By Adam Newman
Riders who do a lot of bikepacking and/or touring have been exploring lots of new ways to carry gear and while a couple of small designers and manufacturers have been going for a few years, a new bumper crop of options have been springing up like May flowers.
I learned of Handlebar Buckets during my endless wandering through bikepacking.net and dreaming of adventures. Their creator, Barry Ward, sews them one at a time in his workshop in downtown Flagstaff, Ariz. Ward has been stitching climbing gear and bags for more than a decade and the Buckets are somewhat similar in shape to a climbing chalk bag.
Each Bucket offers 100 cubic inches of storage, enough for a 1 liter Nalgene bottle, and they easily swallow the 24oz. water bottle pictured here. They attach with a Velcro strap around the bars and a smaller strap around the stem, then a buckle loops around your fork crown to keep them from swinging. They are rock solid once installed. They are left and right specific, though if you only had one you could swivel it and mount it on either side, but the Velcro straps would be backwards.
Depending on how your bike fits you might bump your knees on them when climbing out of the saddle, but they are soft and it isn’t really a big deal after I got used to it.
Inside they are lined with a soft touch, and there is a foam pad at the bottom to help them retain their shape. Outside is a 360-degree wrap of reflective tape that is VERY bright and a mesh pouch that is perfect for wrappers and other litter.
On top is a drawstring cord that keeps your snacks from bouncing out, but honestly, they are so deep I can’t imagine that ever happening. The toggle on the drawstring is difficult to operate with one hand while riding, and I usually leave it open, but I’m glad its there.
I’ve been using them not just for touring but for commuting as well. They hold my coffee mug, snacks, camera, cell phone, whatever. I couldn’t be happier with how useful they are. Handlebar Buckets are available in a couple different colors depending on stock at hand and Ward is constantly experimenting with different prints and patterns. They sell for $36 each at handlebarbuckets.com or give Ward a call at (512) 913-7875.