UPDATE: Rocket Science Sports RJ Bag Review

author : hoffsquared
comments : 0

I was pretty excited to test out a triathlon-specific gear bag. I'm on the lookout for something functional, comfortable, and maybe even a bit stylish.

This review is an update of one that was posted in November 2012.  I received a black bag to review to supplement what I thought of their pink one (which is not made out of fabric but of some type of plastic).

Manufacturer: 

Rocket Science Sports

Product:  RJ Bag

Hours Tested:

60 days, 1 triathlon race, 2 running races, many days to the gym, and a few overnights

Quick tech specs:

  • Individualized compartments to help organize for training and competition so that you won’t forget any essential gear especially on race day. 
  • Clip designed to hang your bag at the transition site for easy identification
  • Shoe compartment for cycling or running shoes
  • Sunglasses compartment
  • Mobile phone compartment
  • Helmet compartment
  • Waterproof zipper
  • Place for identification 

Initial Impressions: 

Well, I was pretty excited to test out a triathlon-specific gear bag.  I love gear bags.  Any kind of gear bag!  I’ve been using a variety of bags over the past few years trying to find the perfect tri-race bag.  I’m on the lookout for something functional, comfortable, and maybe even a bit stylish.

BLACK: I must admit I really like the looks and the material of the black bag.   It’s sturdy and sporty looking.  This time my teen/college age daughters were much more impressed and think the bag looks pretty cool.  Below is a front and back look at the bag.  I’ve also included a side by side --- black vs pink photo.

PINK: I must be honest about my initial impressions.  The pictures on the Rocket Science Sports page makes this bag look more attractive than it really is.  My daughters opened up the package when it came in the mail.  Their initial impressions --- “Mom, the bag you are testing is plastic!”  I have to agree.  It is not an attractive bag as far as gear bags go.

  

Appearance: 

BLACK: The black version of the RJ Sports Bag is pretty nice.  The logo and lettering are easy to see.  Their motto “Race With Attitude” is clearly visible down the side.  It looks like a bag with bells and whistles…and it is.  

PINK: This is not the most attractive bag in my humble opinion.  This is really due to the fact that I’m not a fan of shiny plastic in any form on any bag I might carry around.  If soft plastic was replaced with some other sort of durable fabric, I’d like the looks of this bag much better. 

However, I was at the pool one day talking to one of the lifeguards and she asked about the pink bag hanging in the locker.  She wondered whose it was because “it was so cute!”   She really liked it and asked where I got it.

Ease of Use: 

This is basically a backpack with lots of nice features for triathletes. 

There are two nice sized mesh side pockets to hold water bottles, nutrition items, and whatever else you need to have quick access too.  These pockets are quite deep and I never felt I would lose anything out of them as I do other bags with such pockets.

  

The helmet compartment works well for a helmet or other gear.  I used this for my helmet during one race and for easy access to travel items on overnight trips and my workout notebook at the gym.  I used this bag on two international trips as my carry-on.  It worked great.  The helmet compartment was perfect for all my travel papers. 

The main compartment is quite deep and holds an amazing amount of gear.   I seemed to be able to just continue to put stuff inside and it would never fill up.  Then, like Hermione in Harry Potter, I would magically pull item after item out of it!  

The cavernous size and deepness is both a plus and a minus.  As a race day bag, this was terrific.  I could fit everything in it with room to spare (unlike other bags I’ve tried).  As a day-to-day gym bag or even overnight travel bag, it was too big and too deep.  It was a good size for an airline ‘personal item’ in addition to a suitcase carryon.  I was able to avoid check baggage!  But it is a dig-deep bag.  I had a hard time seeing and finding things.  Inside there is a nice sized mesh zippered pocket for smaller items and another plastic zippered pocket for small items that might leak.  These were good for trying to keep things organized.

On one of the backpack straps, there is an identification pouch.  I really like this feature.  I kept a travel ID and my USAT number in it.  

There is another zippered pocket at the top of the bag.  I used this to store my cellphone, my tiny travel wallet, gym card, and keys.  This provided easy access to these items so I didn’t have to go digging in the main compartment but kept them secure at the same time.

The bottom of the bag is for shoes and wet items.  I used this quite often.  I really like being able to store dirty and/or wet items away from clean gear and clothes.  This compartment does the trick.

The biggest test of the bag for me was race day.  Would it hold all my gear?  Would it be comfortable carrying from the car to transition both before and after the race?  Would I lose things? 

This bag held everything and then some.  Below is everything I fit into the bag.

It all packed in quite neatly.

But perhaps the best part…I could carry my wetsuit via the bag too.  This meant riding to my car after my race was actually possible.  In the past, heading to the car after one of my favorite races with an over-the-shoulder gear bag, wetsuit bag, and my bike was quite tiring and clumsy.  I am big fan of backpack gear bags for this very reason.  This bag did the trick.

I have used other backpack bags for triathlons (the Speedo kind) but I like this design better.  It is taller and narrower than other bags I’ve used.  This is both a drawback and a benefit depending on use.

Quality of construction: 

It has held up pretty well.  I haven’t found any severe flaws.

Fit:

It’s basically a backpack and the straps have lots of room for adjustment.

Comfort:

Again, it’s basically a backpack.  No complaints on the comfort side.  I really did appreciate this bag riding the ½ mile or so back to my car on race day.  In the past, I’ve had to walk this far trying to manage the bike, gear bag, and wetsuit.

Durability: 

This bag held up to quite a few trips to the gym and some running races and two international excursions. 

BLACK: I think this bag will last a very long time and will be very hard to damage.   Black hides dirt and I like that. 

PINK:  I do like the fact that I can just wipe dirt off this bag rather than try to wash or scrub it.  The material does not stain like other fabric.  I would anticipate that this bag will look brand new for quite some time.  I did not have to worry about putting it on wet ground, wet pavement, in the dirt or carrying in the rain.  The bag would be fine and so would all the things in it.  However, I might be concerned if something sharp punctured or penetrated the soft plastic that makes up this bag.  So far it seems pretty durable but one puncture or tear could lead to issues.

Value:

This bag retails for about $70.00. 

BLACK: I like this bag best.  It’s sporty, has my kids stamp of approval, and I think is a good value.

PINK: If the soft plastic were not so shiny, I’d say this was a good value from both a practical and technical ‘fashion’ standpoint.

Overall Performance:

I give this bag pretty good marks.  It’s very functional and practical.  It meets my race day needs!

Strengths:

This bag holds a tremendous amount of gear with the outer and inner mesh pockets helping to keep things organized.

It’s a backpack and this design is really terrific getting to and from places without getting tired (as one does with an over-the-shoulder or carry duffel).

Weaknesses:

BLACK:  The only issue I had with this bag, which I did not with the pink one, has to do with the zipper opening at the top.  Every now and again the zipper would catch on the material just at the opening.  Now I just remember to tuck this in before I zip up.

PINK: The soft plastic outer material is not the most attractive.  I’d like this bag much more if it were made out of a different durable material.

Closing Summary

This bag would be good from someone looking for a backpack style gear bag that is easy to care for and can hold lots of gear and someone who wants to “Race With Attitude!”

Rating

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date: February 17, 2013

hoffsquared