Bikepacking Bags/Bontainers – Constraints & Specs

My ideas for this project have mostly focused on making something to use for a very specific activity. Up until I had to stop and think about it, that was really the only constraint. That constraint, however, can be broken down into smaller bits. In order to be appropriate for bikepacking, the bags need several features that are outlined below. 


Waterproof – In order to be appropriate for holding all of my clothes and camp setup, the bags/containers need to be waterproof. They will be outside all day in whatever weather gets thrown at me. 

Lightweight – I do still have to be able to ride the bike uphill after all. 

Attachable/Detachable – This bike still needs to be appropriate for commuting when not being used for bikepacking. Therefore, the containers (especially ammo cans) need to come off. 

Does not interfere with bicycle operation – Again, this bike still needs to be rideable. The main concern here is that nothing interferes with the pedal path or the derailleur. 

Time – This project must be completed by the end of the semester. 

Specifications for a creative project are hard. I am very used to figuring out specifications for a purely functional device. For this project, it took quite a bit more thought. My list of specifications can be found below. 


Mimics a motorcycle – My aesthetic is that of the Indian 741 motorcycle.

Color scheme – I am specifically modeling after the WW2 army motorcycles, and will have to use greens, black, and brown. 

At least 4 containers – Bikepacking is all about having a bunch of little bags (quite the opposite from backpacking in that regard). This design will have at least 4 different locations for holding stuff. 

Fits size xs Poseidon Redwood bike – Everything for this project will be focused on my bike, so it will fit it perfectly. 

Mixed materials – This project will contain metal, canvas and leather components. 

So, to summarize, my project is constrained mostly by the activity that I want to do (as well as being able to take the bags off when I don’t want to do that activity), and my specifications are mostly related to the aesthetic and the bike. 

As a project update, I have all of the materials that I need to start making my bags. I have also acquired two actual ammo cans to attach to the front end of the bike. I have purchased a rear rack for my bicycle that the leather panniers can fit on. Additionally, I bought a new seat and tires for my bike that conform to the aesthetic I am trying to achieve. 

This weekend I hope to drill mounting holes in the ammo cans and make the tent roll for the rear rack. I will also, hopefully, start with the leather. 

Stay tuned for more!

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hannah Moller
    April 11, 2021 3:10 pm

    Great job on your specifications and constraints it will be interesting to see how you go about incorporating your aesthetic into your design. Surprisingly this is my first time realizing that someone is making biking bags and I am excited to see how you go about your fabrication process. Since that is not one of your concerns are you planning on using school resources or do you have another shop available to you?

    • Thanks Hannah! I am also excited to see how I go about my fabrication process. When I am learning something new I often try to “run before I can walk” and that is definitely what I am doing here. My roommate has a really nice sewing machine and has been doing it for years. I have already made one bag and I realized that I am really bad at it. However, the only way to learn is practice.

  • Jillian Weber
    April 9, 2021 11:07 am

    Hey James! I think these are a great set of specifications and constraints. I particularly love that you considered the fact that you need to make them waterproof– there’s nothing worse than biking in the rain AND knowing that you’re ruining the things that you’re carrying. This look great, I can’t wait to see the final product!

    • Hi Jillian. Thanks for the compliment. Honestly, waterproofness is one of the most important considerations for this project. Everything else was basically an afterthought. Be sure to check back for my other posts to see how it turns out!


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