Topeak Bikepacking Bags: Roundup Review

John Stewart takes a look at the Topeak Bikepacking Series kit, testing out the FrontLoader handlebar bag, TopLoader top tube bag, MidLoader frame bag, and BackLoader seat pack. See how they fared after several months of use…

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Words and photos by John Stewart

Lately, we’re seeing more offerings for frame packs and other bags coming out of larger producers, many of whom are making bikepacking gear for the first time. Topeak is among the established brands that recently jumped into the bikepacking game. They’re well known for their quality accessory products and tools, and I was excited to see what how bags would stand up. Most of my experience with bag makers has been in the cottage industry, where attention to detail and customization is often the allure. Knowing that these bags were produced en masse, I was curious to see the quality of production. I’m happy to report that Topeak’s bags are well made and held up well in inclement weather.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review

  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review

I tested out their complete set of bags from October through February on commutes to work, long day rides into the mountains, as well as a few bikepacking trips. I was lucky enough to experience plenty of rain, snow, and everything in between. Here in Colorado, the shoulder seasons are great times to test gear because we can start the day with snow, have it warm up and melt, then have rain in the evening that goes on to freeze all over again. This gave me a great chance to find out just how waterproof Topeak’s Bikepacking Series bags really are.

NOTE: We used some images directly from Topeak (each main image); these show a slightly updated variation of the bags. The bags that were tested were an earlier version (shown in all other photos).

Topeak TopLoader (Top Tube Bag)

The TopLoader is a basic top tube bag with three points of attachment. It uses two velcro straps that wrap around the top tube and one that cinches around the head tube. The bag features a single zipper on top that moves easily with either hand. The TopLoader has a bright yellow interior liner, making it easy to see items inside, as well as an adjustable divider that attaches to the sides using velcro.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Toploader Top Tube Bag

Pros

  • Three attachment points keep the bag secure.
  • Performs well in foul weather when zipper is fully closed and in the zipper garage.
  • Features a moveable/removable divider to change the layout of the bag.
  • Includes an attached waterproof cover.

Cons

  • Zipper easily gets caught on the side of the zipper garage when closing quickly.
  • Has some inconsistencies with the packing material used to increase stability (doesn’t affect function, just aesthetics).
  • Mount to head tube is at the lower part of the bag and can lead to some sway with heavier items. Could be improved by having the mount strap higher on the headtube.
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Toploader Top Tube Bag
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Toploader Top Tube Bag
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Toploader Top Tube Bag
  • Volume: 0.75 L
  • Weight: 169 g (5.96 oz)
  • Price: $35.95
  • Place of Manufacture: China
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Link

If your local bike shop can’t get it, check Jenson USA

Topeak MidLoader Frame Bag

A “one size fits most” approach to a mid-size frame bag. The bag would likely fit well as the only frame pack for those running some full-suspension frames or smaller MTB frames. I was able to fit two bottles in my main triangle with the MidLoader installed on my large frame. The anchor points do an excellent job of keeping the bag securely fastened on the bike. The bag has two zippers, one on each side, that allow for quick access to the main pocket from either direction. The bag also has flaps to protect the zippers on both sides. There’s also a plastic insert near the front that helps the bag keep its shape.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Midloader Frame Bag

Pros

  • Multiple attachment points to fit most frames.
  • Zippers on both sides allow access from either side of the pack.
  • Zipper covers keep the zippers clean and help shed water.

Cons

  • May not be a good fit for many frames out there. NOTE: Topeak now offers the MidLoader in 3 sizes.
  • Black internal lining makes it difficult to see smaller items.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Midloader Frame Bag

  • Volume: 3L (tested) and 4.5L
  • Weight: 277g / 292g
  • Price: $55.95 / $65.95
  • Place of Manufacture: China
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Link

If your local bike shop can’t get it, check Jenson USA

Topeak BackLoader Seat Bag

While using the BackLoader, I experienced some issues with water creeping into the rolled up end, though no moisture ever made it all the way into the (included) interior dry bag. As the outer bag doesn’t seem particularly resistant to rain and slush, I found that it was best to have the dry bag handy in the event of precipitation. As an added bonus, the dry bag offers a great way to compress items packed into the BackLoader via its built-in air bleed valve. The seat attachment system is very similar to those found on other seat packs, employing two buckles to secure the back to the seat rails and two other buckles that are used compress and close the bag. Finessing the BackLoader’s large buckles through the seat rails did prove to be a bit cumbersome, however.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Backloader Seat Bag

Pros

  • Includes a compressible waterproof bag with an air bleed valve for easy compression.
  • Straps help to pull the bag up away from the rear wheel nicely.
  • Mounts high on the seatpost, allowing plenty of clearance below.

