Handlebar Bag

I currently use Ortlieb panniers and bags. I have an Ultimate 5 in yellow. When I switched to these packs I went with the bright yellow for visibility. One benefit over my past bags is that the yellow transmits some light so it is brighter inside as well and it’s not such a “black hole”. You will notice that I choose very bright colors for things when available. This is to make things harder to lose and easier to find. It’s harder to leave a lime green stuff sack behind on a picnic table as opposed to a dark camo pattern one.

Inside the cover I attached a business card holder to keep an emergency contact list. The list has my name, address, date of birth, blood type, doctors name & number, and several family members’ contact information.

The handlebar bag is the hub of just about all activity off the bike, rarely is it not with me. The contents are divided amongst several smaller packs and the external pockets. These are the things I want to have easy access to 24/7.

This photo is deceptive they don’t take up as much room as it appears. There is stuff underneath them and they are not sitting vertical.

The Eagle Creek quarter size packing cubes fit really nicely into this bag and make finding things much easier.

The blue packing cube is the most used:

The blue cube is my equivalent to the “kitchen junk drawer”. This cube always has these items but often has all kinds of miscellaneous stuff in it as well :


The second container in the handlebar bag is also an Eagle Creek quarter cube.

This red cube is used for toiletries and care items that are useful on a casual basis. I have a separate shower kit that is far more comprehensive. This kit is useful for bathroom breaks , wherever they arise.

The roll of toilet paper here is for “emergency” cases. It is a tightly wound coreless roll so it is a very efficient use of space. It is rare these days for me to have a nature call someplace where there are not modern facilities. If I was gravel grinding or back country touring then this would not last very long. A normal 1/2 roll flattened out in a Ziploc baggie worked well for 30+ years and still will.

The disposable tooth brushes are good for a refresh or after a meal. The shower kit has a traditional set up.

I have carried hand wipes for as long as they have been available in these easy to use packets. Keeping your hands clean has always been important to helping prevent common illnesses. Now in the post covid world I have gone to 70% alcohol wipes and utilize them far more often than I used to.

The ear plugs are for sleeping and are located here because this would always be inside the tent with me, the shower kit or another location for these may or may not be. The nail clippers are here too because catching a nail and needing to trim it is an all too common task.

The moist wipes are extra insurance against saddle sores and infections. Cleanliness is absolutely paramount to avoiding any issues that can make riding exceptionally unpleasant or even terminate a trip.

The map case on top of the Ortlieb left a lot to be desired.

The material and closure system was very waterproof but vulnerable to accidental damage. I went through 2 of the pricy official ($25.00) cases before giving up. The solution was to use inexpensive poly bags an adapt the mounting system. I was so pleased with the result I made a YouTube video showing how I did it. It is now a few years old and if I did it again I would likely use epoxy but it is still relevant nonetheless.

By replacing the snaps with magnets and reclaiming some pieces of the original I have a very inexpensive system that works great. In normal use it has only 2 maps in it at any time. I keep the current map and the next one in the case. Up to a 30 day supply of maps are stored in a pannier. Maps that are behind me on the route are mailed home and future ones are sent as needed.


Inside the main compartment, along with the cubes are:

The left side pocket is for security & safety

There are only 2 items here:
The knife is a good utility type with a serrated blade. The light is only good for seeing where you are cutting nothing further away than that. The pepper spray I have carried for many years as a precaution for dogs, bears and morons, not necessarily in that order. While I have run into all 3 of the concerns none have been discharged. Ever. This is about the 5th or 6th one since they do have an expiration date.

The right side pocket is on-bike sun care:

Here is the sunscreen and the lip protection. Brands and styles change as I find them, these are bought and discarded as needed: