2020 Brompton Borough roll-top small review

As I promised in my last post (I always hear trumpets when I say that), here is my review of the new 2020 release Brompton Borough roll-top bag, small, in navy (which at the moment is the only colour available for this model).

brompton borough waterproof s navy alt1
Official photo of the bag from Brompton’s website

Ordered the day after release, it arrived with me on Saturday and I have to say that at first I was confused.  It was a little bigger than I had imagined but in a good way, but that wasn’t what was confusing me: I couldn’t see how you removed the straps so it was safe on the bike, and there wasn’t anything in their attached instruction thingy.


Having decided pretty much that I was going to return it I couldn’t believe that Brompton had made such a simple error so I took a second look.  On rotating the rings where the strap attaches to the bag it slowly dawned on me that they were in fact clips, not just rings, and the strap was not only removable, but it allowed for a number of configurations.  It might not be clear, but it is ingenuous.


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As well as attachment points for the strap at the rear, there are two on the sides for the rucksack configuration and this is great because then you have a waterproof backpack and your hands completely free.

Here it is being modelled by yours truly:


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Obviously the strap is too long on the cross body image but you get the idea.  I just didn’t bother shortening it when I was going to need it longer for the rucksack photo.

The bag is reported to be 100% Waterproof, which means you should be able to submerse it, although that shouldn’t be your intention.  It does come with an air valve, which is needed to get the air out, and therefore I have no reason to suspect it is not a completely sealed unit when the top is correctly rolled.


The new material is nice, although it does seem to mark very easily, but then again if it’s waterproof it should be really easy to keep clean too.

All bags get dirty on the road, especially in the city, so you can’t really expect it to look pristine for long, but if you can simply hose it down then it’s going to make upkeep really easy.


As you can see the logo is reasonably discrete also.

This is the small bag, and I bought this to replace the Mini O bag, and run alongside the full sized O bag.  It is big enough to take an iPad or similar, but it won’t take a laptop, and there is no sleeve inside for either so you’ll need a case of some description for your iPad.

I got a few things in it with plenty of room to spare:


The three positions for the roll-top to attach give you flexibility in volume:


And my phone went in the waterproof front pocket:


But, and here is my only moan,  the bag is one large bucket.  There are no dividers, no internal pocket/s, and not even a key retaining fob or clip.  This is a bit of a let down compared to the interior even of the Mini O.  As it happened I put my keys in my trouser pocket, because I don’t want them at the bottom of my bag and I don’t want them scratching my phone in front pocket.  I feel they’ve missed a trick here.

I have to say that is my only gripe, otherwise it is an excellent small bag for everyday and weekend use where you don’t need a laptop.  It is more aerodynamic than most, especially the wider bags, such as the O bag.  This is quite noticeable, as is the fact it conforms to the contents which means they are more stable inside it, and you can get some odder shaped items inside.  This I like.

Here are some shots of it on my test ride around Edinburgh today:


I decided to photograph all four of my bags this morning in the same position so that you can see the size comparisons, I hope this helps you decide if this bag is for you, or if you need something larger.  That could be one of my other choices, or a larger bag from the new collections.

My Mini O and my Brompton Barbour Tarras are now on eBay, that is how confident I am of this bag.  It replaces both of these for me, but I am keeping the white O bag for when I need to take a lot more things, need dividers inside, or want to take a full size laptop with me.

Of course, I’ve written this based entirely on having received the bag on Saturday and it is now Monday.  I have used the bag for one trip around the city of around 13miles.  This isn’t by any stretch a long term review, and my opinions may change with longer use.  But I am confident, you can tell that because I’m selling two other bags.  That should tell you something, even if only that like most women I can fickle over my handbags!

I will update this post when I have tried it in wet weather, but there is a great picture of the bag fully soaked on the Brompton website.  I will also tell you if I find any niggles or faults with it. I paid £85 for this bag, direct from Brompton, so I am not beholden to them to be anything other than honest about what I find.  It was a lot of money for me right now, in the middle of the Coronavirus uncertainty, and that’s one reason why I’m trying to recoup some money by selling the other two bags.

Is it a good time for Brompton to launch a new range?  Well, cycling is gaining in popularity and Brompton have a ten week wait on their bike orders.  So, yes, it probably is.  Will this range strike a cord?  I am not so sure.  They’re very basic, they’re expensive, they’re untested, and they come in a limited range of colours right now.  If I wanted the more ‘girly’ model of the Tote bag it had to be Olive green.  As I said, these go with the Barbour colours they used before for their range, as well as the grey/black city options on some of the models.  Will it work?  I have no reason to see why not, but one thing that is missing is a reflective (winter?) option.  This might come in time of course, I think they’re testing the water.

Literally, because these are Brompton’s own first truly waterproof bags.

Let me know what you think.



Having used the bag for two trips now, I wanted to add a little tip:


If you leave the clasp dangling in its normal position it will rattle against the frame of your Brompton, which gets a bit annoying, but if you do this with it, it doesn’t.

5 thoughts on “2020 Brompton Borough roll-top small review

  1. This answered a few questions I had. The default bag (none og the ones you have!)…

    is hugely versatile (You can have about 5 water bottles secure in different places) but a little too big sometimes, and the solid metal bar that keeps it in shape can be a menace – it’s also pretty light-rain waterproof even without the included tacky quality neon green cover which I have never bothered to use – but this new one looks much better. I didn’t even know Ortlieb did one for Brompton. Thanks for the 4 photo comparison.


    1. Hi Iain. Glad to have helped. I did try the C bag like the one you have but found it to be even bigger than the O bag and, personally, found it a bit difficult to get things stable in it unless I filled it. The O bag has clip on pockets that attach to the rear of it to increase the size if required, and these are waterproof with roll-tops, but you can also get bottle cages that clip into the same attachment points, meaning the water bottles are then outside and I find this comforting if there is a chance they might leak and I have electronic equipment inside, like my tablet or laptop. I will have to write a little bit about this as I didn’t know about the bottle cage option until recently when someone sent me a message on my instagram account.


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