Last month I got a chance to preview a new line of bikepacking bags from Blackburn on the Sawtooth Ridge trail outside of Lake Tahoe. The Outpost Elite lineup offers a refined experience and a near-universal fit to make kitting up for bikepacking dead simple.
Outpost Elite Universal Seat Pack
Blackburn designed their Outpost Elite seat pack to be compatible with dropper posts which is welcome news to many mountain bikers. The pack uses an alloy “wing” that securely attaches the bag to the seat rails, eliminating the need to secure the pack to the post itself. Of course this allows the dropper post to function, but doesn’t guarantee the bag won’t buzz your rear tire, so use caution!
The pack is designed with a harness system so the inner bag — the part that holds all the stuff — can be removed without having to undo any straps. The bag is waterproof and features an air-bleed valve to make everything compact.
I actually got a chance to test ride a bike kitted out with the seat pack and all the other bags mentioned below on a (rigid) gravel bike, the Jamis Renegade. Riding rocky trails on skinny tires without suspension certainly takes some getting used to, but fortunately I didn’t have to worry about the packs or my cargo one bit. Everything stayed in place and rattle-free with no noticeable sway.
MSRP: $169.99 / €159.95 / £149.99
Outpost Elite Handlebar Roll
Every bikepacking setup needs a good handlebar roll, and Blackburn’s system looks to be pretty solid. Like the seat pack, the handlebar roll has a separate harness that’s attached to the bike, making it easy to remove the dry bag. Straps attach the bag to the harness, and the bag itself has elastic cords for strapping more items on top.
MSRP: $159.99 / €149.95 / £139.99
Outpost Elite Frame Bag
Every bike triangle is different, which makes finding a bag that both fits and maximizes available space a challenge. For this reason, many bikepackers end up going with a bag that’s been custom-designed and built for their bike size and frame configuration.
For those who just want to try bikepacking without having to think too much, Blackburn is offering the Outpost Elite Frame Bag in four sizes: small, medium short, medium tall, and large. Full suspension bikes are almost certainly out of luck, but chances are good one of these bags will fit your hardtail.
The bag itself is well thought out, offering multiple zippered openings and even open pockets on the outside for stashing flat-ish items. There’s a velcro divider or two inside the pack to help keep things organized. The zippers are stout and designed to keep the pack waterproof, which can make them difficult to operate in dusty conditions like those we experienced on the Sawtooth Ridge Trail. Fortunately a little bit of zipper lube (yep, it exists) should keep things running smoothly.
It turns out the bag is pretty waterproof: one of the guys on the ride had a beer in his pack that burst open mid-ride, and yet not a drop dripped out of the bag. We joked that all he needed was a long hydration hose to slurp the beer out of the pack.
$119.99 / €99.95 / £89.99 (Small)
$129.99 / €109.95 / £99.99 (Medium Short / Medium Tall)
$139.99 / €119.95 / £109.99 (Large)
Expect product availability beginning later this month.