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The Altura Heritage Bar Bag attaches securely, carries bulky objects (and lots of them) easily, and is impressively weatherproof. It's aimed more at commuting and shopping than bikepacking and adventuring – an easy-to-use quick release and the detachable shoulder strap make it easy to use off the bike, too.
As the name suggests, the Heritage is a more traditional take on bar-mounted luggage than the new breed of bikepacking bags and rolls, with a quite rigid and bulky shape. It does have a drawstring and toggle at the top, but the fabric is so stiff it's hard to adjust enough to really make a difference.
That does mean things can rattle around inside a bit if it's not full, especially if you're heading onto rougher roads, but there's some padding to the bottom and sides and the whole inner is lined. It's all very well made and nicely finished, with only a slightly scruffy raw edge to the end of the piping looking less than perfect.
The 12oz waxed cotton outer is very weatherproof and feels robust – it's been soaked while testing and doesn't look any the worse for it. Nothing inside was any the worse for it either – a day of heavy rain left the contents very slightly damp, but nothing was actually physically wet. In lighter showers and on/off rain it's impressive; even paper tissues showed no sign of being even the slightest bit damp.
The shaped 'lid' zips open at the rear to provide extra storage, complete with (detachable) keyring; other than a key, I'm not sure what you'd actually use this pocket for. If you're touring or adventuring, printouts of maps, perhaps (if you haven't forked out for the 'Altura map tablet case' as well); but when commuting or shopping? Hmmm... not sure. A folded-up shopping bag, perhaps. Or empty wrappers.
The Rixen & Kaul KlickFix attachment system is very secure. Although setting it up isn't particularly tricky, it's not something you'd want to keep removing and reattaching; it makes removing the bag itself quick and easy, but you'd want it to stay on your chosen bike.
The clamps can leave a mark on your handlebar, so I suggest you stick some tape around that first.
I also found it restricted my cables slightly – no 90-degree right turns possible, should I have wanted to make one.
Once you've removed the bag, you can attach the included shoulder strap and use it for shopping or to carry your sarnies into the office.
The KlickFix part hardly protrudes, so it's not uncomfortable against your hip. I rather like the way it looks as a shoulder bag; it looks a bit camera-baggie.
Although it has a reflective logo, I was surprised to find there's nowhere to mount a light. Then even more surprised to find it's not alone in that. Most bar bags (of this type anyway) don't. (Why not?)
There are ways around it – a helmet light, a light clamped to your fork in traditional style to go with the bag, those little bar end lights... or you can just about bodge a 'be seen' light onto the strap tidy, as you can see in the photos.
Or maybe you have a reeeeeeally wide handlebar and space to one side?
Talking of space... its generous five litres is basically one big compartment, with just a slim open pocket hanging along the rear.
I must say, it was quite nice having sandwiches that weren't warm and squashed from a jersey pocket. The bag has webbing straps either side for attaching more things if you run out of room, too.
Prices for bags – whether for bikepacking, touring or commuting – vary enormously, and £60 sits pretty much in the middle. It's £45 less than the Brooks Scape Handlebar Compact Bag Anna tested recently, but with that you do get 10 litres of storage for your £105.
Ortlieb has a variety of options ranging from £50 (2.7l) to over £100, with the attachment system on top, so the Altura compares quite well with those.
Lara loved Topeak's BarLoader, which is both bigger (6.5l) and cheaper (£54.99), but is a less structured and, some might say, less aesthetically pleasing option...
If you're happy to compromise on space, usability off the bike and ease of detaching, you can get cheaper options – Carradice's (3.5l) Bikepacking Bar Bag is £47 – and we've tested even smaller bags from the likes of Louis & Joy and Brooks that cost less. But most are more. Some a lot more.
Apart from its lack of a light mount – a criticism you can level at many such bags, it seems – the Heritage is hard to fault. It's very weatherproof, roomy, looks good and works well on the bike and off.
Very weatherproof and versatile, even if it doesn't have a light mount
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Heritage Bar Bag
Size tested: 5L
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?
Altura says, 'Crafted from 12oz waxed canvas and using Rixen Kaul German-made Klickfix fittings the Heritage Barbag effortlessly combines classic style with a modern design. The water-resistant waxed canvas helps to keep belongings protected from showers whilst the generous 5-litre capacity makes it ideal for the commute or shopping trips for those essential items. There is also a lid pocket with a key clip and internal pocket so that small items are easy to find. Adding the Altura Map Tablet case makes it great for adventures and the adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry off the bike.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Altura lists these features:
12oz water resistant waxed canvas
Rixen Kaul Klickfix fittings
5 litre capacity
Lid closure with Woojin two tone buckle
Internal draw cord closure
Large zippered lid pocket with key clip and internal pocket
Supplied with adjustable shoulder strap
Altura Map Case Compatible
Main Fabric: 97% Cotton, 3% Polyester
Secondary Fabric: Lining: 100% Polyester
One slightly scruffy end to the piping, but otherwise it's excellent.
It's great for carrying stuff, on the bike and off – though I'd like somewhere (easier) to attach a light.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It holds lots, fits securely and looks good.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The 'heritage' look, being able to fit lots in, the weatherproofing, and the shoulder strap that means you can carry it easily off the bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No mount for a front light.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's undercut by some bikepacking bar bags, but looks good value compared with many. The most similar bag we've tested recently is the Brooks Scape Handlebar Compact Bag, which offers nearly twice the capacity (10L) but is also nearly twice the price at £110. Options from Ortlieb start at £50 for a 2.7-litre bag, but the prices don't include the fixings.
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
It's really good – great weatherproofing, holds lots, looks good and versatile. The lack of a mount for a front light seems a bit of an omission for a bag aimed at commuting, though it's not alone in this regard.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined road.cc in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.