Cons

  • Buckles that attach at the seat rails are large and could be an issue to attach for some riders.
  • Bag itself is not waterproof without the included dry bag.
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Backloader Seat Bag
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Backloader Seat Bag
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Backloader Seat Bag
  • Volume: 6 L / 10 L / 15 L
  • Max Load: 5 kg (11 lb)
  • Waterproof rating: 10,000 mm (including inner bag)
  • Price: $74.95 / $85.99 / $89.95
  • Place of Manufacture: China
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Link

If your local bike shop can’t get it, check Jenson USA

Topeak FrontLoader Handlebar Bag

The FrontLoader is a smaller harness system that mounts to the handlebar using a pair of crossing straps. The harness includes a dry bag with the same style of air bleed valve as the the one seen on the BackLoader. When compressed, the dry bag takes up a minimal amount of space and fits nicely into the harness, which uses buckles to tighten everything into place. That said, there’s a minimum packing threshold at which the dry bag will sit securely within the harness. If, for example, you only packed a super compressible down jacket into the dry bag, the harness likely wouldn’t be able to hang on to the dry bag very well. The front harness works well in the rain and snow. I didn’t experience any issues with winter weather leaking in during the months I was using it.

Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Frontloader Handlebar Bag

Pros

  • Holds up well against the elements.
  • Harness and dry bag system keeps your gear securely in place.

Cons

  • Requires a minimum load to function properly.
  • The mounting system uses two sets of straps, which seems like overkill. Simply using the cam straps would be sufficient.
  • Bag mounts directly to the bar which can make accessing brake levers/shifters more difficult. NOTE: Topeak added foam inserts that now space the bag away from the bars.
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Frontloader Handlebar Bag
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Frontloader Handlebar Bag
  • Topeak Bikepacking Bags Review, Frontloader Handlebar Bag
  • Volume: 8 L
  • Weight: 386g
  • Waterproof rating: 10,000 mm
  • Price: $85.95
  • Place of Manufacture: China
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Link

If your local bike shop can’t get it, check Jenson USA

Wrap Up

Overall, I found that these bags performed well in almost all areas. I didn’t experience any serious issues or deal breakers during my time with them. I could see these bags being a great starter set for a lot of bikepackers. The prices are more modest than that of the cottage bag makers, and the bags – when used as intended – held up well against Mother Nature. The attachment systems are not complicated and the bags offer ample space to carry gear and supplies for a multi-night trip. If the price point of these bag is within your comfort zone, I’d encourage you to give them a shot. I think you’ll find they do the trick. And while you’re out there, enjoy the ride!

John Stewart

About John Stewart

John Stewart resides in Northern Colorado and enjoys the balance of family, riding, and professional responsibilities. He is happiest on alpine singletrack and sketchy mountain roads in his home state but loves to plan and tackle adventure anywhere he can find it. Whether its a multi-day trip or a quick overnight outing, you can always find him plotting the next adventure.

  • Idle Prentice

    Nice. I like the traditional zipper with flap as opposed to the (really hard to operate) waterproof zippers. The bloom is off the rose with those things for me.

  • Robert Davey

    It appears you are testing version 1 of this gear? Many pics are straight from Topeak as well? Review is below this sites usual high standard.

    Backloader now has black velcro closure. There is also a 15l version available, which you haven’t mentioned.

    Midloader is available in 3 sizes, not two, or “one size fits most”.

    Frontloader comes with longer bar mount straps and 4 foam blocks on each side to hold the carrier off the bars for more lever and cable clearance. you can use none, or as many as you require, and it works well.

    I thought it important readers don’t only rely on this review.

  • Yes, we mixed in Topeak’s photos as the ‘main’ photo for each; as most of John’s photos were in portrait (as shown in threes on each product). Thanks for pointing out the updates; John has been testing this set for a while, so I suppose they were an earlier version; we’ll make sure to add notes.

  • jackseph

    I had the top tube bag. It is nicely made and didn’t move much, but I found it too wide for me when I was riding out of the saddle on the hoods (I ride road / gravel bikes). My knees and thighs rubbed against it constantly. That might just be my (knock-knee) style, but I had to sell it on and get a Restrap bag, which is smaller, doesn’t sit / hold as well to the top-tube but is slimmer and therefore causes me less issues.

  • Johnny Rhubarb

    for the price, they definitely are nice, just be sure to put some protective tape on the contact points; I have the framebag and the gas tank and found that they wear off paint super fast, compared to Revelate Designs for example.

  • fedewall

    I have the whole set of bags and they are very nice. The only complain is that the drysack is a bit smaller than the backloader so it is not very easy to fill competely the bag.

  • interesting point. A materials choice, I suppose…

  • Oli Carlon

    I replaced the inner with my alpkit airlock bag. It fits perfectly and works like magic. They go perfectly together.

  • dragos

    Just purchased mine, and I agree with your comments, please also note that there are 2 extra straps now included for wider loads to be mounted on top of the frontloader.
    That will be a complete gamechager for my setup as I will now be able to enhance my sleeping system and increase comfort.
    I think this review deserves more than the neutrally negative statement ” didn’t experience any issues”.

  • Pen2paw

    Which size of the backloader do you recommend for a day trip of 70 to 100 km?

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