I recently used the Handlebar Roll & Drybag and the Seat Pack & Drybag from the Blackburn Outpost series on the 350-mile HuRaCan off-road bikepacking route in central Florida. I did not own any bikepacking specific bags and had always just made do with beam racks and backpacks, so I was really excited to check these out. I used them exclusively to carry all of my gear aside from water, which I carried in a small backpack with a bladder. They were mounted on my 2016 Cannondale Habit Carbon 2, a 120mm full suspension trail bike. Here is a brief review of my experience with them. blackburn designs Handlebar Roll/Dry Bag: The Blackburn Outpost Handlebar Roll comes as two separate pieces, a handlebar harness and a dry bag that fits inside. The handlebar harness connects to the bike via a plastic clamp around the bars and tightens down via two 4mm bolts. A lower support band goes underneath the stem to keep it from falling down. It took me a bit to figure how to get this part right as my stem is oversized for my Lefty fork. It holds the bag around 4-5 inches out in front of the bar. For me, this was very important because I have many cables between lockouts, shift, and brake lines. The harness keeps the bag from resting on the cables and causing damage. blackburn designs The unit also includes a cinch strap to add additional support, or to convert the over-engineered handlebar dry bag into a messenger bag. I ended up not using it because I didn’t feel the amount of gear I was carrying warranted it. The bolt on harness on its own seemed plenty secure. For our trip, we were going very minimal: no tent or tarp, just a basic sleeping kit of a pad, bag, and a shared ground cover. I opted to use my own ultralight dry bag that was slightly smaller. The Blackburn dry bag is very burley, maybe too much so for many applications. After stuffing the gear in my dry bag, it was as simple as placing it in the harness and buckling it in and tightening down with the cinch straps. It was VERY secure. I was carrying 3-4 pounds of gear and food in it, and it didn’t move for the entire 350 mile ride. The terrain included singletrack, doubletrack, forest road often riddled with potholes, and some pavement here and there. There were plenty of roots and bumps along the way to test the stability of the unit. By comparison, my riding buddy’s more traditional handlebar bag made irritating nylon “scraping” noises and moved about 1-2 vertical inches with every big bump. In combination with the Outpost Seat Pack the bike felt very balanced. Going down hill and cornering didn’t feel the least bit sketchy with the added weight. The system allows easy access so anything I felt I would need mid-ride went in the front (food, tools, layers of clothing). It was solid enough to strap my external battery to for charging my Garmin. Overall, it is a great setup that works as intended for a bikepacking bag that is easy to use. One word of caution (which Blackburn tells you about) is to not use this unit on carbon handlebars. I went against the instructions because I didn’t really get my hands on it until the night before the ride, and couldn’t change handlebars at that point. The bag did slightly rub the bars but not too bad. I would have been more nervous with a heavier load, and when I use it again I will be swapping out for an alloy bar. blackburn designs Seat Pack/Drybag Review The Outpost Seat Pack includes a large heavy duty dry bag. For this unit, I used the included dry bag because it fit the shape of the pack better. It also made sense to have a heavier material dry bag as I would be stuffing my sleeping bag and compressing it, and I didn’t want to risk tearing an ultralight bag. It mounts easily with two velcro straps to the seat post, and a buckled strap through the seat rails. Both attachment points are designed in a way that allows you to get them very tight, and once they are tightened, they stay tight. I had the dry bag stuffed with my sleeping kit and a few other items: probably around 4-5 pounds of gear. blackburn designs Once placed in the pack, I could compress the gear down to a very small size. I was surprised how well the bag stayed in place and did not sway back and forth even when I stood up to pedal. It was easy to access, but it was fairly time consuming to get it all cinched down and compressed the way I wanted it, so I generally only put items in here that would be pulled out at the end of the day. However, being a holster-style bag, it is infinitely more accessible than a traditional seat bag. Also, my friend has used it more extensively and has more experience with seat bags. He says it’s the most stable fabric seat bag he has ever used. The Blackburn Outpost Seat Pack fit high enough on my post that I could still mount my blinky light underneath. It is not recommended to use this on a carbon post, which, again, I ignored. It did leave some rub marks on the post, so next time I will be using an alloy post and it should not be an issue. I was also pleased that it did not touch my legs when I was pedaling. The pack was solid through the entire trip and never needed retightening mid ride. The handling was great in combination with the Handlebar Roll. On one sandy descent, I managed to hit a deep spot of sand under pine straw, which sent my front wheel sliding and my entire bike sideways. Even with the two bags, true to the bike’s character, I was able to save it as if it was unloaded. I would describe the Outpost set up as solid and clean. After reading reviews of the bags that weren’t too positive, I was thoroughly impressed. After a few months of using them there are no signs of wear, though I worry about the longevity of the lightweight materials used on the seat bag. The handlebar harness is rock solid when attached correctly and VERY easy to use on the trail. Would I trust the plastic harness on a tour through Mexico or Africa? Probably not, but there are so many daisy chains on the harness that if it did break, the harness would basically transform into a typical harness. These two packs are great in combination and keep everything simple and easy to load. The construction is solid and well thought out. It was great to do such mileage without feeling like the bike was loaded down.

