Randonneurs are showing renewed interest in front/handlebar bags as folks realize it can be easier to have a few things right there rather than stuffed in pockets or in a rear saddlebag.
MG and I have yet to embrace the full-size bar bag, but we are big fans of mini-bar bags. These are the kind that strap to the bars and are small enough not to require a front rack or integrated support system.
For our long rides we always use the Gilles Berthoud saddle bag up front. See it at Peter White Cycles. With its simple toe strap mount system it can be lashed up and over the stem and underneath to the steerer column. I can easily reach the front and unhitch the elastic closure to get the top fully open while riding, or tuck my hand into the side without lifting the top.
Our other favorite these days, for shorter rides, is the $25 Pipsqueak from Rickshaw Bagworks. This little guy attaches via two straps over the handlebars, and the top flap secures with velcro in the front.
It is just big enough for a wallet, pocket camera and a couple of energy bars or an apple. Rickshaw, primarily a messenger bag outfit, will make them to order at no extra charge in a wide variety of colors and piping.
The nice thing is that both bags can move from bike to bike in an instant, and we think they look great.
One of the fun parts of our sport is customizing the bikes to fit our unique needs and styles. What do you do to keep the necessities close at hand?