JPaks Refugi Handlebar Harness Overview

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Two years within the making, the brand new JPaks Refugi Handlebar Harness is light-weight, steady, and features a distinctive Eye Patch headtube protector to maintain your body trying recent. We’ve been testing one for a couple of months to see the way it stands up in opposition to the competitors. Discover our evaluate right here…

Whereas handlebar rolls and top-loading baggage have their place, I usually want utilizing a harness and separate dry bag when tackling technical terrain. Moreover having the ability to rapidly take away the dry bag, which is nice for organising and taking down camp, I discover a harness system tucks the burden properly in opposition to the entrance of the bike, reduces visible obstruction of the path forward, and finally ends up being extra versatile than an all-in-one handlebar roll setup.

Most bag makers have accent pockets for his or her harnesses for stashing small objects or cameras, and you’ll normally slip tent poles or packable fishing rods exterior of the dry bag. Their design means you’ll be able to run quite a lot of dry baggage, that are low cost and are available in a variety of sizes, relying in your wants.

Virtually all of Colorado-based JPaks’ baggage are objective constructed for tough and rowdy routes just like the Arizona and Colorado Trails. In 2020, they launched their DropperPak, a mid-sized dropper-compatible seat bag designed to work along with the Wolf Tooth Valais. I examined it out on a number of bikepacking journeys earlier than publishing a evaluate, and it has been my go-to seat bag for singletrack bikepacking ever since. JPaks’ excessive capability SnakPaks prime tube baggage have turn into a private favorite of mine as properly, proving to be steady and sufficiently big for all types of foolish rides. In addition they supply stem baggage, an all-in-one handlebar roll, and naturally, {custom} body baggage.

JPaks Handlebar Harness Review

The brand new JPaks Refugi is their first tackle a handlebar harness, that means it has a separate harness that stays on the bike and a dry bag that clips out and in when wanted. Like all of JPaks’ baggage, it has been in improvement for some time now (two years, to be precise) and completely examined on the Arizona Path, Colorado Path, and many weekend journeys to assist refine the design. In keeping with Joe at JPaks, the design goal was to make a light-weight, steady, and safe harness to permit modular load carrying potential with various sizes of roll-end baggage. In addition they got down to decrease water ingress with a single-seam roll-end bag that may be made absolutely waterproof (for an upcharge).

The Refugi shares an analogous mounting system with their Supreme BarritoPak. Each the Refugi and BarritoPak are spaced outward from the handlebar utilizing custom-shaped replaceable foam blocks. The blocks push the harness about 1.5″ away from the bar, offering simply sufficient clearance to your fingers, lights, or GPS gadgets. On both aspect of the stem, two webbing straps with side-release acrylic buckles loop over the bar, and the tail is then cinched down utilizing a further ladder lock buckle on prime of the froth block. There’s a smaller third foam block close to the underside of the harness that’s pulled up in opposition to the pinnacle tube because of a small piece of shock twine with a twine lock. To guard the headtube, JPaks consists of their Eye Patch with a clean side-facing the harness to permit it to slip when the bars are turned and a grippy material and velcro strap in opposition to the bike to carry it in place. We noticed Rogue Panda use an analogous idea with their Canelo Harness Glide Plate that was launched earlier this summer time.

  • JPaks Handlebar Harness Review
  • JPaks Handlebar Harness Review

The outside of the harness is constituted of Dimension Polyant RX30 recycled X-Pac, a high-grip EPDM-coated material is used on the within, and there’s an additional layer of froth throughout the attachment factors to offer some rigidity. Whereas the harness doesn’t use a stable crossbar like Revelate Designs’ Handlebar Harness and Pronghorn, or an exterior bar just like the Rockgeist Bar Jam or Rogue Panda Canelo, the system is stable sufficient when strapped to the bars that it by no means left me wishing it had one thing extra. Three webbing straps, two 1/2″ and one 3/4″, with side-release buckles maintain the dry bag in place and they’re completed with acrylic strap keepers to maintain issues good and clear. There are additionally two further D-rings simply above the handlebar attachments that can be utilized to strap on an adjunct pocket or straps to safe a small camp chair or fishing rod.

It’s no shock to see top-notch workmanship and many considerate little particulars integrated into the design of the Refugi. The froth blocks are held in place with velcro, making them straightforward to switch. All load-bearing attachment factors are strengthened with bar tacks, edges are completed with a cloth trim, and there’s a small JPaks patch and “Made in Colorado” label to remind you that it was constructed by hand in Denver.

To go together with the harness, JPaks can be providing double-ended roll-top baggage in a number of sizes. They’re cylindrical, made with a single seam, and constructed out of your alternative of material. The usual model isn’t waterproof, however they are saying they will make them waterproof from an uncharge. They despatched over a few of their topo-printed DP V21RS baggage (VX21 with a ripstop grid as an alternative of the X-grid), which I’ve been utilizing alongside the harness.

JPaks Handlebar Harness Review

Assuming you’ve taken the time to pack your dry bag tightly, stuffing the contents in properly and releasing as a lot air as potential, the harness in the end determines how properly the system works. I solely see two locations the place points can come up: the attachment to the bike and the attachment to the bag. A harness that comes unfastened, both on the bar or on the bag, doesn’t make for an amazing expertise. On condition that JPaks’ prides themselves on testing their gear on a number of the most demanding terrain round, I had excessive hopes. I’m happy to report that the Refugi lived as much as my expectations.

