Best Bikepacking Saddle in 2020 (REVIEW GUIDE)


Best Bikepacking Saddle

What is the best bikepacking saddle? The Brooks England Flyer is the ultimate in a bikepacking saddle. It features great springs, high-end construction, and a wide base to make a comfortable ride over the duration of your bikepacking expedition.

Last update on 2020-10-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Bikepacking is great, but it requires a lot of preparation. You’re going to be spending some serious hours in the saddle, so you’ll need to think ahead and make sure you’ve got something that suits you.

The choice of a saddle that is going to be meeting your cheeks for hours at a time takes time. It’s not always an easy choice, but if you’re willing to learn, then read on and I’ll break down the ins-and-outs of picking the best bikepacking seat for your next trek.

I’ve broken down some of the greatest, and then I’ll show you what you need to ensure that your next bikepacking trip isn’t a pain in the rear.

Reviews of the Best Bikepacking Saddles

1. Brooks England Flyer Saddle – Best Overall

Brooks England Flyer Saddle

Brooks England is one of the biggest names in touring saddles. The name comes up anytime someone is discussing long-distance saddles, and it’s easy to see why once you take a closer look at what they offer.

The Flyer saddle is my favorite of the bunch for bikepacking. The durable leather construction is combined with shock-absorbing springs that make it a comfortable option for long distances and mixed terrains. It serves well on both fire roads and singletrack.

This was my favorite of the Brooks for using with a hardtail. The little bit of shock absorption from the springs makes up for the slight increase in price. Overall, it’s durable enough that you’ll most likely only ever need to buy this one saddle anyways, especially if you treat it well.

The only real drawback is that it comes with a relatively high cost. It’s a fair trade-off for what you get and you’ll go through a dozen low-end saddles before the Flyer wears down appreciably.

For a bikepacker, the Brooks Flyer is a top-notch choice. It’s a solid investment in your equipment and it may be the only dedicated long-distance saddle you ever need to buy.

Pros:

  • High-end leather construction
  • Steel under rails
  • Conforms to your body
  • Shock-absorbing springs under saddle

Cons:

  • Not cheap
  • Requires break-in time

 View on Amazon


2. Brooks England B17 Saddle

Brooks England B17 Saddle

If you’re not planning on packing through particularly rough terrain, or are willing to trust your bike’s suspension, you may want to take a look at the B17 saddle from Brooks. This is another high-end leather saddle, but it lacks some of the shock absorption of my favorite.

This is actually the classic touring saddle, but it works extremely well for bikepacking as long as you’re not planning on really rough terrain. Fire roads and light-to-moderate singletracks can both be easily covered with the B17, especially if your bike has adequate suspension.

This one even comes with a leather care kit. Just make sure that you do take care of it, especially if it’s going to be in inclement weather on a regular basis.

Like the Flyer, the B17 is an expensive choice and requires some extra maintenance due to the cow leather construction. It’s a lot of benefit for these relatively small drawbacks, however, and the lifespans of a well-cared-for Brooks saddle isn’t something to take lightly.

While I don’t like it quite as much as my top pick, at least for bikepacking, the B17 is a solid all-around choice and might be better for those concerned about the overall weight of their saddle.

Pros:

  • Leather construction
  • High-quality rails
  • Comes with a leather care kit
  •  Very long-lasting

Cons:

  • Not cheap
  • Requires special maintenance of leather

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3. RockBros Mountain Road Bike Seat – Best Budget Option

RockBros Mountain Road Bike Seat

For those who aren’t yet willing to take a bite out of their bank statements in exchange for a high-end touring seat, this relatively generic seat option is my pick for you. Coming in at about a third of the cost of the Brooks options, it’s a solid pick for most of the same reasons.

Polyurethane leather, or PU, is a vegan alternative to leather, but it’s not the low-quality synthetic that many of us associate with fake alternatives. The one big disadvantage compared to cow leather is that it doesn’t have quite the same level of conforming to the body.

