Lightweight & Performance oriented: Test Ride with the Apidura Expedition Bikepacking Packs

Leicht & Performance-orientiert: Testfahrt mit den Apidura Expedition Bikepacking Packs

Note:

At my wish and request, the bags reviewed here were provided to me by Apidura for testing. I mention brands and models, which is why this is advertising.

These bags need no introduction: Apidura is one of the best known manufacturers of bikepacking bags and has an excellent reputation.

Behind Apidura is a group (currently around 15 people) of passionate bikepackers, racers and tourers who each for themselves have covered many kilometers in the saddle and from this experience develop their products. It all started with the participation in the Tour Divide, after which the two Apidura founders decided to build robust and equally lightweight bags, optimized for racing and tough challenges.

Thus Apidura was born. The brand name is derived from API, the Latin word for bee, and DURA for Durability. Why it should be a bee is probably due to an idea from co-founder Tori.

If you’re more interested in the story and the people behind the London brand, I recommend the Bikerumor podcast with Tori Fahey, one of the founders of Apidura:

What I like most about Apidura is that they don’t want to “please”, but are confident in their work and in their solutions. This is especially expressed in this great statement:

We don’t do ‘seasons’, limited editions or discount our gear – we simply create the best possible technical Bikepacking gear that’s built to last.

I have been able to ride and try many bags and yet there are always differences. I find this variety and range of different styles impressive and rewarding.

If I had to rank Apidura here, I would say Apidura are the go-to choice for fast racing and light adventure.

On the road with Apidura

Let me explain: I associate Apidura mainly with ultra-endurance races and events like the Transcontinental Race, the Transatlantic Way or even the competitive part of the Orbit360 series. There it’s all about maximization through minimization, efficiency and results. Low weight with enough volume and practical product features that testify to a deep understanding of the demands of a race play a big role here.

Apidura bags are often the lightest in this regard compared to the competition, offer the right size for the appropriate bike in their product line diversity, and with the cable and hydration tube openings also the practical solution for challenges on the long haul. And they are very easy and intuitive to install. They also have interesting and quite innovative accessories, like the Downtube Bag or the Packable Backpack.

We have no interest in convincing anyone to buy our product only to have it gather dust on a shelf. There’s enough crap in the world. We’re all about building quality gear that helps people do the things they love. And there are enough people out there who share our values and our mindset. (Tori Fahey at The Spokesmen)

Apidura has three series on offer:

– The Backcountry Series, which is aimed at gravel bikers and MTB riders.
– The Racing Series, aimed at ultra-endurance and Audax riders.
– The Expedition Series, which is aimed at long-distance fans and, interestingly, road riders.

I requested three Expedition Series bags and one Race Series bag for the test:

– Expedition Saddle Pack with 14 liters
– Expedition Handlebar Pack with 14 liters
– Expedition Frame Pack with 4.5 liters
– Racing Bolt-On Top Tube Pack with 1 liter

 

Test ride with…

Expedition Saddle Pack 14L

Apidura Expedition Saddle Pack 14L

When it comes to saddlebags, it’s all about easy, wobble-free attachment. The Expedition Saddle Pack needs two straps on the saddle rail and two more on the saddle frame. Thus, it is sufficiently fixed even when loaded, and not only on the road, but also off-road. And it does not wobble, but sits firmly. The bag is easy and quick to mount and remove. I like that already very much.

The yellow honeycombs reflect

The Saddle Pack is constructed of Apidura’s proprietary ultra-lightweight 3-layer material that is waterproof laminated and made of extra durable nylon. The bag’s attachment points are reinforced with Hypalon, a rubberized nylon that provides extra protection against friction and abrasion. Hypalon is made by DuPont and is a durable elastomer.

And what I find particularly good: where other manufacturers include a visible valve to let the air escape when compressing, Apidura relies on a so-called “hands-free” own solution and lets the air escape “invisibly” via a special and waterproof air hole design.

