I bought this rack pack in 2007 and after five years of moderate use it still looks good and works well. It has retained its shape, the fabric has not faded and the zips are as new.
The design is generally well thought out. It includes two zipped pocket that are adequately sized for valuables, one on each side of the pack. In addition, there is a single larger zipped compartment in the lid which is big enough to hold an OS map, though in heavy rain, the contents of the lid compartment has gotten damp. The flip top lid hinges on the short side for easy access to the bag’s contents from either side of the bike. The main compartment is large enough to hold a box of sandwiches, a D-lock, tools and a mini pump.
The two straps with their side release buckles are enough to secure the pack to the top of a pannier rack, as long as the straps are fastened inside the rack’s support struts. The black velcro tapes at the corners can be hard to see at night and fiddly to operate when wearing gloves, so I’ve stopped using them.
The rear of the pack has a fabric loop that allow you to strap things to the top. Tempting as it might be to try and attach a rear light to this, it’s not designed for that, despite Altura’s marketing copy, and the light will end up pointing at the ground a few feet behind the bike. I attach the light to a bracket on the rack instead.
The pack comes with a clip on shoulder strap for use off the bike, which can be stowed in the lid. Despite the prominent branding on the back, this black bag looks normal enough to pass as non-cycling luggage in the workplace.
Reliability: 9 / 10
Practicality: 7 / 10
Average Score: 8 / 10