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Verdict: 
Minimalist yet with every feature you actually need, it's a reassuringly expensive instant classic that's hard to fault
Weight: 
658g
Contact: 
Restrap Saddle Bag Holster and Dry Bag
9 10

If you need to carry up to 14 litres of luggage but don't want to use a rack, the Restrap Saddle Bag Holster is an excellent choice. Unconstrained by frame design or bottle cage placement, it will work for just about any bike.

Assuming black is the new black (again), the Holster is bang on the minimalist, pseudo-military-utility trend in adventure kit. Made from 1000D Cordura wrapped over a plastic hardshell to maintain its shape, swathed in nylon webbing and held together not by stitching but instead tough cord through metal eyelets, the Holster looks like it will take a real beating year after year. At well over half a kilo it's definitely no lightweight, but what price durability and peace of mind?

> Find your nearest dealer here

Born in Yorkshire and the result of many hours of testing and tweaking, the Saddle Bag Holster clearly has adventure in its DNA. If you travel a lot in adverse weather, you'll know what a drybag is. Whether it's by kayak, canoe, backpack or bike, drybags guarantee your clothes and sleeping bag arrive at the campsite dry. They also help compartmentalise and organise your kit, with different colour bags for different kit if you like. The Restrap Holster comes with a black 14 litre single-ended drybag, shaped to fit the holster perfectly, but any drybag of similar size should be usable; the design of the holster means you can widen or narrow the opening, and the primary securing strap over the top is infinitely adjustable to cinch everything tight.

Restrap luggage on bike.jpg

Restrap luggage on bike.jpg

The Holster attaches to your bike at two points – around the seatpost and under the saddle. The seatpost fastening is a double layer – first a 'normal' Velcro overlap, the second a much wider vinyl strap looping through a buckle and pulling very tight, again secured with Velcro. Under the saddle, two buckles thread through your seat rails, then attach to two straps that pull the drybag up into the saddle using buckles that attach with cunning magnets and clips. These go on with a snap and release by sliding upwards or downwards at 90 degrees to the pull of the strap. Connecting and releasing while wearing thick gloves is not a problem, and throughout the test period I suffered no unexpected unclipping. The buckles pull tight and straps tuck away into small clips to keep everything tidy.

Restrap Saddle Bag Holster + Dry Bag - straps.jpg

Restrap Saddle Bag Holster + Dry Bag - straps.jpg

The drybag is held in place by a long strap looping through the roll at the top of the bag, then down to the top of the Holster, again with cunning use of magnets and levers to hold the bag securely under any amount of strain, while being easily quick-released.

Restrap Saddle Bag Holster + Dry Bag - strap.jpg

Restrap Saddle Bag Holster + Dry Bag - strap.jpg

All this might sound difficult, but the reality is the Holster fits to and removes from a bike in seconds. This is of importance for cyclists who might not want to leave hundreds of pounds worth of luggage and contents attached to a bike that's locked outside a shop, in a workplace garage or at the station, for example. You can easily unclip either just the drybag or the whole ensemble and walk away.

Other features include an area of drawcord underneath for securing items you don't mind getting muddy, and a small loop at the top of the Holster for a rear light to attach to.

The Restrap team test every component with a load of 50kg – which is clearly a ludicrous weight for something designed to strap to a 10kg bike. A sensible working load for a 14 litre bag is more like 4-6kg, and that's what I took all over the Hampshire downs and then rural Perthshire, over smooth bridleways and rocky mountain paths, either on a carbon road/cross bike or a full-suspension mountain bike. With 6kg onboard there was no noticeable swaying of the bike, the Holster staying firmly put. Of course if you rock violently enough anything will move, and the secret to enjoying a fully loaded bike ride is a smooth pedalling style and keeping your upper-body aerobics to a minimum.

Restrap Saddle Bag Holster + Dry Bag 2.jpg

Restrap Saddle Bag Holster + Dry Bag 2.jpg

One variation I found was that the profile of your saddle's rear does impact stability – a saddle with a deeper scoop in the back edge between the rails will naturally hold the Holster more securely than a flat or even convex saddle edge, so if you did find it wasn't holding things quite securely enough, a change of saddle might do the trick.

In use it was very simple to manage luggage. Pausing to pull out or stow a jacket or gloves was the work of seconds, often not needing to fully remove the drybag to get enough access. The angle of the holster means your stuff isn't going to end up all over the trail either. The quality of the buckes and straps meant that after repeated loading/unloading, the fit was just as good as the first time, with no re-tightening required.

