I first used Apidura’s bike packing bags in 2014 and I was impressed by the design, build quality and the incredibly low weight – they set the bar pretty high. While it might not be the deal breaker it’s pretty clear that Apidura bags are peerless in terms of looking good on your bike too, say what you like but on a subliminal level that influences us all!
Background to the new bags
Back in 2014 while cycling across Germany I was hit by a week of very wet weather and it became apparent that the original Apidura bags I had were not 100% waterproof. They were brand new back then and the fabric was repelling water well but the seams let it in a bit. They are totally up front about this on the website (unlike some bags), no seam sealing means great longevity on the stitching and a nice low weight. They are accurately described as resistant to rain but are certainly not meant to keep stuff totally dry in all day heavy rain. Total waterproofing is not a deal breaker for me despite being from the UK becasue I like to store kit in it’s own separate liner bags and therefore they have more than proved to be perfect companions on all my adventures since 2014.
However after moving to Scotland it doesn’t seem to have stopped raining since I got here. All my trips across the highlands have been fantastic, taking in the lush green landscape under daunting black clouds, all adding to the drama of the famous Scottish mountains. However this environment is almost always incredible moist to put it mildly. These inviting landscapes and ancient paths are ideal for bike packing from bothy to bothy or camping on the tops and while I had managed fine with the original bags I got excited when I heard Apidura were making new 100% waterproof seam sealed bike packing kit. I was super excited to get my hands on them and take them out in Scotland and see if they could stand a day of constant wheel spray with no liners.
I see more and more Apidura bags in use, the growing popularity is reflected by the fact that my Apidura reviews are now the most viewed pages on welovemountains. They are certainly becoming the go to bags for increasingly popular bike packing adventures, so these new ones are hotly anticipated.
The new bags
There is currently a growing list of products available from Apidura in 100% waterproof form so check their website, the first I used were the compact 9l saddle and 9l bar bags, both arrived on my doorstep last week.
The dry Saddle Pack is 9litres therefore a bit smaller than the standard 11litre compact pack size but in practise it is roughly comparable. It also amazingly weighs in at 25gms less! As the name suggests they are totally waterproof but to my surprise also still as light if not lighter – so surely a win win scenario!
The fixing design is identical to the tried and trusted setup on my standard bags so it sits well under the saddle and hardly moves from side to side in use even with heavy loads. In the pictures it is rolled down as small as possible so can extend out a long way still.
The fabric is inherently 100% waterproof not just coated in a DWR style. To get that low weight it’s not like the rubberised traditional Ortleib pannier material but a new generation of lighter sealed fabric.
It is obviously a bit less supple for rolling up than the old ones and the question will be its longevity over the stitched bags. However for now I am concerned with how well it works at keeping the water out after multiple times creased and uncreased, but so far it looks good quality.
I could fit a sleeping bag and spare clothes inside but it is quite small compared to the large bag I normally use.
The Dry Bar bag is about the same width as my large bar bag but narrower diameter. It is 9l also and the same low weight. There is no stitching but welded together instead. The internal surface is tacky rubberised type material. I don’t use any liner as there is no need, I just stuff the sleeping bag straight in. However the tackiness of the rubber backed fabric can make it hard to slide or stuff items in. Both ends also need to be unstrapped to let the air out as you pack it, although there’s a clever valve hidden somewhere apparently, so when you rll the ends down it’s all good.
It is the same design exactly as the standard bar bags so you know it works and is reliable. The difference solely being it’s totally waterproof seam sealed, I mean like pressure hose it down or float down a river waterproof(I tried this in Glen Feshie).
It has the clips to use with the accessory pocket and the stretchy cord useful for stuffing waterproof jacket into for those rare moments the sun appears in Scotland.
So it’s fair to say I’m impressed so far and they are just as I had hope for when I first heard they were making a waterproof dry bag.
If I was to name these new bags I would call them the bothy bags because they are perfect size and design for Scottish bothy trips. Together there’s enough space for sleeping bag, food, change of clothes and maybe a stove and some whisky. I’m sure there’s a way to get a tent, bivy or tarp on board externally despite these being quite small but then I’m not sure camping is what I’d use them for. For longer trips to drier climes and full on camping then the largest bags still make more sense, but for shorter hut to hut or weekend trips to wet places like here in Scotland these size bags are ideal.
Like I said this is more a first impression and I’m keen to see the longevity compared to the older packs I have from Apidura.
In terms of design they are exactly what I was looking for, while a slightly larger saddle pack option would be nice, I wouldn’t change anything else in terms of construction.
Great review, love that new seat bag, think I will get one. You got any info on when the frame pack with the waterproof material will be out? Small typo: “Ortlieb”, not “Ortleib”, btw would have loved to see an air valve on the seat bag like on the new Ortlieb seat bag.
Thanks! Doesn’t Ortleib mean something quite different? Sure I’ve been told that before!
Apidura also have a large 14L waterproof seat bag now. Just got mine in the mail. So much nicer than the Timbuk2 I also have.
That’s awesome news, the dry packs are a great product I’ve dropped them in river without issue and are holding up like new! The 9 litre versions were just a bit too small for a bigger trip so 14l will be the bag to buy I think.
For a weekend bike packing (basically needing a set of clothes, shoes and charger) would you be able to fit this in the 9lt bag ?
I would think it’s fine we’ve used it on Bothy trips with sleeping bag and mat in bar bag then clothes in the 9l saddle pack. Could always wrap shoes in bag and use bungy on the top. Saying that no reason not to get a bigger bag then have option for other trips, similar weight and can just roll it down when less kit.