic handlebar Harness — one of our all-time favorite and most used pieces of gear. For this review we put some miles on it during the ‘Trans WNC’ and beyond, and compared it to the old model…

Share Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

Originally introduced in 2008, the Revelate Designs Harness has now seen four major revisions. The fourth of which, just released at the beginning of June, made the Harness the last of Revelate’s lineup to see a revamp over the past year.

Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness

  • Revelate Designs Egress Pocket Review, waterproof pouch
  • Revelate Designs Egress Pocket Review, waterproof pouch

The Harness is a something of a bikepacking classic. And that’s intended from both a universal and personal perspective. It was one of the first true bikepacking ‘bags’ I invested in, and suffice to say probably the most useful… and the most used. As photographed below, my old Harness (on the left) is still in solid working order; and that’s after it’s seen more than its share of trail miles. I used it on the ultra-rugged Virginia Mountain Bike Trail, the Appalachian Beer Trail, Kokopelli Trail, the Stagecoach 400, Gila River Ramble, and The White Rim, just to name a few. If someone asked me to name the most bombproof piece of bikepacking gear out there, it’d have to be the Harness. Regardless of any sentimental value I might have for my former Harness, I was happy to receive the latest and greatest to see how it’s progressed.

Revelate Designs Harness New

I was originally drawn to the Harness over the Sweetroll — those were the two most prevalent and popular options at the time — based on the versatility of the system. Cylindrical items as small as 4.5” in diameter can be cinched down in the Harness, which makes it useable with a standard suspension fork or even a long-travel 160mm fork. And when used on a rigid bike which has no potential spatial compression between the handlebar and front tire, it can really be loaded down; consider a massive sub-zero winter sleeping system or a kit that includes extra baggage such as a packraft. The Harness can hold individual items or a group of items as big as 10” (25.4 cm) in diameter and up to 15 pounds (6.8 kg). That’s an especially useful range if your bikepacking setups vary from a medium travel trail bike to a fully rigid fat bike.

New Revelate Designs Harness

  • Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness
  • Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness

Equally as alluring is the ability to compartmentalize packing by allowing multiple cylindrical items or drybags to be loaded into the Harness. My usual solo configuration, as shown in several of these photos, consists of a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent and a Z-packs cuben fiber dry bag containing a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, inflatable pillow, and a couple other odd and ends — basically my entire sleep system. The two bags are arranged horizontally to maintain plenty of space between the Harness and front tire. I’ve used this system on two full-suspension rigs (a 27.5+ Pony Rustler with a 140mm fork as shown and the 29+ Deadwood SUS). Neither had an issue with tire rub when the fork was properly tuned and the Harness packed appropriately. Moreover, almost anything can be tossed in the Revelate Harness. Examples include a fishing rod tube, a paddle, tent poles, a tripod, and the list goes on. I onced gathered firewood and hauled it back to camp with the Harness. Of course, as mentioned, Revelate does assign the Harness a 15 pound weight limit.

Revelate Designs Egress Pocket Review, waterproof pouch

What’s changed?

I’m happy to report that the Harness is relatively unchanged in its overarching design, size, and functionality. However, it did get a few tweaks that include new materials and refinements that add up to a superior product. One of my favorite changes is the new handlebar mounting blocks. The alterations to the blocks are very minimal, but after bouncing around western North Carolina’s rooty singletrack, I found the redesign to be invaluable. They are slightly longer and retain more of the material in the area that ‘wraps’ the handlebar. This gives them a more secure and steadfast grip. On my old Harness these would often slide inward and have to be adjusted several times per day; the changes made to the blocks seem to have fixed this issue. Also, they added another little ingenious trick; instead of hooking the blocks into sewn webbing on the harness pad, you now slip a pre-loaded velcro attachment through the block’s cavity. This was a key improvement for many reasons, but the one that resonated with me is the fact that it’s harder to lose the blocks. On one occasion I had one from my old Harness go missing only to find it in the recesses of a storage bin after an hour of frantic searching.

  • Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness
  • Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness

The biggest visible changes can be found in the new compression molded composite material used as the main structure for the ‘soft rack’. For lack of a better description, it simply looks more refined and technical than its predecessor. The three-dimensional molded ‘D’ logo in the top is the most unique detail. I personally prefer this minimal style to a printed logo. There are also several ribs molded into the material which also adds to the aesthetic but seemingly helps the structure and lateral rigidity of the harness. While riding I felt that this version of the Harness simply felt more stable.

  • Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness
  • Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness
  • Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness
  • Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness
  • Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness

A couple additional materials changes are the easy access buckles with locking cam straps. These are slightly bigger than the buckles used on the last Harness with the idea that many riders might use it for winter bikepacking so having a glove-friendly interface will come in particularly handy. Also, the interior of the Harness has a grippier material on the inner surface that better keeps the load in place. The daisy chain for strapping the harness to the top-tube also got a slight revision. It now has six options for strap placement instead of two. This a small but very helpful improvement.

Lastly, the new Harness dropped a little weight. By eliminating the lower internal rigid fiberglass strut — the new model just has one — and changing the material used as the internal backer board, the latest Harness weighs in at 416 grams while the previous version tips the scales at 479 grams. That’s a 2.2 oz reduction, which makes room for a Trails illustrated map or something similar. Not a huge decrease, but notable.

