Ortlieb Commuter QL2.1 19L Pannier - A Review

Words by David Hicks

on 03/06/2019 14:21:08


Renowned for their high-quality cycle luggage, Ortlieb are the market leaders in their industry and it's easy to see why. With a 5 year guarantee and a 10 year promise on spare parts, you will be hard-pressed to find another company matching their level of customer satisfaction. This review is written by Rutland's very own James Chester, a longterm fan of Ortlieb products and keen cycle-commuter

First impressions

When opening this bag up for the first time, you can tell straight away it's an Ortlieb product. The outer fabric feels tough and durable and there is an undeniable feeling of quality about the product. It's also ready to go out of the box, the QL2.1 system is ready to go (you just need to fit protective spacers based on your rack size). Also, the bulk of the packaging is cardboard with only a couple of small plastic bags used to store the spare clips etc, which is nice to see. The bag itself appears to have a good structure, and plenty of room/ pockets for everything I could need to put in it. As soon as you open this bag you find yourself picturing all of the things you're going to put in all of the pockets! In conclusion, the first impression of this bag is that it's a high quality product, with plenty of useful features, and I can't wait to start using it!


Inside the bag

Unlike a traditional pannier bag, the Ortlieb Commuter has a good structure; the sides of the bags feel well supported, and it allows you to clearly see inside the contents of the bag. It's also packed with pockets, and helpful features so I can store all of my office essentials easily. Some of the highlights include a dedicated, and padded laptop sleeve, long keyring extension, pen holders, zipped security pocket and 3 other differently sized compartments for other items.

This means that storing things like wallet, keys, business cards, calculator, documents, headphones, pens and other essentials is really easy. The internal compartments combined with the outer structure make it really easy to see exactly what is in your bag, and everything is within easy reach. The outer structure also means that the bag doesn't lose its shape even when it's not got much in it. It's also surprisingly spacious, with plenty of flexibility to squeeze some more stuff in. Which is all the more impressive given that the bag doesn't look to large.

This bag has a few refinements over the previous version which I have also used. It is ever so slightly larger (1.6L vs 1.3L of the old version). The straps now secure with a buckle on each side, this setup allows for a better place to attach a light on the rear of the pack than on the previous version. The side straps also mean in a pinch, you could use them to strap things to the outside of the bag due to the fact the straps can be tightened. I was concerned that the side straps and buckle would add bulk to the width of the bag and cause the bag to rub my legs, but that wasn't a problem. The other thing that Ortlieb have changed in this version is the interior of the bag. I noticed the bolt covers on the interior are smaller and smoother, taking up less room and leaving less chance of something catching on them.


On the bike

The QL2.1 is a proven pannier mounted system from Ortlieb and it's super easy to install and remove from the bike. On the bike itself, the bag is incredibly stable. I think because it's quite long and flat, so the bag hugs the bike close and keeps the weight tight. This means balance is not an issue, and you hardly notice it on the back! Rather than using their traditional roll top design, this bag uses two clips on the front, which means it's really easy to access the bag on the move, or hide the strap away in a hurry. This design however hasn't impacted the waterproofing on the bag, because underneath the top-flap of the bag there is a simple but effective folding system which effectively seals the bag from the elements, and even protects it from spray coming up from the road. This means that despite this being a functional office bag, they haven't compromised on their focus of delivering high quality waterproof bags, meaning you can use this bag for your commute right through the year even in the worst weather, with the confidence of an Ortlieb 5 year warranty.


In the office

Off the bike and in the office, the bag looks just at home. The canvas-style material looks modern and stylish, it does a great job of not looking like a waterproof bag, and maintains a smart outwards appearance which will be an important factor for a lot of people looking to bring one of these bags into their office. Practically, the Ortlieb Commuter bag is really easy to use day to day in the office. The robust outer structure and the large capacity inside mean that it's easy to just reach in and find what you need. I have found this especially helpful when sitting in meetings, where rummaging through a deep pannier bag to find your pen is sometimes a little tricky.

The only slight drawback of this bag is that the QL2.1 mount on the bag is a little intrusive when carrying, and if you have it over your bag, the clips will dig in slightly. However over the shoulder and for short walks it's not an issue at all, and the practically on the bike far outweighs this issue! In addition, there is a version of this bag which comes with Ortlieb's all new, innovative QL3.1 fitting system. This comes with a small adaptor for your pannier rack, but results in a far more minimal fitting system on the bag itself. If you're looking to walk longer distanced with the bag, the QL3.1 system is probably the best way forward.

Ortlieb Commuter 2.1 19l

Ortlieb Commuter 2.1 19l

Offering riders the unbeatable combination of versatility, practicality and style, Ortlieb's new 19 Litre QL2.1 Commuter Bag features well-conceived space management and plenty of room for all of your organisational needs.

Shop now >



In conclusion, this bag is one of the best purchases I have ever made for my commute! The Ortlieb Commuter bag is super easy to fit to the bike with the innovative QL2.1 fitting system. Plus I know I can rely on it in all weathers because it's 100% waterproof and comes with a 5 year Ortlieb warranty for complete peace of mind. It looks good when I'm in the office or walking around, and I still use it even if I find myself driving into the office because the large capacity and internal storage features make it easy to use when I'm on the move or in meetings. A great bag and another great product from Ortlieb, I would definitely recommend this for anyone who is commuting by bike!

Shop all Ortlieb commuter products >


Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store