How to Choose a Mountain Bike Tool Bag that Locks


Regardless of how long your regular mountain biking trips are, you should always consider bringing essential tools along with you. Whether it's a spare tube or a patch kit, you'll need a convenient way to transport them. While there are a variety of ways to transport bike tools, lockable mountain bike tool bags are a popular choice among mountain bikers. This article will help you choose a mountain bike tool bag that locks  

When choosing a mountain bike tool bag that locks, make sure it can hold all the essential bike tools needed, is waterproof and made of durable materials such as Polyurethane and Nylon, has a strong attachment system to mount it onto the bike, and that it has a proper closure system so that nothing gets lost. This will also make the rider feel more secure about having the necessary tools close by.

A mountain bike tool bag that locks should have a proper closure system that will stop tools from falling out and getting lost.
Waterproof materials ensure the lockable tool bag protects the tools against the elements when out riding. Image Source: Amazon.

Are Lockable Bike Bags Necessary? 

While carrying a bike bag isn't required, it does provide a number of advantages—the majority of which are related to your safety. As the term “lockable bag” implies, it is a bag designed to be locked and mounted on your bike. It allows you to stow your essential items while being securely attached to your bike, giving you peace of mind 

Using a mountain bike tool bag that locks to carry bike tools when riding prevents the loss of vital tools, keeps the tools that are inside dry, and protects the tools from damage in case of a fall.

Mountain bike bags are necessary when riding longer trails so that minor repairs can be done when you are further away from help and need to fix your bike. Having a lockable tool bag is beneficial for the following reasons: To learn more about the variety of tool bags that are available read our article about mountain bike tool bags and how to pack them. 

1. Keeps the Tools Dry

While most MTB locking bags are made of waterproof fabrics, certain models also have a zipping method that prevents even the tiniest water droplets from entering. While wet tools may not appear to be a major issue, water can permanently damage some of the components and cause them to rust. If you typically carry steel tools when mountain biking, you should invest in a locked bag with a seamless zipper. This way you won't have to worry about your tools becoming rusty while riding your bike on a rainy day. 

A lockable mountain bike bag like this with a proper zipping system will also protect your tire patch or repair kit from water damage. When water comes into contact with the glue on tire patches, they become ineffective. 

2. Make the Cyclist Feel More Secure 

The fact that you have all of the tools you'll need to fix your bike makes the trip much safer and more enjoyable. Additionally, a tool bag on your bike provides greater stability than a backpack. 

3. Protect Bike Tools from Getting Lost

Use a lockable bike tool bag and mount it onto your bike to avoid losing your tools when you are out riding your mountain bike. Attaching your locked tool bag onto the bike decreases the chance of tools falling out, no matter how rugged or uneven the terrain is.

4. Protect the Delicate Tools from Damage

Lockable bike tool bags often have a layer of padding for added protection. While Allen keys are quite indestructible, other equipment, such as tire tubes or patch kits, can be damaged in the event of a collision or fall. You won't have to worry about holes in your fresh new tube thanks to the padded layer of your MTB tool bag.

A mountain bike tool bag that locks will ensure that all your tools stay securely in the bag no matter how rough the trail is.
A bike tool bag with several buckles that fasten the bag to the frame, and that closes securely will ensure the tools stay put when riding. Image Source: Amazon.

You might also be interested in looking at our ultimate list of tools needed for mountain bike maintenance or our ideas, tips, and tricks on how to pack a mountain bike tool bag. If so, be sure to read our related articles.

Tips to Choose the Best Mountain Bike Tool Bag That Locks  

While mountain bike tool bags with locks are helpful in a variety of situations, choosing the correct bag is crucial to getting the most out of them. When looking for a mountain bike tool bag, there are many factors to take into account such as the material and size, the mounting system, and the pocket options.

To choose the best lockable bike bag for carrying tools, buy one that is waterproof, has sufficient capacity for all tools needed, includes a mounting system, includes a locking system, is made from durable materials like Nylon, and has a multi-storage system to accommodate both delicate tools and metallic tools like pliers.

Below are some quick and easy tips to choose the best lockable mountain bike tool bag and get the most out of it. 

1. Choose a Tool Bag Made of Water Resistant Material, Such as Polyester

When shopping for a mountain bike tool bag, look for one constructed of waterproof materials such as Polyester. The majority of waterproof materials are dust and mud-resistant. This article from Surface and Coatings Technology on ScienceDirect explains how the properties of polyester fabrics make them easier to clean so that dirt and grime from rides can be wiped off easily. Water-resistant bags protect your tools and repair kits from the elements and bad weather. Some common waterproof textiles for mountain bike tool bags include polyester bags like this one, nylon, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and Oxford cloth.

This tool bag can be attached conveniently under the seat so that it is out of the rider’s way.
This under-saddle tool bag is made of sturdy heavy-duty polyester material, which protects your gear from dirt, mud, and dust while keeping it dry and secure. Image Source: Amazon.

