It's often the last piece of kit you buy, but a waterproof saddlebag can come in very handy. I think it's because you can do without it (by sticking all the bits and pieces like inners, pumps and phones in your back pockets), but we all know it's preferable to have them filled with food. And I'll level with you. When I road tested the original bikebritain route, the weather wasn't brilliant. Some days where sunny, others were...really quite wet. I remember the ride from Dalbeattie to Moffat being either in drizzle or rain. So not completely ideal. Now I knew my Altura jacket wasn't completely waterproof so I decided to put my phone in my saddlebag....I bet you can see where this is going. Anyway, myself and Malcolm cycled for some hours through Border Country, eventually stopping or lunch. I decided I would let 'Team Support' know that we were (a) OK and (b) still on track to arrive in Moffat. What I discovered was a mini swimming pool at the bottom of my saddlebag, with my phone bathing in the middle of it. Generally speaking, electronic devices + water = general failure. Actually the phone was still working, but there was water behind the screen and it started developing a few unfamiliar 'party quirks'. What made this worse was the fact I had nowhere else to put it. My pockets where soaking (my map/directions now testiment to that) and we still had a few klicks to cover. So, against my better judgement, it went back into the saddlebag. By the time I got to Moffat it had completely died. (Amazingly, I did manage to resurrect it by drying it out on a radiator.)
From this experience comes bikebritain's review of Topeak's Wedge Drybag. Aside from phones swimming in rainwater, my pocket tools have also suffered from unplanned exposure to water so a saddlebag upgrade was decided upon. There is a considerable choice and my love (read 'addiction') to Wiggle meant I spent some time browsing the saddlebags they could offer. I had used a Topeak before and there was nothing wrong with it, it just porous. I chose the Wedge Drybag because it guranteed to keep your gear dry even in the worst conditions. I went for the meduim version with straps. This is an important detail because you can also buy the same DryBag with their 'QuickClick' F11 system. Aside from the velcro wrap around your saddle stem, this allows instant detachment. However, the 'QuickClick' system relies on the appropriate fixing....which my saddle did not have. I opted for straps which you can loop through the saddle rails. Sorted! From a technical perspective, the bag itself is seam-sealed with hard-wearing 210 and 420 Dernier Nylon waterproof fabric. It has a capacity of 1 ltr which in English means its plenty big enough for 2 inners, tyre levers, a multi-spanner and your phone. As long as it's not a Nokia 5110. The medium version weighs just 170 grams and comes with a strap at the back so you can mount an additional rear light should you need it.
I have been riding throughout the Winter months and suffice to say all kit has remained bone dry since application. I have also bought the smaller version for the Trek District and that is equally as good. So should you be looking for a saddlebag that will not resemble a flood zone, it would be my advice to keep this DryBag in mind. Topeak Drybags are available from all good bike shops and on-line retailer wiggle for around £20-£25. In the meantime, enjoy the rain!
Thumbnail Image - www.ukbikestore.co.uk