- Buyer's Guide
Orucase Saddle Bag HC and Smuggler HC Handlebar Bag Review
Oru: to fold; to bend; to make. Orucase is composed of passionate bike racers, bike enthusiasts, and makers. The idea for the company came to mind from the hassle and expense of traveling with bikes on a tight racer budget. After some of life’s curveballs, financial pains, and pure necessity, the founders were forced to come up with the best solution for packing your bike for travel and avoiding the crazy fees that are involved.
Naturally, with cycling comes the love for minimizing environmental impact. “A percentage from the sale of every Orucase product goes to purchasing carbon dioxide emission permits from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the preeminent carbon market in the northeastern United States.” Orucase also partnered with “Cooler”, a company that helps other companies achieve carbon neutrality. I highly recommend checking out Orucase’s site for more info.
I tested the Orucase Saddle Bag HC in both the 25 and 30 (cubic inches) size, as well as the Orucase Smuggler HC Handlebar Bag (2.1L) for a few weeks. I’ve commuted with them and hit some local dirt trails. These aren’t coming off my bike for the foreseeable future.
Who It Suits
Saddle Bag HC
The Orucase Saddle Bag HC is for cyclists who enjoy the exquisite small details, quality construction, high-end materials, and nice hand feel. At the same time, they are for every cyclist as the price is just right and the functionality is there.
In my experience, the 25 is perfect for roadie rides, especially if you’re running a tubeless setup. It will carry your CO2 gear, tools, and tube if you still rock those. The 25 not only works as a saddlebag, but you can also carry it as a jersey pouch. The rubber straps for affixing to the saddle rails are completely removable, leaving a smooth rectangular pouch that will fit perfectly into your jersey pockets.
The 30 is significantly roomier. In my opinion, it’s perfect for gravel and MTB rides. But it can also work on the road bike if you prefer to be extra prepped with all the tools. Both bags are identical in terms of features, they just vary in volume. The 30 will fit a 700×45 or 29er tube in there and still have some room to spare for tools and CO2 accessories.
The Orucase Smuggler HC is a universal handlebar bag. It will fit any handlebar diameter and it has the perfect mix of elegance and ruggedness. It will look aggressive yet tasty on your weight weenie roadie, beefy gravel bike, and your 170mm travel trail bomber. Additionally, it includes some foam blocks to push the bag away from the bike cables and head tube.
The Smuggler is the perfect size (2.1L) for carrying your phone, ID/card, small camera, snacks, or a compact windbreaker. It can also take care of all of your tools if you’re not rocking a saddlebag. The bag is perfect to empty out your jersey pockets and ease accessibility.
The bag shares the same premium materials, color, and construction as the Saddle Bag HC.
Who It Doesn’t
If you are looking to go bikepacking or touring, you will definitely want to look into a proper setup with larger volume bags (which Orucase makes). That is not to say it won’t work, depending on what other bags you take.
Saddle Bag HC
Let’s start with the outside materials and construction. The whole HC line of products is made of Kevlar reinforced X-ply laminate, 210D Ripstop, and YKK AquaGuard zippers. The zipper pullers look like shrink tubing, but they’re molded on the string. There is also a Hypalon zipper garage; it’s all in the details. The X-ply laminate feels like VX42 but has a softer and less crinkly hand feel. The side gusset has a subtle dark gray print on it resembling small wind directional vectors; it is a nice little touch and elevates the product perception and feel.
Bar-tacked to the back of the bags, you’ll find a rectangular piece of Hypalon intended for clipping a rear light. On the top of the bags there is a piece of 2.5cm webbing, secured and bar-tacked with a large piece of Hypalon. This webbing loop serves as an installation point for the included Voile rubber straps, which are custom branded with the ORUCASE logo.
Both the 25 and 30 saddlebags have a gray 210D Ripstop nylon liner, which is nice if you have some abrasive tools stored in there. Sandwiched between the X-ply and Ripstop (top and bottom pattern) is an EVA foam layer. Besides protecting the objects inside and protecting your seat post from the objects inside, it adds shape and rigidity to the bags. This is the first set of saddlebags I have tried with foam in them. And I don’t think I will go back to the saggy kind.
In terms of organization, both inside top and bottom have a thick, elastic webbing sewn into the binding to keep your essentials organized and to prevent items from rattling, which really grinds my gears.
The handlebar bag shares similar materials and construction as the saddlebags. Kevlar reinforced X-ply laminate, 210D Ripstop, EVA foam, Hypalon, YKK AquaGuard, and uniquely to the Smuggler, stretchy mesh inside.
At 2.1 liters, the Smuggler is the perfect size to fit any drop, flat, mustache or touring handlebar. It fits perfectly on your road bike with aero bars to your 50cm gravel bars. The included Voile straps have a huge range of adjustment. You will always have significant excess, but you can tuck it into the webbing loops where the Voile straps attach for a clean look. Or maybe you can fit some other cylindrical objects under the straps if need be.
On the outside you can find a few useful features. The front has horizontal daisy chains made of Hypalon bar-tacked onto more Hypalon, which is tacked onto the X-ply. These are useful to hang sunglasses and the like. On both sides of the zipper track you can find some webbing loops that help you open the bag without it sagging and compressing onto one side. Every bag should have these, they’re incredibly useful.
The webbing attachment points for the Voile straps have two positions, wide and narrow, in case some cables or other handlebar accessories get in the way. The attachment point is also reinforced with Hypalon since that area will take some abrasion from the handlebars. Lastly, the bag has a head tube bungee cord attachment. This feature will keep your bag steady and prevent it from bouncing up and down. It includes foam blocks to separate the bag from the head tube. I found that the Voile straps work so well, you don’t always need the head tube bungee system.
Inside, the Smuggler is perfectly simple but utilitarian. When you open the zipper, you find an easily accessible main cavity and sewn inside, a very sturdy elastic mesh flat pocket that works perfectly for your phone and cards. The inside shares the same 210D Ripstop nylon liner as the saddlebags. As a bonus you also get a key clip with a generously long leash that allows you to clip the keys on the outside of the bag, rather than wrestling with the key hook on the inside of the bag; it’s just clever design.
Not So Good
On both Orucase Saddle Bag HC sizes, when loaded with tubes, the space can be quite tight. Now, that can be a good thing depending on who you ask. If the volumes are too limited for you, they also offer all these bags in larger sizes. When it comes to aesthetics, I can see people not liking the printed pattern, even though it is subtle. I wish there were more color options available, maybe material choices as well.
If you want a long-lasting, eco-friendly product made by folks who are passionate about soft goods design and bikes, these products won’t let you down. At $37 for both sizes of the Orucase Saddle Bag HC and $47 for the Orucase Smuggler HC Handlebar Bag, the bang for buck is amazing. All Orucase products are guaranteed to be free of defects in materials and workmanship for the practical lifetime of the product, so you’re covered there.
All in all, considering the point of use, the material choices, and R&D, these bags are a solid choice for any cyclist who is racing, commuting, or bikepacking.
This article was written by Gino Romano, industrial designer, cyclist, minimalist and master of carry memes. Follow his adventures on Instagram.