Put your hand up if you have ever used a zip-lock bag to protect the things in your jersey pocket. It’s the poor man’s (or women’s) solution for storing cash, cards, a mobile phone and other essentials while out cycling. At the other end of the spectrum you can spend upwards of $150 for a high fashion, high tech “all-conditions” phone pocket. In-between there is the UK-made Ridepac for $49.99 which I have in review and the big question is, how does it stack-up against the ziplock bag?
I’ve graduated from the ziplock bags long ago. I was out riding and fished the ziplock bag out of the jersey pocket to the tragedy of my phone falling and clattering onto the bitumen. I’d pushed the bag too far and used it too long, it had split along the bottom and had to pay the price. I was lucky to avoid a very expensive less but with a new iPhone8 or Samsung Galaxy S8 setting you back $1000, does your smart phone really only deserve a ziplock bag?
The saddle bag is a good option for the spare inner tube, CO2 cartridge, tyre levers and multitool. It keeps this gear out of my jersey pockets so to protect my phone, cards and cash all I need is a compact style pouch.
My current solution is the Sticky Pod, but I tried some other solutions first, among them a 3½” external hard drive case (a bit small for an iPhone 6S), a Lezyne Phone wallet (great but the zip broke) and a Cicli Borsa from an LBS (bigger but lower quaility). The Sticky pod has been servicing me well however a new, larger protective case (attached to the iPhone 6S) means that it is a bit tight, so it was perfect timing to compare with the Ridepac from UK brand Velopac .
The Ridepac is 18.5 x 11 cm and exactly 2cm higher than the Sticky pod so is accommodates the taller mobile phones, even if they have a slightly bulky protective case, that is the first win already. The external zip is ‘water resistant’ and as it doesn’t extend around the entire perimeter, it doesn’t open fully and lay flat. It is essentially a pouch so access to the items inside a bit more fiddly it means better water resistant and makes it harder for things to fall out, in my book, that it the the second win.
The added height of the RidePac makes it suitable for the newest generations of smartphones though if you use a particularly bulky protective case, it could get tricky.
Speaking of bulky, the wallets/pouches like the RidePac generally work best when they are not over-packed. If are thinking of using it for your spare innertube and tools then the pouch will be stuffed and heavy and end up bouncing around when you ride along.If you can’t rely on a team car to get you out of strife, the saddle bag is the best idea for the accessories and the Velopac is for the phone, cards and cash. Be warned, using a saddle bag means you will break Velominati rule #29 “A saddle bag has no place on a road bike…”
A big calling card of the RidePac is the design – in Australia they are available from Acium Sports (they sell a lot of other stuff like awesome looking socks called Pongo, tools, Cobb saddles and a wheel brand called Parcour). You will find 11 RidePac variants available – solid colours including bright blue, orange, green, yellow and a plain black or grey, along with 3 designs with the artwork of Spencer Wilson, a QoM & KoM, male and female ‘Allez’, and the Belgian inspired ‘Echelon’.
The 11 RidePacs feature the same internal pocketing and holders which work well to keep the items segregated and protected. The soft inner brushed fibre is kind to the phone (if you don’t have a case) and the elasticised side pouches hold the contents to make access quite easy, despite the narrow opening.
The external material is a waterproof outer plastic layer that has a matt finish that resists not only the downpour, but sweat as well. I didn’t try it during a downpour but did my best to push it to the limits with the sweat test on a particularly warm and holly ride. As expected, the pouch was dry inside and the smooth outer casing grippy and easy to extract from the jersey pocket. As it is tall. it poke out of the top of the jersey pocket a little which is also easier to retrieve on the fly or when at rest.
Because of the slippery surface I did consider whether there was any danger of it slipping out of the pocket but tackled some particularly rough roads without issues. It remained steadfastly secure, and it fitted in a variety of jerseys without issue. As I didn’t get a downpour, for scientific purposes I did the bathroom sink test to prove that it is suitable for all weather.
As a tip, keep your gels / bars / banana in one jersey pocket and the RiderPac in another.
I only had a couple of gripes with the RidePac, the first is because I have used other pouches that completely open so let me see the screen without extracting the phone. The flip-side is that the RidePac is secure in this respect though I appreciate the convenient of quickly checking the phone. The other criticism is that $49.99 is a solid investment for a discretionary buy. In context it has first class quality, made in the UK and is cheaper than other boutique offerings from Bellroy, MAAP and Rapha.
If you want to be hard on yourself this Christmas, an alternative is the soft PVC waterproof Phonepac pouches. It is like a ziplock but more durable and reliable. They are also available from Acium Sports and cost $14.99 though were not tested.
While there are alternatives, the RidePac is well made accessory that which makes storage of the smart phone, cards and cash convenient. The design is thoughtful and details such as the soft microfiber and pockets make sense. Riderpac editions with artwork are charming, a little retro and a little playful so it brings a smile to my face.
Further information and ordering online from Acium Sports