Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag Review

Outer Shell’s 137 Basket Bag is built to fit the sturdy cage of a Wald 137 wire basket. Although not designed specifically for toting a camera, various accessories make this a very appealing option for bikepacking shutterbugs, as well as anyone looking for a bag that’s both practical for camping trips and around town…

Share Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

I’m often asked how I carry my camera, either a full frame Canon 5D mk3 DSLR or a Fuji XT-2 mirrorless, generally accompanied by a few lenses and a couple of spare batteries. Over the years, I’ve experimented with a whole slew of options, from backpacks to handlebar holsters to front pouches, depending on the kind of terrain I’m expecting, be it dirt roads or techy singletrack, and how much gear I want to carry.

Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag Tumbleweed Prospector

Although Outer Shell’s 137 Basket Bag isn’t designed specifically for large cameras, an optional insert kit makes it an especially appealing way to carry your prized DSLR or mirrorless, and a couple of extra lenses. And that’s how I’ve been using it. In fact, designer Kyle Ng is a photographer himself so it’s perhaps less surprising that he offers a range of camera-friendly accessories, from additional closed foam walls and adjustable dividers ($25), a shoulder strap ($10), and even a specialist strap for a camera ($58).

Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag

  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag Tumbleweed Prospector

As a rule, baskets place weight further forward, which tends to make them less suited to the likes of technical bikepacking routes like the Colorado Trail or the AZT. However, being ultra practical and surprisingly sturdy, they’re nigh on perfect for dirt road touring, gravel riding, and just cruising around town. Mine is attached with weather resistant zip ties to a light and minimal Rivendell Mark’s Rack (335g), which offers 4 point mounting and is surprisingly stiff for its weight. Bear in mind too that the 137 Basket Bag sits relatively high, so you won’t be able to see your front wheel. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but something to be aware of.

These considerations aside, the 137 Basket Bag is super stable, with two easily adjusted straps that run through two lengths of daisy chains to anchor it in place. If tackling especially rambunctious, rocky terrain, I’d advise using the side straps too; although they’re designed to compress the bag to make it less boxy for carrying on your shoulder, they also serve to offer extra support when cinched down through the framework of the basket. Either way, the bag is quick to remove and with an optional shoulder strap, convert into a really nice camera or general tote bag.

  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag

The bag isn’t just limited to baskets though. In the interests of saving some weight, I also experimented with fitting it on a Rawland Demiporteur rack – see images directly below. The size is absolutely perfect but as expected, this lighter configuration is better suited to mellow dirt roads, as it sits a little less securely than within the confines of a basket.

Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag

  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag

As for the bag itself, it features a number of useful storage spaces, including a zippered compartment to the front and rear, side sleeves, and a clear plastic top. Accessed from the inside, the latter has proved resistant to UV degradation so far and is especially handy for a map, a notebook, a cycling cap, a pair of sunglasses etc… The front pocket works especially well if you’re running a dynamo hub and charging batteries – it teamed perfectly with my Sinewave Beacon I have mounted on the front of my rack. The bag also features a catch-all drawstring skirt, which ensures nothing can work its way out and helps protect from the elements.

Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag

  • camera insert outer shell basket bag
  • camera insert outer shell basket bag

As for camera-friendly additions, the optional and movable dividers velcro into place, much like a traditional camera bag; they work well to compartmentalise the Basket Bag’s roomy innards even if you’re not carrying a camera. Also included in the extra $25 are closed cell wall panels that replace the thinner semi-rigid plastic inserts ones that come included, offering extra support and more ‘boxiness’. The underside of the bag is padded too, but I actually found sitting my camera on my merino sleeping layers and other soft clothes helped provided an additional cushion and made a good use of space. After all, the bag is big: there’s plenty of room for a full frame body with lens attached, as well as a couple of additional lenses, and plenty of odds and ends. Mirrorless users are spoilt for space with room for a camera and much more. And when you just want to use it as a normal bag, the closed foam walls can be quickly removed to maximise capacity and create more malleability.

  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag

As for access, it’s simply a case of unlatching two plastic hooks that clip onto the wire frame of the basket – or directly onto a platform rack – and lifting the lid. This makes grabbing your camera especially easy. In practice, I didn’t cinch the drawstring each time, unless I wanted to be extra vigilant with keeping out dirt and dust. When you’re off the bike, the hooks latch onto two small tabs to keep the bag firmly shut.

Build quality is particularly good and there’s a sense of human craftsmanship that’s often lost in mass-produced bags. There’s also a whole range of appealing colours to choose from for those who want to customise their ride, as well as a couple of materials – mine is the Graphite X-Pac version, which incurs a $20 upcharge, and is considered to be more waterproof than Cordura.

Speaking of which, I haven’t had a chance to try it in a serious downpour. Although the drawstring closure should keep the majority of the elements at bay – certainly, it’s proved amply dustproof – given the open lid rather than rolltop design, I’d still recommend throwing valuables in a waterproof rollbag if you’re expecting prolonged, monsoon-like conditions.

Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag

  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag
  • Measurements: 13x8x8″(+ 5″ drawcord section), 33x20x20cm (+ 13cm drawcord section)
  • Capacity: 13.6-18.6 liters
  • Weight: 695g (950g with inserts)
  • Place of Manufacture: CA, USA
  • Price: from $170
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Outershell

Pros

  • Good amount of space for even a full frame camera, handy compartmentalisation for lenses
  • Even roomier if you’re not using it for a camera, thanks to the removable closed foam sidewalls
  • Very secure
  • Easy to remove and use as a shoulder bag
  • Excellent build quality
  • Looks great, with lots of colour options

Cons

  • The bag, Wald 137 basket, and minimal rack make for a relatively heavy combo
  • Front loading with a basket is less singletrack-friendly than rollbags that fit flush to the handlebars
  • You can’t see your front wheel

Wrap Up

If you’re a bikepacker who takes your photography seriously, Outer Shell’s 137 Basket Bag provides a very secure space to stow your gear, with a clever bungee system that makes accessing it quickly and easily. Even if you’re not a shutterbug, this is still a very worthy bag to consider, considering its capacious interior and variety of compartments. Remove the additional closed cell walls and it gets even bigger, and you’ll save yourself some weight too. The whole bag is also really nicely made, comes in a great palette of colour options, and teems with attention to detail.

I especially like how quickly it can be removed when you’re away from your bike, making it an excellent option for local camping trips, riding around town, and long distance tours where security is a concern. My only caveat is that such a basket-style setup falls squarely into the dirt road and gravel category of bikepacking, rather than routes that involve a large percentage of technical singletrack.

Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag Tumbleweed Prospector

  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag Tumbleweed Prospector
  • Outer Shell 137 Basket Bag Tumbleweed Prospector
  • Dr J

    I’ve been eyeing this thing for a long time and very will likely get it for my new bike but questions I would like to have answered are:
    1. How stiff is the bottom and sides of the bag with included inserts (because I assume that there are some included)? Will this bag collapse under its own weight?
    2. Is there any chance this bag could be mounted to a small rando rack (such as Rawland Rano – smaller than Demiporteur) or is full support of the underside absolutely necessary?

  • Cass Gilbert

    The removable side inserts that come included are called ‘semi-rigid’ – see the copy above. They’re stiff enough to give some shape to the bag, but they don’t make it too boxy. A good balance, IMO.. You could always add some thin closed cell foam as well (thinner than the ones provided with the camera insert), though I don’t think it needs it. I’ll try and replace one of the images above with one that also shows the plastic panels, sometime later. But think think thin, bendy chopping board… The bottom won’t crumple either; not sure what the stiffener is as it’s integrated.

    I don’t have anything apart from my Mark’s Rack and Rawland Demiporteur to experiment with. But John at the Radavist had a post about using the same bag with a small support which may give you some ideas…

    http://theradavist.com/2018/01/the-tim-tas-rek-ahead-steerer-rack-saves-your-saggy-handlebar-bags/

    I’m sure Kyle Ng will chip in when he can!

  • Dr J

    Thank you! Great thing about this bag is that straps on the underside can be moved closer or further together but I wish they could also be installed crosswise – left to right, not just front to back. That would allow for mounting this bag on narrower racks. Nevertheless, good design.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I guess more daisy chains are always nice (-: But it fits so well on a Demiporteur that I think it’s worth a few extra grams (no weights are listed on the Rawlands site). Depends on how you intend to use it; a basket is definitely the most solid solution, albeit the heaviest.

  • Edwards martin

    What are those bars?!
    Great review.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Thanks. They’re made by Oddity Cycles. Details here:
    http://www.bikepacking.com/gear/list-of-comfort-mtb-handlebars/

  • BR

    what rear light is that?

  • tony

    And is that a speaker on the handlebar, if so what make etc?

  • Tiger Funk

    What hippo is that? Do you run it tubeless? Is it the new carbon fiber model?

  • tony

    This is starting to look like a Pinkbike comment section, all it needs is a few puns.

  • That’s the Outdoor Tech Buckshot.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Split tube. Chromo.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Yep, as Miles has said. The new version. I actually prefer V1 as battery life seems better and it doesn’t have the annoying voice. But it’s still a good speaker.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Cygolite Dice. Nice little tail and front lights.

    http://cygolite.com/product/dice-tl-50-usb/

  • Tiger Funk

    Sorry Cass, just a little humor – was referring to the Hippo.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Me too (-;

  • 1. The bottom of the bag has high density 1/2″ thick foam padding that is very stiff and will protect any of your items from banging against the rack. The front, back, and sides have semi-rigid plastic that will hold the bag up. It won’t collapse under its own weight. However, if you wanted to flex the plastic to compress the bag a bit, you could still do that. Its not rigid like corrugated plastic. Its the same plastic as those GSI cutting boards.
    2. I do not advocate and did not accommodate racks smaller than the Rawland Demiporteur, because the platform does not provide enough support for a bump free ride. Yes, I probably could’ve made it work for smaller racks with more daisy chains, but the bag needs to be held down in the corners to really be stable. I did not want anybody to try a haphazard attachment on smaller racks because I think the full underside support is necessary. Some may disagree but you can always use zip ties in the webbing loop if you really want to go against my suggestion and intention.

  • Joshua Meissner

    I have this bag and am considering the Demi-Porteur. Is there any danger of it slipping off the rack when not using the basket? How do you avoid side-to-side movement when mounting it directly?

  • The two attachment straps can be moved so that they hug the outside of the lower struts on the rack. This makes it so that the bag cannot shift side-to-side, because the straps will run into the rack struts. The daisy chains tacks are spaced about 1.25″ apart, so it allows for a snug fit around the rack struts.

  • stefanrohner

    solution would be a decaleur rack ..?

Share This

others did. Support us and pass it along...

Follow Us

and join the conversation.
art