> Beginner's guide to carrying stuff on your bike

At £100 it's not cheap, and you can of course spend less. For example, the Topeak BackLoader 10L seat pack that Emma reviewed is £65 (Restrap's 8L version is £94.99), but it wasn't without issues – and she suggests you'd need to buy a drybag as the built-in luggage space isn't 100% waterproof – adding more cost and reducing useable volume.

Apidura's mid-size Saddle Pack, which Liam reviewed last year, garnered four stars – but as with the Backloader it's an all-in-one solution. This condemns you to an eternity of early-morning-cold-fingered faff as you try to re-attach the bag in exactly the same no-sway perfect setup you spent ages perfecting. Also, it's much nicer to pack everything away under shelter then fit the packed drybag to the holster, than having to stand at your bike in the rain doing the business.

Restrap's 'holster' approach means you can leave the mounting points untouched, day after week after month, if desired. Paired with its waterproof drybag (easily substituted for another brand or capacity), it's an ecosystem approach that future-proofs your adventuring.

It's hard to think what else to say about the Holster – it just works, fits to any bike, quickly, and keeps your stuff held securely so as not to detract from the quality of the ride you're on. Made in the UK and designed to outlive you, it's an investment in adventure that will keep paying off for many years to come.

Verdict

Minimalist yet with every feature you actually need, it's a reassuringly expensive instant classic that's hard to fault

road.cc test report

Make and model: Restrap Saddle Bag Holster and Dry Bag

Size tested: 14 Litres

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

It's for people who want to ride far, over all manner of terrain, but with mimimum faff of setup or management.

Restrap says:

Part of the #carryeverything range, our rackless saddle bag connects securely to your seatpost for bike packing, touring or commuting. With no mounts or screws, the bag attaches in seconds to any bike.

The holster fits up to a 14 litre dry bag and is secured with a patented magnetic buckle that's easy to adjust, even whilst wearing gloves.

The bag is hardcase for easy loading and is fastened with reflective military paracord and reinforced eyelets. Made from 1000D military-grade cordura and with nylon webbing for extra strength, this product is made to last.

(14 litre version with dry bag included)

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Colour: Black/ black

Size: Large Saddle bag 14 litre dry bag

Made: 100% handmade in Yorkshire, England

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Two things will survive nuclear war: cockroaches, and this kit.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Minimal movement, even with a full load. Saddle choice has some impact on this.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Still looks like new.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

With durability comes some heft – it's not ultralight.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

£100 is a lot of money, but if you spent a bit less for something inherently inferior, you'd be cursing. Every hour of riding thereafter.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Can't fault it. Really.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The ease of fitment. Bag on, bag off, in seconds.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing. Not a thing.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

At £100 the Saddle Bag Holster isn't a cheap bit of kit, but the performance, quality and durability shine through. It looks and feels bomproof, and the only thing stopping it from getting five stars is that you certainly pay for what you get.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling

27 comments

Avatar
mike the bike [939 posts] 1 month ago
6 likes

 

It may be this season's trend but it looks a mess.  And cycling, above all things, should be elegant.

Avatar
reliablemeatloaf [76 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

Looks odd. I'd rather a rack and panniers if needed.

Avatar
Goldfever4 [285 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

I cycled Gloucester-Cardiff-Holyhead last week with this saddlepack and the Restrap barbag.

Couldn't fault either of them - obviously my bike was heavier than normal but nothing like when it used to have a rack & panniers. Other than that, I barely knew they were there while on the move. As jasecd said, I didn't fret at all about my stuff staying dry. Frankly they're brilliant and the saddlepack will become my go-to commuting solution too, now.

The only flaw is that it's difficult to fit a rear light on the seat-tube or the pack, and the loop at the back of the saddlepack only allowed my rear light to point downwards a lot more than I'd like. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with the rear light situation when commuting with the saddlepack when the nights draw in.

 

You can hopefully see the pack (and barbag) in use, and orientation of the rear light, in the attachment.

 

Avatar
ChetManley [40 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

I was thinking of switching to one of these from an apidura bag and that's sold it.

Avatar
ChetManley [40 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Goldfever4 wrote:

I cycled Gloucester-Cardiff-Holyhead last week with this saddlepack and the Restrap barbag.

Couldn't fault either of them - obviously my bike was heavier than normal but nothing like when it used to have a rack & panniers. Other than that, I barely knew they were there while on the move. As jasecd said, I didn't fret at all about my stuff staying dry. Frankly they're brilliant and the saddlepack will become my go-to commuting solution too, now.

The only flaw is that it's difficult to fit a rear light on the seat-tube or the pack, and the loop at the back of the saddlepack only allowed my rear light to point downwards a lot more than I'd like. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with the rear light situation when commuting with the saddlepack when the nights draw in.

