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Advantage or disadvantage of being a bagger vs. using a charter service?

Kind of on the fence about this one…One, I like having service readily available to enhance comfort and ease of relaxation during RAGBRAI, but on the other hand being self sufficient has its perks as well. What would you say are advantages, disadvantages, concerns of riding as a bagger vs. using a charter. To me, finding a camping spot as a bagger would be the most taxing decision everyday.

10 Replies

Uncle Kraig, May 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm

I wouldn’t think finding a camping spot would be a tough call. If you are with a charter, you camp at the charters camp site. If you are a bagger, you just camp at the RAGBRAI campsite. You just don’t have to dig through the pile of bags to find yours cause they are already with you. I would think the bigger pro/cons would center around carrying all that weight, your gear getting wet on rainy days, etc. Unless you are a die hard bagger, just let RAGBRAI carry your bags, camp in their campgrounds and enjoy the ride!


Jason Stoller, May 14, 2018 at 11:44 pm

I do not think you are considered a real Bagger if you are a paid participant where Ragbrai is carrying your bag on their trucks. Maybe my definition is wrong and I am thinking of a Bandit which is a person who participates in Ragbrai, Carries their own bag and chooses not to pay.

If you pay a Ragbrai Registration fee you are entitled to get a bag carried on the Ragbrai Truck, use the Ragbrai Campground and Kybo’s. Of course you have to find your own spot to camp in and set up in that campground area, pay for your own showers, are limited to one bag, setup your own tent, and are limited to one bag. There is no morning coffee for free, or bands every night or other similar extras that are offered by charters. Pork Belly Ventures lets you take two bags, offers tent set up and rental service, shower truck, and used to over like 3 or 4 meals with their charter. You also had an option to purchase extra meals, drink tickets, get free coffee in the mornings, laundry service in the middle of the week and more.



Michrider !!!, May 15, 2018 at 7:37 am

Pork Belly Ventures is my favorite charter!!! They offer too many services for me to list. Go to their website and check them out!!!

BTW: RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


hnschipper, May 15, 2018 at 9:55 am

To me, the big disadvantage of being a bagger is carrying all of my own stuff on my bike. I have no desire to do that. Why not use the RAGBRAI baggage truck to carry your stuff if you don’t want to pay for a charter?


Aleta Kieler, May 15, 2018 at 9:38 pm

Has anyone used Brancel or Padre’s as a charter for the week?


jayww54, May 16, 2018 at 12:18 am

I used Brancel in 2016 and really liked them. I’m riding self contained from Astoria OR to Onawa so I guess that qualifies me as bagger, but I plan on using Brancel again just to have a simplified week of logistics (showers, laundry, shade, no thinking camping).


KenH, May 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

To me a RAGBRAI bandit is someone who rides without paying.

To me a bagger is someone who carries all or part of their gear on their bike. Maybe they paid, maybe they are a bandit.

If you are a dedicated, self supported bike tourist then bagging your way through RAGBRAI has the advantage of aligning with your chosen lifestyle. It saves you the time and effort of finding your bags at the Register or charter truck. It allows you to camp where you wish rather than where you are told, assuming the property owners agree to let you camp on their property. If you are a loner, you may feel more comfortable bagging it. Bagging it saves you no money unless you are also a bandit.

The big advantage of using the Register truck or a charter is that you don’t have to lug your stuff across Iowa!

With a charter you will have an instant group of new friends to pal around with for the week. You can generally bring more stuff because charters often have more generous limits on the number, size, and weight of the bags you can bring. Some services will be provided in your charter fee, which depends on the charter you choose and the price you pay. Charters may get you nicer campgrounds. It is generally easier to find your bags at a charter truck. For most purposes teams are the same as charters. Teams and charters are the highest cost way to do RAGBRAI but prices and services vary considerably so you should be able to find one that fits.

With the Register truck you will do more work but it represents the lowest cost way to do the ride since you have already paid for it if you register. You will have to work a little harder to connect with people to pal around with but you can do that or not, depending on your preferences. You do have to comply with the Register’s one bag, fifty pound luggage limit. With the Register truck you become a true man or woman of the people, it carries no hint of elitism!

I would note that if you are willing to do some light bagging then you can use the Register truck to carry most of your stuff and then carry anything over their limit or which you judge to be too delicate to survive their “tender care” on your bike. The best of both worlds!


Keith Misegades, May 18, 2018 at 6:50 am

I have always been a registered rider and a bagger even though I don’t use their services. I pay to support everything that the RAGBRAI organization does.

I personally find doing this type of riding on a light weight bicycle letting someone else carry your stuff as not much of a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, riding day after day can be a little tiring, but after 37 years of riding including a cross-country fully loaded tour, I like a bit of a challenge. That’s why I like to bag it. This year, as always, I will doing a double-crossing where I will ride to the start the week before the actual ride. Anyway, Iowa is flat, so the riding is easy.

I also like to keep my vacation costs to a minimum. I see no reason to spend hundreds if not more on a vacation just to have a few amenities and catered service. I have yet to understand why people go into debt just to take an expensive vacation. I can live on less than $30/day when I travel by bicycle.

Constrained to where they tent
One of the crowd, not unique
Have to find them every day

Bagging it:
Conversation starter
Being different
Camp where I want
I have all my stuff (rain gear is handy, if needed) I just put on my rain gear one year and kept cycling while watching everyone else suffer
Freedom from infrastructure


mootsman, May 18, 2018 at 8:03 am

For us working folk, a charter seems more like a real vacation. Just the joy of riding and the rest stops during the ride and heading out at night.

Bagging sounds interesting when you’re on a solo self supported ride. But no real reason to do it on RAGBRAI assuming you pay the registration fee. And if you want the deluxe vacation, Pork Belly offers services I didn’t even know I wanted. Their tent-service is full right now and there is a waiting list for it. I like it despite the up-charge. They deliver your luggage to a tent they set up for you. Pick it up too. Bands in camp each night, meals, beer included. A real vacation from WORK of all kinds. Thanks MitchRider for clueing me on PBV.


Jeremy Hase, July 18, 2018 at 5:41 pm

Thank you for all of the inputs and information for this year’s RAGBRAI. I sided with the charter side and decided to go with Brancel Charters this year. Although I love the touring aspect of being on your own, you just can’t beat the charter mindset for the week. Riding and pampering for the win.


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