Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness Review After 4500 Miles (Both Drop and Flat Bars)

Revelate Design’s handlebar harness is a versatile and durable workhorse of a handlebar cargo system. With semi-rigid mounts, flexible capacity, and Revelate’s typically thoughtful details, the Harness makes a convenient and reliable gear hauler for pretty much any style of bikepacking.

I’ve been using my Revelate Harness for over 4500 miles (yeesh that added up fast!) with both flat bars and drop bars, on gravel and singletrack, for both leisurely and fast-and-light rides. I’ll probably keep using it until it falls apart, which — based on its bombproof durability so far — is likely to be until the end of time.

I’ve put together this detailed review of the Revelate Designs Harness to help you decide whether it’s right for you and your style of riding. Read on to learn what I love about it, a few things that could be better, and what type of riding I think it’s best for.

Related: Packing for Bikepacking: What Goes Where?

Ready to buy? Campfire Cycling is offering 15% off other Revelate bikepacking bags when you buy the Revelate Handlebar Harness. See the deal here.

There are affiliate links in this post. Buying through them provides me with a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps keep this site running and growing. Don’t worry, I only recommend products I know and love and I never publish sponsored content, so can you trust what you read here.

Revelate Handlebar Harness

Price: $95
Weight: 15 ounces
Max dry bag capacity: 20 liters
My rating: 4.4 / 5 stars, meets all my needs with just a couple minor annoyances

Buy it at:

My conclusion: The Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness is a versatile and reliable way to carry light-but-bulky gear on your handlebars while bikepacking. Its adjustable design adapts to small or large loads and drop or flat bars, and is packed with thoughtful details for easy usage. Though the mounting system isn’t the tightest, it’s very forgiving (as long as you have enough tire clearance).

What I like:

  • Very adjustable and versatile, works with variety of handlebars, bike geometries, and loads
  • Dry bag is easily removable for smooth loading and unloading
  • VERY durable, zero signs of wear after 4500 miles
  • Thoughtful strap system makes for easy loading and adjusting
  • Integrates with Egress Pocket for handy accessible storage
  • Relatively lightweight (though not the lightest)
  • Made by one of the original innovators in the bikepacking space

What I dislike:

  • Low-riding position requires a slim bag and careful setup when using suspension fork (on my size small 29er)
  • EVA parts make occasional squeaking sound when dusty, especially with my Salsa dry bag (presumably not a problem with Revelate’s own Saltyroll bag)
  • Rubber spacer blocks tend to slide askew in their straps

My Experience With the Revelate Handlebar Harness

When I tally them up, I’ve been hauling gear with the Revelate Harness for over 4500 miles! I was actually a little surprised by that number, because the Harness has become such a staple in my kit that I rarely stop to think about it. Like most good gear, the Harness is at its best when it’s not demanding my attention.

Of these 4500 miles, roughly 2000 were bikepacking races. Nearly 1000 miles were logged during a bikepacking adventure in Central Asia, and the remaining 1200 were a section ride of the Western Wildlands Route. These rides span from fast and light endurance efforts to leisurely tours. Gravel, dirt, and rough 4×4 roads make up the majority of miles, with some pavement and a few hundred miles of singletrack mixed in.

Note: Most of the pictures in this post include the Egress Pocket as well as the standalone Harness. I love the Egress and always use it along with the Harness, but it’s sold separately and isn’t strictly necessary.

Revelate Harness on a tricky hike-a-bike in Kyrgyzstan
Revelate Harness at the Smoke ‘n Fire 400 bikepacking race
Heavily loaded Revelate Harness on the Western Wildlands Route in Utah

I use two different dry bags with the Revelate Harness:

  • Sea to Summit eVent Compression Sack (14 L): Ideal for drop bars and rigid fork due to its shorter length and larger diameter. I use this bag with the Harness on my Salsa Fargo.
  • Salsa EXP Side-Load Dry Bag (13.7 L): Ideal for flat bars due to its longer profile, and essential for my suspension fork due to its smaller diameter. I use this bag with the Harness on my Chumba Stella.

Revelate Designs makes the Saltyroll dry bag specifically for use with the Harness. Its size and shape are similar to the Salsa EXP bag mentioned above, and if I didn’t already have the Salsa bag I would probably be using the Saltyroll on my flat bar mountain bike.

My husband also uses a Revelate Designs Harness on our trips together, and he likes it a lot. He used it last year on a drop bar Fargo for half of the GDMBR, and more recently he used it with Jones Loop H-Bars on our Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan ride.

Two Revelate handlebar harnesses in Kyrgyzstan (and a playful Kyrgz man stepping in to hold my husband’s bike)

Design and Mounting

The Revelate Harness uses a semi-rigid mounting system to attach a soft EVA cradle to your handlebars. The cradle uses three adjustable straps to secure a large cylindrical object, usually a dry bag stuffed with sleeping bag or clothes, plus optionally a second smaller object. The entire system is made from rubber, EVA foam, and flexible straps, so it’s “crash proof” in the sense that there’s nothing rigid to break if you eat dirt in the middle of nowhere.

The cradle is spaced about 2 inches away from the bars by molded rubber blocks that fit underneath adjustable straps. (Be sure to attach the blocks to the cradle with the included Velcro loops! On my initial install I neglected this step and promptly lost one of the blocks. Fortunately you can order replacements from Revelate.) The blocks work well. Though the cables are pushed closer to the bars than they normally would be, I’ve never had issues with them rubbing or kinking.

Rubber blocks hold the Harness about 2 inches away from the bars, leaving space for cables and hoses without rubbing or kinking.

An issue for me, though not for everyone, is that the cradle hangs more or less downward from the handlebars. Since I’m a small bikepacker on a 29er bike, I have to watch out for tire tub. It’s definitely workable, but I make sure all the straps are thoroughly tightened when using a larger dry bag. With a suspension fork I have to use a smaller bag and be especially careful. In contrast, the Salsa EXP Anything Cradle uses a rigid mount that can be angled upward, offering more tire clearance for small riders and long travel forks.

When riding with front suspension on my size small 29er frame, tire clearance is an issue. The Harness hangs downward from the bars, so I need to use a smaller dry bag and keep everything cinched tightly. (shown here at Bones to Blue)

Lastly, the Revelate Harness includes a bottom center strap for stability. The strap is designed to go around the head tube or fork crown to add downward pull and prevent bouncing. It’s very adjustable thanks to its cam locking buckle and multiple attachment points, and it reduces bouncing effectively. My only gripe: when the foam spacer gets dusty it makes maddening squeaky noises!

EVA spacer and cam locking strap reduce bouncing by securing the harness to the head tube or crown. Only gripe: the strap and spacer squeak when dusty.

If you happen to be using the Harness with the Mountain Feedbag from Revelate Designs, there’s a clever way to integrate the two so they don’t fight for limited handlebar space. The feedbag includes a plastic loop that can attach to the Harness’s mounting strap:

The Harness and the Mountain Feedbag are cleverly designed to work well together.

Using the Revelate Harness with Drop Bars

The Revelate Harness works with both flat bars and drop bars. Of the 4500 miles I’ve logged with it, about 800 have been on my drop bar Fargo with either 42cm Woodchipper bars or 48 cm PNW Coast bars. The harness measures 11.5 inches at its widest point, so it will fit even the narrowest of drop bars. The capacity is obviously limited by the space between the drops and it’s harder to access the bag while it’s in the harness, but otherwise it’s a great setup.

The Harness is 11.5 inches / 29 cm wide, so it should fit all but the very narrowest roadie drop bars.

For running the Revelate Harness on drop handlebars I especially love the Sea to Summit eVent Compression Sack (or this similar model from REI). The lengthwise compression system allows for cramming more soft items into a smaller space between the drops. The only downside: it’s hard to access items inside the bag during the day, so it’s best used for sleep and camp gear.

View of handlebar bag on wide gravel drop bars
Revelate Harness and Sea to Summit eVent Compression Sack (14 L) with room to spare on 48 cm PNW Coast drop bars.

Loading and Unloading

The Revelate Handlebar Harness uses three sturdy straps to secure a dry bag against the molded EVA cradle. Three straps may seem redundant (why not two?), but it’s actually very helpful for loading. First, buckle the red center strap to secure the bag in a balanced position, then buckle the side straps without needing to hold the bag in place with your hand. It’s a small thing, but this kind of detail is so helpful for reducing daily futzing and frustration.

All straps have cam locking buckles that won’t loosen over time and are easy to tighten as the system settles a bit on rough ground. I find Revelate’s bags generally full of thoughtful and easy-to-use details, and the little rubber rings to hold dangling strap ends are a great example.

The Harness is designed for easy removal of the dry bag, in contrast to some handlebar systems (like Revelate’s Sweetroll) that combine the dry bag and mount into a single unit. I like that the Harness gives me options. Sometimes I’ll undo the buckles and bring the whole bag into my tent at night (especially when setting up camp in the rain), and sometimes I’ll just slide my gear out of one end and leave the dry bag in the cradle. Either way works.

Three straps make loading and unloading easy,
Cam locking buckles are easy to tighten and won’t loosen on their own, no matter how bumpy the train.

I have only one complaint about this system: the material on the cradle’s edge makes squeaking noises against certain dry bags, especially my shiny Salsa EXP bag. I work around this by putting a layer of plastic trash bag between the cradle and dry bag, which is only a minor inconvenience. I assume the Harness interfaces quietly with Revelate’s own Saltyroll dry bag.

A layer of plastic trash bag prevents squeaking where the harness contacts my Salsa dry bag. I guess that’s what I get for not using Revelate’s own Saltyroll bag, which is designed to work with the Harness.

Capacity

The Revelate Harness has a huge capacity range. You can run it with just a compact dry bag, or you can load it down with a 20 liter bag plus the Egress Pocket. You can even add a second item in the harness (I sometimes carry my solo tent here) and even attach a spare layer to the very top.

Revelate says the Harness has a weight limit of 15 pounds. If you’re riding rough terrain that’s a lot more than you’ll want to carry on your handlebars anyway. I’ve tested it with up to ~10 pounds on non-technical dirt rides with no signs of strain or damage. It’s likely your legs and bike handling capabilities will feel overloaded before the Harness does.

The Harness can handle a second object in addition to a large dry bag and the Egress Pocket (shown here with my beloved Big Sky Soul tent)

When used with the Egress Pocket there’s a very handy flat space on top of the harness and dry bag. I’ve rigged my own stretchy shock cord here, looped through the Egress’s straps, for stashing a spare layer or pair of gloves. It even works well for extra water capacity in a pinch.

I’ve added shock cord to the top of the Harness for stashing a spare layer.
Loading down the Harness even more than usual with a liter of extra water (Western Wildlands Route in Arizona)
Getting creative with the Revelate Harness to pack out a Subway sandwich for dinner

Stability

When properly mounted and adjusted, I’ve found the Revelate Harness to be stable even on rough terrain and even when heavily loaded. As mentioned above, the semi-rigid mounting system isn’t a perfect fit for my cockpit yet the overall system is very forgiving. Buckles stay tightened thanks to their cam locks. The dry bag stays where I put it thanks to the cradle’s grippy inner surface, even when I’ve packed it a bit loosely or asymmetrically.

The Revelate handlebar harness is a forgiving system that stays stable even on rough terrain.

I don’t often bikepack on technical singletrack, but if I did, I can imagine I might find the Revelate Harness a wee bit awkward. Partly this is due to my limited front tire clearance, which benefits from a rigid mount like the Salsa EXP. Partly it’s because there’s just more give in the Revelate’s soft attachment system and flexible cradle.

That said, singletrack is exactly where the Revelate’s non-rigid “crash-proofness” is most likely to come in handy, so perhaps the tradeoff is worth it. With a small dry bag and careful mounting I don’t think the Revelate Harness would be a hindrance on singletrack.

Durability

The Revelate handlebar harness appears to be bombproof. After 4500 miles you’d think I would have something to show as wear and tear. Maybe a frayed strap or a worn seam? Nope, nothing. It’s filthy but otherwise in mint condition.

Egress Pocket

I almost always use my Revelate Designs Harness together with the Egress Pocket, which I absolutely love. It’s an extremely versatile accessory that adds easy-access capacity to the Harness (or the Sweetroll and Pronghorn mentioned below). It can also be a standalone handlebar bag for day rides, which definitely helps it earn the $75 price tag. The Egress can even be converted into a shoulder bag or hip pouch, perfect for town days and side trips on long-distance bike trips.

