Update: See below…
Today I am talking bike saddle bags… waterproof saddle bags to be precise.
I have been a long time user and fan of the Topeak bags. For years I have used the Topeak Wedge Saddle bag, loving the simplicity of their QR clip and strap for secure fitting and easy to use zip opening. A nice lightweight bag, I used the medium which was more than spacious for everything I carry.
- Mini Pump
- 21 piece multitool
- 2 x Inner Tubes
- 2 x Tyre Levers
- Mini lock
- Energy sachet/gel
For those that enjoyed the long, long glorious summer the bag was the perfect accessory… for those that rode last summers Ride100 London-Surrey sportive will testify, that was the one day all summer when it rained, and rained and rained for 100 miles! The end result was my saddle bag was half full of water by the end of the day!
So I started looking at waterproof saddle bags, even for the summer bike.
I immediately switched to the Topeak Drybag Wedge Bag. Generally I think it would do the job of keeping the water out, and like it’s summer version it comes with either a QR or strap fitting. But I found two significant problems with the bag. Firstly the sizing, because of the inner frame the bag uses the medium size gives a little less storage space compared to the summer version. I had the medium size which runs at the following specs:
- 1 L / 61 ci (Medium)
- 18.5 x 11.5 x 11 cm / 6.9” x 4.5” x 4.3” (Medium)
But the main issue and the reason this saddle bag ended up on eBay was the side clips to get into the bag. On a cold winters day, with cold fingers trying to get those clips open really is not fun!
For weight weenies, it also comes in heavy at 220g without the fixing clip, despite Topeak’s claims of 170g.
Ortlieb have a fantastic reputation for bike touring bags, and I have a few Ortlieb products which I generally like. So I decided to give their waterproof saddle bag a go, again medium sized which did feel more spacious than the Topeak.
- Cargo Capacity – 1.3 Litres
- Dimensions – 9cm (H) x 14cm (W) x 7/12cm (D)
Unlike the Topeak version, it fixes from the bag and is much easier to unclick, even on cold days but the problem I found was the shape of the bag. It just closed too loose and lost it’s shape and more often than not the bag was catching my leg when peddling. If I am honest I lost some confidence in the bags ability to keep everything secure mid-ride and indeed dry. I never had a problem with it, but I had lost confidence so decided to switch back to Topeak… that was until I discovered this beauty purely by accident…
Giant Seat Bag WP (WP for waterproof of course). Again I went for medium and compared to the Topeak I can get everything in which tad more space, and because of the shape I don’t struggle to get the mini pump fully in.
- Volume: 1.0L
- Dimensions: 17x10x10 cm
The specs claim this bag comes in at 165g but mine is tad more at 170g. Like the Topeak this uses side fixings, but unlike the Topeak it’s a strappy fixing which certainly feels secure. Time will tell if they continue to be secure, but so far it feels far easier to get in and out of the bag compared to the Topeak.
It comes with a QR clip to the saddle like the Topeak, but again the actual QR fixing initially feels far more secure than the Topeak.
All three bags come in S/M/L sizes.
But for now, my lovely Giant bike is wearing a Giant waterproof saddle bag.
Update: 22nd April:
So second ride with the Giant WP Seat bag and snap….
As I hit the bump at approx 32mph (according to Garmin) on a huge downhill I suddenly felt something dragging on my rear wheel. The bracket had snapped and the strap on the seatpost was all that was keeping the bag from falling away.
The fixing bracket that loops over the seat rails snapped through, as you can see in the image the bolt is still there, so it was a failure of the actual plastic.
A quick Google suggest I am not the first to experience this failure. In my case I am lucky that the bag didn’t fall into the rear wheel, and with no way to fix it to the seat rails I had to ride with it stuffed down my shirt top for 17 miles (which actually wasn’t that noticeable after a mile or so).
It’s such a shame because the saddle bag itself is perfect, the quick release clip is easy to slide on and off, but such a failure could cause accidents so Giant should take a look and recall this IMO. That said, if they strengthen the clip then this could be the perfect saddle bag, but it looks like I am back to the Topeak for now.