2. Ensure That The Minimum Tool Capacity is 9.25x4.13x2.55 (LxWxH) inches or 1 Liter

Before selecting your tool bag, you should focus on the filling volume or storage capacity rather than the bag's dimensions. Bike bags with dimensions of 9.25 x 4.13 x 2.55 (LxWxH) or a capacity of 1 liter are usually sufficient to transport essential items. However, if you need to fit all of your repair equipment and patch kits into your tool bag, you should consider purchasing a larger bag. Larger bike tools can be carried in a pannier bag like this one. Your mountain bike tool kit should preferably be expandable, allowing you to add more tools as needed. If you only need to carry a few things, keep your bag folded.

A pannier bag like this will be big enough to fit all your mountain bike tools.
The large compartments in this pannier bag can contain all of your essentials. Image Source: Amazon.

3. Choose a Bag That Has a Maximum Weight of 1Kg

While your MTB tool bag should be large enough to hold all of your important gear, it should not weigh more than 1kg (2.2lb). Although the size of your bag is completely up to you, it is recommended that it weighs between 0.15kg (0.33 lb) and 1kg (2.2 lb). 

When the bag is fastened on the bike, the additional weight makes biking more difficult. Furthermore, connecting a big tool bag to your MTB may increase the chance of a fall, and serious injury. Read our article that provides tips to fix a mountain bike bag that is too heavy to reduce the bag’s weight before you go riding. 

4. Choose a Lockable Mountain Bike Tool Bag With A Strong Mounting System, Such as Velcro Straps 

When purchasing a lockable tool bag, make sure it has a sturdy mounting system. To prevent any tools from being dislodged during the ride, a tool bag like this one should be firmly fastened to your mountain bike. Some of the most popular and effective mounting systems for an MTB tool bag are velcro straps, adjustable buckles, and plastic rack clips. Nature trails with bumps and uneven paths will loosen your straps, but they shouldn’t come completely undone. Simply fasten the velcro to your saddle rails and seat post, and you're ready to go.

This lockable mountain bike tool bag is attached with multiple velcro straps that stop it from swaying and moving around.
This mountain bike tool bag is easy to install due to the high-quality velcro straps used. Image Source: Amazon.

5. Buy a Mountain Bike Tool Bag Designed with Extra Pockets

Choosing a mountain bike tool bag like this that is designed with multiple pockets is fundamental to accommodate all your essential tools. These additional compartments not only allow you to bring more gear on your mountain bike trip, but they help keep it organized. When purchasing a mountain bike bag, remember to consider aerodynamics. According to this article from Bicycle Quarterly, smooth-sided backpacks are more aerodynamic than ones with side pockets. If you prefer to ride at a faster pace, choose a tool bag with no side pockets. Remember that a tool bag with inside compartments is always a possibility in this case. 

A front frame bag like this is a great way to keep your mountain bike tools safely locked away.
This tool bag has enough capacity for your items and will not interfere with your steering and pedaling. Image Source: Amazon.

6. Ensure That The Bag Has a Water-Resistant Locking System, Such as a Seamless Zipper

While waterproof materials protect your tools from water damage, it is also essential to have a water-resistant locking system. Otherwise, microscopic water droplets may still find their way inside the bag, rendering the waterproof material ineffective in protecting the tools. When searching for a mountain bike tool bag, carefully look for waterproof locking systems, such as a laminated or seamless zipper. The easiest way to determine the water-resistance of a zipper is to check if the coils (teeth) are covered with waterproof material. A rubber or PVC coating often covers zipper teeth, making the locking system completely watertight like this one

7. Buy a Bag Made From Durable Materials, Such as 420D Nylon and TPU

No matter how cautiously you ride your MTB, you may unintentionally harm your tool bag if you fall off the bike. While metal tools will almost certainly remain undamaged, punctures and holes in your replacement tube may be impossible to avoid. 

Choosing a tool bag made of strong materials will safeguard your tools while also extending the life of the bag. Mountain bike tool bags consisting of 420D Nylon, 840D Nylon, Thermoplastic Polyurethane, and 1680D PVC are good options. This article from SageJournals explains the durability, flexibility, and abrasion-resistance of Thermoplastic Polyurethane and why it is a good material for sporting accessories like bags. 

