What's In Your Handlebar Bag?
Gravel riding is all the rage these days; a little road, a little dirt, and a lot of fun. Whether you’re a weekend warrior, an epic-day racer or an explorer with wanderlust, you’ve gotta load up and be equipped.
And that often means that fashion accessory that identifies you—without saying a word— among the grav-grav brethren: a burrito bag. Burrito bag, handlebar bag— heck, top tube bento box, whatever it is, wherever it’s installed on the bike, it’s our little satchel of goodies. With the propensity to ride in flannel and jorts, we gotta put our stuff somewhere, right?
But what's in those bags? How should we load our own? We asked three of our in-house gravel experts—Obed builder Austin Sullivan, Obed engineer Brad Devaney and Obed marketing specialist Jay Prasuhn—how they load up for a day on their Obed Boundary gravel bike. There’s no right or wrong way to load up for a day (or week) on the trails… but it’s always good to hear some ideas.
Austin, who you may remember from his Georgia-to-Tennessee interstate ride last fall aboard his Obed Boundary— is Obed’s ultra endurance rider. It’s less about the race, and more about the adventure as he rides the trails and roads around the southeastern states. “I love steep and techy climbs over long weekend efforts,” he says.
So what’s in his burrito bag?
“Funny you should mention ‘burrito’ bag, Sullivan says with a laugh. “I carried a couple Amy’s burritos with me on my last 100+ mile gravel ride.” The bar bag isn’t his only go-to for ride day storage. “I do tend to carry a litany of bags- top tube, feed bag and downtube tool bag,” he says. “I hate things being in my jersey pockets.”
Sullivan rides with water in his bottles “though Tailwind powder occasionally makes its way in there,” but because his rides take him into hinterland areas without a soul around, he also carries a water filter to draw from area creeks when needed. “I’ll often carry my Katadyn beFree water filter for fast and quality filtering.”
When he’s not bringing carne asada along for the ride, here’s how he loads up for a big day.
- Clif Shot Blocks
- Honey Stinger Waffles
- Sports Legs anti-cramp capsules
- Combos, cheddar flavor “For anything over four hours, I try to bring some real food,” he says. “Lately, that’s been Cheddar Combos.”
- Dynaplug Pill. “Recently had a sidewall puncture on my Boundary in the middle of the Fried Clay 200k ride in Georgia,”Sullivan says. “Luckily, I’d packed my Dynaplug and it sealed right up after a couple pumps from the mini pump.”
Brad, the design mind behind the Obed Boundary, loves to ride. Period. Everything. Anything. For that reason, his “burrito bag” is actually a top tube “bento box” bag. And a bar feed bag, And a top tube “bento box.” He can be found riding gravel fireroads, paved paths and singletrack any given day, shuttling between a variety of bikes, if he’s not on the start line of an epic race like Unbound.
“My top tube bag gets shuttled between bikes, into the car (after ride snacks), and is essentially loved like my mother’s “magic purse” when I was a kid.,” DeVaney says. “Because of my desire of the TT bag being portable, I’ve begun to abandon bolt-on units and prefer Velcro-strapped models. Cedaero is my favorite brand top tube TT bag.”
DeVaney runs a standard “burrito” bar bag, on pretty much any bike. “Having a couple at home, my favorite is a Revelate Designs,” he says. “ The side mesh pockets are ideal for empty wrappers and the one-handed drawstring open/close feature is money.”
Finally, his main bag is his deep, cylyndrical handlebar-mounted “feed bag,” capable of holding food or bottles. “It has become my go-to for both gravel and mtb,” DeVaney says. “It’s the perfect, most accessible “pocket” for needed hand-ups. As for longer checkpoint type events, I’ve occasionally mounted two feedbags, so that I can pack-mule four large bottles of liquid nutrition and hydration. “
His Lizard Skins behind-saddle bag takes care of the bike necessities—when he remembers to make sure it’s battle-ready. “It typically has my flat materials and sometimes a tool,” he says. “I’m bad about giving CO2’s and tools away and coming up short when I need them most. Twice I’ve found myself at Gravel City, late on a Friday, retooling my saddle bag for my fortunate and ritual DK100 spin.”
How does Brad generally load up his bags?
- Gels “A few, no more than two caffeinated”
- Solid sweet and savory foods. “My staple is typically tortilla rolls with a mixture of honey, cream cheese, or other sandwichy fillings." DeVaney says.
So, with a litany of options, which is his go-to bag? The one that packs a footlong during the lunch run. “Regardless of time or length, the ol’ feedbag is my ‘burrito bag’ of choice. It’s four miles from my desk to Subway and there’s no better way to tote my lunch."
Jay Prasuhn, a west-coast Obed Boundary owner, lives for the chunky fireroads and singletrack around San Diego, Calif., and has taken on Grinduro in Quincy, Calif. and the Belgian Waffle Ride San Diego and Cedar City, Utah events. He's not ever racing to win, but out for a good time. That means having everything needed to stay rolling.
His front-mounted bar bag is the Ornot Handlebar Bag Mini. One thing he's learned over time with that bag: put anything liquid or breakable in an old sock....or you'll be cleaning up whatever goopy mess ends up coagulating within.
"The bouncing on trails inevitably breaks multitools into pieces, breaks open a packet of gel, or a bottle of sealant," Prasuhn says. "I've found a sock helps these things bounce against one another with less damage—and noise. And when you get your hands dirty from pulling out a stuck chain or wiping away mud, you've got something to wipe your hands with."
- Peaty's sealant (packed in a sock). "With blue glitter already included in the packet, I've found it to be pretty good at sealing up punctures. Glitter for the win."
- Two SIS Isotonic Energy Gels (packed in sparesock) "I have a hard time eating while riding, and SIS is easy to drink down, even without water."
- Dynaplug Micro Pro Pill Tubeless Repair Kit "These things are expensive, but I've never found a better tubeless plug. With a brass plug end, I've never had one come loose."
- Rudy Project neck gaiter. "There's lots of multi-use trails out here with hikers, and it's just nice to be thoughtful and pull it up when coming upon hikers and other riders. Plus, several county trails require having a mask on hand. This does the trick.
- $5.00 "Because you never know when you need a Coke or bag of pretzels from a nearby market."