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Alpkit Toploader



Very well made and impressively weather-resistant bag that's easy to live with
Tough build
Very resistant to rain
Easy to use
Slightly smaller than claimed
Not completely waterproof

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Alpkit Toploader handlebar bag is great – a very useful size, easy to access and impressively weatherproof. It's built very tough in the UK, too. It's easy to recommend.

For more options, check out our guide to the best bikepacking bags – and our feature 15 easy ways to carry stuff on your bike for even more ideas.

> Buy now: Alpkit Toploader for £63.99 from Alpkit

At 4L this is just right for stashing anything you might need quickly – a waterproof, tools, phone, a neck tube, snacks. Or all those things at once. It's still small enough to be unobtrusive, though, and doesn't interfere with any hand positions on the bars.

2024 Alpkit Top Loader 4L Canister Handlebar Bag - loop for carry strap.jpg

I do wish it were big enough to take an OS map; it should just squeeze one in at a claimed 25 x 15cm, but I measured ours at 24 x 14cm. Those missing centimetres, and a 23.5cm zip, mean even a regular OS (24cm x 13.5cm) won't go. Shame.

> Cycling emergency essentials: the 10 things you should take with you on every ride

The very hardwearing outer fabric (X-Pac X11 three-layer laminate and 500D Cordura nylon, doncha know) is impressively water resistant, as is the YKK AquaGuard zip. And the big plastic T-handle on the draw cord is a welcome detail – it makes dragging it open and closed far easier, especially in gloves.

2024 Alpkit Top Loader 4L Canister Handlebar Bag - zip pull.jpg

It dealt with plenty of downpours during the test period, and even a full hour of heavy, unceasing rain didn't get through to the inside. It's not totally waterproof, though, and the seams aren't taped; leave it drenched long enough (such as overnight) and the dampness will make its way into the contents. Still, the zip doesn't leak and it's protective enough for most single-day rides, especially if you use a plastic bag inside.

2024 Alpkit Top Loader 4L Canister Handlebar Bag - bar straps.jpg

If you want complete waterproofing you're better off with a roll-top (roll-sides?) design such as (if you're sticking with Alpkit) the 3L, £19.99 Deluge, but you do lose the quick-entry convenience of a zip.

The Toploader's lining is PU-coated nylon, and (at least in this khaki version) bright red to help you find your things, and it's foam backed for protection. The end result cradles your belongings quite softly and keeps its canister shape pretty well – the wetter it gets, though, the more it will sag. Still, that never caused me any issues, and it goes back to cylindrical as it dries.

2024 Alpkit Toploader 4L_liner.jpg

Attachment is easy via two hook-and-loop straps for the handlebar and one long one for the head tube. The length is good and they're very grippy. I had zero problems with them moving or the bag rattling, even on forest gravel.

2024 Alpkit Top Loader 4L Canister Handlebar Bag - head tube strap.jpg

You also get a loop on the front for lights and loops either end of the zip for attaching a shoulder strap (not included), should you want to turn this into a damp, filthy little handbag for some reason. Though you certainly don't have to explain it to me.


At £63.99 this is priced reasonably against similar competition. Last year Stu reviewed the 23 x 14cm Topeak Tubular Barbag, which is £67.99, and the Carradice Baja Bar Bag, which costs £52. Strangely, Carradice claims a capacity of 3.5L for the 28 x 14cm Baja, while this smaller Alpkit is allegedly 4L. Something's a bit off somewhere...

Arguably boosting the value is the fact that Alpkit sells these with a 25-year guarantee, which goes by the name of Bond. Alpine Bond. "If one of our products does not meet your expectations upon delivery, or if during its lifetime does not live up to the demands placed upon it, please return it to us for repair, replacement or refund. If the problem is our fault then we will do this to your satisfaction." So says Alpkit.

Basically, if it fails because of the materials or workmanship during the next quarter of a century, Alpkit will fix it. That's a pretty impressive level of confidence, and not just in that we'll all still be here in 25 years time.


Overall, this is a tough and useful bag that's very easy to access, install and remove. Though not completely waterproof, it copes very well with prolonged rain, and while slightly smaller than claimed it's still plenty big enough for the essentials. It's a handy and dependable thing to have.


Very well made and impressively weather-resistant bag that's easy to live with test report

Make and model: Alpkit Toploader canister handlebar bag

Size tested: 4L

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Alpkit says: "Compact and easy access storage for day ride essentials: a weatherproof canister handlebar bag with 4-litre capacity. Sustainably made in the UK.

"Toploader is a weatherproof handlebar bag with a zipped entry and 4L capacity. Sitting neatly between drop bars, it provides plenty of easy access storage on long day rides – whether on gravel or tarmac. The hardwearing waterproof fabrics and water-resistant YKK AquaGuard zips are designed to protect your kit from all but the heaviest rain. A spacious main compartment is big enough for a lunchtime sandwich and a lightweight waterproof jacket. We've added mesh side pockets for stashing snacks or arm warmers on the move. Toploader is built to last in our UK Factory and covered by our 25-year Alpine Bond."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Alpkit lists these highlights and details:

Product overview:

Top-loading with a zipped entry for easy access

Weatherproof construction protects your kit

Highly abrasion and tear-resistant fabrics

Reinforced construction for durability

Waterproof X11 and Cordura® fabrics (not seam-taped)

Water-resistant YKK AquaGuard® zips

Stretchy mesh side pockets

Hypalon light attachment patch

Foam-lined to protect your contents

Loops for attaching a shoulder carry strap

Made in our UK Factory

25 year Alpine Bond

Technical details:


Exterior: X-Pac® X11 3-layer laminate (100% organic cotton duck / recycled polyester X-PLY / polyester film backer), 500D Cordura® nylon, hypalon

Lining: 222D nylon with PU coat

Zip: YKK AquaGuard®


Size: 25cm x 15cm (W x D)

Capacity: 4L


Bag: 135g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Strong build, very weatherproof, easy to use, big toggle on zip.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Slightly smaller than claimed; taped seams for full waterproofing would be nice.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

There are cheaper options, but this seems like a reasonable price when compared with bags of a similar quality.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Though it's not entirely waterproof it's admirably resistant to rain, and it feels like a reasonable trade-off (against a waterproof roll-top) for the convenience of the zip. It's very well made too. It's very good, doing its job without fuss.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,

Add new comment


Veloism | 1 month ago
1 like

Massivley overpriced, bearing in mind this is Alpkit.

The Restrap cannister bag can be bought for £45 - a much better buy.

Rendel Harris | 1 month ago

It's still small enough to be unobtrusive, though, and doesn't interfere with any hand positions on the bars.

Unless your formative cycling years were in the '80s and you grew up copying the hand either side of the stem position of greats like Lemond and Millar; still use this when the road gets over about 10%, I wonder why it went out of fashion?

Steve Williams replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago

Personally I find have my arms wider just makes it that little bit easier to breathe - I wonder if others do too? Got to love the toe clips, 5mm-wide tyres and aero bouffants in that picture! So very 80s. And is that a Renault 12 in the background?!

Rendel Harris replied to Steve Williams | 1 month ago

Think you're correct on the Renault. I don't find it makes any difference to breathing, because if you look at the picture their upper arms are actually as wide if not a little wider than they would be if they were on the hoods. If they were riding with straight arms then definitely it would be more constrictive, but not in the natural climbing position of bent elbows, at least I don't find it so.

swagman | 1 month ago

Nice place to keep your pencils.cheeky

Steve Williams replied to swagman | 1 month ago
1 like

I also carry a protractor so I can see how steep the climbs are.

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