Top Tube Bags: Accessory Bag Roundup (2 of 3)

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In Part 2 of our bikepacking accessory bag roundup, we cast a beady look at a dozen top tube bags, made by manufacturers from Alaska to London…

A top tube bag is an especially handy addition to a soft bag bikepacking kit – or any bike luggage setup for that matter. Being an ideal cubby hole for stashing snacks and small items, it makes a great accessory for day long explorations too.

We often hear top tube bags referred to as ‘gas tanks’, thanks to a teardrop shape reminiscent of 1970s dirt bikes. However, at the risk of sounding schoolish, that name was actually coined and trademarked by Revelate Designs. We’ll keep to the drier but more descriptive ‘top tube bag’, rather than more pictorial alternatives for the purpose of this roundup…

As you might expect, a top tube pack is mounted behind the head tube and secured by 2 or 3 velcro straps to the top tube and head tube – helping stabilise it from side to side movement. While recent designs have evolved in size, shape and materials used, the top tube bag’s concept and convenient placement is nothing new; before modern bikepacking iterations, they took the form of smaller ‘bento boxes’ used by triathletes and road racers.

As with stem bags (see Part 1 of our Accessory Bag roundup), top tube bags offer high volume storage and one-handed access to snacks and energy bars. They’re also perfect for other items that may warrant easy access, such as a multitool, a cellphone, lights, trail mix, a half eaten burrito, or even (in one more unusual specimen) a couple of ice cold beers…

Choosing the right Top Tube Bag

On a general note, considerations to factor in include size, width and length – larger top tube bags being inherently less stable than their smaller brethren. And, depending on the width of your bottom bracket, the larger and wider the design, the more likely it is to graze against your knees when you’re riding out of the saddle, especially if you tend to throw your bike from side to side. Height and top tube clearance is worth pondering too, particularly on smaller frames. And there’s padding and internal dividers to factor in, depending on what you intend to stow.

Perhaps the most important point worth checking is the position of the velcro fastening points in relation to your framebag. Some are fixed, while others are adjustable. If in doubt, a model with moveable fasteners might be the best option, though the former tend to be the most stable.

A dozen Top Tube Bags

For this roundup, we’ve gathered together 12 top tube bags, ranging in size from a mere snack to more substantial luggage. For easier visualization, we’ve compared each to the Revelate’s name-defining Gas Tank. Additionally, in the interest of practical, realworld testing, each was also stuffed with a favorite trail snack, Picky Bars, to provide a volumetric reference… For the more numeric-orientated amongst you, note that the sizes listed are Length x Width x Height, in inches. These are the longest dimensions, and don’t take into account the way a pack generally tapers down from the headtube.

Lastly, if you have a top tube bag that you love, and it didn’t make the list, please leave a comment below.

Revelate Gas Tank

Revelate Designs, Anchorage, AK

The Revelate Designs Gas Tank is perhaps the most iconic top tube bag of the group – if there was such a thing in the bikepacking niche. Like most bags made by the Anchorage based company, the Gas Tank is sewn in the USA. It’s a hefty, medium sized bag constructed mostly of ultralight, weatherproof, and abrasion resistant VX-42 X-pac, with a reinforced internal closed-cell insulation layer.

Revelate Designs Gas Tank

The Gas Tank is also one of the more unique bags shown here, given that its the only ultra lightweight option with a full perimeter zipper and two zip pulls. The beefy and weatherproof wrap-around zipper has proven incredibly sturdy, and allows easy access to the full compartment of the bag. Its internal area is separated by an optional velcro divider that can form two separate chambers, or remain folded to the sides to maintain a single large compartment. It’s worth noting the inside is lined with a yellow high contrast Cordura liner.

  • Revelate Designs Gas Tank
  • Revelate Designs Gas Tank

With two attachment straps, the Gas Tank was originally designed for use with Revelate’s frame bags. That said, the bag has proven itself versatile and we’ve fitted it with frame bags from both Porcelain Rocket and Bedrock Bags. The bag shown here has a single fixed head tube strap, but the newer versions feature a daisy chain and and an adjustable height front velcro strap.

