The Zefal Z Adventure R5 Waterproof Saddlebag is a great compact way to carry around a few essentials on a day tour, gravel adventure or the daily commute. You can attach and remove the bag quickly with very little hassle, and its excellent waterproofing means you can store clothing or electricals without fear of them being exposed to the elements.
Despite what Zefal says, though, it's a bit on the small side to carry 'large volume of items' or be an alternative to any but the smallest of backpacks.
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Zefal says the Z Adventure R5 is designed for people who want to carry a substantial amount of kit on their bike without the need for a rear rack, or as an alternative to a backpack. It's likely to appeal to those doing audaxes, long one-day rides or training in bad or changeable weather.
Both the outer and lining are made from a heat-sealed waterproof material (TPU 420D) that feels tough and hardwearing, with a roll-top closure to ensure no rain gets inside.
As the fabric is flexible towards the opening, you can add a few more rolls if you don't want to pack the bag out to full volume but still want to keep everything nice and tight inside.
The main half of the bag that attaches to the bike is more rigid, to help it keep its shape. This works well, stopping this part of the bag from distorting and then possibly hitting your legs while riding.
On the underside of the bag, Zefal has used a thicker, tougher material – a good idea seeing as this is the area most likely to be impacted by dirt coming off your tyres in bad weather.
The bag mounts easily to your bike with three straps – a Velcro one for the seatpost and two saddle rail straps.
The seatpost strap is around 2in wide and is long enough to accommodate an aero seatpost. One of the features I really like about this design is that the corresponding Velcro area on the bag is long enough to secure the entire strap; some bags I have used don't have enough, and it can cause the Velcro to catch on your leg while riding, wrecking your shorts and your bike ride.
The two saddle rail straps slide over the seat rails and down through buckles on another strap attached to the bottom of the bag; this gives you a lot of leverage to pull the straps tight.
It's a simple system that works well for this size of bag. It never came loose or swung around like some large saddle bags can.
Because of the way these straps are placed, you can attach the bag whether it's open or closed, so you have the option of opening the bag to fill it or remove items while it's still on the bike, or removing it before opening.
Other features include reflective logos/tags on the side and back of the bag, and a handy loop for attaching a rear light.
The bag works well – everything I put in it remained dry, and everything made it as far as I needed it to go. The only real limitation is the size. With a volume of 5L and a weight limit of 3kg, it's not the biggest bag to replace a backpack or rack and panniers. (You can see the exact dimensions here.)
I mainly used it to transport things to and from work, but I really had to plan what I needed to take. If I knew that I needed a full change of clothes or a laptop then I would revert to a rack or a backpack.
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When I did use it for my commute I could fit in a pump, a small bag full of repair equipment, some charging cables plus two 30mm 700C tubes and a small lunch box.
For longer day adventures I was a little restricted on what I could carry – I didn't ever take the Jetboil stove system I usually use for longer day adventures as once that was in, there wasn't room for much else.
You can add to the load by using the external straps; these come in handy for attaching anything that you don't mind getting wet. I regularly strapped a bike lock to the outside of the bag for quick access if I ever need to stop.
After a month or so of testing I thought the bag was looking just as good as when I got it out of the box – the inside immaculate and the outer fine, the reflective patches and logos still great. On closer inspection, though, I have noticed that where the bag has to be folded to close, the outer material is starting to wear, which might cause some issues in the future. It's still watertight at the moment, though, and might continue to be fine; I'll update the review if anything untoward occurs.
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The clips don't feel particularly robust either, but I haven't had any issues so they might be fine. I've had a similar sort of clip snap on a different pack in the past, which has left me a bit wary of plastic clips, but again, all fine so far and if anything fails, I'll update the review.
At £51.99 this is a pretty cheap way of carrying kit on your bike for a lot of different situations.
Apidura's 4.5L Backcountry Saddle Pack is £118, for example, though Altura's 4-6L Vortex 2 Waterproof Compact Seatpack is closer at £60.
That said, you can find cheaper – Lifeline's Adventure Seat Pack is both bigger (7.5L) and cheaper at just £40.
This is a good little bag, despite the limitations of its size. Having a backpack can be a pain (literally and metaphorically) and racks can weigh a lot more, though they do enable you to carry some large, odd-shaped things like laptops and the like. With the Zefal I can carry the things I need most of the time to work and back – I could really have done with a bag like this on some of my longer gravel days.
Good little bag for your one-day adventures or carrying light loads to work, and well priced too
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Make and model: Zefal Z Adventure R5 Waterproof Saddlebag
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?
This product is designed for people who want to carry a substantial amount of kit on their bike without the need for a rear rack or a backpack, mainly aimed at audaxes, long day rides or for training in bad or changeable weather.
Zefal says, "The Z Adventure R5 is a saddle bag designed to carry large volume of items without the need for a rear rack. Equipped with several durable self-adhesive straps and anti-tear material on its base, this bag attaches to the saddle rails and seat post for optimal weight distribution on the bicycle. The 5L volume is ideal for day-long outings or for training in variable weather conditions. The Z Adventure R5 is a great alternative for those who don't want a backpack. The folding closure and waterproof fabric with heat-sealed interior can safely carry all the equipment needed for a tour."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Waterproof: Heat-sealed waterproof material
Large Load Volume: Load volume of 5L - ideal for long rides
Durable: Reinforced material at the mounting points to avoid rubbing and the risk of tearing
Universal: Adjustable and durable self-adhesive straps
External Straps: For quick attachment and storing of additional items
Material: TPU 420D (Polyester 640D & Hypalon)
Dimensions: 370 x 70mm > 175 x 130mm
Mounting: Universal using self-gripping straps
Zip: Folding closure
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Well made, though some signs of wear on the folding parts of the bag.
Rate the product for performance:
Quite good, only limited by its size.
Rate the product for durability:
Some signs of wear on the folding parts of the bag, after a month or so of testing.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:
Not the cheapest, but good value compared with many.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good for day trips, but it is a little small to replace a backpack or the flexibility and size of rear rack systems.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I really like the look of the bag and the simple design, and the way the seatpost strap had enough Velcro to sit down flat and not rub your leg. Being able to strap things to the outside was another plus.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd prefer metal clips, after having plastic ones snap on other bags when really trying to tighten things.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The price looks good compared with many, as mentioned in the review.
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
It's a good little bag; the size is its limiting factor, the fabric and construction quality being really good – if those clips hold...
Age: 33 Height: 5ft 11' Weight: 73kgs
I usually ride: Road Bike: Specialized Diverge to Work My best bike is: Specialized Allez Sprint for Racing/Training
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Track and Bike packing
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