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Ortlieb Bikepacking Bag Set Long Term Review

Words by Aaron Scott

on 20/06/2017 09:05:58


Review by Kyle Armstrong.

Ortlieb has always been known for its quality engineering when it comes to waterproof commuter/touring pannier bags. When the company announced its new bikepacking specific range then, it’s fair to say I got pretty excited.

Having signed up to the Transatlantic Way race for this coming June, I was keen to find a lightweight, robust bag set that would meet a few of my criteria. Firstly it had to be fully waterproof. The west coast of Ireland is notorious for its changing weather, and the last thing I wanted was to end up with wet kit! Secondly it had to be lightweight – pannier bags are simply too heavy and bulky (it is a race after all!) and the bike I had chosen as my steed was a Giant TCR Advanced 2 Disc, which deserves something slightly more elegant.

I approached Ortlieb, and they very generously sent me the full kit to use long term and review. I’ve had the setup in various different forms over the last 5 months, and two weeks out from the race, here are my thoughts.

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The first thing I noticed with the bags was the quality – tough, waterproof fabric, that isn’t just your standard black material. The bags are as pleasing to look at as they are to use. All the straps and buckles are super strong, and even when stretched to capacity they remain tight and locked in place. The Velcro strappings on all the bags are thick, heavy duty style strips, and give a real confidence when locking them down to the frame. I tried filling the bags up to their capacity, with heavier than usual items, and found that everything still stayed secure in place. Good stuff.

Ortlieb Rackless Seat-Pack 16.5L

Ortlieb Rackless Seat-Pack 16.5L

Ortlieb's Rackless Seat Pack is a well engineered seat post mounted bike bag that is easy to attach by using the durable Velcro® straps as well as being lightweight, waterproof and delivering a load capacity of 16.5 litres.

  • Height - 30cm
  • Width - 64cm
  • Depth - 22cm
  • Weight - 456g
  • Volume - 16.5L
  • Fabric - PS21R

The seat pack is probably my favourite part of the four piece kit. It has a massive capacity - 16.5 litres! You could probably get by with just this rear pack for a 1 or two day trip, however, if you wanted to do a shorter style Audax for example, it will roll down so that you can just put the basics in, e.g. jacket, tools, peanut butter sandwich. (Just me?) The pack also has an air release valve so that you can essential vacuum pack your bag, meaning you can reduce the overall mass and not have a balloon sitting underneath your saddle. It has a really useful elasticated string on the top of the bag which I found was excellent for storing your jacket when it needed to be accessed quickly. Also great for storing baguettes. The Velcro straps that connect to the seat post are wide, thick and incredibly strong. Easy to tighten and adjust, and when combined with the clips that connect to the saddle rails, makes for a super strong connection. Again I filled this pack up to the brim, and only found the slightest of side to side wobble when climbing, but even then it was kept to a minimum. I use a carbon seat post (quite a long way out of the frame actually) and have had no trouble with weight etc. The only thing I have done is wrap the post up in electrical tape, just to protect it from any marking that may occur.

Overall I was super impressed with the seat pack. Versatile and cool - suitable for a multi-day ride, or for a one day jolly to get some fish and chips.

Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack 15L

Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack 15L

The Ortlieb rackless luggage range is a highly innovative range of unique solutions from the iconic bike bag brand.

  • Height - 20cm
  • Width - 58cm
  • Depth - 20cm
  • Weight - 417g
  • Volume - 15L

I really like this front pack. Its the sort of bag that you can put items in that are essential, but you don’t need to access very often – for example my was only ever used for my sleeping bag and my bivvy bag. I did have some concerns at first about the width, and using the bag on my road bike with drop bars, however I shouldn’t have worried as it fitted like a dream. Both ends roll up and can be packed down quite small. Interestingly enough I also found it made quite a comfortable pillow when stuff with something soft! I was a bit concerned about how it would fit along with my aero bars, however the thick Velcro straps are quite flexible and I managed to place them in such a way that they worked really well. I didn’t get any movement from the pack at all, and even when filled to capacity it was well away from my front wheel. It has Velcro straps, and also a secondary buckle strap to keep it secure, and extra loops for securing other bags, including the accessory pouch.

This bag just works. Reliable, strong and again lightweight!

Ortlieb Accessory Pack 3L

Ortlieb Accessory Pack 3L

The Ortlieb rack less handlebar mount is the perfect accompaniment on any ride long or short. The rack less system allows you to easily fit it to any seat post making it perfect for all types of ride.

  • Height - 17cm
  • Width - 30cm
  • Depth - 5cm
  • Weight - 204g
  • Volume - 3.5L

Now Ortlieb are just showing off: a fully waterproof, easily accessible pouch, that locks onto a bag already on your bars? Well played. There’s not much to say about this bag in all honesty – like most Ortlieb stuff, it just works well. It straps directly onto the handlebar bag and sits at arms reach. My preference for this bag was food (more PB sandwiches) gloves, and a packable gilet for quick access. The only downside to this bag is the actual opening mechanism. It a metal buckle that you have to slip in a cord strap, and it’s just plain fiddly – a better option would have been another clip buckle, or even just some Velcro. I got used to it, however I did have to stop every time I wanted to get a snack out (which is quite often for me).

Aside from the buckle, this accessory pack is a great little bag. Not much additional weight, but a great bit of extra space.

Ortlieb Frame Pack Medium 4L

Ortlieb Frame Pack Medium 4L

Embrace minimalism on two wheels today with Ortlieb's new 4 Litre Frame-Pack. Simply attach the Frame-Pack to the top tube of your bike and you have the ideal stowage location for all of your essential tools and supplies.

  • Height - 24cm
  • Width - 40cm
  • Depth - 6cm
  • Weight - 186g
  • Volume - 4L

Now comes the hard part of reviewing something – the bad bits. For me this frame pack wasn’t a useable bit of kit. I had the 6l version, and when fitted to the frame it negates one of my bottle cages meaning I only had one water bottle, and even that was a squeeze. I’m not sure matters would have been helped with the 4l version as the shape of the bag itself seems designed to take up the maximum space in the frame gap. The bag itself is great quality – as with the rest of the kit – however it feels like an after thought rather than an essential bit of design. The internal part of the pack has no compartments – so unless you’re stuffing clothing in there, there is no way to organise anything in that 4 or 6 litre space. It would be a bit of feeling around to find anything you may have packed away in the bag. On a hardtail MTB this frame pack might work really well – out for a day on the trails, its a great way to get your weight centred and low to the ground, however for a multi day race or even tour, I’m not convinced that you can make full use of it.

For me, Ortlieb would have done well to follow in the line of Apidura and Topeak and create a frame bag that is long, and leaves space for water bottles, with a few compartments inside.Fortunately for Kyle, Ortlieb felt the same and added the Frame-Pack Toptube to their range since this review.

Ortlieb Frame Pack Toptube 4L

Ortlieb Frame Pack Toptube 4L

Ortlieb's new Frame-Pack Toptube allows you to mount the heavier items you take on your bike in a more central location, while still giving you the option to attach water bottles inside the frame.

  • Fabric - PS21R
  • Height - 13cm
  • Width - 50cm
  • Depth - 6cm
  • