Juniper Trunk Bag by Old Man Mountain, Tested and Reviewed

At a Glance

  • The Juniper Trunk Bag is a sturdy and simple rack-top bag for off-pavement adventures.
  • Its boxy 7 liter capacity holds a surprising amount of stuff and is perfect for all those small items you reach for often.
  • In my testing it was sturdy, stable, and easy to mount to a wide range of racks.
  • I’ve especially been appreciating the Juniper on my hardtail, where it helps me enjoy full dropper seatpost range and a lighter handlebar load.

As a one-woman show here on this website, I’m particular about the gear I test. It needs to be something I find interesting, want to ride with, and can fit into my setup during actual real-life bikepacking trips (no “test rides” around the block).

Though I’ve tried all kinds of panniers and bikepacking bags over the years, I’d never heard of a trunk bag until recently. So when Old Man Mountain asked if I wanted to test their Juniper Trunk Bag on my Elkhorn rack, my first question was “Why would I use this instead of just strapping a dry bag to the deck?”

Their answer, easy on-the-go access for small items, got me thinking. I’ve been doing more bikepacking with a suspension fork lately, and my overloaded handlebars were becoming a sticking point. Too much weight for good handling, and sometimes enough bulk to cause tire rub. But where else to put all that stuff on my small frame?

So the Juniper became a solution to a problem I didn’t know I had, but was nevertheless happy to solve. In conjunction with the Elkhorn Rack in rear and OMM’s new Axle Pack (also a very cool product) in front, it’s allowed me to completely rethink the way I load my hardtail when more capacity is needed. It’s not the lightest setup and therefore not ideal for technical riding, but it lets me carry everything I need while retaining full use of my suspension fork and dropper seat post.

If the Juniper helped me rethink my bikepacking setup, I imagine it’ll help others too. So here’s my detailed review of this sturdy, stable, elegantly simple bag that turns your rack deck into quick-access storage.

Bikepacking bike leaning against green juniper bush
My bikepacking setup for the Anza-Hapaha Loop, including the Juniper on the rear rack (leaning against a Juniper shrub, of course).

When you buy through affiliate links in this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks for your support! Old Man Mountain provided the Juniper for testing, but all words and opinions are my own.

Review Summary

Product: Juniper Trunk Bag from Old Man Mountain

Review summary: The Juniper Trunk Bag is a rugged no-nonsense rack-top bag for off-pavement adventures. Its boxy shape holds a surprisingly amount of stuff and offers easy on-the-go access to small items. I’ve found it to be secure, reliable, and stable on my Elkhorn rack. Though it does cost considerably more than a simple dry bag and straps, it serves a very different purpose and can open up new configurations for a bikepacking setup.

Price: $125

Weight: 10.5 oz

Capacity: 7 liters (measured by me)

Dimensions: 12″ long x 4 3/4″ wide x about 10″ tall when full

My rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Shop the Juniper Trunk Bag at:

What I love about the Juniper:

  • Easy access on the go
  • Boxy shape is unique, a great spot for things that don’t fit well in cylindrical or wedge-shaped bags
  • Completely waterproof including side pocket (great place for a phone)
  • Mounting system is easy, secure, rattle-free
  • Light loop on back for a rear blinky
  • Very subtle branding and neutral black color
  • Fast and helpful customer support
  • Made by a small company based in Bend, OR

Potential drawbacks:

  • Considerably more expensive than strapping a dry bag to your rack deck
  • Wide roll-top closure doesn’t always stay neatly rolled
  • Carries weight relatively high compared to panniers or cargo cages (but comparable to handlebar bags and seat bags)

How I Tested the Juniper

I’ve carried the Juniper on two trips so far: a 3-day solo venture in Henry Coe State Park, and a 4-day ride with friends in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Both trips were a majority off-pavement and included sections of rough singletrack and jeep track, as well as plenty of dirt road.

For both these trips I mounted the Juniper on my Elkhorn rack at the rear of my Chumba Stella mountain bike in hardtail mode. I’m a big fan of the Elkhorn (see my Elkhorn review here) because it lets me carry a just-right amount of stuff on my small 29er and still use my dropper seatpost.

