Orucase Smuggler HC is a smaller volume handlebar bag that attaches via TPU straps to the bars. It features an insulated stiff body design with reflective details and a front zip location that allows access under an out-front mount. It has stash pockets at either end, an internal divider and a key holder all for £49.
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Orucase Smuggler HC - Technical specifications
One of the key features of the Smugggler HC is the location of the zip opening which has been moved around to 3 o’clock instead of 1 o’clock on most bags. It’s a good bit of thinking and designed to prevent wrestling with the bag or the mount to get access inside under your Satnav.
The outside of the bag has reflective detailing and a daisy-chain attachment for front lights or your sunglasses once it gets too dark to wear them. At either end of the bag is a little stretchy stash pocket for whatever you want to put in there.
Access to the bag is via another bikepacking industry stalwart the YKK Aquagaurd zip. It’s not waterproof but it's darn close. Orucase has also specced a zip shield to help prevent water from seeping in at the end of the zip and there are zip pulls at either end of the bag to help you close and open it. Inside the bag is a stretchy mesh pocket and a keyfob clip.
Orucase Smuggler HC - Performance
Fitting the Smuggler to either of my main Gravel bikes was easy enough though I found the TPU straps and buckles more fiddly work than the traditional hook and loop straps. I did like the ability to tuck the loose ends into the keepers and make the bag look very smart and it is rock solid on the bars. It would also be easy to swap them out for different colours should you wish to brighten up the bag.
The additional head tube strap helps to prevent any unwanted bounce and in use, the bag is very stable partially due to the straps and partially due to its fairly rigid construction. The insulated layer clearly makes the bag hold its shape. It’s even more rigid than the Restrap Canister with similar sandwich construction (although not insulated).
The TPU straps can each be fitted in two locations allowing for inside and away from the control cables or outwards and over the cables, tape and everything. Because of the ease of changing the location of the straps you can play around pretty easily with whichever works for you.
One of the Smugglers HC key features is the forward-facing opening, which means the zip faces all the rain plus spray off the front wheel. But if you are worried about water ingress, you shouldn’t, I’ve been putting it through its paces in some pretty nasty rain showers and the bag has remained watertight.
It’s not a large handlebar bag by any means in fact Orucase calls it a ‘mini’ handlebar bag; it measures 20.5mm long x 10mm in diameter which works out correctly to the claimed 1.6 litres so you can really only get a mini tool, small tube, pump, 1x food bar and/or gels, keys and maybe a gas can in there. It's really tight. And that pump had better be a short one, something like a Topeak Gravel 2stage at 185mm in length just squeezes in okay but all my other mini pumps were too long.
Once on the bike, getting stuff in and out proves difficult and not because of that 3 o’clock opening (which is very sensible) but because of the bag's stiff insulated construction and a zip which doesn’t run from end to end. I found it hard to get my hand in and get what I wanted without emptying the bag of most of the kit, although you might need to do that anyway as it’s all black in there which is a shame. Those of you with smaller hands than me will have no such issues.
The external side stash pockets are a good touch and are located in the right position to stuff gel wrappers after much-needed energy boost. The material is stretchy but I would avoid putting anything of value in these as the elastic is not that tight.
I haven’t tested the front daisy chain for holding a front light but I have used it to hold my sunglasses which it does very well and is better for me that tucking them in my helmet or leaving them on a table at a café.
As for being insulated for a cold beer or a hot burrito – I’m afraid I’ve not tested either of these features outdoors but yes you can get a single 330ml beer can in there (plus pump, levers, tube and a mini-tool) but not two which is a shame for your mate. I did a rough test taking two cold cans straight from the fridge and putting one inside the bag and one left on my desk next to it, Without a cooking thermometer to hand, neither I nor my partner could detect much difference. I suspect in the hot sun that might be different but we don’t have that here right now. As for a hot Buritto? – erm I’m not going to risk that.
Orucase Smuggler HC - Verdict
This is fast becoming a crowded market sector and the competition is tough for that real estate on your bars. We really rather liked the CamelChops Blimp 2.0 £51 and you can choose your own colours or the Straight Cut Bagel Bar Bag £70 which is nearer in size at 2.2 Litres and fits via TU straps in a choice of finishes and is bright orange inside. Or what about the Restrap Canister bag £49, and officially the slightly smaller (it isn’t) at 1.5l and with similar but not as stiff construction, and all 3 made in the UK.
Ourcase’s Smuggler HC is a very well-made small handlebar bag with some neat design touches such as the location for the zip. It could do with that zip being a little longer and it would be nice to see the inside of the bag offered in a bright colour. It’s very stable on the handlebar and its stiff insulated sides mean there is no sag in use but that stiffness makes it a faff to get into if you have large hands. Orucase back up its workmanship with a lifetime warranty and it’s cheaper than some of our UK brands. A good buy especially for smaller hands and shorter trips.