6 Comments

  1. My son used both of these bikepacking in Tahoe. Maybe it’s due to the rough terrain, but handlebar roll kept dropping a few inches and we had to put an extra strap on the seatbag to keep it from sliding up and swaying side to side.
    My Revelate Designs kit never budged the entire trip, and neither did my bro-in-laws Bedrock bags kit.

  2. Good review but you must be the only user of the Outpost handlebar bag who has managed to get it to stay in position. No matter how i fit mine, it rotates downwards with every bump. I loaned it to a mate who is a much-experienced bike-mechanic (and co-incidentally, the owner of the shop from which I bought my Outpost gear) and he couldn’t get it to work either.
    The additional zip-tie strap that is supposed to go under the stem is worse than useless as it just pulls through the ratchet. It is possible to get some sort of stability by using the red ‘shoulder strap’ to bind the roll to the bars but even this is less than perfect.
    The clamp is an over-emgineered solution to a very simple problem. The fact that the reviewer wouldn’t trust it not to break anywhere remote says it all.
    The seatbag is better but not by much. it swings around to a ridiculous degree with any kind of load on board and while it is possible to strap it down with additional bungees, at this price-point the bags should be perfect.
    These bags feel like they were rushed out in response to the explosion in bike-packing and were clearly not tested properly.

    If either Revelate or Alpkit had any stock at the moment, I’d be sending both bags back.

  3. Andy T, you obviously have experience with the bags so I doubt my observations will make a difference. I absolutely expected both bags to be completely useless in real bikepacking, but I went with the author on the Huracan and I swear his bag did not budge once! And It was nearly silent compared to the nylon rustling of my respected Cleaveland Mountaineering handlebar bag. I totally agree that the bag and attachment looks gimmicky but damned if it didn’t perform when we tested it! And we didn’t even install it till the night before. The seat bag is the most stable non-rigid seat bag I have ever seen or used too. It beats the socks off Revelate, Cleaveland and Wildcat bags I have used or ridden behind. I don’t know about its long term durability yet. Overall, I was expecting these bags to be mediocre at best. Now I would use both of them on any weeklong ride.

  4. I just did ANOTHER trip using my oupost bags. I have YET to have the handlebar roll slip,… And I DON’T use the the zip tie. Just cinch it up with red strap looped under stem. My seat bag will wag a scoche but only notice it in my shadow 😉

  5. In hand actual weights for the bags? Gear weight is ALWAYS important for ALL bikepacking gear.

  6. I just did my first trip with the setbag. Quite lighweight and easy to set up. It never needed retightening and stayed put thuough a short but rough ride. It did touch my legs while pedaling though, which I did not notice on a revelate bag I tried from a friend. This might be a problem for longer rides. Let’s see how it goes…

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