By now we have put about 5,000 miles on our Ortlieb bags and its safe to say they have exceeded our expectations. Their most defining feature is how waterproof they are. While this would seem rather trivial, for many bicycle panniers on the market this is not the case. To end a long day of riding in the rain only to open your “waterproof” panniers and find your clothes or sleeping bag in a puddle is less than enjoyable. With the Ortileb bags this hasn’t once been a concern. My bags are often stuffed to the max which usually makes roll top bags hard to close, Ortileb has solved this by adding a hook and shoulder strap that allows you to keep the bag watertight without having to clip the top buckles to each other (see picture above). Otherwise the bags can be closed like any standard roll top bag. Another feature we love is the adjustable mounting system. Its super easy to set up for your bike and can be adjusted without tools. I recently had to move my front bags to the back and back to front to even out my weight distribution. It only took a minuite to re-adjust the mounts for the different racks. The bags lock to the racks with a spring loaded grab handle that makes removing the bags as easy as picking them up and loading as simple as dropping them on the bike. I love the simplicity, however, because they are easy for us to remove it would be just as easy for someone to steal which was a constant concern for me. Also the mounting system does not provide any dampers against the racks, so on very bumpy roads the bags can rattle. It didn’t bother us, because we are not often off-road.
We found that the front panniers are slightly small compared to other panniers on the market but in contrast the rear bags are very large! With a four bag set your storage volume is very similar to other pannier sets. We did find the lack of small outer pockets, as some other bags have, and this makes organizing a little more challenging. There is a slip pocket and a small zippered pocket inside each pannier that helps slightly with organization.
We have used and abused these bags and they have held up well! The exterior shows scratches easily but they are only superficial. One of our reflectors has a small part that has worn off, but it doesn’t affect the extraordinary reflectiveness of the bag. When we have ridden at night the Ortlieb bags make us much more visible!
All in all these bags outperform anything we have used in the past.
We can’t thank Ortlieb enough for supporting us on our travels and providing us with our front panniers, handlebar bag and seat post bag.
- reliable roll-top closure
- simple, robust mounting system
- highly reflective
- front bags are smaller than average
- scratches show easily
- rattle on rough roads