Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Restrap Bar Bag Holster and Dry Bag review

13 Feb 2018
Verdict:

Pretty and well featured the Restrap lacks a little robustness, meaning it’s better on the tarmac than the trail

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£65 + £20 for the extra pouch
For 
Good looking. Lots of neat features. Clever magnetic fixings
Against 
Could be more robust in both attachment and construction

Handmade in Yorkshire, Restrap makes products catering to the growing bikepacking market, along with a bunch of neat looking backpacks and camera holsters. Its self-explanatorily named Restrap Bar Bag Holster and Dry Bag is a solution for riders wanting load up the front of their bikes for either touring or commuting.

Sitting between the drops, bar bags are ideally suited to carrying bulky yet low weight items, such as clothing or sleeping bags.

Like most designs Restrap’s features a holster which attaches to the middle of the handlebar. This in turn encloses a detachable dry bag which can be stuffed with gear before being itself lashed into the holster.

Although increasingly popular as a sole means of adding carrying capacity, a front mount will have a greater effect on the bike’s handling than a rear pack, while generally providing less fillable space.

Part of a matching set made by Restrap it’s worth considering whether a saddle and frame bag might be a better fit for your carrying needs before settling on using the bar bag by itself.

With this in mind I strapped on the holster and loaded up the Restrap’s 14 litre dry bag with an assortment of lighter kit before heading out into some less than idyllic early-season weather.

Attachment issues

Filling a decent stretch between the handlebar and front wheel, it’s worth noting that if you run your front end low you might find yourself pushed for room in which to accommodate a bar bag in the first place.

Assuming you’ve got adequate space, the simple design of the Restrap means fitting the holster to the bike is the work of under a minute, while so long as you don't over stuff it, popping in the accompanying dry bag takes about the same.

Buy the Restrap Bar Bag Holster and Dry Bag from Wiggle

Unusual in featuring roll top style access at both ends, the dry bag allows you to rummage out items without having to unpack its entire contents and makes varying the capacity easy.

As waterproof as you’d expect, it’s also usable on its own for general camping and storage duties. Unfortunately I managed to put a small tear in the material where its closure buckles are attached, so it’s worth treating carefully.

With the holster itself secured to the bike’s handlebars by a set of standard compression straps, those holding the dry bag to the holster are interrupted halfway along by part-magnetic, part-mechanical clasps.

Sliding together sideways before snapping closed, these allow the bag to be quickly secured or ejected.

With their ends neatly rolled into the attached velcro tidies, once engaged they clutch their content tightly, despite coming apart instantly when required.

Annoyingly by comparison the main holster straps are somewhat prone to working loose. Even with a light load they’ll slacken of over the course of a few bumpy miles, leaving the holster slack against the handlebars and the whole assemblage somewhat precarious.

Although fixable with a quick yank, doing so is an unwelcome distraction while riding on rougher terrain.

Buy the Restrap Bar Bag Holster and Dry Bag from Wiggle

A second problem, and one common to many bike-packing bags, is that the holster itself is unsupported. In the quest for low weight, along with easy fitting and removal, most bikepacking gear uses simple straps to hold itself in place, rather than employ the rigid fixings generally found on heavier touring bags.

In the case of many front mounted bags this means they rely on smushing against the bikes’s cables to keep themselves proud of the headtube.

Just how happy your brakes and gears are likely to be about this situation is debatable, although I didn’t suffer any obvious negative effects.

More annoyingly I found the back of the holster rubbing against the front of the bike on several occasions, despite it carrying a fairly dainty load.

Add in some grit thrown up from the front wheel and the result was a sore looking mark on the headtube after just a few hours riding.

Find out more at restrap.co.uk

Optional extras

With each piece of the kit available separately, I decided to augment the standard holster and drybag with the optional magnetic food pouch.

Designed to sit atop the holster and costing another £20 it attaches via self-locating magnetic clasps. Made by German brand Fidlock these are seamless in operation, requiring you to do little more than hover the smaller bag near the mounts, before the magnets grab a hold of it and pull it home.

Removing equally quickly it’s a good spot to house items you want kept close to hand. With a waterproof zip running along the top it’s easily accessible while on the move, while on the front an elasticated drawcord is designed to lash down any additional items you might unexpectedly find yourself needing to carry.

Ideal for snacks or necessities like gloves or armwarmes, its attachment method isn’t quite secure enough for heavier bits when used on anything other than smooth tarmac, thwarting my intention to use it for carrying a camera.

Conclusion

The Restrap’s tendency to drag on the headtube, although annoying, isn’t massively uncommon among bike-packing bags, and so doesn’t hurt its score too much.

More troublesome was the holster straps’ habit of coming loose, and the slightly flimsy construction of the included dry bag.

Made in the UK, great looking, and with lots of neat features I wanted to get along with the Restrap. It’s nicely constructed, quick to fit and keenly priced too, undercutting most of its rivals from both boutique and mainstream makers.

However, while it’s usable for trips on smooth roads it’s unlikely to be getting an invite to any more off road adventures.