On the other hand, the break-in period is much shorter – great if you’re considering hitting the trail immediately. Just be aware that the durability isn’t quite like real leather.

It’s a much cheaper option all around. Still, for those who are new to bikepacking, it may be worth sacrificing a bit just to see if you’re going to keep going. Think of it as a starter.

For those on a tight budget or not yet sure what they’re planning on doing, this is a great place to start. Just be aware that it’s nowhere near the quality of my top two favorites.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Breaks in quickly
  • Good overall design
  • Vegan option

Cons

  • Not as durable as real leather
  • Won’t conform as well as real leather

 View on Amazon

How to Choose the Best Bikepacking Seat – Buyer’s Guide

Most bikepackers will quickly find that their stock seats aren’t the best for taking multi-day trips. While many mountain bikers have experience being in the saddle for four or five hours at a time… well, I’ve found it’s more of a weekly thing and not a multi-day trek in most cases.

In order to find a great saddle for bikepacking, it’s best to look to other long-distance riders.

Related Article: Best Bikepacking Pedals

Touring seats are of particular interest to the prospective bikepacker. They’re made for long days and much longer rides than you’ll find with most saddles.

Still, it can depend on the terrain that you’re planning on going through. Rougher terrain may end up requiring a different saddle than those who are primarily hitting wide, smooth fire roads.

In the end, it mostly comes down to the following.

Size

Bikepacking, even more than regular mountain biking, requires that you’ve got a properly sized saddle. Ideally, you’ll have already measured out your sit bones in advance, but if not, then you can work with the following:

  • 130 mm for smaller framed riders
  • 140 mm for people of average size
  • 155+ mm for especially large riders

Since bikepacking has you in the saddle for a long time, you’ll appreciate the correct sizing.

Related article: Best Mountain Bike Saddle for Big Guys

Materials

Surprisingly, the common gel-padded saddles that are used with mountain bikes aren’t the best option here.

Instead, many bikepackers and touring riders swear by leather or similar synthetic materials. You’ll actually benefit from a minimal amount of padding in this case, especially if you take it easier over rougher terrain.

Leather works well because it naturally breathes and lets sweat evaporate during the course of your ride. It’s also extremely durable. There’s one drawback, though: put a couple of dozen miles in on your saddle before you get started on a bikepacking trip. Leather conforms to your body, but it takes a bit of time to get there, and it’s notoriously stiff before that.

The foam insulation found in normal saddles is great for a couple of hours… but it will also absorb moisture and get hotter as the day wears on. They’re simply not made for this kind of trekking on a bike.

If leather is out of your price range for a saddle, then make sure that you don’t get one with a ton of padding. They’re fine for an afternoon jaunt but you’ll quickly find out why touring saddles look relatively minimal compared to most mountain biking ones after the first day of riding.

Related Article: Best Clipless Shoes for Bikepacking

Consider the Terrain

The terrain you’re passing over makes a huge difference in everything else you need in a seat, especially when you take into account the suspension style of your bicycle.

Those on rigid frames or hardtails, which are most commonly used for bikepacking, will benefit from some shock-absorbing springs.

In very rough terrain, full-suspension bikes are sometimes used for bikepacking. If that’s the case, then you may not need the extra springs, since the suspension of the bike should absorb all but the most telling of blows.

Those on fat-bikes will also find that the extra springs on the seat may be unnecessary.

In the end, it’s a personal choice, but in general, you’ll need more shock absorption on rougher terrain to make sure your whole ride is comfortable.

My Choice for the Best Bikepacking Saddle

Finding the best bikepacking saddle isn’t as hard as you’d think. Just take a hint from those who are used to carrying loads on their bikes.

In my opinion, the Brooks England Flyer is the best around. It’s high-quality, made for the long haul, and can absorb a bit more shock than most saddles thanks to the springs.

There’s something out there for smaller budgets or different needs as well. Just make sure that you’ve got the best saddle for your needs and you’ll be good to go on your next trek!

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Last update on 2020-10-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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