14 liters is not a lot, but I got my sleeping bag, some clothes, some food and my sleeping pad in there. I would also see this size more for a bikepacking trip in the summer, or when it may be more minimalist. Normally I drive 16L large saddlebags and appreciate the 2 extra liters very much. So who gets along with less best, which is well supplied with the Apidura.

Fits a lot in

What I noticed when packing: the Apidura bag is also slightly “rubberized” inside. This is probably the TPU film or the lamination. In any case, this prevents things from simply sliding in. My sleeping bag was from the pack volume so that it has filled the Saddle Pack in diameter. Normally I then shake the bag and the sleeping bag slides in. With the Apidura prevents the inner rubber lining and it goes a little heavier. Presumably, however, this braking effect will pass with time of use.

With a rubber band on top of the bag, you can also additionally attach or clamp things. For example, the jacket to dry.

The Closures

The closures of the saddle bag look delicate at first glance. Revelate Designs also uses such click closures and I could not yet determine that these break or go defective. In any case, they hold even under tension and fix the bag to the saddle post very reliably and close the bag well even under pressure.

Closures for the saddle rail fixation

At the seatpost, the bag is fixed with Velcor straps. This are according to Apidura also suitable for carbon seatposts. In addition, the bag is still covered with a velor-like fabric to the seat tube.

Two Velcro straps on the 14L version

The weight of the Saddle Pack is according to the manufacturer 350g – reweighed 300g. This makes it by far the lightest bag I know. Even the 17L variant weighs only 425g according to Apidura.

The Saddle Pack is available in sizes 9L, 14L and 17L. To be able to attach them, it needs at least cm seat post and a distance of 20cm between saddle and rear wheel.

With a price of 142 euros, it is in the upper range, but is not the most expensive in the market.

The Saddle Pack from behind

Comparison with saddlebags from other manufacturers:

Brand Apidura Ortlieb Topeak Revelate Restrap
Model Expedition Saddle Pack Seat-Pack Backloader Terrapin Saddle Bag
Volume 14L 16,5L 15L 14L 14L
Weight 350g 456g 565g 567g 630g
Price                     142,00 €                    140,00 €                        85,00 €                        160,00 €                        132,00 €

 

Expedition Frame Pack 4,5L

Apidura Expedition Frame Pack 4,5L

With the Frame Pack Apidura shows the whole diversity of their offer: there is this frame bag in five different sizes, which makes it ideally suited for different frame sizes and requirements. In addition to a 3L, 4.5L and 5.3L version, it is also available for larger frames as 5L and 6.5L variant.

Frame Pack at the Fargo

So that the user finds the right model, Apidura also offers a practical size finder on the product page, which shows the right size and bag depending on the bike brand and model. This saves you the stencil-cutting and measuring.

The frame bag has two compartments. On the left side is a narrow compartment for flatter things, such as a multitool, wallet, a bar or tissues.
The main compartment is on the right side. Here is a little more space for odds and ends, such as spare tube, tools, food, clothes.

The left and narrower compartment

In addition, there is also a small additional pocket with zipper for keys for example. On the left side you should really pack only flatter things purely, because otherwise it presses into the space of the right side and takes away space there. But I did notice that when loaded, the bag doesn’t build up wide like other bags do. The Frame Pack holds its shape and doesn’t bulge outward particularly.

The right compartment with additional pocket

With a volume of 4.5L, this bag is ideal from my point of view for light bikepacking or the longer ride when it times not so much needs. In the cold season I usually need more space for all the extra clothes. But in the summer that already fits, especially since the bag also from the cut leaves enough space for a bottle in the frame triangle – with correspondingly large frame.

Plus point is the built-in opening for cables or drinking tubes. This is really helpful, especially if you are longer on the road and want to charge your navigator or light, or even with hydration bladder rides and the hose does not want to lead out over the zipper.

Opening for drinking tube or cable

The frame pack is attached to the top tube with Velcro straps. These are also suitable for carbon frames. The position of the front strap is variable. The strap is also quite long, which should fit especially with thicker top tubes. The fixation is secure and solid, even if the longer front strap then builds up a bit with narrower top tubes. The rear strap closes normally, but the end stood a little high and I came from time to time with my leg to it. But that is different from frame to frame.

