Last updated: August 18, 2021

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We know how important it is for you to be able to keep your belongings safe during a long journey, a short expedition or simply while you go about your daily business on a vehicle such as a motorbike, so we want to show you the best of saddlebags. It's almost unbelievable how much variety there is on the market, as they can vary in many different ways.

For this reason and more we have decided to show you all the technical characteristics and relevant factors so that you can get to know the product in depth and compare the best options on the market under your own criteria. Don't miss it!


  • Saddlebags are a type of bag or suitcase designed to carry objects mainly on vehicles or animals, such as bicycles, motorbikes or horses, and there are even saddlebags for use on foot. Their main benefit is comfort and adaptability depending on the use case to transport objects.
  • There are different types of saddlebags depending on their use, since a saddlebag does not need the same capacity and resistance when it is to contain the mobile phone, keys and some other personal object for a few hours, as when it is to carry kilograms of luggage for days of travel.
  • Saddlebags, however simple they may seem, are objects that can have several variations depending on the materials used in their manufacture, their strap or fastening, capacity and other factors that influence the durability and quality of the accessory.

The Best Saddlebags: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Anyone would think that buying saddlebags is a matter of minutes, but saddlebags have different features that can differentiate the ideal one, and it is really important to know every aspect of the item in question in order to make the best buying decision based on your own criteria.

Saddlebags are excellent companions for both long motorbike rides and short Sunday morning cycling expeditions. (Photo: Antonio Balaguer Soler / 123rf.Com)

What is a saddlebag and what are its advantages?

Saddlebags are a kind of bag, purse or suitcase, generally and traditionally made of leather and specifically designed to carry objects, can be used in cavalry, cycling, motorcycling and there are even individual saddlebags for use on foot.

The main benefit of the saddlebag is the convenience of carrying objects, as they are generally made as two bags that are fastened together, achieving an ideal weight balance and allowing greater portability to any object that fits inside them.

Nowadays there are many models of motorbikes that already include saddlebags on the sides of the seat, also on the back next to the spare wheel, depending on the model; in cycling they are usually attached to the steering wheel or under the seat to carry very small and specific tools.

  • Portability
  • Elegance
  • Durability
  • Limited space
  • Can collapse due to excess weight
  • Can deteriorate

Urban, travel or shopping saddlebags - what should you look out for?

Saddlebags have different uses and conditions of use, and whether for use on a bicycle, motorbike or on foot, there are often differences depending on the type of saddlebag, as one for carrying keys, wallet and mobile phone does not require the same strength as one that will carry several kilograms of luggage.

Urban saddlebag. It is usually sold individually, unlike the common saddlebags that include two backpacks. It has different compartments so that all the contents are organised and accessible, plus it usually has a strap or handle to easily deploy it to your final destination, such as the office or school.

Travel pannier. They usually come in pairs and do not include any compartments, as their purpose is to carry everything you need for the trip; they are simple, spacious and are usually made of durable and resistant materials.

Shopping panniers. They are very similar to the urban ones, only that they do not include compartments, just like the travel saddlebag, as their only objective is to have as much space as possible for shopping bags; they are usually more resistant than the urban ones.

Urban Saddlebag Travel Saddlebag Shopping Saddlebag
Capacity 6kg - 9kg and 14L - 18L 6kg - 9kg and 20L - 25L 6kg - 9kg and 18L - 22L
Space Shared Spacious Wide
Resistance Low High Medium

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate saddlebag models

Saddlebags, although they may seem like simple items that should be chosen only for their aesthetics and low price, are accessories that have factors and characteristics that you should know in depth to be able to choose the best purchase decision under your own criteria, in order to find the ideal option depending on the occasion of use.

  • Materials of construction
  • Straps
  • Capacity
  • Conditions of use

Manufacturing materials

Originally, saddlebags are made of leather, since it is a resistant and durable material, characteristics that this particular accessory must have since it will have to be exposed to different environments. They can be a faithful companion on long journeys, or simply a useful everyday accessory.

Nowadays you can find saddlebags made of different materials, some more durable and others less, depending on the quality, such as plastic or wool, each of these materials have advantageous aspects compared to the others. The most commonly used materials are:

Leather. Provides durability and strength, however, it is not waterproof, mainly due to the fact that its construction is usually not completely watertight; if it is to be used for a very long journey through a humid climate, it is recommended to use a plastic bag to protect its contents.

Wool. Mainly used for walking saddlebags, as they offer greater elasticity and adapt very well to the body and position. They usually have outside pockets on both the front and back, but it is a material with little durability, as it can tear easily.

Plastic. It is a waterproof raw material, but can also be very resistant, depending on the quality of manufacture. It is a material widely used nowadays, the disadvantage is that the models are specific as they are not mouldable to the shape on which it is used.


It is really important to have high quality straps, as they are responsible for keeping our saddlebags together and on the surface to which we have attached them.

Depending on the use of the saddlebag the type of strap will depend on the saddlebag, for example, in the cavalry, ropes or belts tied to the saddle are usually used.

Whatever the purpose of the saddlebags, they should have straps that adapt to the surface to keep the contents secure, even if it is necessary to reach high speeds or traverse uneven terrain. It is important to note that the security of the contents also depends on good weight balance.

There are different types of straps for attaching saddlebags, with simple hooks, quick release systems and even simple Velcro straps, because there are cases where it is necessary to be able to quickly and easily remove the saddlebag, so choose the system that suits you best.

The materials used to manufacture saddlebag straps can vary, generally they are made of leather or heavy tapes, known as polypropylene tapes, the latter are the most recommended, since they offer greater strength and durability, as they are difficult to tear or break, besides being much cheaper.

It is recommended that before purchasing a saddlebag, you make sure that the strap has the correct length or can be adjusted; in most cases, saddlebags contain instructions regarding the maximum weight they can support, the ideal is to know it and respect it to preserve the welfare of your items during the trip.


Saddlebags usually include precise instructions regarding the maximum weight they can carry; it is best to know this beforehand to know if it is useful for the occasion of use, as an excess in weight capacity could lead to a collapse, and therefore a loss or deterioration in the contents of the saddlebag in question.

The capacity of saddlebags is measured in volume and maximum weight, as the size and also the load capacity can vary. On average, a simple bicycle saddlebag usually has a capacity of around 20 litres volume and 9 kilograms maximum weight.

Conditions of use

The primary use of saddlebags is to carry objects, but the conditions of use may vary according to need, as they can be used on motorbikes, bicycles and more. Each of these conditions can expose these accessories to different situations, so it is useful to make this clear.

Horsemanship. This is the original use for which this accessory began to be used, they are usually made of leather and are held by a rope or belt that passes over the animal's back, leaving each saddlebag hanging on the sides of the horse. There are also variations in which several small saddlebags are used around the saddle.

Motorcycling. These saddlebags are very similar to those used on horses, as they are attached in much the same way and the saddlebags hang from the sides, they can also be placed next to the spare wheel (in some cases) or a very small saddlebag at the front and under the steering wheel to carry very small items.

Cycling. These are usually made of wool or plastic, as they do not need to be as strong. They are generally used under the seat, in front of the steering wheel, or two medium-sized saddlebags on the sides of the rear wheel in the case of bicycles with a rack on the rear wheel.

On foot. These are usually made of wool because of the comfort and elasticity they provide. The saddlebag is usually fastened with a rope over the wearer's shoulder, keeping one side on the person's chest and the other on their back.

(Featured image photo: Annelie Krause / 123rf.Com)

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