Super cheap, solidly built and actually waterproof!

Newboler Waterproof Saddle Bag / Seat Pack Review

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Overview

Coming in at around US$60, this saddle bag/seat pack from Chinese bicycle gear manufacturer, Newboler, may not seem particularly budget priced at first glance. However, like most sellers on Aliexpress, all of their items are practically always “on sale” with some sort of discounted price. Usually that discount is going to be around the 40-50% mark, so you should be able to grab this bag for around US$30. Now we’re talking budget bikepacking gear!

With this sizable seat pack, Newboler promise a fully waterproof bag that is fit for long term travel. At around 1lb (0.46kg), it’s by no means the absolute lightest seat bag you’ll find on the market, but we’re certainly still in the ultralight category here.

With enough hoops, loops, buckles, zips and straps to satisfy Dr Seuss himself, it looks as though this could be a winner for the budget conscious, practical, bike adventurer. Without further ado, let’s see how this rock bottom priced seat pack stacks up.

Style

I’ve always felt a sense of near comic absurdity when it comes to the appearance of a large seat pack protruding far behind the seat post, and this bag is no different. Its size is something to behold, but it can also be reigned in by simply packing less into it. However, it’s nice to know that, should the need arise, the extra space is there.

As someone who prefers dark toned bikepacking gear for the stealth mode appeal, the color of the bag is excellent. With just a few little areas of grey reflective material on some webbing and the logo to add some very slight level of visibility.

Speaking of the logo, that is one style aspect that I’m not a huge fan of on any of Newboler’s gear. I simply do not find the Newboler logo to be visually appealing. Funnily enough, I believe that it comes off as a little “cheap” looking.

With the outer fabric consisting of no fewer than five different types of material, and with various buckles, straps and ropes, this bag certainly looks rather busy. Ultimately, the appeal of that busy aesthetic is going to be completely down to personal taste. Despite preferring a more minimal aesthetic, I also appreciate the functional appearance of the bag.

Function

This seat pack uses the tried and true fastening method of one strap around the seat post and two through the saddle rails. The seatpost strap is a hefty velcro number, with the two top straps being of the buckle variety, so that they can be tightened with the pull of the tailing straps.

Newboler state a weight bearing capacity of 10kg, which I believe would be about correct. However, in real world use I wouldn’t want to pack much more than 5kg of stuff inside if going off road. In testing, the bag was filled with clothing, a two litre bottle of water, and attached to a hardtail mountain bike. 

The bag is practically non existent when riding on paved roads or relatively flat off road sections. When riding over more difficult or technical terrain, there is certainly noticeable momentum from the swing behind me, but nothing more than I would expect for a large seat pack not affixed to some sort of stabilizing system.

At the other end of the bag, Newboler have gone to the trouble of including a zipper. This is a nice addition for when the bag is tightly packed and a sufficient roll isn’t achievable. Once zipped and rolled, the bag is fastened by straps and buckles, which again, allow the bag to be tightened for a more compacted and secure load.

On top on the bag are seven plastic hooks which hold in place an elastic rope or draw chord, which can serve as additional luggage storage. Particularly useful for attaching wet clothing to for drying while riding, or holding down fragile foods like bananas while touring.

The final functional pieces on the bag are a useful strip of material on top for clipping on lights or reflectors, and a couple of buckles underneath the bag which could come in handy when needing to attach random, odd loads to the outside of the bag.

Newboler saddle bag base

Material Quality

With the outer fabric consisting of no fewer than five different types of material, it’s clear to see that Newboler did actually put a lot of thought into the design of the bag. The various types of polyester have been placed logically around the bag as needed. The seatpost strap is thick and multi-layered, with the area of the velcro beneath coming in at a dependable 2×5” (5x13cm). The same thick material is used again to support both ends of each saddle rail strap.

On the top side of the closed end, a soft, padded polyester material has been used. This provides cushioning against the seat post to stop any rubbing from wearing away at the seat post paint, and to provide some dampening from the vibration of the road surface.

On the bottom side you’ll find a tough, textured material for dealing with the muck thrown up from the rear tyre, as well as the potential wheel scraping if your setup doesn’t allow for adequate clearance. This material is also supported by a fairly meaty sized plastic plate within the bottom wall of the bag.  

The main material used on the exterior of the bag is a standard water resistant polyester with a criss-cross reinforced pattern.

Looking inside the bag, you’ll find the TPU layer which provides the waterproofness. It’s of a much heavier duty gauge of fabric than I was expecting, so that was a pleasant surprise. There’s no noticeable seam tape on the seems inside the bag, however this could have been applied on the other side of the layer which can not be accessed without unstitching the bag.

The plastic buckles and hooks, rope, zipper and webbing used on the bag all appear to be of very decent quality.

The only area that I can find where the material quality appears to be lacking is in the Newboler logo, with the material already peeling away from the bag. I actually have no issue with this as I was not a fan of the logo anyway, and when I have the time I will sit down and peel the rest of the logo off to achieve an overall more attractive seat pack.

Newboler saddle bag bottom

Build Quality

It’s actually been surprisingly difficult to find faults with the build quality of this bag. For a bag at this price point you would expect to see a fair difference in quality when compared to the usually recommended pieces of gear, but the overall quality of construction is impressive.

Every bit of visible stitching appears to be of excellent workmanship. The webbing which connects to the buckles for the saddle rail have all been sewn with quality box X stitches, as you’d expect with any decent outdoor gear.

It will be a matter of wait and see to find out just how well the bag will stand up to the elements over time, but my initial thoughts are that it should last the respectful owner many 1000’s of miles.

One minor fault of note is the strip added to the top for attaching lights has some slight imperfections in its shape, which does take away a little from the quality feeling of the bag.

Waterproofness

The bag is stated as being completely waterproof, so it makes sense for me to put that claim to the test. Two separate tests were performed to see just how well it could keep water at bay: 

The first test involved subjecting the bag to five minutes of a high pressure garden hose from approximately five feet. The second test comprised filling the bag with five litres of water and hanging it for an hour.

The contents of the bag remained completely dry after the first test and absolutely no water dripped through the bag after hanging for an hour in the second. These results were surprisingly good and I can confirm that the bag is, infact, waterproof.

Water did pour through the zip when the water filled bag was turned upside down, so the end does need to be rolled at least a few times in order to remain waterproof.

Verdict

At around US$30, this bag is definitely a contender for best value budget seat pack on the market; the quality of the materials and construction being what I would be happy with in a bag twice the price.

It functions exactly as you’d hope when attached to the back of an adventuring bike, with very sturdy fixing points and no overly excessive swing. Like any good seat pack, it disappears from thought at soon as you head off on your adventure, and just does its thing.

As a waterproof bag, I still don’t think I could fully trust it to be 100% waterproof 100% of the time, despite the impressive results of my testing. So I would continue to use additional dry bags inside as a redundancy measure, but that’s just me being cautious.

If you’re a budget conscious rider looking for a decent quality seat pack with large capacity and plenty of external attachment options, then this wallet friendly offering from Newboler is well worth considering.

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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