The handlebar attachment, though considerably chunky with the assorted buckles and huge foam blocks, is rock stable. The loops that the webbing straps move by means of make it difficult for the system to loosen up over time, which isn’t all the time the case with handlebar baggage that depend on webbing straps. The attachment factors depart just below 1″ on both aspect of the stem, which helps hold issues steady and would possibly depart simply sufficient room for a small mild or GPS mount. The three webbing dry bag straps additionally do a very good job at holding issues safe, overlaying a very good portion of no matter bag is strapped in place and sag-free.

JPaks Handlebar Harness Review

The roll-top baggage JPaks despatched alongside are narrower than I’m used to. The opening on the big bag is just about 6″ throughout (the medium is even smaller) when opened up, which made stuffing bulkier objects or large sleeping baggage a bit tough. The bag material is light-weight however has a really sturdy really feel to it. I anticipate it can maintain as much as abrasion and many use properly. Nevertheless, as somebody residing within the Pacific Northwest, it’s irritating to not see a 100% waterproof dry bag as the usual choice. I requested Joe concerning the baggage, their sizing, and the material, and he informed me that JPaks could make no matter dimension dry bag you need in any material they’ve bought, together with Dyneema, for these seeking to shed pointless weight and dial of their handlebar setup.

The one situation I bumped into was the Eye Patch’s compatibility with sure bikes, particularly these with a protracted downtube/toptube junction, just like the one on Emily’s Ibis Ripley AF. JPaks additionally warns that the harness doesn’t work with bikes with cables that enter the headtube straight on, like a few of Santa Cruz’ full-suspension bikes. Within the Ripley’s case, the velcro strap wasn’t lengthy sufficient, and attaching further velcro simply seemed foolish, so I made a decision to only take away the Eye Patch all collectively. As anticipated, it labored fantastic with out it, however the raised headtube badge on the Ibis did tear up the froth block a bit. I additionally discovered that the shock twine securing the harness to the pinnacle tube would enable the harness to bounce ever so barely on actually tough terrain, even when cinched down tightly. If I used to be heading to sort out the Colorado Path, I’d doubtless be swapping that out for a stable piece of twine that will nonetheless enable the harness to slip on the Eye Patch however would restrict any bouncing.

  • JPaks Refugi Handlebar Harness Review
  • JPaks Refugi Handlebar Harness Review

JPaks Refugi Handlebar Harness Review

The Refugi weighs in at 295 grams, which is on the prime finish of different minimal handlebar harnesses we’ve examined. I believe this doubtless has one thing to do with the chunky handlebar attachment and the supplies used. In contrast to the Revelate Pronghorn, which is constructed from an un-padded part of VX21 X-Pac, the Refugi is padded with foam for rigidity and in addition backed with a grippy materials to assist hold the roll-top bag from transferring round. These specs, paired with the three straps, do an amazing job at holding issues tight and safe. Give its affordable $125 value level and stable design, I believe the additional weight is justified. Take a look at a fast comparability beneath.

Handlebar Harnesses In contrast



Fabricated from

Made in

Value (USD)





Except for the customizable roll-top baggage, JPaks additionally gives some choices for the harness itself. For a further $10, you may have the choice to decide on the outside material coloration and/or accent thread and you’ll even improve the 2 outer bag buckles to CNC machined Austere Manufacturing cam locking buckles for a completely slip-proof setup. We’ve been utilizing Austere’s buckles to strap down heavy gear because the starting and they’re a number of the nicest items of {hardware} on the market.


  • Steady and wiggle-free
  • Made in Colorado
  • Numerous considerate particulars, together with D-hooks, foam spacers, and mounting system
  • Clearance for fingers and equipment on the bars
  • Strong value level


  • The roll-top baggage I examined aren’t waterproof as customary, and are a bit small
  • Some motion in headtube attachment as a result of shock twine
  • Eye patch has some compatibility points
  • On the heavier aspect
  • Materials: RX30 X-Pac / EPDM coated material
  • Weight: 295 grams (harness + eye patch)
  • Place of Manufacture: Colorado, USA
  • Value: $125 USD
  • Producer’s Particulars:

Wrap Up

When an skilled bag maker like JPaks comes out with a brand new product, you could be pretty certain it’s going to be dialled. The Refugi handlebar harness lives as much as the JPaks’ title. The attachment system and foam spacers are stable, straightforward to put in, and most significantly, keep put. The three webbing straps and tapered harness do a very good job at holding your favorite dry bag in place, and whereas the Eye Patch headtube protector may not work on all bikes, it does what it’s imagined to. I did discover the baggage JPaks despatched together with the harness to be a bit small, particularly for cold-weather bikepacking as we inch our approach nearer to winter right here within the Pacific Northwest, however that’s not an enormous situation as a result of their baggage are offered individually and could be personalized to your liking. The Refugi is the star of the present and it has confirmed to be thoughtfully designed and thoroughly manufactured, good for any sub-genre of bikepacking on the market.

JPaks Refugi Handlebar Harness Review

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