Castelli Race Rain Bag vs Bontrager RSL Rain Bag

BikeRadar Battle: Handy bags for toting your riding gear in any weather

Castelli and Bontrager have race gear bags marketed as 'Rain Bags', because pro squads use them to store and organize extra clothing inside team cars in the race caravan. For the rest of us, these bags work well for schlepping our own gear to local rides and races in any type of weather.

The Castelli Race Rain Bag and the Bontrager RSL Rain Bag are each big enough to carry a day's worth of riding gear, with clothing, helmet and sunglasses going in the main pouch, and the shoes going in their own compartment underneath.

The Bontrager bag is slightly bigger and simpler, with a third small zippered pouch for carrying smaller items. It easily takes a helmet with room to dig around it for clothes underneath, while the Castelli bag is a little more snug. The Castelli bag has oodles of mesh compartments plus a separate mesh bag, and easily smashes down flat — a handy characteristic if you're a pro soigneur with 18 bags to cram into team cars.

Related reading: Preparing for the Tour de France team gear gallery

Both bags have bright interiors, which makes it easier to see what's what when you're digging through a bunch of black clothing.

The castelli race rain bag has four mesh pouches around the sides of the main compartment, plus a fold-out mesh pouch that snaps onto the bag's lid: the castelli race rain bag has four mesh pouches around the sides of the main compartment, plus a fold-out mesh pouch that snaps onto the bag's lid
The castelli race rain bag has four mesh pouches around the sides of the main compartment, plus a fold-out mesh pouch that snaps onto the bag's lid: the castelli race rain bag has four mesh pouches around the sides of the main compartment, plus a fold-out mesh pouch that snaps onto the bag's lid

The Castelli has all manner of side pockets and pouches

The Bontrager bag ($80 / £59) measures 36 x 21.5 x 34cm, while the Castelli bag ($79 / £64) is 30 x 25 x 20cm. 

So which is better? Let's break them down.

  CastelliBontrager  winner
 Compartments 2 - main + shoe 3 - main + shoe + accessories Bontrager
 Handles 2 - one per compartment 2 - snapping straps plus handle whatever
 Internal pockets 6 mesh pouches plus a mesh bag 0 - just brightly lined main compartments personal preference
 Malleability easily crumples down flat stands up by itself personal preference
 Overall great for pros  great for everyday Joes we'd go with the Bontrager

What works well for the pros isn't always the best solution for the rest of us. For pro teams, compact storage and easily repeatable organization are necessary. For you and I, being able to easily bag a pack that doesn't constantly fall over is better. The six mesh pockets on the Castelli bag might appeal to some, but we found the simplicity and the size of the Bontrager bag to hit the sweet spot. 

Click through the gallery above for a closer look at each bag.

The bontrager rsl rain bag has a bright interior, which makes it easy to find your stuff: the bontrager rsl rain bag has a bright interior, which makes it easy to find your stuff
The bontrager rsl rain bag has a bright interior, which makes it easy to find your stuff: the bontrager rsl rain bag has a bright interior, which makes it easy to find your stuff

The Bontrager bag is simpler in construction and easier to pack as it doesn't collapse on itself

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team, Trek Boone 5, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4, Marinoni fixed gear, Santa Cruz Roadster TT bike
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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