Three straps for fixation to the top tube

At the saddle and down tube, the bag is fixed with normal straps. This is very simple and fast. Only with gloves handling and attachment is problematic.

As with the saddle bag, the 3-layer Apidura laminate is used here, which is very light and waterproof. The zippers are protected again by a cover against dirt and splashing water. I also had a lot of rain during my test rides, but could never determine water penetration. The zippers are often a predetermined breaking point.

Their durability I could not test now, of course, but I know from Apidura riders inside that these eventually get dirty and close harder. This can be counteracted with regular cleaning and greasing (ass lotion). In addition, it is also helpful not to overload the bag and thus not to make the pressure on the closures too high.

Strap for the handlebar tube

The weight is 170g according to the manufacturer – reweighed 200g. Thus, it is also very light. Even the 6.5L variant weighs only 210g according to Apidura. With a price of 102 euros, it is in the upper range.

Comparison with frame bags from other manufacturers:

Brand

Apidura Ortlieb Topeak Revelate Restrap
Model Expedition Frame Pack Frame-Pack Toptube Midloader Tangle Frame Bag Frame Bag L
Volume 4,5L 4L 4,5L 4L 4,5L
Weight 170g 170g 195g 249g 255g
Price                     102,00 €                    100,00 €                       55,00 €                      100,00 €                          90,00 €

 

Expedition Handlebar Pack 14L

Apidura Expedition Handlebar Pack 14L

The handlebar pack from Apidura is available in a 9L and a 14L version. The 9L bag is aimed more at minimalists or road cyclists who are also on the road with narrower drop bar and are looking for a bag for this. Interestingly, both the 9L and the 14L variant are according to Apidura website with 46cm the same length. However, the smaller variant also compresses to 30cm wide, whereas the larger variant allows for 33cm minimum width.

The handlebar pack in action

Made of waterproof, very lightweight 3-layer Apidura laminate, the Handlebar Pack also has an “invisible” valve, which helps immensely when compressing the bag. The handlebar roll is open on both sides, which allows flexible packing. Closed both sides by roll closure and click closers.

I have criticized other handlebar bags, such as Ortlieb, that these must be removed again and again from the handlebars for proper packing. Because loading on the handlebars is not really practical and the bag can not be compressed well. In terms of fastening, however, the Apidura differs significantly, because it relies on only three relatively simple straps: two at the top of the handlebars and one on the handlebar tube.

Easy attachment

Initially, I was slightly irritated, as I had expected more here. But once attached and tightened, the Handlebar Pack holds securely and firmly. Even a tightening on the road, as I know it from other bags quite, it did not need here. In addition, it can be easily removed, which I see as a thick plus. The only limitation: with gloves, the attachment is not well doable. Since it needs fingers to thread the straps into the buckles.

Attached to handlebar

14L volume is not much, but also not too little. In the summer, the role should be quite sufficient to transport, for example, tent, sleeping bag, washing stuff and odds and ends.

However, as with the Saddle Pack, the Handlebar Pack is lightly rubberized on the inside. This then ensures that the things do not slip in so optimally.

The clipper for the additional pocket

On the handlebar pulley are also mounted three closure counterparts. Here can be optionally and easily attached the Apidura Expedition Accessory Pocket, which brings another 4.5L volume. Otherwise, the elastic band on the front of the Handlebar Pack can be used to additionally clamp light things.

The elastic band at the front

The weight of the 14L handlebar bag is according to the manufacturer at 275g and reweighed at 250g.
This makes it by far the lightest handlebar roll I know. And with a price of 118 euros, it is even positioned in the midfield.