  • Revelate Designs Gas Tank
  • Revelate Designs Gas Tank
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 14
  • Size (in inches): 9 x 5 x 2.5
  • Weight: 3.5oz/99.2g
  • Price: $55.00
  • Place of manufacture: Alaska, USA
  • Contact: Revelate Designs

“Overall, the Gas Tank has proven extremely durable… I’ve used it on countless small bikepacking trips as well as long trips in Spain and Africa. It has the prefect amount of space for this application and is remarkably sturdy fitting on the bike.” – Logan

Oveja Negra Snack Pack (Large)

Oveja Negra, Salida, CO

Like other bags made by the Salida, Colorado based company, the Snack Pack is constructed using as many U.S. sourced materials as possible. Detailing abounds. The sides have die cut polyethylene inserts for structure. It has a custom welded and die cut Hook and Loop strap that cams back onto itself, and Velcro OneWrap attachment points. The zipper is a #8 YKK Uretek water resistant zipper with a nickel slider. The inside of the bag is lined with 400d pack cloth and has 3/16″ closed cell foam to protect the tubing.

Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag

The Snack Pack is a refined and very well constructed bag with attention to the minutae, including a rubberized zipper garage, a perfectly stable size, and a nice looking brand tag. Both the large and small Snack Packs are available in VX42 X-pac in Multi-cam, Black and Graphite. It’s also possible to specify an Ultralight version to shave those grams, constructed of VX07 in White or Silver.

  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 12
  • Size in inches: 8 x 4.5 x 2.5
  • Weight: 3.55oz/100.6g
  • Price: $50.00
  • Place of manufacture: Colorado, USA
  • Contact: Oveja Negra Threadworks 

“The Snack Pack is a simple but extremely elegant and well executed top tube bag. It stays put over the roughest terrain, and those side stiffeners ensure a smooth zip action, meaning tasty contents are easy to tuck into, without a pause in your pedal stroke.” – Cass

Alpkit Fuel Pod (Medium and Large)

Alpkit, Nottingham, UK

The Alpkit Fuel Pod bags, sewn in the UK, offer a typically no-nonsense, affordable, yet well made option to dizzy world of bikepacking top tube bags.  The Pods are constructed of VX-21 and 201d Nylon, with a thin foam layer on the contact areas. There’s a single daisy chain that wraps almost all around the bag – from the top front to the back of its base – with which the Pods can be secured by two or three moveable straps.

Alpkit Fuel Pod Top Tube Bag

Two heavy duty coated nylon tabs allow leverage to open and close the weatherproof YKK zipper. Or two, in the case of the large Fuel Pod, allowing a huge access point to the bag’s innards – note though that there’s no internal divider, or side padding. In use, we found one handed access was possible, as long as the velcro loop was positioned as far back as possible. Both sizes are available in eye catching Flo Orange (as pictured), as well as yellow, Chilli and Steel.

  • Alpkit Fuel Pod Top Tube Bag
  • Alpkit Fuel Pod Top Tube Bag
  • Alpkit Fuel Pod Top Tube Bag
  • Alpkit Fuel Pod Top Tube Bag
  • Alpkit Fuel Pod Top Tube Bag
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 14/22
  • Size in inches: 8 x 4 x 2.5 / 10 x 4.5 x 3
  • Weight: 2.8oz/80g and 3.9oz/110g
  • Price: £23/£29
  • Place of manufacture: UK
  • Contact: Alpkit

Blackburn Outpost Top Tube Bag

Blackburn Designs,

It was only a matter of time before bike accessory specialists Blackburn came out with a line of bikepacking gear. Their Outpost Top Tube Bag completes a lineup that includes a seat pack and handlebar bag. Features include a handy mesh top pouch, a side zipper pocket (for loose change), and a full perimeter zipper.

Blackburn Outpost Top Tube Bag

The Outpost is sturdily built from heavy duty 70d nylon, thick backing foam, and Hypalon. The two beefy top tube straps are moveable. Weighing in at almost twice that of the Revelate Gas Tank, this is a beast of a bag. That said, it’s evident that Blackburn set out to design a top tube bag crammed with lot of bells and whistles, in an extra stiff and padded package.

  • Blackburn Outpost Top Tube Bag
  • Blackburn Outpost Top Tube Bag
  • Blackburn Outpost Top Tube Bag
  • Blackburn Outpost Top Tube Bag
  • Blackburn Outpost Top Tube Bag
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 13
  • Size in inches: 9.25 x 5 x 3
  • Weight: TBC
  • Price: $44.99
  • Place of manufacture: China
  • Contact: Blackburn Design

Apidura Top Tube Pack (Extended)

Apidura, London, England

Apidura has a full line of bikepacking bags,  including two top tube bags. The ‘extended’ version reviewed here is long, tall, and narrower than other bags in our roundup. Although the shape limits variety of content, it may well be a plus for folks looking for a super lean design to minimise the width and bulk around the top tube.

Apidura Top Tube Bag

The bag is constructed entirely of VX21 X-pac with an inner high contrast yellow cordura liner. It has two fixed hypalon bonded velcro straps, with tapered finish to allow stabilization. These straps do a sterling job of keeping the bag stable, but keep in mind that you’ll need to verify your frame bag works with the top tube strap placement. While it may not be as stiff as others built with full plastic inserts, the Apidura Top Tube Bag is certainly a nice, streamlined option.

