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The Carradice Odyssey XL Saddlebag – which can also be used up front on your handlebar – is a fairly cavernous bag designed for touring, bikepacking and adventuring, and thanks to great weather resistance and durability it is definitely a piece of kit that you can rely on even when out in the middle of nowhere. You'll need to allow for the additional cost of a Bagman support bracket for the most secure fit, though.
First up, it's worth mentioning that everything in Carradice's bikepacking range (which includes the Odyssey XL) is hand-crafted in its UK factory in Nelson, Lancashire, and the overall quality is very high indeed.
The Odyssey XL is made using 1,000-denier Cordura which is impressively hardwearing and durable. I've been using it on my gravel bike where it's coped well with being scuffed from overgrown hedges and thorns as well as being leant against brick walls outside cafes and shops. Even if it does get worn or scratched, this camouflage design will mask it well. Black and Neon, a bright yellow, are also an option.
The material is also very good at keeping the rain out, although Carradice does state that the whole bag isn't technically waterproof as you can get some ingress around the stitched seams. In use, I never had any issues with the inside getting wet, even in a good few hours of rain, but just be aware that if you have anything you want to keep dry it might be worth packing it in a drybag as well.
As the saddlebag part of the name hints, this is a bag that is designed to fit to your saddle and seatpost, provided your saddle comes with loops on the back (think Brooks and the like), and it does so with the three straps supplied, but really you need the Bagman support bracket too, as it's a big old bit of kit that will sway without one.
We were sent the Bagman Quick Release Saddlebag Support alongside the bag (it gets its own separate review, coming soon), which costs £65, or you can get the standard non-quick release version for £42. The bottom of the bag has a sleeve for the support bracket to slide into.
Also – and despite the name – if you use one of Carradice's Bagman Universal Bar Racks (£60) you can also use the Odyssey XL on your handlebar.
All set up with the support, things are pretty secure and, if the bag is packed well, rattle free too.
In total, you get 26 litres of volume, about the same as a medium size rucksack, so it's definitely roomy. In actual dimensions we're looking at 46cm in width, 16cm in depth, and 25cm in height – or 40cm when packed full and extended.
To close the bag there are a couple of poppers to fasten at the top, then you can roll down any excess material and use the clips at the edges to hold it in place as with most rolltops. The flap then goes over the top and is secured in place with more clips.
The two pockets, one on each side, are ideal for bits of kit or food that you need to get to quickly, and being secured with a plastic clip bracket are something you can open and close one-handed.
You'll also find a small internal pocket, which is ideal for things like keys or a wallet – anything you want to keep secure and not lose in the bottom of the bag.
In the bottom of the bag, you get a reinforced base which stops the bag sagging if it's not fully loaded.
To make using the bag off the bike easier it has a carry handle, and also a couple of D-shaped loops that will allow you to add a shoulder strap, although one isn't included with the bag.
You get plenty of reflective strips too, which is a bonus now the clocks have gone back. There is also a loop for an LED light.
In use, the Odyssey was a great companion for all kinds of riding when I needed to carry plenty of kit. Its large volume and simple storage space mean that it works for anything from grabbing some groceries on the way home through to carrying all of your essentials on an adventure.
Thanks to the bracket it feels very secure, even when loaded up with quite a bit of weight, and the overall quality suggests the bag will take plenty of abuse over its lifetime.
The Odyssey XL costs £100, which is quite a chunk of cash, but not excessive when you consider the quality and size.
Most brands that offer large saddlebags have gone for more tubular designs that extend behind the bike from under the saddle, such as Apidura and its Expedition Saddle Pack. It costs £139 for the biggest 17L option, but as it's a rackless design, attaching with strips of Velcro, you don't need to factor in the extra cost.
Or there's the Restrap Saddle Bag, another rackless design that instead uses a holster with a drybag that fits inside. It's available in three sizes, the largest, 18 litres, costing £129.99. (We tested the 14L version back in 2017.)
Comparing the Odyssey XL with designs you can also use up front on your handlebar, Restrap also makes the Bar Pack, also for £119.99. Again it doesn't require a bracket for support, although it is only 10 litres in volume.
If you want a large bag you can mount on the front or rear of your bike then the Odyssey has pretty much all the bases covered. There is a lot of room inside, it is well made and is very robust overall, and with the ability to attach a shoulder strap it's the ideal companion for a long-distance tour or adventure. Don't forget to factor in the cost of the support bracket, though.
Very roomy bag for the front or rear of your bike, though a support bracket adds to the price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Carradice Odyssey XL Saddlebag
Size tested: 21 – 26 litres
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?
Carradice says, "The Odyssey XL is a bikepacking saddlebag that can be mounted on the rear or the front with suitable bag supports. It has a massive expandable carrying capacity. The rolltop closure, extendable flap and D rings on the lid make this a truly versatile bikepacking bag. The bag is constructed from super tough 1000 denier Cordura that strikes the right balance of waterproofness, weight and wear. For visibility, there are reflectors on the pockets and lid, plus LED straps allow the addition of a light. The base is reinforced with a removable corrugated board that helps prevent sagging when the bag is not full."
It's a roomy bag with plenty of neat design touches.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Capacity: 26L 1586cu in
Material: 1000 den military grade Cordura
Dimensions WxHxD: 31cm (46cm inc pockets) x16 x 25cm (extending to 40cm when fully extended)
Attachment & Carry Options: Attach to seat post/Bagman Support
Colour & Material Options: Black/Neon/Camo
Application: Multiday touring/Bikepacking
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does the job of carrying lots of kit very well – it's big, very well made, and can be used front or rear.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's best used with the support bracket, so you need to factor in extra money for that.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's difficult to make an exact comparison, but considering the volume it is on the whole a decent price compared with Apidura, Restrap or Zefal offerings which are substantially smaller.
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
For those who want to carry a lot of kit this is a very good option – well made and well designed, and not a bad price for the size.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!