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A saddle pack is a useful means of carrying the things you need with you on a ride – you can just leave it in place, knowing that you've got a puncture kit, spare tube and multi-tool with you. If you're going to leave it there, it's a good idea to have one that'll keep the water out, or you might find that some things start to go rusty. The Dry Pack from Zefal does a good job of keeping its contents dry and is both lightweight and fairly inexpensive.
The material used for the body of the Dry Pack is a thermoplastic polyurethane, here in the form of a relatively lightweight plastic fabric which is waterproof. It isn't stitched – the seams are joined using ultrasonic welding, meaning they too are waterproof, and the zip is a water-resistant one too.
It fixes to your bike via the simple means of Velcro straps – one around the seatpost and a couple that thread through the saddle rails.
Some saddle packs have more sophisticated mounting systems, with brackets that clamp to the saddle and a quick clip to fit and remove the pack. In my experience this can work well, as long as your saddle position lets it fit. That's not going to be an issue here – the straps worked on all my bikes and those I've tested this year, including a Ritchey saddle with the Vector Evo rail system. The strap that goes around the seatpost is long enough for a 31mm diameter post, but won't fit anything larger, such as an aero post.
If your bike has a posh carbon-railed saddle then don't worry – the straps and the bag itself don't have any hard bits to damage either the saddle or the seatpost. If the bag isn't full, then by tightening the Velcro straps on the side you can cinch the bag up so it isn't too rattly. Unfortunately, if you do that then the ends of the Velcro straps finish up right inside the saddle, making it quite fiddly to get to them for removal.
In terms of sizing, Zefal calls this an L, and it's a decent size, if not the largest on the market. I had no difficulty getting a couple of tubes, puncture kit, CO2 inflator and multi-tool in there, with room for some emergency sweets too. The bag also tapers in width towards the front, and even when full to capacity it never interfered with my thighs while I was pedalling.
A welcome touch is the consideration given to night-time visibility. On the sides and up the rear of the bag are decent-sized reflective patches, and there's a loop on the rear to which you can attach a light. The fabric isn't that stiff, though, so the pack needs to be well-filled to prevent the light hanging downwards and directing its beam at your rear tyre. To be honest, I didn't really use the loop because it's pretty easy to fit a light to the seatpost below the saddle pack, but it could be useful if you had a clip-mounted light.
At 117g, the Dry Pack is impressively light for its size. This may not be your prime consideration – weight weenies are probably less likely to want to fit anything but a tiny saddle pack to their best bikes – but it's lighter than some similarly-sized packs by the equivalent of an inner tube.
Unfortunately, the first Dry Pack I was testing suffered a problem with one of the welded seams, which started to peel apart after I'd only used it a dozen times or so, making it suddenly very water-permeable. Panel shaping is fairly simple, with the edges of the rear panel looking a little bit vulnerable. A replacement was sent out, which I loaded up to the max, with my heaviest multi-tool and as many inner tubes as I could fit in there. That's been going strong for a few thousand km, suggesting it was an isolated problem rather than a more serious design flaw.
There are various other water-resistant saddle packs on the market, from the likes of Ortlieb, Topeak, Giant and Altura. All use welded seams and most of them have a roll-top closure rather than a zip. I didn't really have any problem with the zipped closure here, in terms of water ingress, and there's not a lot between the two styles in terms of ease of access. The price of this pack from Zefal is competitive with similar packs, and less than an Ortlieb, whose bike bags are pretty much bombproof but priced accordingly.
Light and pretty water-resistant saddle pack at a decent price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zefal Z Dry Pack L-DS
Size tested: Black
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?
Zefal says: "The Z Dry Pack L-DS is the ideal for wet conditions. Made in welded waterproof material, it keeps your accessories dry. Reflective stripes and a loop allow a better visibility of the bike if you ride at night. The wide opening guarantees an easier access to the bag content."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Welded TPU waterproof material.
FOR ALL TYPE OF BIKES
Double Velcro® strap fixation, does not damage or scratch the tube and stem.
Better visibility of the bike.
Increases the security at night.
Reference : 7044
Material: Welded TPU material without PVC
Dimensions: 175 x 80 x 100 mm
Claimed Weight: 114 g (we reckon it's 117g)
Mounting: DS: double Velcro® straps
Capacity: 1,2 L / 40 oz
Zip: Water repellent zip
The focus is obviously on water-resistance and low weight rather than something bombproof that you can pass down to your kids. On the first one, the seams started to come apart but its replacement hasn't suffered from this.
Pretty decent. Keeps its contents pretty much dry, doesn't swing around too much. Good reflectives and a light loop are welcome additions.
I had two. The first one lasted a couple of months before a seam started to peel apart. I've loaded up the second one and exposed it to the worst of the autumnal conditions and it has thus far not followed suit. I wonder whether the welded seams are maybe not hyper-durable, and the edges of the rear panel are a vulnerable point, but I might be proved wrong!
Particularly light for its size.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I was pretty disappointed by the short life span of the original test bag, but its replacement has fared much better. It has a decent capacity and keeps its contents pretty much dry. Velcro straps aren't a sophisticated fitting system but they work on just about any saddle and they don't weigh much.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Water resistance, reflectives and low weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Initial experience with the welded seams.
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
It's light and does a solid job of keeping its contents dry.
About the tester
I usually ride: Commuter - something with disc brakes, drop bars and a rack My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.