Revelate Designs Egress Pocket Review, waterproof pouch

Pros

  • The Harness is generally more versatile than the Revelate Sweetroll or other handlebar roll-style bags. It’s also able to carry more.
  • Perfect for stacking two large cylindrical items; in this case a tent and sleeping bag, and then some.
  • Allows quick detachment of bags for off the bike packing and unpacking.
  • When items are stacked it moves the weight lower and provides a slightly better center of gravity than the Sweet Roll.
  • Items can also be placed in a horizontal formation allowing more to be packed while maintaining room for suspension travel.
  • The Harness is $85 USD whereas the comparable handlebar option, the Sweetroll is $110. So if you already have drybags that work, you can save a little money.

Cons

  • The Harness isn’t inherently waterproof, obviously, so it is dependant on the build quality of bags you put in it.
  • All accounted for the Harness weighs a little more than a Medium Sweetroll (479 grams for the Harness — without accompanying dry bags — and 436 grams for the Sweetroll).
  • A handlebar bag might be seen as a little more compact and tidy.
  • unlike the heavy duty Sweetroll you are at the mercy of the quality of the dry bag you choose to use. That said, you can use Revelate’s Salty Roll, which is just like the Sweet Roll with out the straps.

Industry Nine Backcountry 450 Review, plus tire wheelset

Wrap Up

The Revelate Harness is one of my all-time favorite pieces of gear, and seemingly the most durable. As an ‘investment’, it’s also one of the least expensive and durable handlebar carrying solutions on the market. If you don’t have a handlebar pack already, or if you do and are in need of a solution that can accommodate a wider variety of sizing and gear configurations, the Harness is a no-brainer.

  • Bryan Garza

    I’ve been eyeing the harness for quite some time now, this latest update looks like a perfect time to buy.

  • Nate justice

    Do you think this set up would work well with a drop bar. I have a 2017specialized AWOL comp which came with pretty wide flared handlebars like that of a woodchipper/cowchipper on the Fargo. Just wondering if you think it’d work well cus it looks really nice and you can’t beat that price point! Thanks

  • Alex Larsen

    It will work!! I have the old harness and using it with the woodchipper

  • Trey Schiefelbein
  • nunatak gear

    Nice review. In the main text you mention the new iteration is 416 grams. In the CONS you call it 479g, a number earlier referred to as the weight of the old version.

  • Bryce Jenkins

    As an individual looking at starting bikepacking, would you recommend a handlebar bag like this over a seat bag for a first piece of cargo? Also worth considering, I have a rear rack on my bike as is and a couple smallish panniers for some additional storage.

  • Tim Jessop

    If you are space conscious, and have compact gear, you could probably change out the panniers for a small Ortlieb Rack Pack to sit on your rear rack.. If it will fit, the Revelate Designs Ranger Frame Bag is very roomy.. With this harness coupled to the Revalate Sweet roll and pehaps the Revelate Egress Pack added to the front, you’d have a very compact system to carry your gear for Bike Packing.. The Revelate Gas Tank and Jerry Can are very useful too.. I have my bike set-up with this system.. Though my bike is a hybrid type tour er, these bags have been instrumental in lightening my load, taking enough gear to be comfortable while on tour and most importantly, allows for the occasional, Luxury of a chair or other item for lux camping..

  • Nate justice

    Thanks for the picture looks great…I’m sold!!

  • Kurt Schneider

    Harness and drop bar is a great pairing.

  • I have recently bought the harness and have used it for a couple of multi-day off-road trips and absolutely love how secure it keeps everything. Usually strapping a tent and a drybag to it. If your a tent user then there isn’t a better solution in my opinion. After using an inferior harness for a few years I can really appreciate how good this product is, but having bought mine within a few months of this update I can’t help feel a little disappointed as the one thing that drives me a bit mad when setting it up is fitting the rubber blocks to the webbing straps! I find to get the optimum fit with my levers and hoses the best thing to do is to feed them through the blocks, but doing this and trying to prize the webbing strap open with one pair of hands is a frustrating exercise to say the least, and is only managed after much swearing and faffing. It’s no surprise that this is where the new harness has seen an improvement with the Velcro strap. Also I can see from the photos that the bar attachment straps seem to have an extra buckle, no doubt to probably help with the small issue of needing to retighten the bar straps during the day. Not a biggy but something you do need to check. These are not criticisms and as I said having used other harnesses the Revelate is a great product to use. It’s good to see that the only two small issues have been addressed in the update and a mark of a great company that is constantly evolving their product to make it the best there is. I have bikepacking luggage from a few different companies and the Revelate stuff stands apart for design and quality and is why I’m steadily replacing what I use with Revelate gear. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/65ebde23e343556e7999221868c4fa2ca866ae76565261f89b52664fb563e8f0.jpg

  • Sebastian Werner

    Hello,
    nice review. One general Question:
    I installed new hydraulic breaks, is there any advantage of longer brakecables for a Handlebarroll or should i shorten them as usual?

    Thanks
    Sebastian

  • Hi Sebastian, there’s definitely an advantage to having longer brake lines and gear cables! It puts less stress on the cables/hoses and prevents them from getting any kinks and helps with frame rub as well!

  • Sebastian Werner

    Thanks for the advice David!

  • No problem mate 😉

Share This

others did. Support us and pass it along...

Follow Us

and join the conversation.
art