 

You can hopefully see the pack (and barbag) in use, and orientation of the rear light, in the attachment.

 

I had that issue with lights so switched to a fibre flare on the seat stay.

Avatar
cyclisto [260 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Ok the obvious problem is that you seem to be carrying a giant sausage. What is not that obvious is that such seatpost bags, can stress quite more than calculated the seatpost-top tube junction.

I understand it must be more aero and lightweight compared to traditional rack & panniers, but especially the second problem would trouble me, especially if I had a CF frame.

Avatar
ConcordeCX [394 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Or you could buy one of the seven Carradice saddlebags which have a capacity from 15 to 24 litres, and work far better than this style of bag. You can even put your stuff in a dry bag inside the saddlebag, as I do when touring.

see the comparison chart at the bottom of this page:

https://www.carradice.co.uk/bags/saddlebags

 

 

Avatar
hsiaolc [357 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Get a dry bag that can fit into apidura and it is even more versatile.

Rapha Apidura is much more stylish and I use it for commute.  It carries tools and spares and dirty clothes home just fine.  If I wanted to be waterproof then I just have to put everything in a dry bag as pointed out earlier.  

Don't have to fluff about anything at all like the reviewer was pointing out the main advantages of this compared to Apidura and I don't think so.  

When I just carry my tools and spares then the Apidura wins hands down in terms of style, minimalism and ease of use. 

All them have problem with rear light issues and I just put it on the top of my helmet.  

 

 

 

 

Avatar
janusz0 [27 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

That's a good suggestion from ConcordeCX. Is it true? I ride with a 30ish year old Carradice with a quick release and anti-sway bracket. What I'd like is for a review, preferably by several riders in which a Restrap is compared with a conventional saddlebag of the same capacity:
How do they compare when getting your leg over (fnaar, fnaar:)?
How long does it take to retrieve one item from the bag?
Which is easier to pack a given set of touring items into?
How much time does the conventional saddlebag add to a roll down test?
Etc.
I love my Carradice, but I could be persuaded.

Avatar
dottigirl [765 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Rear light - have you tried attaching them to the right seat stay?

With the saddle bag in situ, there's no room on my seat post for a light bracket, so I had to move it there, and it's done me fine over the last six months.

Avatar
reippuert [72 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Just replaced my Carradice SQR & Super-C barbag with this set (+framepack) for ny upcommimg bike pacing trip from MOntpeiller arround teh Cervennes. Saves me 1,3kg & gives me a lier or two in volume (makes dalily packing easyer) + tookeit fro at short gravel ride today  and weight distributein is far supirror. Seatbag was surprisingly stable with 4-5kg in it. Bagbag with 8L drybag is a pure joy.

 

 

Avatar
philhubbard [46 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
cyclisto wrote:

Ok the obvious problem is that you seem to be carrying a giant sausage. What is not that obvious is that such seatpost bags, can stress quite more than calculated the seatpost-top tube junction.

I understand it must be more aero and lightweight compared to traditional rack & panniers, but especially the second problem would trouble me, especially if I had a CF frame.

 

Depends how heavy you are, I'm 63kg and my 8L saddle bag fully loaded may be an extra 3kg (down sleeping bag, bivvy bag, down jacket and air mat). 

I would hope my frame was designed for people that weigh more than 71kg

 

Avatar
jackseph [21 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I smiled to myself when I saw the bike used in the photos as I have a near identical Merida Ride (the 7000) and, like my bike, the one in the photos has also clearly given the owner issues with attaching conventional mudguards, so has opted for clip / elastic strap-ons. Great bike, but the backwards facing fixtures make fitting normal 'guards almost impossible without extra brackets.

Eveually, after getting said brackets and finding one the mudguard fork bolts was threaded, I realised I rode on gravel more than in the rain and opten to give up on the mudguards, fitted 32mm tubeless tyres and am happy.

Nothing to do with the saddle bag, I know.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1303 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
jackseph wrote:

I smiled to myself when I saw the bike used in the photos as I have a near identical Merida Ride (the 7000) and, like my bike, the one in the photos has also clearly given the owner issues with attaching conventional mudguards, so has opted for clip / elastic strap-ons. Great bike, but the backwards facing fixtures make fitting normal 'guards almost impossible without extra brackets.

Eveually, after getting said brackets and finding one the mudguard fork bolts was threaded, I realised I rode on gravel more than in the rain and opten to give up on the mudguards, fitted 32mm tubeless tyres and am happy.

Nothing to do with the saddle bag, I know.