Price: $75
Capacity: 2.9 liters
Weight: 10 ounces (7.5 with liner and extra straps removed)
Dimensions: 9.5 x 8 x 3 inches

Buy it: Campfire Cycling, REI, Revelate Designs

The Egress Pocket has a roll-top closure with adjustable strap and buckle. I typically use the Egress for snacks and small essentials, and I love how easily it adjusts between its full size (when overstuffed with cookies and trail mix) and nearly empty (when resupply is hopefully near).

It attaches easily to the Harness using two small additional straps with buckles at either end. Sometimes I use the space between the Egress and the dry bag in my harness to carry an additional item, like a small tent. Though the Harness can carry a second item on its own, I find this division makes loading and unloading a little smoother and keeps my tent riding a little higher.

The Egress closure system uses a combo of Velcro plus two loop locations, making for easy on-the-fly adjustments and even single-handed access while riding.
The inner liner is padded to protect electronics and has a handy zippered pocket for keys and wallet. It’s also removable for cleaning or to reduce weight and increase capacity.
The Egress Pocket adds handy accessible storage to the Harness system, or it can be used on its own for short rides.

Harness vs Pronghorn vs Sweetroll

How does the Harness compare with other handlebar bags from Revelate Designs?

The closest comparison is Revelate’s ultralight Pronghorn. This stripped down handlebar system works similarly to the Harness – it’s even compatible with the Egress Pocket – but uses ultralight materials and a minimalist design. The Pronghorn weighs between 7.5 – 9.2 oz (compared to the Harness’s 15 oz) and costs between $145 – $160 for both bag and harness, depending on choice of removable dry bag (7.5, 11, or 23 liters). It’s ideal for carrying ultralight gear on fast-and-light trips, but less versatile than the Harness and possibly less durable (as is often the case with ultralight gear).

The other option is the Sweetroll. The Sweetroll handlebar mount is integrated into the bag itself, so you can’t quickly remove the bag from the bars. This isn’t a huge deal, but it does mean you’ll be unloading and restuffing the bag while it’s on the bike, which can be mildly annoying especially in the rain. It also means you can’t swap between different size dry bags; you’re stuck with the Sweetroll’s 11 liter capacity. You can still add a small second item, as you can with the harness, using the adjustable front flap. The Sweetroll is also compatible with the Egress Pocket.

Between these three options I prefer the Harness for its versatile and durable design. I like that I can use it for everything, from endurance bikepacking races to multi-month tours. If I had unlimited money to spend on bikepacking (a gal can dream!) I would also buy the Pronghorn with a small or medium dry bag to shave a few ounces for short rides or bikepacking races. But for now, the Harness does everything I need it to do.

In Conclusion

Before upgrading to this harness I used more budget-friendly alternatives: a RockBros handlebar bag and the classic “strap it to the handlebars” hack. So I can confirm from experience: the Revelate Harness is a big step up in terms of usability and versatility.

Related: Creative Gear Solutions for Bikepacking on a Budget

I also own a Salsa EXP Anything Cradle. While it’s especially great for maximizing tire clearance with a suspension fork, I reach for the Revelate Harness more often due to its high capacity, flexible (literally and figuratively) design, and general ease of use.

If you’re looking for a quality all-around bikepacking handlebar system that can handle whatever you throw at it, I definitely recommend the Revelate Harness.

More Bikepacking Resources

About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa. I’ve traveled over 17,000 miles by bike and still can’t stop planning my next ride (and helping you plan yours). Pavement and panniers or singletrack and seat bag, I love it all. On my bike I feel free. Learn more or say hi.

Excited to try bikepacking but need help getting started? The Bikepacking Trip Planner Workbook can help you take the next step.

Bike resources in your inbox?

There’s more where this came from! Sign up here for occasional emails full of inspiration and information about bikepacking and bicycle touring.

Town Day Checklist!

Sign up to receive the free downloadable bikepacking town day checklist to help with your resupply stops:

    You’ll also receive occasional emails with other bikepacking and touring resources. I think you’ll like them, but you can unsubscribe at any time.

    Share the Adventure

    If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing so more people can benefit from it:

    Leave a Comment

    Item added to cart.
    0 items - $0.00