Castelli's Race Rain Bag makes a compact kit bag that holds enough gear to deal with a wide range of conditions. For those of us without a team car, this is a great race day option.
Pros: Easy to pack, compact, fits loads of kit, kit is easy to access
Cons: Pricey compared to a small holdall, no shoulder strap
Castelli's Race Rain bag isn't really designed for full kit bag duties. You'll more commonly see several of these wedged into the back of the team car, stuffed with wet weather gear and shoes, a just-in-case policy to guard against crashes and changing weather. Each rider on a pro team will get their own labelled bag with kit in their size; that way, should a rider need a jacket or an extra warm pair of gloves, they're easy for the mechanic in the back to find.
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As most of us don't have a team car and a helpful mechanic, it's primarily going to serve as a dedicated kit bag, be that for sportives or, in my case, local races. For this purpose, I've found it to be absolutely perfect. The bag is compact, taking up very little space in the car and in front of the washing machine post-race. It packs loads of kit in which is easy to get to, with a large main section and some smaller dividers. Shoes are housed in a separate compartment and I clip my helmet onto the top handle.
In the bag, I can fit three baselayers, a Gabba, jersey, bib shorts, skinsuit, shoes, sunglasses, leg, knee and arm warmers, mitts, warm gloves, socks, overshoes, a bag of pins, my licence, a towel and, most importantly, race snacks. The heavier, winter items are stored towards the bottom, and for most spring/summer races I'm just reaching for a skinsuit.
Castelli has prioritised reducing pre-event faff to a minimum, as the last thing you want before you head to the start line is undue stress. Having dedicated compartments for smaller items like warmers, socks, mitts and overshoes means that they're always in the same place, making a last-minute kit adjustment much easier.
The bag is made using a pretty standard rucksack material. It's pretty resistant to wear and doesn't look worn despite sitting on the tarmac and other rough surfaces in car parks. The zippers that Castelli has used on the outside of the bag are oversized and really easy to open quickly. The shoe compartment is vented and can be detached from the rest of the bag if not needed. You get a name panel on the top of the bag for easy identification.
Under the flip-open top there are two mesh pockets. They're perfect for little items that you'll need for every race as you can see what's in there and get at the contents quickly.
Packing kit back into the bag is quick too, and once I get home from a race, the small size means that this isn't getting in the way when left in front of the washing machine. Once the kit is dried, the bag can be packed up again with everything in its place, ready for the next race. The ease of organisation that this bag brings is great.
What's not so great is the price compared to a basic rucksack which, if you want to ride to your event, is going to be much more useful. It is, however, much cheaper than Scott's RC Raceday 60, though that is a highly organised bag. Scicon's Race Rain Bag is similar, just with slightly more organisation, but the £104 price tag is quite a lot higher.
> Buyer's Guide: 17 of the best rucksacks
At the same price, you've got KitBrix Kit Bags. These come with a shoulder strap, allowing you to ride to a race and they also zip together should you buy multiple bags. For me, the slightly larger size of the Castelli bag and the extra compartment for shoes fit my requirement better.
If you're going to be going to a lot of cycling events, be that sportives or races, you'll be well-served by the Castelli Race Rain Bag. It's perfect for packing up at the start of the year and holding your kit for any conditions.
Well made, fits loads of easily accessed kit and compact size – all of which makes this easy to recommend
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Make and model: Castelli Race Rain Bag
Size tested: 30 x 25 x 20cm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Castelli says, "Traditionally the Race Rain Bags sit in the team car so a rider can request personal gear mid-race without the need to go into the riders main bag. The Castelli Race Rain Bag has multiple mesh pockets to organise everything from spare gloves to your Gabba. But it's not just for racers these bags are great for sportive riders too - the multiple pockets make organising and finding your kit really easy helping to take the stress out of 6 am car park kit selections.
"Two is the ideal number, for any rider to own, use the rider name label to mark the bags wet and dry and pack one each for those conditions. No more confusing Thermoflex and Nano-Flex arm warmers, or losing your nano Omloop's among your Primo's, 5 minutes before your start.
"The Castelli Race Rain Bag also has a detachable vented shoe bag use it for carrying shoes or to keep your wet smelly kit in quarantine till you get home."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The pro's choice for race day essentials
Bottom zipped vented shoe compartment
Shoe compartment can be separated
Loads of internal mesh pockets
Flip open top pockets
External dimensions 30 x 25 x 20cm
Rate the product for quality of construction:
This is looking like it'll last really well. I wouldn't be surprised if it does over 10 years.
Rate the product for performance:
I know it's just a bag, but it has taken away some of the pre-race stress as it's much easier to leave this packed with kit than have to repack a rucksack a few times a week.
Rate the product for durability:
No signs of wear from rough car park surfaces.
Rate the product for value:
Pricey compared to a small holdall, but good against closer rivals. To its credit, it's well made and does everything that it claims, and it's also a one-time purchase.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Perfectly. Compact yet holds everything I need.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It'll hold all of the kit that I need for any road race all season. It's also very easy to organise.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of a shoulder strap limits this to driving to races only.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Much cheaper than Scicon's Race Rain bag. The biggest challenger is KitBrix which is better for those who want to ride to their races.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Holds all the kit that I need for racing in a wide range of conditions while also being very compact. A detachable shoulder strap would make this a perfect 10.
Age: 24 Height: 177cm Weight: 62kg
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
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