 

Hi Jackseph

The strap-on SKS Raceblade Pro is only there owing to the fork being a loaner - Merida are replacing my one after the steerer tube developed a crack. I have had the proper SKS Raceblade Long mounts on the original fork for two years, and still have them on the rear rack - hence the RBL on that end of the bike. I'm a huge fan of the RBL - as I like to have no guards when it's sunny, even in autumn/winter/spring. 

Avatar
2trax [12 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
ChetManley wrote:

I was thinking of switching to one of these from an apidura bag and that's sold it.

Chet,

You may want to check out the seat pack from Alpamayo as well, it's a similar kind of thing to the restrap saddle harness but the attachment to the saddle rails is a bit different and is designed to prevent the pack swinging behind you, regardless of what shape the back of your saddle is. 

http://www.alpamayodesigns.com/index.php/products/out-back/seatpack.html

 

Avatar
Eton Rifle [12 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

Looks dreadful and I wonder how on earth you swing your leg over the saddle with about a foot of bag projecting above it. You must need the flexibility of a ballet dancer.

Avatar
Goldfever4 [285 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

It looks the same as the Restrap one to me...

 

2trax wrote:
ChetManley wrote:

I was thinking of switching to one of these from an apidura bag and that's sold it.

Chet,

You may want to check out the seat pack from Alpamayo as well, it's a similar kind of thing to the restrap saddle harness but the attachment to the saddle rails is a bit different and is designed to prevent the pack swinging behind you, regardless of what shape the back of your saddle is. 

http://www.alpamayodesigns.com/index.php/products/out-back/seatpack.html

 

Avatar
Grahamd [597 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Eton Rifle wrote:

Looks dreadful and I wonder how on earth you swing your leg over the saddle with about a foot of bag projecting above it. You must need the flexibility of a ballet dancer.

GCN did video that may help.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI1Ag8vWzIg

Avatar
jasecd [471 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

I rode from Paris to Barcelona last year with one of these and the matching handlebar bag. Both performed superbly and I didn't give them a second thought either in torrential rain, gales or descending off of Pyrenean mountains.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1303 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
Eton Rifle wrote:

Looks dreadful and I wonder how on earth you swing your leg over the saddle with about a foot of bag projecting above it. You must need the flexibility of a ballet dancer.

Beauty is in the eye of the (luggage) beholder I guess  1

Re mounting/unounting - yes, there's a learning curve - not dissimlar to that encountered by every parent taking a child on a rear-mounted rack for the first time. Fortunately the worst that can happen with a seat-mounted bag doesn't involve a trip to A&E or a visit from Child Services to explain the black eye/concussion.

Avatar
JonD [473 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
philhubbard wrote:
cyclisto wrote:

Ok the obvious problem is that you seem to be carrying a giant sausage. What is not that obvious is that such seatpost bags, can stress quite more than calculated the seatpost-top tube junction.

I understand it must be more aero and lightweight compared to traditional rack & panniers, but especially the second problem would trouble me, especially if I had a CF frame.

 

Depends how heavy you are, I'm 63kg and my 8L saddle bag fully loaded may be an extra 3kg (down sleeping bag, bivvy bag, down jacket and air mat). 

I would hope my frame was designed for people that weigh more than 71kg

 

 

Could actually be a bit more than that, the bag itself acts like a lever. That said, you'd probably put the heavier stuff at the bottom end nearest the seatpost - if nothing else, to prevent bag droopiness.

Avatar
TypeVertigo [380 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
JonD wrote:
philhubbard wrote:
cyclisto wrote:

Ok the obvious problem is that you seem to be carrying a giant sausage. What is not that obvious is that such seatpost bags, can stress quite more than calculated the seatpost-top tube junction.

I understand it must be more aero and lightweight compared to traditional rack & panniers, but especially the second problem would trouble me, especially if I had a CF frame.

 

Depends how heavy you are, I'm 63kg and my 8L saddle bag fully loaded may be an extra 3kg (down sleeping bag, bivvy bag, down jacket and air mat). 

I would hope my frame was designed for people that weigh more than 71kg

 

 

Could actually be a bit more than that, the bag itself acts like a lever. That said, you'd probably put the heavier stuff at the bottom end nearest the seatpost - if nothing else, to prevent bag droopiness.

This.

I'm actually concerned about mounting these XL-sized saddlebags on a bike with a carbon seatpost. Methinks the load is focused on one or two points along the seatpost a little too well.

If this were used on a metal seatpost, I guess it wouldn't be a problem.

