One of the biggest drawbacks about being outside is bad weather. As serious riders, we don’t mind being out in the rain and the heat, but we do worry about out equipment. Fortunately there is an entire industry built around providing us with accessories to do that; the JerseyBin is a product of that industry and is a good example of a simple idea done right.
Whether you ride with minimalist kit or a full touring rig, keeping your often expensive and no doubt essential electronic equipment safe from moisture is a high priority. The ubiquity and cheapness of zip-lock bags make them the protection de rigueur, but they can be improved on and JerseyBin have done just that.
The JerseyBin is a tough plastic waterproof pouch designed specifically to fit into jersey pockets and carry mobile phones, money, keys, cards and so on. They’re now being sold in Australia through the Australian distributor Phoenix Brands and they provided BNA with samples of their range to test. Christopher Jones and David Halfpenny divided them up and tested them in Sydney’s recently variable weather.
David: So Chris, I got sent three different sized jersey bins and I’ve been using them for my phone and other small equipment since then. What were your initial impressions?
Christopher: When I received them I was trying not to automatically like the JerseyBins; it’s been difficult as they work quite well. I’ll start with the Big Bin; this is a very large JerseyBin which I found too big to fit inside my jersey pockets. You could probably put it in on the side (portrait orientation), though I am not comfortable with this idea since it means some of the pouch is hanging out of the pocket. I feel that this sized JerseyBin could be more practical for bicycle touring to store electronic or important items in a bag and protect them from rain.
Were you able to use all three sizes while riding?
David: I need to address that question in two ways. Firstly, in terms of jersey pocket fit. The smallest jersey bin fit “landscape” wise into my centre jersey pocket and because it was small the jersey bin could snuggle all the way down into it. I had complete confidence in it staying where it was put.
The larger two jersey bins wouldn’t fit in landscape mode and in portrait mode they didn’t fill the pocket across ways. There was a portion of the jersey bin sticking out above the pocket which didn’t make me feel as safe as the smaller bin did. I did use it this way on a few rides, including races, and found that it stayed put despite my concerns.
The second way to look at the size issue is how much the jersey bins held. The smaller one could hold my phone, an id card and some money. Because they’re quite stiff, I couldn’t fit tyre levers into it or indeed anything that wasn’t “flat”. The medium and large ones could hold the tyre levers, some patches and a small tube of glue, but they aren’t flexible enough to put a CO2 cartridge or a spare tube in.
This lack of flexibility is one of the best things about the jersey bins since it makes for a very robust pouch, but it does reduce its functionality when you compare them to a ziplock bag (which is how I normally carry my small bits of stuff while riding).
The large version, the Big Bin
Christopher:I agree, in fact on my Sunday ride took the small JerseyBin for my smartphone, ID and some money. As I didn’t have a saddlebag I relied on my jersey pockets for the rest of the gear and so some tyre levers and keys found themselves inside a ziplock bag. Typically, for me, a single small JerseyBin would be sufficient as I usually have a saddle bag for tools. I see the JerseyBins performing two main tasks, keeping things dry and keeping loose items together.
Sydney had a big downpour last week, did you trust yourself to travel the roads on two wheels during the rain?
David: If I don’t ride in all conditions, I simply don’t get to work; so yes, I did ride in the big storms and yes, I did have the (small) jersey bin with my phone in it – everything else was in my Ortlieb panniers (which are wonderfully waterproof). There was no issue at all with water getting into the jersey bin, I had complete confidence in it born from some previous experimentation. Let me explain.
I first used the jersey bin on a long ride the day after I got them in the mail. After about thirty kilometres I needed to check my location, so I pulled out my jersey binned phone to check my phone’s gps. It was covered in moisture from my sweat! I freaked a bit before I realised that the moisture was all on the outside of the jersey bin; the inside was as dry as when I first put the phone in. After I got home I took the phone out and put some coloured tissue paper inside of it and dunked it into a sink of washing up water. Not a drop got in. That settled it for me.
Provided you can seal the top of the jersey bin, I don’t think there should be any problem with water tightness, though I wouldn’t be immersing it unnecessarily just in case. That seal is quite solid, it has that extra channel in it that improves the water tightness. I’ve opened and closed it many dozens of times and it still feels tight. I must admit, though, that it takes a little bit of time to seal it properly, but it’s not that hard to do once you get used to it. The only issue I had with the seal was that it required two hands to open which had an effect on how quick I could get the phone out of the jersey bin to use it; I simply couldn’t use my phone while it was in the pouch. Did you have issues with phone usage?
Christopher: I also tried the tissue trick and had the JerseyBin out in the rain for a day and it was perfectly dry. I am also confident that the JerseyBin keeps out sweat and rain when sealed properly. I am not one for talking on the phone while riding so have tested my iPhone while stationary. I was surprised that it was easy to use the touch screen through the JerseyBin and that the audio was ok. One thing that is nice is that as the JerseyBins are quite stiff, they are better to hold and talk with compared to a ziplock bag. This is particularly true if it’s wet; you can leave the phone inside while using it.
I admit that on some of those really wet days I used JerseyBin for my phone while out and about, and not just on the bike.
The small version, the Mini Bin is a good fit for Smart Phones
David: Unfortunately, I have to be the fly in the ointment here and say that my phone simply didn’t work properly with the JerseyBin. I don’t have a smart phone, rather a normal Nokia phone, and I couldn’t get the buttons to press properly when it was in the jersey bin. I know the JerseyBin is quite thick compared to a ziplock bag, so I wasn’t expecting to be able to dial and text while using it, but I would have liked to take a call and to do that all I have to do is hit the big button in the middle of the phone. Sometimes I could, but most times I couldn’t.
As far a sound quality goes, it seemed functional, but since I needed to take the phone out of the JerseyBin to answer and finish the call, keeping it in there between those actions is pointless (apart from doing this experiment, of course).
Christopher: My overall impressions are positive, the Mini Bin is the one that would suit me and I like the clear rather than the frosty version as I can more easy see the screen on my iPhone. At $8.99 it is pricier than a pack of ziplock bags however is a purpose built so fits better and is stiffer and essentially becomes part of the equipment: helmet, gloves, sunnies and JerseyBin with the iphone, ID and some money inside. The expected lifespan could make it cheaper than ziplocks which are disposable and I tend to discard them after only a short time.
David: I concur. Even though the JerseyBin didn’t allow me to effectively use my particular phone, I still find it the best and safest way to carry my phone and a small selection of bits and pieces. I found it to be water and sweat proof and in the many hours I used it I didn’t notice any wearing of the plastic. Although I didn’t try dropping my phone while in the JerseyBin, I suspect it will offer a certain level of protection to the items inside of it. I fully intent to use the JerseyBins I have until they wear out (which should be quite a long time) and then I’ll buy more. Much better than a ziplock bag!
JerseyBins are distributed in Australian by Phoenix Brands and you can check their dealer list to see if your local bike shops has them in stock. The RRP for the Mini Bin, Trim Bin and Big Bin is $8.99 for the clear versions and $8.49 for the frosted plastic versions.