Review: Review: Rapha + Apidura saddle and bar packs
The Rapha + Apidura saddle and bar packs are a very limited edition set of ultra-lightweight bike-packing packs for those adventures where you want to stick to the Rapha Brevet range’s motto of ‘pack light, travel far’, if you’ve got the desire to pack light, then these stylish packs will help you travel far!
They won’t be for everyone, their diminutive size will prevent the packing of a multitude of luxuries, but for those that can filter out, and indeed live without, those additional items that add weight and bulk to a cycle tour or race, they are a great piece of kit!
Apidura are well known within the bike-packing community for their range of packs, they may be a relatively new company, but they are very much at the top of the tree when it comes to reputation. Their kit has worked hard to win that reputation, seeing use from both casual tourers and hard-core bike-packing racers alike – even as I write this their packs are in use in both the Trans-Am and Tour Divide bike races.
The packs themselves come in compact sizes both front and rear giving a maximum volume of 20 litres (9 at the front and 11 to the rear). This can be added to from the (non Rapha-branded) range from Apidura, or by using the stash webbing on both items for flyaway items and things which need to be kept to-hand.
This 20 litre capacity might cause issues for some with regards to how much they wish to carry, but to put it into context I was able to pack the following into them with space to spare – Vaude Tent, sleeping mat, silk and cotton liners, sleeping clothes, full clothing for the next day, sandals, toiletries – and as I said, there was plenty of room to spare with both packs being very much compressed still. I would estimate that I used approx 75% of the packs combined capacity, so it is clearly possible to carry enough for a adventure without too many compromises.
Alternatively that capacity can be seen as the inspiration to indeed pack light, where some conspicuous pruning of touring gear might come in handy!
Aesthetically the packs are as cool as one might imagine from a Rapha + Apidura collab, they are made from a black Dimension Polyant VX21 material, with colourful adornments in the brevet colour scheme with reflective pink and white stripes and stitching added to it. The material is highly water resistant, but not waterproof, so if wet weather is expected then it would be wise to pack kit inside appropriate sleeves. The packs are reinforced with hypalon fabric in strategic areas to ensure that they last longer in the real world (my first pack, back in the day, was overloaded and subsequently rubbed on the rear tyre causing a hole #sadtimes).
The rear pack has tabs on the back to hang a light from, and handily they are spread along the length of the pack so can cope with varying levels of compression (nice touch!). The roll-top is fitted with compression straps to keep the elements out, and after 5 hours in the rain I’m happy to report no ingress!
There are plenty of reflective details on the packs, from labels to webbing and they all add up to help increase visibility. In terms of visibility, I was very impressed with the overall package, with low-light and no-light being considered and factored into the design of the backs. The pink is shocking (as you would expect from Rapha), whilst the reflectivity is inbuilt everywhere offering 360 degree coverage, something which as a night-rider I find absolutely invaluable.
In use the Rapha + Apidura packs are excellent – once again with the caveat that the size may or may not work for everyone.
The bar pack is secured using webbing straps which loop around the handlebars (or tri-bars in my case), which help keep the pace away from the tyre below. For ease of removal I would have preferred a clip to unplug, but the simple pull strap does work, albeit 2 seconds slower than clips – yes, I recognise who pedantic that makes me look!
The volume of the bar pack means thats it sits close to the bars, fitting between levers, how much space you have will be determined by your bar width, I find with 42cm bars (i’m quite small), that the pack is very snug and secure. Incidentally in this instance I find that Shimano’s Di2 once again proves its worth as I can fill that gap without worrying about the levers being unable to change gears as the buttons negate the need to press inwards.
That volume also ensures that no extra bulk is added, and whilst I wouldn’t claim them to be aero in this config, they are certainly less bulky than other out-front options available.
The seat pack is secured by both a velcro strap the seat post (very snug), and 2 clips which run off the saddle rails – the clips are independent of each other keeping the pack in place neatly. There are some nice colour accents on the clips and strapping here, as on the front pack, which are a nice touch and look very neat.
The rear pack is held very tightly, and doesn’t seem to suffer from sway at all when out of the saddle, this is important in a seat pack as too much sway can alter the climbing characteristics drastically and detrimentally.
Coming in at £85 and £105, the front and rear packs respectively carry a £15 & £20 price bump from the standard Apidura packs, which in my mind is actually easy to justify for the added colouring and visibility that each come with over the standard grey packs.
If you can live with the size, and you do have to pack efficiently to do so, then they are a great option for bike packers – but, they won’t suit everyone in that sizing!