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Orucase Smuggler handlebar bag review

Compact handlebar bag that uses ski straps for optimal fitment and extra storage

Orucase Smuggler
(Image: © Colin Levitch)

Our Verdict

The Orucase Smuggler handlebar bag bolsters on-the-bike storage by offering about a pocket-and-a-half of extra capacity

For

  • Quality materials
  • Lightweight
  • Voile straps

Against

  • No internal organisation

San Diego-based Orucase is best known for its bike bags designed to sneak past airport check-in desks without raising an eyebrow or attracting extra baggage fees. The brand has taken this luggage know-how and parlayed it into on-bike luggage. 

The Smuggler is the brand’s handlebar bag which adds more utility and on-the-bike storage so that you’re not busting the seams and ripping jersey pockets.

Whether you're transporting some extra goods along a road ride, or bikepacking your way across the country, using the best bikepacking bags can make the ride a lot easier and more enjoyable. So here's how the Orucase Smuggler stands up to its competition.

Design and ride experience

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Orucase Smuggler

The Smuggler uses two Voile straps instead of Velcro or clips (Image credit: Colin Levitch)
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Orucase Smuggler

They easily navigate annoying cabling (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

The Smuggler is pretty simple; it’s essentially a waterproof zippered pouch that hangs off your bars using ski straps.

Turning back to December, some may remember that I featured Voile Straps in my 2020 gear of the year round-up because they are the most useful gadget ever invented. Halfway between a rubber band and a zip tie, I have carried Voile straps to the top of many a mountain both on two wheels and snow sliding sticks and used them to fix all manner of the bike and ski mechanicals, and on a few occasions for first aid too. 

The Smuggler uses two eight-inch Voile Nano straps with nylon buckles to attach the bag to your bars. The advantage of using these rubber ski straps is threefold; they won’t wear out over time or be affected by accumulated grit and grime, there is no metal to scratch carbon-fibre parts and you can use the grippyness and stretch of the rubber to ensure the bag doesn’t bounce or swing.

Orucase Smuggler

Even with a bulky light on a out in front mount, the Smuggler sits nicely (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

The bag itself is made from waterproof Dimension Polyant VX42 fabric and has a YKK zipper, which is also waterproof. It’s most definitely on the smaller side of handlebar bags, measuring 7.5 x 3.5 x 3.5-inches for a volume of 1.15-litres and tips the scales at 74g.

With the Smuggler's petite size, I can fit more or less a pocket-and-a-half worth of stuff inside without overstressing the zipper — so roughly a rain jacket, a pair of gloves, some snacks, and a set of keys. As with the Orucase saddlebag we recently reviewed, there is no internal organisation. I do think for a handlebar bag, some definition of dividers or elastic mesh pockets inside would be a valuable improvement; at the same time, it’s a small enough bag that you can get away without them because nothing is going to disappear into the abyss.

With only two attachment points, the bag is surprisingly stable, even when it’s loaded up with weightier items like tools or a camera lens, and you don’t miss the third stability strap many bags use.

It’s also low-profile enough that it plays nicely with out-in-front computer mounts, and even with the bulkiest front light I had on hand, the Garmin Varia HL500, there was ample room.

Orucase Smuggler

Here I have a rain jacket, pair of windproof gloves, a Powerbar and a set of keys and could easily fit more without putting stress on the zipper (Image credit: Colin Levitch)

Verdict

Orucase seems to have a knack for keeping its products simple and streamlined yet still supremely useful - the Smuggler is the perfect example. It’s made from bombproof materials, mounts easily, stays put, and plays nicely without out-front computer mounts. 

Priced at $40 / £29 / AU$90 if you regularly find yourself overstuffing jersey pockets, or having to stuff jackets and the like down the back of your jersey because you’re already full up, the Smuggler will help take some of the load off your back.

Tech Specs: Orucase Smuggler handlebar bag

  • Price: $40 / £29 / AU$90
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 3.5 x 3.5-inches
  • Storage: 1.15-litres
  • Materials: Dimension Polyant VX42 material, waterproof YKK zipper, 2x Voile Nano Ski Straps
  • Colours: 4
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