Woman standing with bikepacking bike at intersection of desert roads, with black trunk bag on rear rack
Me bikepacking with the Juniper Trunk Bag on an Elkhorn rack in the Anza Borrego Desert

Why Is It Useful?

Before agreeing to test the Juniper, I asked Old Man Mountain why one would choose it over simply strapping a cheap dry bag to the rack deck. Having never used a trunk bag, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the value proposition, especially given the price difference compared with a dry bag.

Old Man Mountain gave me a simple answer: easy access. If you’ve been bikepacking you know it’s always the little things you reach for often — phone, gloves, sunglasses, snacks, etc — that are hard to find good spots for. This definitely resonates with me, and after testing the Juniper I agree that easy on-the-go access is its most compelling feature.

With this in mind, I let the Juniper inspire a rearranging of my bikepacking setup. Normally I carry small on-the-go items in a handlebar pouch like the Revelate Egress, which (in addition to my sleeping bag and tent) makes for a front-heavy setup. I can get away with this on gravel, but with a suspension fork on rougher terrain it’s not ideal.

So on my recent trips I ditched the handlebar pouch and carried my small quick-access items in the Juniper on my Elkhorn rear rack. This lightened up the handlebars (I didn’t need to adjust the air pressure in my suspension fork) and reduced the risk of tire rub when the fork is compressed. I could also see mounting the Elkhorn and Juniper combo in the front for similar benefits and even easier access.

Black Juniper trunk bag sitting open on rear rack with grassy campsite in background
The Juniper open at camp, easy to grab from as needed

Size and Shape

The Juniper has seven liters of capacity and can also be rolled down much smaller. In my testing I found it to work well for a wide range of loads, from almost empty to nearly full.

The Juniper’s base measures 12″ x 4 3/4″ and the bag extends up to around 10″ tall when full. This boxy shape is a nice complement to other bikepacking bags, which tend to either be cylindrical (fork bags, handlebar rolls) or wedge-shaped (frame bag, seat bag). If you aren’t running panniers, the Juniper may be the only space that accommodates certain items. For example, I used it to carry a folding paper map that wouldn’t fit anywhere else without getting squished.

What to carry in the Juniper? Here’s an example of a typical load from my testing:

  • Sleeping pad (Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite)
  • Electronics
  • Lunch (tortillas and cheese)
  • Folded paper map
  • Water filter
  • Small toiletries bag
  • 1 liter Platypus SoftBottle, empty or full

Yes, all that stuff fits in the Juniper at the same time! The bag actually feels a bit cavernous when full, and I spent some time rummaging around looking for smaller items. This makes the two loops inside especially handy for lashing something long and skinny, perhaps a mini pump, so it’s always easy to find.

Looking straight down into open Juniper bag, a collapsible water bottle sits atop a dry bag and other small items
Looking down into the open Juniper carrying a liter of water, dry bag of electronics, and lunch supplies.

The waterproof side pocket is a nice touch too. It’s plenty big enough for a smartphone, wallet, or bike tools. I often carry my phone in a stem bag or backpack pocket, but neither works well in the rain, so I could see this pocket being clutch in wet weather.

Does it clear a dropper seatpost? Yes, on my bike I can still use my full dropper range even with the Juniper mounted on my Elkhorn, though it’s very close. Occasionally the saddle grazes the bag on the way up or down, but it hasn’t caused any problems for me.

Rack Attachment System

The Juniper attaches to a rack deck using four sturdy straps with locking buckles. It’s a secure fit on my Elkhorn rack, and more stable than I would have expected even when full.

Old Man Mountain says the Juniper is a perfect fit on all their racks, and a great fit on any rack with a deck. I mounted it on both my OMM Elkhorn and OMM Divide racks and can confirm the perfect fit. I also tried it on my old Tubus Logo rack, which lacks the flat deck of OMM’s racks, and that also seemed solid.

Close-up of rack attachment strap on the Juniper
The Juniper’s 4-strap attachment system is simple but very effective (shown here on the Elkhorn rack)
Close-up of Juniper straps on Tubus Logo rack, showing how they fit well together
One end of the Juniper shown here from the underside of a Tubus Logo rack, a great fit.

