Everything you need, and nothing you don’t! This is the motto when packing for a self-supported race. Therefore, the ideal race bags should offer sufficient space, keep the elements at bay, just function, and do so while adding as little dead weight as possible. Do the Restrap Adventure Race bikepacking bags meet these requirements?
Ultra-endurance races are sprouting from the ground like mushrooms. More and more of these events are being launched, attracting endurance enthusiasts from all over the world. The distances range from 500 (Race Across Paris) to 2,500 (TransAtlanticWay) and 4,500 kilometres (Transcontinental Race) and more, with everything in between. Depending on the race format, it all takes place on asphalt, gravel, and/or trails. What sets these self-support races apart is that you’ve got to deal with everything surrounding food and drinks, sleeping, and technical problems entirely by yourself. So, how do you carry all your stuff? That’s exactly what Restrap designed the Adventure Race Bikepacking bags for. They promise to be lightweight, waterproof, and practical. To find out what they’re capable of, we’ve packed, ridden with, and unpacked the bags from Yorkshire, England.
Many bags lead to Rome – Our Restrap Adventure Race bag setup
Every rider and every race is different, so there isn’t just one perfect bikepacking bag setup, as we’ve already established in our bag encyclopaedia. The season, your sleep strategy, race mode, and 238 other variables determine your equipment and thus space requirements. In the interest of comparability, we opted to test the Restrap Adventure Race Line with a classic setup. In most cases, this consists of top tube bag, frame bag, saddle bag (aka arse rocket), food pouch (stem/handlebar bag) and handlebar bag. We selected the largest size in each category. This gave us about 21.3 litres of space for a down jacket, rain jacket, and tools etc., totalling 42 things for our trip through the galaxy. It sounds like a lot of space, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly it gets filled. The bags weigh 1.15 kg (as specified by the manufacturer and confirmed by our own scales). This may seem heavy, though it’s within a reasonable limit. Of course, the Race series can’t be compared to the Restrap Carry Everything bikepacking range in terms of materials and sizes. Therefore, the Restrap Adventure Race setup saves you about 150 g, which isn’t a ton, but not insignificant either.
Our Restrap Adventure Race bags in detail
Restrap Adventure Race Bar Bag
The Restrap Adventure Race Bar Bag has a capacity of 7 litres and weighs 320 g. The handlebar bag uses a harness attachment system and consists of a halter and a dry bag. The halter stays on the handlebar, while the bag can be easily removed. You can adjust the distance to the handlebar with the help of foam spacers. Unlike most other handlebar bags, the dry bag can be filled via a large opening at the top instead of the sides. This is practical when packing, but impractical on the road, because you can’t just get access from the side. However, the Restrap Race Bar Bag has a mesh pocket on each side.
Restrap Adventure Race Stem Bag
With a volume of 1.1 L and a weight of 86 g, the cylindrical Restrap Adventure Race Stem Bag is ideal for snacks, water bottles, and (beer) cans. It attaches to the handlebar, stem, and fork by means of three straps, though two are sufficient in most cases. Two small mesh outer pockets and various straps provide additional storage space. The drawstring closure can be opened and closed with one hand. Due to the nylon construction, the bag can expand upwards.
Restrap Adventure Race Top Tube Bag
The 2-litre, 247g Restrap Adventure Race Top Tube Bag fits frames with a top tube length of at least 49 cm. It attaches to the top tube, seat post, and stem via three straps and a rubber band. Even if you don’t have a spacer under the stem, the top tube bag is easy to attach thanks to the thin and stretchy rubber band. As with the other bags in the range, you’ve got two mesh outer pockets that provide additional storage space. On the inside, you’ll find one elasticated pocket on each side. A reinforced tab on the front provides additional stability and makes for a seamless fit. Unfortunately, there is no cable port.
Restrap Adventure Race Frame Bag
The Restrap Adventure Race Frame Bag attaches to the top tube, seat tube, and down tube via 6 (six!) straps. It offers a carrying capacity of 4.2 L and weighs 248 g. There is a large main compartment on the right side, and a narrow secondary compartment on the left. Once again there is no cable port, but you can leave the zippers slightly open for any cables. These aren’t just waterproof, but also have extra covers with small recesses for cables. There’s an internal Velcro divider in the main pocket and various small pockets to keep your things organised. Your top tube will need to be at least 50 cm long for the long version of the Restrap Adventure Race Frame Bag to fit the frame. For smaller frames, you can go for the Race Frame Bag in size small, which measures 370 mm in length.
Restrap Adventure Race Saddle Bag
The Restrap Adventure Race Saddle Bag also uses a harness system, which attaches to the saddle rails and seat post. Foam pads at the contact points to the bike ensure even pressure distribution and keep things from getting scratched. The bag offers 7 L of storage space and weighs 250 g. The removable dry bag is secured in the holster with the help of three straps, the rear of which works with a magnetic FIDLOCK system.
The Restrap Adventure Race Bags in review
You can already get an idea of how well a set of bikepacking bags will perform when you attach them to the bike. The Restrap Adventure Race bags feel excellent and robust in terms of workmanship and material. It’s clear that Restrap didn’t sacrifice durability for weight savings by using the thinnest material and straps. Once you’ve figured out all the tabs and straps, attaching the bags is a relatively quick process. This is where the benefits of the harness system come in because it’s much easier to fiddle with the saddle and handlebar holsters instead of the entire bags. And when you’re on the road, there’s a lot less fiddling involved with loading and unloading the dry bags, too. On the one hand, we were positively impressed with the wide Velcro tabs of the top tube and frame bags. These don’t just hug the top tube perfectly, but also work well on both skinny steel and oversized carbon tubing. Since the Velcro tabs are firmly attached to the bag, problems could arise if the bosses on the top tube happen to be in the wrong place.
The bikepacking bags from the Adventure Race collection by Restrap work together as a set, or individually as standalone bags. For a long day trip, you can combine just two of the bags. On bikepacking bags, there are many features that can make your life on the road a whole lot easier, and Restrap have resorted to a few of them. The many small inner pockets and dividers, for example, are great for keeping things organised. The luminescent orange used for the interior of the bags makes it easy to find the items you’re looking for, especially in poor light conditions. Foam pads, reinforcements, and structural tabs ensure a secure fit while protecting your bike against scratches. We also loved the fact that all bags, except saddle and handlebar bags, can be opened and closed with one hand while riding. However, the added zipper covers of the frame bag are a bit impractical in this regard as they get in the way when unzipping the bag.
Our shower test proved that all bags offer excellent weather protection from all directions. Finally, the question remains whether the 21 litres of storage space is enough. Or to put it another way: what are they enough for? The Adventure Race set probably won’t be able to accommodate a complete bikepacking setup with a tent and sleeping bag etc. As a race setup, it’s designed more for speed than to carry everything. They certainly offer enough packing space for short races in warm temperatures (sleeping in a bivi bag) or if you’re planning to sleep in a hotel. Or just ride through the night and don’t sleep at all.
The Restrap Adventure Race bags score highly thanks to a host of convenient features, sturdy and high-quality materials, and a bomb-proof fit. However, these characteristics also add weight, which is noticeable on the scale. Ultimately, this set of bikepacking bags is neither ultra-light nor ultra-heavy. If 21.3 litres are enough carrying capacity for you, you will get a durable and well thought-out bikepacking bag set that isn’t limited to racing.
- robust and waterproof materials
- very secure attachment to the frame
- thoughtful details such as the FIDLOCK closure and small inner pockets
- missing cable port in the top tube bag
- zipper covers of the frame bag get in the way
For more information visit restrap.com
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Words & Photos: Martin Staffa