Rock solidly built, but is it really waterproof?

Newboler Waterproof Frame Bag Review

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Overview

Newboler create some of the absolute cheapest cycling gear on the market, and for many years I skimmed right past them when searching for cycle touring and bikepacking gear.

Having recently actually tried some of their gear, I am now much less hesitant to dismiss them when it comes to choosing quality bikepacking gear.

At well under half the price of what I would normally expect to pay for a frame bag, this piece of kit from Newboler looks like it could be a winner if budget is a factor when choosing your next frame bag.

What Newboler say on AliExpress:

Style

Similar in style to the Rockbros top tube bag that I’ve reviewed previously, this frame bag has a very sleek, minimal and straight edged design.

It comes in a textured surface, matte black color, with the only non-black element being the Newboler logo, which is featured in the corner of one side.

When fixed to a bike, the left side is where the opening is, and on the right is where the top straps come down to attach to the velcro on the side of the bag.

Overall, I think it’s a very good looking frame bag and suits my desired aesthetic perfectly.

Function

I attached the bag to both a large framed road bike and a small framed hardtail mountain bike, and the fit was excellent on both.

It features three velcro straps on top which are attached to the frame, and then two additional straps which can be placed around the sides and underneath the bag, depending on the bike frame style and size.

Once attached, I found there to be absolutely no movement from the bag. Even when firmly pushed by hand, and when riding hard offroad, the bag didn’t budge.

At 2.5” inches (65 mm) wide, and featuring rigid plastic inserts within both side walls, this bag keeps well out of the way of pedalling legs. When stuffed full of gear, the bag maintained its shape and didn’t bulge.    

The volume of the bag isn’t stated by Newboler, but I would say it’s around five litres. Being a frame bag, this bag should hold your heaviest items, and I primarily use it to hold food, tools that don’t fit in my top tube bag, a spare tube, and my e-reader.

Entrance to the bag is by a single zip on the side. Disappointingly, the zip is completely exposed to the elements. So despite being waterproof to IP67, I predict that in a strong enough downpour, or over a long enough period of time, water will penetrate the bag at this point.

A simple additional piece of material overhanging the zip would have made this bag a much more appealing tropical weather option.

The final functional feature of note in this bag is a useful mesh netting within for keeping smaller objects organized.

newboler-waterproof-framebag

Material Quality

The bag is primarily made out of a very durable feeling 600D polyurethane laminated rip-stop nylon fabric. This fabric is used throughout the bag, including as a backing on the velcro straps.

The quality of the zip appears to be sufficient, with a smooth action, and it produces a fairly tight seal when zipped fully closed. However, I could only call it water resistant, rather than waterproof.

The nylon mesh netting inside the bag feels to be good quality, and the top is elasticated to hold items in better, which is a nice addition.

Build Quality

The build quality of the bag looks and feels excellent. Featuring absolutely no sewn elements on the exterior means that there is no potential for poor stitching. However that also means that there’s the potential for poor welding.

After very close examination of every inch of seam, I am unable to find a single defect in the joins.  The way the bag has been constructed means that on the top side, a cross section of the welding is visible, and the quality of the seam is immaculate.

The three velcro straps on top of the bag have also been welded in place and feel very sturdy.

The only sewn elements of the bag are in the inner netting which seems to have been constructed really well, with a separate, double stitched panel with the netting attached affixed to the interior of the bag.

So in terms of build quality, I really am very impressed with this bag.  

Attempting to predict the potential first points of failure in the bag, I would say the zip will fail before any other element does. The zip does feel to be of good quality, but I guess I just always have little faith in zips on waterproof gear.

The other potential point of failure will be in one of the three plastic buckles used when strapping the bag to the top tube. Any rigid element will always be a potential breaking point when subjected to extreme forces.

Waterproofness

As I expect with any piece of gear that doesn’t include a roll-top closure, this bag did not stand up to my testing of its waterproofness.

The whole body of the bag is completely watertight and was able to be used as a bucket to hold water, but, of course, the zip let it down.

When tipping the filled bag zip side down, water poured out, which means that, in a suitable downpour, water will definitely get in. However, the zip was able to keep out five minutes of spray from a hose, with only slight water ingress at the point where the zip is fully closed.

Nevertheless, if expecting to ride for prolonged periods in wet weather, then additional dry bag protection within is a must.

Verdict

Much like the Rockbros top tube bag, this seam welded waterproof bag is beautifully designed and built.

The TPU coated polyester fabric is thick and feels very durable. The top straps are affixed solidly, and the additional straps have nine affixing locations around the side and bottom, allowing a good amount of versatility when it comes to frame fit.

Once again, however, its downfall comes in its zip system. If Newboler could simply weld a strip offering a ¼ inch hood over top of the zip, then this would be a five star bag.

Despite this, I really like this bag and look forward to testing it further over upcoming trips around the Middle East and Europe. Keep an eye out for updates on how it fares.

3.8/5

To come to this rating I have factored in overall quality and functionality relative to the price point of the item.

If a $30 item and a $100 item have the same star rating, it does not mean that the $30 item is as good as the $100 one, but rather that, relative to its price, I deem them to be of equal value.

Obviously, this is largely subjective and based off my own research and testing, so if you are uncertain about the rating, you can view additional reviews at the product link below.

Being very familiar with both Amazon and AliExpress, I’ve come to prefer the latter online retail giant for two main reasons:

  • Price – Overall I find that their products tend to be cheaper and they, more often than not, also have a hefty discount applied (usually around 30% to 50% off). Sellers on Amazon will usually sell the same product without the discount, or a much less substantial one.
  • Shipping destinations and shipping price –  AliExpress ships practically everywhere on Earth, and most products can be found with a free shipping option in the majority of countries you’re likely to be ordering from. No more putting up with Amazon’s infuriating “Sorry, this item can’t be shipped to your selected address” message!

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