Totally waterproof, sturdy, easy to fit and looks good, the Rapha Waterproof Frame Pack is a solid, if expensive, choice if you want to embark on some bikepacking adventures this year.
Frame packs are incredibly useful bits of kit, whether you’re bikepacking across the continent or just planning a very long day in the hills and want to carry a decent amount of spare kit and food. It beats stuffing everything into jersey pockets and they are just as useful for commuting too.
The Rapha Waterproof Frame Pack is very well made, as we’ve become accustomed to from Rapha products over the years. The pack has been constructed from a polyurethane coated ripstop polyester fabric with welded seams and waterproof zips to ensure it lives up to its name.
If anyone is in any doubt, this is Rapha’s own design - a couple of years ago it partnered with Apidura for a small range of Rapha-branded bags. This expansion of its bikepacking bag range fits in neatly with its Explore clothing aimed at bikepacking and adventure cycling and races like Transcontinental.
The pack has a reassuringly solid feel in the hands when turning it over for that initial inspection. When it comes to fitting to the frame it’s as easy as it gets. This size medium pack has three velcro straps, backed with a soft frame protective material, and two buckle straps at the front and back.
The size medium pack I tested measures 46cm long and I found it a perfect it on a 56cm Nukeproof Digger and 3T Exploro. Absolutely bang on perfect for sizing in fact. The pack is 12cm tall and 5cm wide. There’s also a small and large size as well.
The top velcro straps, backed with a low-abrasion material, can easily be adjusted for different top tube diameters and you can fold away the excess. What you can’t do is adjust the position of the top three straps, but on the few bikes I tested it on this didn’t pose any issues.
The front and rear straps are different lengths to suit many frame designs, even accommodating the huge downtube on an Exploro with ease. The straps are removable, the front one was shorter than the rear one so I had to swap them around. The buckle is easy enough to use and you can apply adequate tension.
Fitted to the frame and it’s very secure. It doesn’t shift about no matter how rough the track you’re pin-balling down. The semi-rigid construction ensures there’s no bulging at the sides even when you’ve stuffed loads of food and spares in the main compartment due to the stout semi-rigid construction. When pedalling my knees run quite inboard and I’ve experienced knee rub with frame packs that can’t adequately contain their contents (annoying after eight hours I can tell you) so this is a big tick on the Rapha scorecard.
The pack offers four litres of cargo capacity spread between one large main compartment on the right side, and a slim sleeve on the left, lined in a pink material that makes it a little easier to find things due to the contrast. The zips are easy to operate and work smoothly but I found they are a bit tricky to use with a fully loaded pack so care does need to be taken.
How much cargo capacity is enough is down to personal needs. For day-long rides and overnighters, I found it provided more than enough space and still allowed me to fit a full-size water bottle on the downtube. I prefer to travel light and if you’re using the frame pack in combination with other packs it’s likely going to be enough. And if you want a step up from a small saddle bag or top tube bag, it’s probably going to serve you well.
The main compartment was easily able to swallow two rather large 650b spare tubes, a pump, a wallet stuffed with tools, tubeless repair kit, lube and other essentials, an entire Soreen loaf (other malt loaf brands are available), spare neoprene gloves and some other odds and sods. And I had enough space to collect extra snacks along the ride as well.
On the opposite side is a thin sleeve pocket which I found ideal for my smartphone, for easy access snapping some photos during a ride, a thin wallet with money and a credit card, and a gel or two.
Rapha has applied its distinctive Brevet twin stripes to the side of the pack using a reflective material which boosts your visibility when riding in low light conditions. It’s a nice touch and looking around at other frame packs it’s clear many brands have missed this opportunity. It’s a good looking pack as well and exudes a feeling of expensiveness.
I’ve been putting the pack through plenty of use over the last couple of months, my most recent ride was 100 miles of Welsh gravel and road with bucketing rain and some horrendous conditions to contend with. Through it all the frame pack has been just solid, providing impressive durability and very importantly, keeping the contents absolutely dry.
When I first received the pack I conducted a very unscientific hosepipe test which it passed with flying colours.
Over the long-term and riding in real rain and wading through knee-deep bogs, and a couple of moments of dropping the bike in a fast-flowing river during an aborted attempt to ride through (I ran out of skill!) the pack has been resolutely waterproof.
Durability has been stellar. I’ve hammered it and dropped it, ridden in horizontal rain and pelted it with mud, and generally asked a lot of it to protect my valuables and precious food, and it’s done it time and again. It’s a pack you can trust.
With frame packs starting from about £35 and a waterproof examples from £55, the Rapha Waterproof Frame Pack price certainly puts it at the top of the frame pack market. It’s about the same price as arguably the benchmark brand in this sector, Apidura, with its Expedition Compact Frame Pack costing £90 for 4.5 litres capacity.
There’s nothing obviously revolutionary about the Rapha Waterproof Frame Pack, but it gets all the big and small details absolutely perfect, and price aside there’s really nothing to find fault with.
So to sum up, the Rapha Waterproof Frame Pack delivers really good performance. Impressive construction, ease of fitting, choice of three sizes, reflective details and it’s totally waterproof, means I’m minded to recommend the Rapha Waterproof Frame Pack if you want to invest in a really good quality frame pack this year.
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