Ortlieb Review

My Ortlieb panniers were great.
I got the Bike Packer Plus for the rear and the Sport Packer Plus for the front. I never had any problems with them coming off the racks and everything stayed completely dry even though I was riding in the rain and had the packs outside all night. I got the Packer version rather than the Roller version so that I could tell how much space I had inside the bags. With the Roller bags, you have to roll the top down to close it and I knew I would try to overstuff it and then not be able to close it.
I got the Plus rather than the Classic because it had a newer mounting system.

handlebar mount
I would not recommend the Ortlieb handlebar bag because of the mounting system. You attach the mount with a wire and have to screw into it to secure it, making it difficult to remove the mount and put it on another bike. When I toured the California coast, I borrowed a handlebar bag that had a mount that attached with nylon clasps, making it easy to move from one bike to another. It is a pain that now I have to leave that mount on the Traveller’s Check or take it off and buy another wire to reattach it.

The handlebar bag, aside from the mounting system, was great, and I definitely recommend having one. I liked having the map case too and used that all the time. It kept my maps dry and easily accessible.

locking system
I bought the Ortlieb locking system, which was a thin wire that attached to the back of each pannier and had a loop on one end to put a lock through it. They would stop someone from grabbing your bag and walking away with it, but it would still be possible to open up your bag and take things out of it. I rarely used them and depending on where you’re touring, I don’t think they’re necessary. If you get these, make sure they are always tucked in somewhere so they don’t get caught in your wheel while you’re riding.

The backpack converter was sometimes useful to have, but I didn’t use it as much as I thought I would. It attaches to the back of the rear panniers and turns it into a backpack. I liked having it when I flew over to Europe and home because I used a pannier as a carry-on bag, but I didn’t use it much during my tour because it meant that I had to unpack and repack my panniers. When I biked or walked without all my panniers, I usually just took the essentials in my handlebar bag.

Ortlieb also makes a bag that goes on the top of your rack to put your tent and sleeping bag in, but I didn’t get one and didn’t miss having one. On the days that it rained, I stuffed my sleeping bag into a pannier and the bag that my tent was in was waterproof. If I had needed to, I could have just used a trash bag to keep them dry.

If I didn’t have a shop hook-up, I would have definitely bought the panniers from Wayne at The Touring Store. His website is full of really useful information and I have heard that he is a great guy to work with.


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