Ortlieb has taken another step forward in developing its classic Trunk Bag, replacing the chunky zip with a roll closure and removing the outer zippered pockets, while keeping the top rate Rack Lock Adapter system. The result is a no-frills, easy-to-use, easy-to-access, durable, 100 per cent waterproof bag. All of this does come at quite a price, though.
Roll open the top of the bag to immediately access the generous 12 litre capacity. There are no interior partitions or fancy side compartments that might restrict packing or take up valuable space, just open space to throw in as much kit as you can. Trust me, you can pack it in up to the recommended maximum of 10kg.
There is a single flat zip pouch that is just big enough for a wallet, phone, keys and coins, and is removable. The simplicity will likely appeal to commuters and shoppers (rather than tourers), who can make full use of the space available, so doing away with panniers. It would also be great for a ride leader wanting to be prepared with spares, tools, maps, extra clothing and food for groups.
The roll closure relies on a stiff, flat plastic strip, and the ends of the bag invert inwards and are rolled up too. Once rolled down, a flap simply lifts across and the horizontal strip of Velcro on it attaches to two vertical Velcro strips on the other side of the bag; this allows for a small amount of adjustment depending on how full the bag is.
Ortlieb stresses that the bag's closure must be rolled 'at least 3-4 times' in order to protect kit from splash water, but I found rolling it just three times was sufficient to keep everything dry in consistently heavy rain. Water just rolls straight off, and the exterior dries almost instantaneously when brought in out of the rain.
The bag holds its rigid box shape thanks to stiff plastic inserts which cannot be removed – it's not possible to compress the bag even when there is not much in it. The shoulder strap should be removed to use the roll closure (Ortlieb's recommendation) but it does function reasonably well even if you don't. That said, it definitely needs removing in rainy weather to ensure the closure is watertight.
The handle formed by the roll closure is great for removing the bag from the rack – it's more of a grip mechanism than a handle; your fingers do not come out of the other side, they just curl up under the roll. The detachable shoulder strap is a must if you are carrying the bag any distance.
Although the instructions for setting up the Rack Lock Adapter looked pretty scary, it was actually very quick and easy. The system is compatible with any make of rack, provided the rack bars for mounting it run parallel. The adapter, attached to the base of the bag, is adjusted to fit the rack using a slider that is secured in place once the correct width has been set up. And that really is it. The bag is attached with a firm push to engage the adapter's four clips with the rack rails.
It's removed by inserting a small plastic 'key' into the side of the adapter. This key can remain securely in its slot when the bag is both on and off the rack – ideal to avoid losing it. The Rack Lock Adapter is absolutely solid – no movement, rattling or sliding about.
I found that the Trunk Bag worked best without other rack baggage – it didn't want to go on the rack while my Ortlieb panniers were attached, though it did fit on with some very basic panniers with low profile clips attaching them to the rails.
In terms of safety, Ortlieb has added one of its super-effective reflective patches and a rear light mount. The latter is a bit limited, though – you need a rear light with a clip in order to use the mount. This was the only negative thing about the bag; the only other option for a light is on the rack itself, as the seatpost is covered by the bag. Naturally, none of this is an issue if you are only intending to use it during daylight hours.
Ortlieb has taken a minimalistic approach with this product; if you like a multitude of pockets or compartments then this is not for you. Which might leave you wondering exactly what it is you are paying for. It is a steep price, even when you take into account that it is a front runner on ease of use, durability and waterproof ratings. Price aside, there is no denying that it is a great accessory for lightweight commuters and shoppers. It is unlikely to be a choice for many tourers because of its rigid form, but it might equally appeal to those enjoying long day outings wanting to take ample supplies with them.
Ample storage that's on and off in a flash, durable and 100% waterproof, but pricey in comparison to alternatives
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ortlieb Trunk-Bag RC
Size tested: 20cm x 33x 18, 8 litre
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?
Orlieb's Trunk Bag RC is 'a convenient, waterproof bag to transport belongings. The Velcro roll closure also serves as a convenient carrying handle.' Thanks to 'the Rack-Lock Adapter, winner of the Eurobike Award, the bag fits on virtually any bike rack with a width of 60 to 160 mm. Clip it on, secure it and remove it again'.
Ortlieb tells us that the bag is 'ideally suited for longer tours and brief forays to the supermarket.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
+ Height: 30 cm.
+ Width: 38 cm.
+ Depth: 20 cm.
+ Weight: 825 g.
+ 12 litre capacity with a 10kg maximum load.
+ Durable rip-stop nylon fabric.
+ Mounting for additional rear light (light not included).
+ Adjustable shoulder strap.
Excellent – typical of Ortlieb.
Keeps contents perfectly dry, is attached really easily and comes off just as swiftly.
The ripstop nylon outer is very thin but has no potential weak points. All of the base corners are curved – no sharp edges that could lead to material wearing thin or fraying. The bag will hold its shape indefinitely thanks to the hard plastic interior inserts.
Pricey in comparison to many alternatives, for example the Lotus SH-506D Trunk Bag (24.99), or the Topeak Dry Bag Trunk Bag MTX (£60.79). It is very much a no-frills design too, so on the face of it you don't appear to be getting much for your 90 quid. However, a little research may convince you that you are investing in a high quality product in terms of weight, waterproofing, ease of access and mounting/removing.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The speedy Rack Lock Adapter system and the quick access roll closure – so easy to use even with cold hands that don't want to function! And, of course, who doesn't like the genuine claim of waterproof bag?
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Despite having a light attachment, the style of light that will fit onto it is limited (the light really needs a clip on its rear for it to sit securely on the mount). If you don't have one that will fit, and can't buy an aftermarket clip, you'll need a light on your rack as the bag covers anything on the seatpost.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, in a sale!
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a very good option, high quality and fully waterproof. The only negative is the slightly annoying light situation – not a drama if you only intend to use it during daylight hours, or have a light on your rack. It's also pretty pricey in comparison to many other trunk bags.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
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: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…