Avatar
wellsprop [317 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
cyclisto wrote:

Ok the obvious problem is that you seem to be carrying a giant sausage. What is not that obvious is that such seatpost bags, can stress quite more than calculated the seatpost-top tube junction.

I understand it must be more aero and lightweight compared to traditional rack & panniers, but especially the second problem would trouble me, especially if I had a CF frame.

I doubt a seat pack, such as this, would stress the seat post junction clamp area (technical term!) more than a rucksack (or even a larger rider).

It could easily add 10kg of vertical load and it would also exert an additional reward bending moment due to the centre of mass being behind the saddle. However, a heavy rider with a rucksack would equally create as much stress and bending moment.

The ability of a carbon seat post to flex when loaded would most likely take away a lot of the stress from the saddle bag bumping around on rough ground.

I would go as far as saying it is unlikely it would damage the frame.

Avatar
2trax [12 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Goldfever4 wrote:

It looks the same as the Restrap one to me...

 

2trax wrote:
ChetManley wrote:

I was thinking of switching to one of these from an apidura bag and that's sold it.

Chet,

You may want to check out the seat pack from Alpamayo as well, it's a similar kind of thing to the restrap saddle harness but the attachment to the saddle rails is a bit different and is designed to prevent the pack swinging behind you, regardless of what shape the back of your saddle is. 

http://www.alpamayodesigns.com/index.php/products/out-back/seatpack.html

Not quite - have a look at the setup instructions (in particular panel 2) and you will see how the Alpamayo one straps to each rail of the saddle in turn. As the instructions say, it's a bit fiddly, but it is very effective at preventing the harness from swinging side to side.  

http://www.alpamayodesigns.com/media/wysiwyg/Photos/Seat%20Pack%20Set%20...

Still, the Restrap harness looks good and if I hadn't already invested in the Alpamayo, I would interested in taking a more detailed look at one.

Avatar
armb [127 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
mike the bike wrote:

It may be this season's trend but it looks a mess.  And cycling, above all things, should be elegant.

I suppose if you only need it occasionally, the bike looks more elegant without a rack when you aren't carrying anything, and strapping this on is easier that fitting a rack.

But for regular use, just strapping a dry bag to the top of a rack seems far simpler when a saddlebag gets to this length. (If you are going down narrow tracks, I can see having it high and central rather than in panniers might have advantages, but I can't see a rack without panniers being a problem.)

If you have a full suspension bike, there are obvious advantages over a rack, but bikepacking fashion seems to be against that (it's not just because of fashion, I know). And this isn't off-road.cc.

I do wonder if I'm missing something though.

Avatar
reippuert [72 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
2trax wrote:
ChetManley wrote:

I was thinking of switching to one of these from an apidura bag and that's sold it.

Chet,

You may want to check out the seat pack from Alpamayo as well, it's a similar kind of thing to the restrap saddle harness but the attachment to the saddle rails is a bit different and is designed to prevent the pack swinging behind you, regardless of what shape the back of your saddle is. 

http://www.alpamayodesigns.com/index.php/products/out-back/seatpack.html

 

 

After bikepacking for two weeks in the Cervennes, Causes and Camarque with the restrap saddlebag holster (14liter), barbag hoster and framepack (8liter) i can only recomend them. Especially for climbing and offroad. The bagbag hoslter allows you to tug the weight close and tight under stem/up close to the crowntube and the seat holst is really stable. it might move a bit but its actually preferable in rugged terain and while climbing out of the seat compared to a rigig seatpack solution that is moved a few cm away from the seatpost like my Caradice SQR (which i have used for bikepacking since 2010) The rigid SQR was realy unpleaseant for offroad use and made climbing out of the saddle for exended time something you'd try to avoid.

Additionally while the SQR was easyer to pack its also al lot more difficult to mount/unmount by the end of the day.

however i would not want to carry 8-10kg in the seatholster like the SQR, but i can carry a whole lot more weight in the barholster  than in my Carradice  Suoer-C front bag with less impact to steering.

For commuting the  restrap kit is not realy useable as you can't fit a laptop in any of the holsers. (an iPad will fit in a 14liter drybag though)

Avatar
reippuert [72 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
jasecd wrote:

I rode from Paris to Barcelona last year with one of these and the matching handlebar bag. Both performed superbly and I didn't give them a second thought either in torrential rain, gales or descending off of Pyrenean mountains.

 

I just used the restrap Kit for a 1000km Cervennes, Cuases, Camarque tour - I can highly recomend them.

Anyone want to by a Carradice Super-C SQR seatpack + Handlebag Bag - with a brand new SQR mont block (plastic on old block from 2010 was rotted away broke durring my italy north/south trip last year) ?