  • Apidura Top Tube Bag
  • Apidura Top Tube Bag
  • Apidura Top Tube Bag
  • Apidura Top Tube Bag
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 11
  • Size in inches: 8 x 3.5 x 1.5
  • Weight: 3.5oz/100g
  • Price: £35.00
  • Place of manufacture: China
  • Contact: Apidura

J.Paks SnakPak

J.Paks, Denver, CO

At 9in long and 5in wide, J.Pak’s SnakPak sits at the larger end of the Top Tube Bag sizing range. Construction comes courtesy of a single piece of X-Pac VX1, which along with the waterproof zip, should help keep water ingress at bay – stitching not withstanding.

Jpaks Snack Pack Top Tube Bag

Even given its large proportions, the SnakPak manages to sit fairly stably in place, thanks to large velcro tabs, a rubberised base, and a wide daisy chain. Although its zip doesn’t run from top to toe, the bag is long enough that only those with especially large paws will have any issues digging around inside. Thanks to its generous size and high density padding, it’s a particularly good option anyone in need of extra stowage space – or for those who like to keep delicate objects protected and close to hand. This rigid boxiness also means one handed access is a breeze.

If you need yet more space… SnakPaks has a bruiser of a sibling, the Farvapak, that measures 15in long.

  • Jpaks Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Jpaks Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Jpaks Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Jpaks Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Jpaks Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 24
  • Size (in inches): 9.5 x 4.5 x 3.5
  • Weight: TBC
  • Place of manufacture: Colorado, USA
  • Price: $60.00
  • Contact: J.Paks

“Although the Snakpak is definitely on the sizeable side, I have a tendency to overpack, so it suits me well. I love how padded it is – I’ve used it to keep my phone and backup battery safe and sound, with plenty of room to gulp down a headtorch, snacks for the day, and more. ” – Cass

Rogue Panda Alamo Top Tube Bag

Rogue Panda Designs, Flagstaff, AZ

Quirkily named Rogue Panda is small company in Flagstaff, AZ that makes ‘bike bags for bikepackers, commuters, or anyone else who wants to carry things on their bike’. Although best known for their colorful Arizona flag framebags, they also offer a full line of seat packs and accessory bags, including the Alamo Top Tube Bag.

Rogue Panda Alamo Top Tube Bag

According to Rogue Panda, “The Alamo is a result of a lot of trial and error to create a bag that sticks to the bike.” Similar to several other bags we reviewed, the front attachment strap is sewn into the bag which adds stability. In addition, the bag also has HDPE stiffeners on the side panels, as well as a foam layer on the bottom and front, to help keep its shape.

  • Rogue Panda Alamo Top Tube Bag
  • Rogue Panda Alamo Top Tube Bag
  • Rogue Panda Alamo Top Tube Bag
  • Rogue Panda Alamo Top Tube Bag
  • Rogue Panda Alamo Top Tube Bag

A moveable top tube strap helps pair it with different framebags, with a rubberized membrane to help stick it in place. Overall, its medium stature, stiff design and attention to detail in the strap design ensure there’s no shortage in stability, coupled with quick, one handed, gunslinging access.

  • Size (in Picky Bars): 11
  • Size (in inches): TBC
  • Weight: 3oz/85g
  • Price: $40.00
  • Place of manufacture: Arizona, USA
  • Contact: Rogue Panda

Revelate Jerry Can

Revelate Designs, Anchorage, AK

The Jerry Can – seen below with cutout for gussetted, Surly-style brace – is another Revelate classic. At 2in wide, it’s slim enough not to rub against your knees, while its HDPE side panel inserts ensure it stays slim when fully packed. As diminutive as it is, the Jerry Can still provides a very handy stowage spot – an internal elasticated loop keeps a multi tool from ricocheting around – and is a great use of the deadspace at the junction of your seatpost and frame. We found it perfect for an inner tube, or for stashing a set of night lights.

Revelate Jerry Can

  • Revelate Jerry Can
  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Revelate Jerry Can
  • Revelate Jerry Can
  • Revelate Jerry Can Top Tube Bag
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 7
  • Size in inches: 5 x 4 x 2
  • Weight: 2.4oz/73.7g
  • Price: $38.00
  • Place of manufacture: Alaska, USA
  • Contact: Revelate Designs

Bedrock Top Tube Bag

Bedrock Bags, Durango, CO

The Dakota is the latest offering in the Durango-based bag maker’s line-up. We’ve noted how Bedrock’s consistently been releasing ever more elegant and innovative bags over the last couple of years – and the Dakota is no exception. The pack has a pleasingly curved, tapered design that offers the perfect amount of volume for a medium/large sized top tube bag. The interior of the bag is accessible through a single center #8 waterproof YKK zipper.

