The Bontrager Adventure handlebar bag offers 9 litres of space using durable, waterproof materials and a single opening that makes packing simple. It is designed to be used with a hydration reservoir, but doing so will increase weight, instability and stress on the straps.
- LifeLine Adventure Handlebar Bag review
- 2021 Altura Vortex 2 Waterproof Front Roll review
- 2021 Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR review
The Bontrager range of Adventure packs includes this handlebar bag, a frame bag, and a seat pack primarily for bikepacking trips. The handlebar pack is made from a relatively thick PU coated fabric that (I think) should offer longevity.
The bag attaches to the handlebar with a pair of straps and a single strap for the stem/headtube area. I found the straps far from ideal, I wasn't keen on the materials, construction and length. The bag is not supplied with any spacers to allow you to move the bag away from the bar, but the straps are very long. I found they needed to be folded back several times to tidy them. The single strap to secure the bag around the stem, or headtube area is the opposite. I found it too short for many frame designs, particularly bikes that have a wide headtube, which is common on carbon frames.
The straps are attached to the bag with 3-point stitching, which was fine during use, but it does have fewer threads than some other bags which does raise potential questions over durability and strength. If you regularly use the bag loaded with the extra weight from a hydration pack, it's something to keep in mind.
This bag is suitable for storing a hydration bladder, specifically the 1.5-litre Osprey lumber reservoir. While the location might make for easy refilling, it also adds significant weight in an area where weight is best minimised to prevent movement. The biggest challenge for any handlebar pack is creating a stable platform so I would recommend packing lighter, higher volume contents such as a sleeping bag.
The hydration pack has a waterproof zip on the top to give access to the storage space, and there is a cable port for the hose to be fitted. I found the port quite tight, making fitting quite tricky. I did not test using the Osprey Lumbar Reservoir it is designed for, but the hose diameter will almost certainly be the same. In order to use the hose while riding, it will need to be a good length. This can make connecting and storing the hose more of a challenge, and you would really want to prevent the hose from straying near the front wheel.
The front pocket can also double as a normal pocket if you don't have the hydration bladder. Access is quick and easy thanks to the size and position, making it possible to use on the go, but due to the hose port, it isn't waterproof. I would avoid storing anything that might be damaged by water in this compartment, but I did find it suitable for food items to eat on the go. However, the main compartment is waterproof thanks to stitched areas that have been seam-welded to stop water ingress.
The bag is 9 litres and has enough room to store either a winter sleeping bag or a summer bag with extras such as an inflatable mat or a bivvy bag. The single-ended design made it really easy for anything that can be stuff packed, and while there is no air release valve, I had no issues.
On the outside, there is a useful elastic cord that could have multiple uses. I found it ideal for storing a waterproof jacket or other items I needed access to on the go. The bag also has four slots that allow you to potentially add extra straps to secure additional loads if needed.
The Bontrager Adventure handlebar pack is £95. It's cheaper than similar bags from premium brands such as Miss Grape Tendrill 4.10 or Ortlieb. However, there are also many cheaper options of the same quality made with similar fabrics like the Lifeline Adventure handlebar pack at only £30 and the Altura Vortex 2 at £65.
The Bontrager Adventure handlebar is waterproof and made with quality fabrics that should prove very durable. I found the single-ended opening made for easy and quick packing of items like my sleeping bag. I think the option to use a hydration bladder is questionable as the extra weight is likely to cause more stress on the connections and increase movement on rougher terrain.
You might also like: