BTR's Waterproof Bicycle Rear Rack Pannier Bike Bag is a practical, convenient way to carry and protect whatever essentials you deem necessary for a day trip, commute or minimal overnight trip. It looks and performs way beyond its £24.99 price tag suggests, although the name is a bit misleading as it's water resistant rather than waterproof.
It's one of three rack bags that BTR offers. I reviewed the Deluxe Rack Bag back in April and was impressed by the quality and performance at such an affordable price. The bag on test here costs the same but loses a couple of litres of capacity.
After just five weeks of testing I am convinced BTR has produced another great bit of kit for an unbeatable price. It does have a couple of weak links, but nothing that detracts hugely from its primary purpose and performance.
Six Velcro straps create a seriously secure fastening system. Two frontal straps wrap around rails closest to the seatpost; two straps pass under the rack, like with the Deluxe; and the additional straps are lateral ones that loop under the rails and attach to the side of the bag. They are exceptionally easy to work.
The under-rack straps are noticeably thinner and narrower than those on the Deluxe model. This makes removing the bag a breeze – it comes off quicker than the Deluxe model, even with the extra straps. There is a small price to pay for this, though: the flimsier straps are susceptible to folding in on themselves, and time saved can be consumed unravelling these two straps. It doesn't happen every time I move the bag from rack to rack but has increased in frequency as the test period has progressed.
Once the bag is attached it isn't going to budge. I have actually managed several commutes with one of the base straps undone (Velcro stuck on Velcro is really annoying after a while) and the bag didn't shift. As if the roads aren't rough enough in places, I used it on several gravel tracks too and it stayed put throughout. For reference, I had the bag on an Axiom Journey rack and a Blackburn MTN rack.
As with the Deluxe, I'd say the Waterproof Bag is not compatible with panniers. Mounting the two together is just too awkward, in certain cases impossible.
The bag's smoothed-out corners make it look rather sleek, but there's no escaping that you are losing space inside as a consequence; it's two litres less than both the Deluxe and BTR's cheapest rack bag.
Testing it during milder weather wasn't an issue – I carry less and it's not as bulky. Even for an overnight trip I could cram in spares and enough clothes. I know that this wouldn't be the case if I was to add thicker winter layers to the mix, though.
The bag has a much more rigid form than the Deluxe, and I found myself packing more strategically to maximise the space, rolling up clothes and cramming things into corners like a 3D jigsaw. It's certainly an aspect worth considering if you are thinking of buying.
There is one simple netted pouch inside the bag. It sits under the opening flap so is easily accessible. If you are old school, it's the perfect size for a map, otherwise it takes a smartphone or anything of a similar profile. A (12 x 17cm cased) Kindle fitted in there perfectly; it won't stretch to anything wider.
The exterior pockets are not overly generous and all sit flush to the bag, so reaching in to extract things isn't simple. The more you pack out the main body of the bag, the less you can fit into them and the harder it is to get at it.
The one on the top is ideal for a smartphone – it's easy to reach and open up while stationary on the bike. The side pockets don't accommodate much – basically anything close to flat, or simply small: a wallet, snack bar, keys... I learned to make use of them for more permanent items such as tyre levers, a multi-tool, repair kit and the like.
If the 8 litres isn't enough for you there is the possibility to shove kit under the criss-cross bungee on the top of the bag. While it covers a greater area than that on the Deluxe model, it is, unfortunately, not very strong, and what little stretch it does have lacks tension. The loops it passes through are wide enough to accommodate something much more substantial, so if you do find yourself wanting that extra storage, it would be easy to replace with something stronger. I did make use of the provided bungee but only for bulky clothing. It simply doesn't have the tension to hold, for example, a plastic bottle securely.
Most of the reflective detailing appears on the sides of the bag – a bit of an oversight really as the Deluxe has a decent rear strip. There are three small reflective flashes on the rear but they actually get covered if you mount a light on the provided loops. The loops will accommodate rear lights of varying clip lengths. It's a secure attachment and a necessary feature if you have no or very little seatpost exposed above the top of the bag.
The detachable shoulder strap fastens quickly to two loops, centrally positioned at either end on the top of the bag. It's comfortable enough to carry, though personally I prefer the fixed handle. I never want to carry the bag far, so the inconvenience of carrying around the strap (or securing it under the bungee) doesn't seem worth it. It's handy if you are using the bag for a day trip or short tour when you might want to do some walking with food and supplies stowed in it. I've actually made use of both the strap loops and the fixed carry handle to hang the bag up at home or in a changing room. They are certainly not limited to their intended purposes.
The bag looks and feels so much more robust than the Deluxe. It has a more rigid form and tough outer, and dirt brushes off it more easily. I had some reservations about the smoothness of the zips on the first few outings, but with regular use they have really softened up and run freely in either direction and round the contours. The zippers themselves are chunky and easy to grip with gloved or cold hands.
BTR sells the bag with optional extras of a cargo net and cover (fully reflective or reflective strips). I haven't tested these, but they'll set you back a fiver for the pair.
The bag has had several outings in light to moderate, persistent rain and has kept the contents dry as a bone. It hasn't experienced prolonged heavy rain – cue the power shower. After 10 minutes of direct, full force shower the bag had let in a significant amount of water. So despite the 'waterproof' title, the description of 'water resistant' on BTR's website is certainly more appropriate. Hardly a surprise, really, given the price tag. It's certainly more resistant than the Deluxe version, but you either need to put your kit in a waterproof stuff sack/plastic bag or buy the cover.
The bag is almost 50g heavier than the Deluxe version. It certainly feels more robust and its rigid frame clearly contributes to the extra weight despite the reduced capacity. In the grand scheme of things, though, if you are attaching this to your rack you are not going to be quibbling over 50g. It's still a reasonable weight when compared to other options (see below).
At £24.99 the bag is certainly not overpriced. However, for the same price you could have 2 litres more and some pretty similar features if you go for BTR's Deluxe. BTR aside, Lotus offers something quite similar in style and at exactly the same price point. We tested the SH-506D expandable rack top bag three years ago, so performance may have improved with newer versions, and it just matches BTR with an extended capacity of 8.7l. It does have more user-friendly pockets in its favour, but its weight perhaps goes against it (700g+).
Racktime has something fairly similar with the Talis Bag, which uses its own unique clip system and costs £40.
You can get 6 litres for £25 with the Ridge Rack Pack, but I'm not sure it's as sturdy.
If waterproofing is a priority you are going to have to fork out a fair bit more: an Ortlieb Trunk Bag RC will set you back £95; you aren't saving weight here either – it's 300g heavier than BTR's.
I concluded similarly in my review of the Deluxe: 25 quid is not going to get you a top of the range bag, you'll need to dig much deeper into your wallet if you want 100 per cent waterproofing and a near-faultless mounting system. However, BTR has delivered another fantastic bit of affordable kit that will tick most boxes for commuters, day trippers, lightweight travellers and those simply knocking around town. In this price bracket, it'll be tough to find a better option.
Just be aware that the capacity is a little less than many rack bags and, if that's a priority, stepping up to the Deluxe at no extra cost would seem sensible.
Great bag for commuting, audaxing, overnighting or generally knocking around town – just not in torrential downpours
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BTR Waterproof Bicycle Rear Rack Pannier Bike Bag
Size tested: Height 15cm, Width 15.5cm, Length 36cm
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?
BTR says: "8L Water resistant bike rack bag by BTR is an easy way of storing & your gear on the back of your bike & keeping it safe & dry.
"We designed this bag to be a robust, secure & practical way of adding a extra storage to your bicycle. So we added:
"Extra straps, so you have x 5 strap fittings for max attachment. 2 x fastening straps at the front & 3 underneath attach & adjust under your bike rack easily
Built in rear light loop to affix your tail light"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*Water resistant wipe clean material.
*Rear light loop.
*5 x hook & loop fastening straps – easy to attach & remove.
*Highly reflective silver tape on sides.
*Detachable shoulder strap & fixed carry handle.
*2-way zipped lid.
*8 Litre Capacity – including 3 x external pockets
*3 x external pockets.
*1 x internal pouch.
*Bungee straps across the top.
*Option to purchase with a waterproof rain cover & cargo net.
*Bag Size: Height 15cms, Width 15.5cms, Length 36cms
Belies price tag. Top notch.
Despite its title, it's not actually 100% waterproof, a fact that is highlighted in the description. This aside, it's great for stowing kit, keeping it dry in light rain.
Seems really robust.
Comparable to other bags of similar capacity, lighter in some cases.
It's very competitively priced.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Sits firmly on the rack and protects contents well, even in light, persistent rain (certainly more so than the Deluxe). Easy to mount, remove and access kit from the main body. Only niggle is with the rather flimsy straps passing under the rack.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Quick to take off. Withstands light to moderate rain well. Carries sufficient kit for most commutes and minimal overnight trips.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Two flimsy straps that loop under the rack – they stick to themselves as they are not really rigid enough to 'hold their own'.
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 overall score
The straps let it down a little and it could benefit from more reflective detailing on the rear, but these are fairly minor niggles with what is otherwise a great bit of kit that doesn't cost a fortune. I'm also bearing in mind that BTR does describe the bag as 'water resistant' (contradicting its own naming of the bag).
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…