Bedrock Bags Top Tube Bag

The Dakota has two attachment straps, one fixed on the bottom aft of the bag, and one adjustable soft velcro head tube strap on the front. Each is reinforced with a non-skid liner to help secure the little sucker in place. In addition, at the top of the front daisy chain, there’s an integrated elastic band that can wrap around the top-cap of the headset, providing additional leverage to keep the bag stable. Another factor in the bag’s impressive stability is a full surround HDPE insert, which is sandwiched between the outer fabric and the inner diamond ripstop liner.

  • Bedrock Bags Top Tube Bag
  • Bedrock Bags Top Tube Bag

Bedrock Dakota Top Tube Bag

  • Bedrock Bags Top Tube Bag
  • Bedrock Bags Top Tube Bag
  • Bedrock Bags Top Tube Bag

The Dakota is available in 500d Codrura Multicam Black or X-pac VX-42. Top fabric on all bags is made from VX-21 – the ‘V’ in VX means it has an additional 50 denier polyester taffeta liner on the inside face of the fabric, while the number refers to the denier of the outer face (‘VX-21’ has a 210 denier fabric).

  • Size (in Picky Bars): 19
  • Size (in inches): 9 x 5 x 3
  • Weight: 4.5oz/113.4g
  • Price: $65.00
  • Place of Manufacture: Colorado, USA
  • Contact: Bedrock Bags

“The Dakota is very sturdily made; its shape, design and plastic inserts really help keep it stable and upright. Construction aside, I found it to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch. It’s a great looking bag!” – Gin

Oveja Negra Snack Pack (Small)

Oveja Negra, Salida, CO

Similar in every way but size, the small version of the Snack Pack is designed to be fitted to the mast of the seat tube and the top tube – like Revelate’s Jerry Can. The Snack Pack is constructed from the venerable Xpac VX-21, along with VX-42 and Cordura 500d. Other niceties includes a hypalon trim, a YKK water resistant zipper, and a replaceable Velcro One-Wrap seat tube strap.

Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag

Like its bigger brother, the small Snack Pack is a very stiff and stable bag, with a fully lined and padded construction and HDPE side inserts. It is, for want of a better word, a very cute bag – aside from being miniature packhorse too!

  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Oveja Negra Snack Pack Top Tube Bag
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 9
  • Size (in inches): TBC
  • Weight: 2.70oz/76.54g
  • Place of Manufacture: Colorado, USA
  • Price: $45.00
  • Contact: Oveja Negra Threadworks

Becker Gear Dio

Becker Gear, Alaska

Quite simply, the Dio is the goliath of top tube bags. At first sight, it’s comically large and eye-catchingly bright – at least in yellow, one of several colours available. But boy, does it swallow up everything we could throw at it, including a couple of cans of beer, maintained at a perfect temperature thanks to its insulated lining. Non boozers should note that it’s equally effective in keeping a thermos (like the 16oz Kleen Canteen) piping hot in the depths of winter.

Becker Dio Top Tube Bag

Yes, it’s a wide bag, and as such, suits a fat bike with a wide bottom bracket, or a seated riding position best. Given that Becker Gear is based in Alaska, it’s no surprise that the Dio is winter glove friendly, with a large zip and an extra long pull cord, and a general shape that makes one handed access a breeze. Its orange interior is almost as bright as its exterior, with a velcro divider to keep contents from flying around – even if they did, the super padded construction should keep everything out of harm’s way.

  • Becker Dio Top Tube Bag and Revelate Gas Tank
  • Becker Dio Top Tube Bag and Revelate Gas Tank

Two massive velcro tabs anchor it to the top tube, offering as much stability as they can – though as you can expect, this isn’t the ideal bag for riding techy singletrack…

  • Becker Dio Top Tube Bag
  • Becker Dio Top Tube Bag
  • Becker Dio Top Tube Bag
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 32!!
  • Size (in inches): 10 x 5.5 x 4
  • Weight: TBC
  • Price: $.00
  • Place of manufacture: Alaska, USA
  • Contact: Becker Gear

Nuclear Sunrise Titan Tank

Nuclear Sunrise Threadwords, El Paso, TX

The Trinity Tank is a medium sized top tube tube bag with a relative slim, untapered and simple but burly design. A velcro and loop closure secures it solidly to the top tube, with a choice of three loops around which to run the velcro tab to the steerer tube. Meanwhile, its heavy duty zip features a dust and grime guard, tested in the desert expanse of the Chihuahua desert, where the bag is constructed.

