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Ortlieb Frame-Pack RC Toptube



Tough, truly waterproof and extremely useful bag for all conditions
Genuinely waterproof
Useful size
Doesn't interfere with knees or bottles
The price is high
No external pockets
Narrow-tube strap setting seems half-baked (and unnecessary)

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Ortlieb Frame-Pack RC Toptube is great. It's truly waterproof, extremely well made and very secure. It's not cheap, but if you want a fit-and-forget bag that's as stylish as a fabric sausage can be, this is an excellent option.

As children we learn that the sum of the internal angles of a triangle is always 180 degrees, but as adults we learn a more fundamental truth: triangles are brilliant for storing processed cheese and/or spare jackets. As this 3L bag doesn't say Dairylea on it anywhere, today I'll be concentrating on jackets.

All that space in your front triangle usually only plays host to a bottle cage, and this bag leaves room for those with just 15cm of drop. In fact, its 4L brother only drops 13cm as it's 10cm longer; there's no need for a side-entry cage with either.

While the 50cm-long 4L version would fit my large (57cm) frame just fine, I prefer this smaller 40cm version for comfort reasons I'll get to in a minute. Note that Ortlieb offers downloadable templates should you want to check how these will work on your frame.

This 3L isn't close to filling the 52.5cm gap between my bike's seat tube and head tube, and that's no issue – the single straps front and rear are removable (they each have multiple mounting points, the better to suit any frame), so you're not left with Velcro flapping around if the bag doesn't reach both ends.

2024 Ortlieb Frame-Pack RC Toptube 3L - seat tube strap.jpg

The mounts along the top can also be removed and/or repositioned, should you have cable guides or anything else to avoid.

2024 Ortlieb Frame-Pack RC Toptube 3L - front strap.jpg

While the size of your legs and the way you pedal will affect what rub you may suffer (if any), I tend to find even slim bags annoying – with the Ortlieb strapped against the seat tube I'd brush against the 6cm-wide rear section enough for it to be distracting. Moving it forward in the frame triangle and strapping it to the down tube instead improved that, and after some fine-tuning – moving the rearmost closure forwards and twisting its pull-tab so it no longer sticks out sideways – I completely cured it. At this point it became one of my favourite bags, and for me it only lacks one thing.

That thing is an external pocket, one big enough for a phone. I wouldn't even care if it was mesh (phones can wear their own protection), but a quick-access holder for my annoyingly needy/useful device would be the icing on the cake. Still, this bag is available with a zip instead, with the same impressive IP67 waterproof rating, so if you like your phone to hand that's perhaps the one to go for. It's quicker to undo. The zipped one has the same name as this, just without the 'RC' for rolltop closure.

2024 Ortlieb Frame-Pack RC Toptube 3L - open.jpg

Hang on, I never said this one was IP67 to start with. Whoops. It is! That means it's proven completely dust-tight (in a test of up to eight hours), and waterproof enough to sit in one metre of water for 30 minutes without leaking, much like an Oceangate submarine. In other words it's waterproof enough to resist even Welsh rain, and while the outside will darken and look soggy during a drenching, nothing will get through to the inside. I left it in the shed after hours of riding in rain and, the next day, all the textiles inside were bone dry.

2024 Ortlieb Frame-Pack RC Toptube 3L - logo.jpg

It must be rolled three or four times to achieve this rating, but that's just the natural-feeling way to do it and there's a rigid strip on one side that makes it very easy to fold. The rubber loops are easy to hook shut, too, thanks to those pull tabs, though as I said, they do naturally jut out and will potentially catch on knees.

The only odd thing here is the strap arrangement for narrow tubes, which the instructions say is anything under a 40mm diameter. I tried it on my steel gravel bike (28mm) and frankly it was awful, leaving a large flap sticking out sideways. The instructions say to fold it, but there's no room to tuck it back and nothing to stop it unfolding. Eventually I switched back to the big-tube way of threading the three upper mounts, and everything worked perfectly. Strange.


At £101 this is up there with the most expensive options, though it doesn't feel overpriced – the quality and performance are excellent.

You can spend a lot less, though you may find compromises. The 4.2L Zefal Z Adventure C4 Frame Bag is well made and only £48.99, for instance, but while it's very resistant (IPX4) it's not actually waterproof. It can also chafe pretty badly thanks to some poorly located edges.

The Lomo Bike Frame Dry Bag is cheaper still at just £26, and it's excellent for the price. You'll need a side-entry cage if you want to run a water bottle, however. Lomo doesn't give a capacity, but it's somewhere around 4L at 40x18x8cm.

The Ortlieb isn't as uncommonly expensive as you might think, mind you; our Best Bikepacking Bags buyer's guide features the Brooks Scape Frame Bag at £90 and the Wildcat Ocelot Frame Bag at £115.

Also, the 4L version of this bag is £9 more at £110, and the zipped versions are £110 for the 3L and £120 for the 4L.


This feels very rugged and keeps a useful amount of stuff absolutely dry. It doesn't interfere with bottles and can be tweaked to never interfere with your knees either. You can fit it and never have to think about it again – just use it whatever happens – and that, at least to me, seems ideal.


Tough, truly waterproof and extremely useful bag for all conditions test report

Make and model: Ortlieb Frame-Pack RC Toptube

Size tested: 3 litre

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?

Ortlieb says: "The Frame-Pack RC Toptube is the solution for everyone who likes to have access to their water bottles while also carrying gear inside the bike frame triangle. This waterproof frame bag with roll closure is also ideal for full suspension mountain bikes, where space inside the frame's triangle is limited by the shocks."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Ortlieb lists these features:

Color dark sand

material PS21R, PS33

bag type single

weight 195 g | 6.9 oz

height 15 cm | 5.9 inch

width 40 cm | 15.7 inch

depth 6 cm | 2.4 inch

volume 3 L | 183.1 cu.inch

load 3 kg | 6.6 lbs

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:

The price is top-end, but so is the waterproofing and overall quality.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It's waterproof to IP64, secure, very well made and looks good.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The configuration for strapping it to sub-40mm tubes works badly. Happily, it also seems redundant, as the regular configuration works just fine down to at least 28mm.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

It's up there at the top end.

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

This is excellent in every way except one – the strapping for narrow tubes – but as that setting seems unnecessary anyway, it can be overlooked. Yes the price is high, but this bag feels like it earns it.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,

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