Fixation of the Handlebar Pack to the steering tube

Comparison with handlebar rollers from other manufacturers:

Brand Apidura Ortlieb Topeak Revelate Restrap
Model Expedition Handlebar PACK Handlebar-Pack Frontloader Sweetroll Bar Bag
Volume 14L 15L 8L 15L 14L
Weight 275g 420g 386g 312g 550g
Price                     118,00 €                     120,00 €                        75,00 €                       120,00 €                        144,00 €

 

Racing Bolt-On Top Tube Pack

Apidura Racing Bolt-On Top Tube Pack

When it comes to cockpit bags, a tight fit is very important to me. They shouldn’t slide back and forth while riding and the contents should be easily and quickly accessible. That’s why I’m a fan of so-called Bolt-On bags, which are bolted to eyelets in the top tube instead of just securing them with Velcro.

In the Expedition series Apidura unfortunately offers no bolt-on bags, which is why I ordered the Top Tube Pack from the Racing series for testing.

According to Apidura, it is made for ultra-distance racing and fast gravel riding. It is made from a fabric called Hexalon. This is a material made specifically for Apidura. Hexalon is a tightly woven nylon, with a TPU laminate on one side and a PU coating on the other.

This makes it waterproof, ultralight, abrasion resistant and resistant to sweat and tears. And anyone who has ever been “properly” on the road with a bike knows that the dripping sweat can be quite stubborn against the material and frame paint.

Waterproof thanks to Hexalon

The bag is closed by a magnetic closure, which closes impressively well and easily. So it is also easy to open and close the pocket while riding. The lid falls back on its own and thus closes almost automatically. However, you must also not overload the bag, otherwise the lid no longer closes and things can fall out.

The magnetic closer

The advantage of this type of closure is that the entire contents are more easily accessible than is the case with zippered bags. And Apidura has managed to make the whole thing quite waterproof as well. I’ve ridden through rain with this bag and even spraying it with water after a ride, no water got in.

Good access to the content

Inside, you can remove the “fluffy” bottom and then find a total of 4 holes with two positions for the screws. Thus, the bag can be adapted to many thread distances and also the distance to the steering tube can be changed so. The corresponding screws with shims are included.

Two positions for the screws

The Top Tube Pack builds up very narrow, but still has 1L capacity. I have transported there mostly tissues, Klite USB charger and a pack of M&Ms. I particularly like the opening for cable routing. Especially on ultra-distance rides, the power supply for navigation and lights is quite relevant.

Opening for cable

In the Top Tube can ride so a power bank, from which a cable leads to the handlebars, without the pocket must be partially open. The cable opening is sealed accordingly well, so that water can not enter.

Strap for fixing on the steering tube

I would have liked to see a side compartment inside the bag. But then again, that’s extra weight. And here the Top Tube Pack is unbeatable: only 100g it brings according to the manufacturer and reweighed on the scale.

With 60 euros it costs not little, but moves in the range of higher-quality competitors.

Space for odds and ends

Comparison with handlebar wheels from other manufacturers:

Brand Apidura Ortlieb Topeak Revelate Restrap
Model Racin Bolt-On Top Tube Pack Cockpit-Pack Toploader MAG-TANK™ Bolt-On Bolt-On Top Tube Pack
Volume 1L 0,8L 0,75L 1L 0,8L
Weight 100g 82g 169g 128g 100g
Price                       60,00 €                      50,00 €                       35,00 €                          65,00 €                          42,00 €

 

Summary

The test set at a glance

If you are looking for lightweight, high-quality bags and want to benefit from the experience of many ultra-distance riders, bikepackers and bike tourers, Apidura is the right choice. In addition, I like the attitude of this company very much, which is nowadays quite a relevant purchase decision.

From my point of view, Apidura is a good choice especially for the sportier riders, for the racer or racers and gravelers. But that doesn’t exclude everyone else.

When you need to go fast and the weight matters

Through their three lines Expedition, Racing and Backcountry Apidura covers all needs and has within these quite interesting detail solutions, as in the Backcountry Full Frame Pack or the Racing Frame Pack.

Price-wise, they are positioned in the higher segment, but in addition to first-class workmanship, there are also smart solutions, such as cable and drinking tube openings or the “invisible” valve.

So if you have to pay attention to the weight and do not want to make any compromises in performance, you can not avoid Apidura.

The test equipment on the bike
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