Nuclear Sunrise Titan Tank top tube bag

The sides are padded with high density foam, while internally, a nifty phone-sized divider keeps your valued lifeline to the outside world safe from clattering around. Note though that the base itself isn’t padded, making the main compartment in the Trinity Tank best suited to snacks and softer items, rather than the likes of a multi tool, which will clunk on the top tube.

  • Nuclear Sunrise Titan Tank top tube bag
  • Nuclear Sunrise Titan Tank top tube bag

All kinds of fun and funky colours are available (+$5 for Multicam), as well as a mini version better suited to more petite frames, which goes by the pseudonym of Trinity Tank. Overall, a simple, stable bag with a dash of character.

  • Nuclear Sunrise Titan Tank top tube bag
  • Nuclear Sunrise Titan Tank top tube bag
  • Nuclear Sunrise Titan Tank top tube bag
  • Size (in Picky Bars): 12
  • Size (in inches): 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5
  • Weight: TBC
  • Price: $50.00
  • Place of manufacture: Texas, USA
  • Contact: Nuclear Sunrise Threadworks

As always, we value your longterm feedback. If you’re had a chance to put one of the products we’ve reviewed through several months of use or more, please share your thoughts below.

Also, in case you missed the first part of our Accessory Bag Roundup, click here for our thoughts on a wide variety of stem bags. 

Tags

  • Nathan Cumella

    I appreciate the thorough review of the bags, but I have an unrelated question brought up by one of the pictures…

    I couldn’t help but notice

  • Cass Gilbert

    Spotted! Yes, a review on the Wednesday is forthcoming. It won’t be for a couple more weeks I’m afraid, as I want to make sure it’s suitably comprehensive. In the meantime, keep an eye out for a Surly-related post due out tomorrow. It could be of interest…

  • rémi

    hello Cass Gilbert! speaking of spotted things, what about the jones plus? i’ll be happy to read your review of that bike too. especially as you’ve been touring with other great rigs like the pugs, krampus and tumbleweed proto. I have the feeling it’s going to be really interesting ! shall we start a christmas request list like :”dear Santa Cass would you post…” ? ?
    au passage , thanks for the great writing, inspiring travels and beautiful pics you’re sharing at while out riding,
    sorry for the (maybe) funny english.
    merci beaucoup!
    rémi

  • Daniel Purcell

    Glaring omission – where’s Bike Bag Dude? I’ve used a couple of the others but BBD trumps them all.

  • Simon Finlay

    So, I have but one question. WHY WAS BIKE BAG DUDE NOT included in this review?

    BIKE BAG DUDE “GARAGE” TT Bag.

    BBD, Newcastle NSW Australia

    http://www.bikebagdude.com

    As one of the innovators in bike travel bags scene in the last few year, BBD set their standards high. Their “Garage” top tube bag is no exception. Available in a rainbow of colour choices to match any wild to mild colour schemes. The Garage seamlessly integrates with all of the other BBD bags creating a “meant to be feel” but retaining the customized edge. the Garage can hold 12 Picky bars and is padded and lined to keep hard items from bouncing around on the top tube. Single centered zippers with bungee grab tags make gloved openings a breeze. SPECS: 29cm long, 80mm wide belly panel, 120mm high at the stem end. They are also fully seam taped and are built with YKK Size 8 water resistant zips.

    The almost infinite adjustment on the strapping system is super reliable and confident.

    Bike Bag Dude ….. Bags from The Great Southern Land!

  • http://www.offroute.ca Skyler

    I’ve got to agree. The BBD to tube bag blows everything else if used out of the water.

  • Rich

    Man for $90 it better trump them all.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Unfortunately, there is not enough time in the day to photo and review them all; we do plan on reviewing his stuff in the near future though.

  • Daniel Stange

    Nuclear Sunrise…such an epic name!

  • Simon Finlay

    Thanks for your reply and thanks for keeping my “mini” review for BBD. All these bag makers put their heart and souls into their product and ALL deserve to be here.

  • Simon Finlay

    In my humble opinion, I am just a user of BBD products, they are worth every dollar spent.

  • http://www.whileoutriding.com Cass Gilbert

    I’m on the case Rémi!

  • Cass Gilbert

    I’m on the case Rémi!

  • Lewy
  • sccsammy

    This may be a stupid question but are any of these fully waterproof? I know some are water resistant and have the waterproof zipper but that does that ensure that the bag is waterproof?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    No, I don’t think there is a waterproof TT bag out there…

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