Examples of Mountain Bike Tool Bags That Lock


Water Resistance

Weight

Material
Fixing System Size (L x W x H) Locking Mechanism Multi-Storage System Price Examples From Amazon
Waterproof 0.25kg0.55lb  ‎Polyurethane Velcro Fastening 9.8 x 1.8 x 8.7 Inches Zip Opening Expandable with Extra Pockets ~$25 Velmia Triangle Bike Bag
Waterproof 0.18kg0.40lb Nylon  Velcro Straps 8 x 3.9 x 4.7 Inches Laminated Zipper Phone Case with an Additional Pocket ~$25 Waterfly Bike Front Frame Bag
Waterproof 0.95kg2.10lb 1680D PVC Plastic Clips 17.7 x 11.4 x 6.1 Inches Waterproof Zipper Four Compartments ~$60 Waterfly Bike Pannier Bag
Waterproof 0.14kg0.31lb Polyester Velcro Straps 11.4 x 7.9 x 1.2 Inches Zip Opening Two Separated Compartments ~$10 Bike Storage Pouch
Waterproof 0.52kg1.15lb Nylon, Oxford Cloth Adjustable Buckles 16 x 11.4 x 6 Inches Waterproof Zipper Side Pockets and Inner Mesh Pockets  ~$35 Bike Rear Rack Bag
Waterproof 0.09kg0.20lb TPU Velcro Straps 6.69 x 2.36 x 3.94 Inches Waterproof Zipper Extra Mesh Pockets ~$25 Cycle Factor Bike Saddlebag
Waterproof 0.9kg1.98lb 840D Nylon Rack Clips 13.38 x 7.08 x 18.11 Inches Outer Buckles and Inner Zip Openings Interior Compartment with Mesh Pockets ~$70 Rockbros Bike Pannier Bag
Waterproof 0.25kg0.55lb PU Leather and Polyester Velcro Straps 11.81 x 6.69 x 4.72 Inches Laminated Zipper Extra Top Zippered Pocket and Adjustable Elastic Cord ~$20 Rear Bike Rack Bag
Waterproof 0.48kg1lb Oxford Fabric Velcro Straps 15 x 6.3 x 6.3 Inches Laminated Zipper Two Side Pockets, Two Inner Mesh Pockets, and a Top Zip Pouch ~$40 Wotow Bike Rear Rack Bag

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What is the Difference Between Saddlebags and Lockable Pannier Bags?

If you're looking for a tool bag for your mountain bike, you'll probably have to decide between two options: a saddlebag or a lockable pannier bag. While both are widely used and provide several benefits, there are a few variables to consider when deciding which is the best option for you.

The difference between saddlebags and lockable pannier bags is that saddlebags are smaller, lighter, less expensive, provide easy access to tools, and are compatible with a wide range of bikes. Whereas lockable pannier bags are larger, heavier, cost more, provide more difficult access to tools, and the locking system may not be suitable for every mountain bike.

Here's everything you need to know about saddlebags and pannier bags so you can choose between the two.

Saddlebags

Saddlebags are compact, light bike bags that allow you to transport a few essential items. Saddlebags usually weigh between 140 and 500 grams (0.31 to 1.1 pounds) and also have a 1–10 liter capacity. If you don't have room for an air pump, changing a tire tube may be difficult. Even so, bike tire patch and repair kits, as well as Allen keys, will fit comfortably in a saddlebag. You might still be able to fit a CO² pump in if you don't bring too much extra stuff. For more information about what essential tools to bring on a mountain bike trip read our comprehensive guide about MTB toolkit essentials

Saddlebags are compatible with most mountain bike models. They have velcro straps or adjustable buckles that can be attached to any MTB rear rack. While most saddlebags are universal, not all of them can be securely fastened to the bike. If you buy a cheap saddlebag, the straps or buckles may come loose accidentally during the trip. So invest in a saddlebag with high-quality Velcro straps or sturdy buckles to protect your bike tools. 

Saddlebags are used by riders for two main reasons: affordability and portability. Saddlebags are approximately three times cheaper than lockable pannier bags. You can buy a saddlebag like this made of waterproof materials for around $20. Saddlebags also allow you to access your tools quickly. All you have to do is unzip the pocket.

Saddle bags are handy tool storage systems as they are easy to unzip and offer convenient access to your tools.
Mountain bike saddlebags usually have a capacity of 1 to 2 liters and are used to carry small items and tools. Image Source: Amazon.

Pannier Bags  

Despite the fact that lockable pannier bags can be huge and hefty, they provide a lot of advantages. Firstly, you can fit practically any cycling tool into your pannier bag with little hassle. You can fit everything from replacement tubes and air pumps to hex keys and patch kits. MTB pannier bags come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 10 to 30-liter capacities. 

While leather pannier bags like these are somewhat substantial, weighing over 900 grams or 2 pounds, fabric pannier bags like these are much lighter, weighing around 300-400 grams or 0.66-0.88 pounds. It might be easier to ride your mountain bike with a lightweight pannier bag made of waterproof fabric. 

Pannier bags, unlike saddlebags, are not compatible with all mountain bike racks, because most pannier bags include plastic clips that can be fastened to the racks. When looking for a pannier bag for your bike tools, check that it works with a variety of rear racks. Lockable pannier bags provide increased security for your tools and reduce the chance of your belongings getting lost during a bike mishap.

Pannier bags also cost more than saddlebags. A high-quality water-resistant pannier bag that will safeguard your bike tools will cost between $50 and $70 on average. Paying extra for a pannier bag may not be worth it if you only carry a few tools on your bike. However, if you frequently carry additional bike tools, a lockable pannier bag would be the better option.

A pannier bag is a great lockable mountain bike tool bag option if you tend to take many different mountain bike tools on your rides.
Although lockable pannier bags have a bigger capacity, they are not compatible with all mountain bikes. Image Source: Amazon.

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