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Verdict: 
Rugged, practical, easily mounted and made in the UK – a great choice for bikepacking/touring
Weight: 
590g
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Restrap Bar Bag Holster & Dry Bag & Food Bag
9 10

The Restrap Bar Bag Holster, Dry Bag and new, larger Food Bag are an excellent choice for carrying luggage on your road or mountain bike. On or off-road, this rugged, made-in-the-UK solution is practical, looks good and should last you a lifetime.

> Find your nearest dealer here

I've already reviewed the matching Restrap Saddle Holster and Top Tube Bag, now it's time to round out the core of the Restrap 'Carry Everything' system with the front luggage options.

Bar Bag Holster

The Restrap Bar Bag Holster is a cunningly simple design: a rectangular plastic core covered with '1000D military-grade Cordura', swathed in nylon webbing to provide the attachment points. The holster attaches to your bar either side of the stem using a simple nylon strap-and-buckle system that fits quickly and holds securely. There's 85mm between the inside edges of the straps, allowing enough space to fit light and computer mounts next to your stem, but the height of the bar bag might require some thinking on light position. My go-to Exposure Joystick and Lezyne PowerDrive XL lights were both too low to see over the top of the Food Bag once attached, making the Plan B of a fork-mounted light a necessity.

Restrap Handlebar Holster - straps.jpg

Restrap Handlebar Holster - straps.jpg

Tightening the Holster right up against the bar leaves no room for your fingers to grip the tops if you like to ride there. Fortunately, there's enough slack to drop it down a centimetre or so to leave room without compromising on stability. I found the Holster cleared the front section of my mudguard, but this was on a bike with a fairly tall head tube. If your geometry, stem spacer stack or stem angle makes the bar top-to-fork crown distance smaller than normal you might find clearance of a mudguard, fork crown-mounted light or possibly even the tyre to be close.

Restrap Handlebar Holster - looking down.jpg

Restrap Handlebar Holster - looking down.jpg

I found looping the few centimetres of excess strap forward under the front of the buckle made for a 100 per cent solid Holster position over even the roughest terrain. The Holster sits against your brake and gear cables as they curve around your head tube, which might change where they then contact your frame, so be sure to check and add extra abrasion protection as required.

One unavoidable downside of this design is that the Holster simply cannot be fitted to a drop bar where the cables exit the shifters at the side and not underneath the bar tape. With under-tape cabling now available all the way down to the second-from-bottom Shimano Sora groupset, this isn't a widespread issue. If fitting to a mountain bike there are two simple straps provided to thread through the fork crown or possibly the rear of the bottom of the head tube to aid stability.

Dry Bag

Once the Holster's in place, the optional double-ended Dry Bag (full review here) is easily inserted into it and secured with the two straps, magnetic buckles clipping into place almost of their own accord. These magnetic buckles are genius – useable with the thickest gloves, and never showing the slightest inclination to come adrift. To undo them you slide to the left, and any excess strap can be rolled up and secured with small Velcro tags sewn into the strap ends.

Restrap Handlebar Holster - back.jpg

Restrap Handlebar Holster - back.jpg

The double-ended opening of the 14-litre Dry Bag makes for easy access while in place – I would often stash and retrieve gloves, headgear and occasionally a jacket without having to remove the bag from the Holster. If you want to realise the full 14-litre capacity there will be little-to-no room left for your hands high up in the drops, even on a wider normal bar. If you are riding a flared drop this will probably not be an issue. I found it was easy to cinch the ends of the Dry Bag inwards, looping the excess Holster buckle strap length through each end of the Dry Bag and attaching them to each other using the Velcro tabs.

Restrap Handlebar Holster - front.jpg

Restrap Handlebar Holster - front.jpg

With 3kg of kit stashed in the Dry Bag, it didn't move around, there was no noticeable effect on steering once underway, and the whole setup felt solid, if a bit unaerodynamic. If you want to go heavier, Restrap has tested all components to a frankly ridiculous 50kg – possible, but not really to be recommended.

Food Bag

For smaller items needing frequent access, the Food Bag is a £19.99 optional extra that I highly recommend. It's newly redesigned to be larger in capacity and using a different magnetic attachment system than previous models. Restrap wasn't 100 per cent happy with the previous magnetic latches, so updated the design with a cunning bi-directional setup. As with the Dry Bag magnetic buckles, the Food Bag sucks itself onto the Holster when held within about a centimetre, so in the cold and wet, with layers of gloves on, there's no need to disrobe and faff.

Restrap Handlebar Holster - clips.jpg

Restrap Handlebar Holster - clips.jpg

The Food Bag can be removed with one hand by firmly pulling the left-hand side towards you, then pulling to the left. The combination of magnets and the 90-degree two-step process make an unintended bag ejection nigh-on impossible; I gave the setup a jolly good thrashing and couldn't get a fully loaded Food Bag to dislodge.

Measuring a conservative 20x13x5cm internally, that's 1.3 litres of accessory or foodie goodness to stash. I was able to store a 22cm-long Birzman mini-pump, tool roll and inner tube and still have room for a few other bits and pieces. The zip is a waterproof YKK, and the 1000D Cordura construction affords protection and decent water resistance, though not waterproofness – so delicate electronics will need protecting in heavy rain.

Restrap Handlebar Holster - detail 2.jpg

Restrap Handlebar Holster - detail 2.jpg

Restrap needs to fine-tune the zip garage to completely remove annoying rattles – I looped the zip pull-tag around the orange paracord to keep things whisper-quiet. The great thing about a company like Restrap is that it can and does innovate quickly based on rider feedback, so this is likely to be sorted soon.

The paracord zig-zag on the top of the Food Bag is handy for holding thick gloves when labouring up long, warm climbs and you could probably fit a small rolled jacket under there too. The front of the Holster has a small loop through which you push the Food Bag's paracord tension buckle, to hold the front of the Food Bag down against the Holster to prevent it bouncing around.

Restrap Handlebar Holster - detail.jpg

Restrap Handlebar Holster - detail.jpg

Conclusion

With the new improved Food Bag topping a well-thought-out design made from super-strong materials, there really isn't anything to fault on the Restrap Bar Bag Holster/Dry Bag/Food Bag ensemble. For £85 total you get a system that will quickly fit pretty much any modern bike, carry as much kit as you'd really want up front short of using proper panniers, and will no doubt last you many, many adventures on and off the road.

> Beginner's guide to carrying stuff on your bike

Even a cursory glance at the handlebar-mounted touring/bikepacking luggage category reveals many, many dozens of brands offering all manner of variants on bike attachment, luggage fixing, protection and material technology. There's no 'right' or 'wrong' way to do this, just what works on your bike, for your style and duration of riding. The Restrap Bar Bag Holster, Dry Bag and Food Bag combination is a worthy addition to the genre: mid-range in price, not lightweight relative to some others, but designed to survive the toughest of challenges.

Verdict

Rugged, practical, easily mounted and made in the UK – a great choice for bikepacking/touring

road.cc test report

Make and model: Restrap Bar Bag Holster & Dry Bag & Food Bag

Size tested: Fits 8-14 litre Dry Bag

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 wanting a rugged, simple solution for carrying kit on their handlebars.

Restrap says: "Our #carryeverything rackless bar bag connects securely to your handle bars 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 made from 1000D military-grade cordura and with nylon webbing for extra strength. Your stuff is held securely, even at speed. Contains a magnetic pin system for add-on food pouch"

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

Colours: Black

Size: 14 litre double roll included

Made: 100% handmade in Yorkshire, England

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
10/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
6/10

Pretty hefty. Reassuringly so.

Rate the product for value:
 
9/10

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

Very well indeed – couldn't fault it. Stuff stayed put.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The magnetic clips. They're genius.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing, really.

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

The only 'fault', if it can be called that, is the 590g weight of the system – but it's not really possible to build as ruggedly for under half a kilo. If it were sub-450g or so, it'd be five stars. If you want a superlight setup, this probably isn't for you.

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

4 comments

Avatar
LastBoyScout [390 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Is it just me, or does that look millimeters away from the front tyre?

Avatar
StraelGuy [1144 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

It does. Maybe it would be safer to only use it on bikes with mudguards to prevent the bag contacting the tyre?

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Goldfever4 [396 posts] 4 months ago
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The article does say that it depends on your headset and stem. It also says that you can drop the bag an inch or so to free up the tops for your lights or hands, which it looks like they've done in the pictures.

In my experience, it's quite close but very secure so no issue. I took this pack on the Lon Las Cymru route (wiggly route from Cardiff to Holyhead) and I had zero issue at all with clearance even if it looks a bit tight. I didn't stick to roads and never had an issue.

On my Genesis CdF 20 I have approximately 2.5" clearance.

LastBoyScout wrote:

Is it just me, or does that look millimeters away from the front tyre?

Avatar
BarryBianchi [419 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
LastBoyScout wrote:

Is it just me, or does that look millimeters away from the front tyre?

...with nothing in it.

So, you'd need to rest it on a rack. In which case....