Blackburn Outpost Elite Handlebar BagGET IT
A handlebar bag is one of those pieces of bikepacking gear that can make a trip easier—or become an insufferable pain every time you need to use it. We took the Outpost Elite bag on a trip this past fall to see if its design was overengineered or simple to use. Blackburn’s Outpost uses as a two-part system, with a rigid mount that grips 31.8- or 35-mm bars and then a removable 14-liter dry bag held on with straps. Adding the mount means tightening the aluminum arms over the bars, which is simple enough. Then things get interesting: The mount uses a pair of curved metal rails, each with a series of holes, that lets you move the curved wing that supports the bag up or down, pivoting it towards or away from the handlebars. It can be a bit fussy, so you’ll want to do this before a trip, but it’s a one-time adjustment that in the end means the bag sits low and close to the handlebars for better stability.
The last step is adding the bag to the wing, first by mating a hook and loop band, then by cinching down a pair of straps that tether to the handlebars. The waterproof dry bag feels well built, with sealed seams and a roll-top on each end. Well built, it has a pressure relief valve that makes squeezing out air and compacting the bag easy. We stuffed ours with a sleeping bag, inflatable pad, and camp slippers and didn’t have an issue squeezing down the footprint. The hook and loop tape is supposed to act as a third hand holding the bag secure while keeping your two hands free.
While we didn’t find it strong enough to hold the dry bag in place but it does help prevent side-to-side shifting during the ride. Cinched down, the bag doesn’t feel like it flops around much and the added bulk is something we got used to pretty quickly. Strapping the dry bag down and then undoing it to gain access to your gear is pretty simple too. There is a bungee system on top of the dry bag that helps keep small items at hand—we stuffed a shell in there but it could also hold a hydration bag’s tube. Molle straps out front also add additional gear toting options. About the only con is that between the two aluminum mount arms and the two straps, the Blackburn eats up quite a bit of handlebar space. We did manage to have enough room for a Garmin mount, but it was a tight squeeze.—Sal Vaglica, Men’s Journal contributor
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