I estimate the Juniper’s straps would work on any deck with edges between roughly 3″ and 5″ apart. The two pairs of straps are 6.5″ apart lengthwise, so it’s worth looking at how long your rack deck is. On a long deck with no crossbars in the right places, it’s possible the bag could slide forward and back along the mounting rails.

One tiny gripe: the tail holder elastics fall off the straps as soon as they’re unfastened, so keep an eye on them. I’ve almost lost them twice now when unloading my bike in the parking lot after a trip.

Design and Materials

The Juniper’s no-nonsense design gives off rugged and sturdy vibes. The TPU fabric is burly, perhaps even a tad too stiff, and the construction is fully waterproof. The base is lightly padded to give support on a wide range of racks, and to protect items inside from rattling against the deck.

Old Man Mountain intentionally kept their branding subtle on the Juniper. Their logo is barely visible on a black velcro rectangle meant to hold a patch of your choosing. It’s a neat feature if you have patches, and it also looks fine on its own. Though a trunk bag doesn’t normally suit my personal idea of the bikepacking aesthetic, the Juniper does a good job blending in.

Side view of Juniper trunk bag on rear rack against juniper bush
The Juniper’s dark monochromatic design and subtle branding are easy to coordinate with your setup or spice up with your own patch.

There’s a handy loop on the back where you can clip a tail light or hang a reflective accent for extra visibility on the road.

The roll-top closure is quick and easy to use. The buckle seems designed to be forgiving about the angle of entry, making for no-fuss operation even with gloves or cold fingers.

This brings me to the one aspect of the Juniper’s design that could be better in my opinion: the roll top opening is a bit too wide and stiff to be subdued by a single strap down the middle. Unless I roll carefully, the ends of the bag tend to unroll a bit and stick up higher than the middle. It’s not usually a functional problem, just looks funny, but I wonder if water could sneak in when the bag is packed full in heavy rain.

Rear view of Juniper bag on an Elkhorn rack, the back is muddy
Rear view of the Juniper showing the light clip, and also how the stiff fabric has a tendency to spring upward a bit at the edges.

I’m no product designer, but I think the part of the strap that passes over the top of the bag needs to be wider. Perhaps some kind of Y-shaped strap, with two ends converging at the buckle. I do like that the Juniper’s size is very adjustable and I can see how the single strap allows for this. I’m sure the design tradeoffs are more complex than I realize.

Maybe the fabric will soften over time and this issue will resolve itself. I hope so, because it’s the only thing about the Juniper’s design that doesn’t feel spot-on.

Conclusion

If you bikepack with a rack and find yourself in need of easy-access cargo space, the Juniper could be your answer. Its seven liters of boxy waterproof capacity make a great place to stash electronics, small essentials, the day’s lunch, and more.

It’s a stable and secure fit on most racks and the burly construction looks like it will last until the end of time. The stiff fabric takes a bit of care to roll neatly under the single strap, but maybe it will soften with use. Otherwise the bag’s design and performance are top notch.

Though more expensive than a dry bag and straps, the Juniper serves a different purpose and serves it well, unlocking new options for distributing gear and weight on the bike.

I’m still a bit conflicted about the trunk bag aesthetic — I’ve been using seatbags and dry bags for so long — but can’t deny the usefulness of the concept. I suspect the Juniper’s convenience will have me reaching for it again as I load up for future trips.

More Bikepacking Resources

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About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve traveled over 20,000 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 about me here.

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    2 thoughts on “Juniper Trunk Bag by Old Man Mountain, Tested and Reviewed”

    1. Great and fair review and I love Old Man Mountain (OMM) gear! North St. Bags in Portland used to make an older version of this bag for OMM, which I have used for a couple years, but I do not believe that they are making this updated version. I too had the same issue of the rolling of the top not feeling secure enough. North St. Bags has since created an updated version on their site which has side clips to resolve this issue. I have altered mine to function in this same way to avoid buying yet another bag, but it’s something to check out.

      Reply
      • Thanks! The clips sound like a good idea, though I was wondering if something like that would get in the way of my seat when using the dropper post. I like the way OMM keeps the ends clear for that reason. It’s almost like I want just one little clip on the back, somehow.

        Reply

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