So, how much can I carry?

You can click here to find out a comparison of each bag’s weight and capacity. But what does that really mean for what you can actually carry? To give you some idea, I filled up each size with an assortment of stuff you might have with you on a ride. This is by no means an exhaustive list of what you should bring on a brevet; for example, you’ll notice that while I packed a full change of on-bike clothes as well as a full change of off-bike clothes in the Large, I neglected to pack a toothbrush or clean socks. 

I tried to fill the bags so they were pretty much all the way full, but if you were so inclined you could still strap in some more stuff under the lids and have it stay put; so this is not really the *absolute maximum* you could carry, either.

I also weighed each bag as it was loaded, just to give some idea. For the sake of argument, although I showed the bags (except for the handlebar bag) with a water bottle in a side pocket, I weighed them with the bottle empty; if it were full, it would add a pound. The yellow rain jacket is also very bulky for its weight, but since it’s a great jacket and it weighs next to nothing, I almost always have it in my bag, so it’s in the photos.

The small saddlebag, filled: 

1Small Saddlebag Stuffed

 

And here’s what was in it. The water bottle was in one side pocket, the arm warmers were in the other, and the wind vest was in the lid pocket. There should have been a pump on the lid too, but I forgot. Wallet and cell phone were in the brevet card pocket. Inside were a pair of gloves, a rain jacket, a reflective sash, a tire lever, a multi-tool, a y-wrench, and a patch kit. The total weight, with no pump and with an empty bottle, was 3 lbs 10 oz.

1Small Saddlebag Open

 

 

Here’s the handlebar bag, full. Total weight loaded like this was 3 lb 1 oz. Actually the lid closes no problem, but I positioned the sunglasses to hold it open for the picture: 

1Handlebar Bag Stuffed

The cuesheet was in the cuesheet window. There were a couple of bars in the exterior side pockets as well as a small minimal cable lock, plus more bars and gels in a ziploc bag inside. Also inside were a cell phone (in the cell phone pocket), reflective sash, arm warmers, gloves, rain jacket, spare tail light, sunglasses, and lip balm. Personally, I don’t usually have my jacket in my handlebar bag, which leaves plenty of room for a sandwich or a bottled beverage, etc. 

1Handlebar Bag Open

Or even a loaf of bread!

A Handlebar Bag is just the size for a loaf of bread. This one has yellow lining.

 

 

When it comes to the Medium and the Large, there are more variables to what you can pack where, depending on whether you lash things to the lid or use a lid pocket, whether you use rear pockets, etc. So I packed the Medium just lashing the jacket to the lid, and the Large using the lid pocket. Here’s the Medium, packed: 

1Medium Saddlebag Stuffed 

And here’s what’s inside. The side pocket you can see in the picture has a wind vest and arm warmers in it; the side pocket on the other side has the water bottle. Lashed to the lid are the rain jacket and a pump, and there is a tail light on the loop on the back. In the rear zippered pocket are two spare tubes, multi-tool, patch kit, Y-wrench, and tire lever. Wallet and cell phone are in the brevet card pocket. Inside are a winter thermal jacket, long sleeved jersey, bib shorts, knee warmers, reflective sash, gloves, and a cycling cap. You could easily lash something larger or heavier, such as a stuff sack or drybag to the lid instead of the jacket. With the bottle still empty, the total weight was 6 lb 13 oz.

1Medium Saddlebag Open

 

 

For the Large, I chose one with a mesh lid pocket and mesh side pockets. Although the example in the picture does have a flap extension, I didn’t use it. By using it, you can stuff quite a lot more in where the shoes are if you are so inclined. 

1Large Saddlebag Stuffed Front 1Large Saddlebag Stuffed Back

And here is what’s in it. One side pocket has the water bottle; the other has the wind vest, cycling cap, and arm warmers. The lid pocket has the rain jacket and the reflective sash, with the pump attached. The rear zippered pocket contains two spare tubes, multi-tool, tire lever, small cable lock, Y-wrench, two patch kits, and a couple of bars, with room to spare. Wallet and cell phone are in the brevet card pocket. Inside the bag are a full change of bike clothes, including a winter thermal jacket, bib shorts, long sleeved jersey, and knee warmers; a change of off-bike clothes, including a long-sleeved T-shirt, cotton cargo pants, and a heavy flannel shirt; plus a spare folding tire, pair of gloves, and tail light. The sandals are strapped under the lid so that they don’t get the clean clothes dirty. This all weighed in at 12 lbs even, with the bottle empty. 

1Large Saddlebag Open

 

On my own rides, I often use the side pockets of my saddlebag to carry a bottled beverage or two, or a spare water bottle, or my arm warmers or vest. Particularly on the large, they are easily accessible while riding, so they are good for things I don’t want to have to stop to access. Like I said, this is not at all a recommendation of how to pack for a trip; just a representation of what will fit that you might carry.

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