DIY Dirtbag Bikepacking Stuff Sack Mount and Bag Support

I’m spending the cold rainy days assembling a bikepacking rig. I’m thinking out loud with this setup but I think it has merit.

I ran across an Ikea VARIERA plastic bag dispenser for $2. The core section struck me as a perfect support to use with a stuff/dry bag for a bikepacking handlebar or cargo rack pack.

Ikea VARIERA plastic bag dispenser
Ikea VARIERA plastic bag dispenser

It took seconds to cut the flat back panel free of the curved front section. There is a bottom piece that simply snaps off. That leaves the section that is 17.5″ long , 13.25″ measuring across the arc, 9″ across as it sits unloaded and it weighs 5.8oz.

The bare center section of the bag holder:ikea bag holder 1a

OR compression dry sack strapped in place:ikea bag holder 2a
Bottom view:
ikea bag holder 3a

There is room for a torso-length RidgeRest pad:ikea bag holder 4a

Many bikepacking handlebar bags use a roll-top dry bag supported by some sort of stiff panel and webbing straps for attaching the stuff sack and mounting to the handlebars. IMHO any bike luggage needs to carry the load with attention to stability and secure attachment with safety in mind. The system needs to provide good access and protect the contents. Durability, weight and cost are factors as with any hiking gear.

My load-hauling strategy is rack based rather than bikepacking handlebar and seat bags. I use my bike for rail trails and local/urban use, so trail clearance is not a concern and package handling is on the list. The racks on my bike were dirt cheap and the combined load capacity nearly 100 pounds! I have no thought of getting close to that.

Modified Novara Bonita

I do have waterproof panniers, but I do have waterproof stuff sacks for a lighter setup more worthy of an UL hiking style load. I recently acquired an OR Dry Peak Bagger waterproof backpack that gives me 29 liters of hauling volume in a 9.6oz package. My plan is to use the OR pack on the back rack and an Outdoor Research Hydroseal Drycomp Sack #3 (33.9L) on the front rack. That leaves the pack for day hike and town use without adding more gear and weight. The two bags together give me 63 liters maximum storage— more than enough for UL multi-day trips. I’m sure I could get by with the backpack and a ~13L dry bag on the front rack. I want to keep the front load to a minimum, planning on a small bag with compressed sleeping and camp insulation.

Having the bags shift and slide or droop is a concern and that is where the bikepacking handlebar bags use a stiff panel to keep the stuff sack secure and stable. The re-purposed Ikea item is stiff enough and all those holes allow the use of bungie cords and webbing straps. Note in the photos below that the stuff sack has a daisy chain down the side, creating the perfect opportunity to keep the bag from squirting out of the support. A strap or bungie cord across each end could help keep a bag in place–if needed at all. Line to could be used to the same purpose. I plan to use the same straps to secure the bags and to hold the whole works onto the rack.

One concern is rubbing holes in the dry bags. Smoothing any sharp corners or edges would be easy and well advised. It is long for a handlebar bag with flat bars. The problem in cutting it down is the long slots in the center of the holder. It could be trimmed to about 9″ long using one slot’s worth, leaving a little over half the length to use. If you have bars with a some sweep like my North Road style bars, the grips are well out of the way and the whole section can be used.

Rounded corners and sanded edges
Rounded corners and sanded edges

Have bike, will travel!


4 thoughts on “DIY Dirtbag Bikepacking Stuff Sack Mount and Bag Support

  1. Kurstin Graham February 9, 2015 / 8:12 am

    I work at a community bike shop, the Reno Bike Project in Reno, NV, and your bike build and DIY bike camping rack are inspiring. Keep it coming and we are looking forward to your next project! We get a fair number of tourists through our shop each year. If you make it down this way please stop in.

  2. cenminzhao February 15, 2015 / 11:38 am

    This looks like an excellent idea to keep your dry bag stabilized when strapped to your handlebars. Let us know how it works out once you try it out.

    • dalesjournal February 15, 2015 / 1:51 pm

      I don’t plan to use it on my bars, but I have tried on my racks using plain webbing straps with ladder buckles and it works fine for that. For this size, it works best on the rear rack, parallel with the frame. It is okay mounted cross-wise on my small front rack, but it is 17.5″ (44cm) wide if you can deal with that.

      I did mock it up on my handlebars and as I mentioned, it works as is with bars that have some sweep (turn back towards the rider). It is so wide that it would hit the brake handles on flat bars. As mentioned in my post, it could be cut down, but the large center slots create some challenges. I’m not a fan of handlebar bags in general.

      I’m keeping an eye out for large diameter plastic pipe or other cast-off tubular plastic products. I can imagine putting a stuff sack in a pipe and then filling it with soft stuff like clothing and sleep gear. The wall of the tube could be slotted to hold the webbing. If you have the means, the pipe could be cut in half lengthwise to look more like this project. IMHO, recycled/repurposed projects like this are best when cheap and deployed with as little labor as possible.

      Thanks for looking!

  3. Brett April 18, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    I recently made a similar rig for my handlebars. I used the plastic from the sidewall of a Lowe’s bucket, just cut off the lid and handle section and remove the bottom. You can cut it to size, it’s cheap, and easy to cut slots for webbing. Like your idea, I used a dry bag inside. It works well on the handlebars and doesn’t impede brakes or shifting.

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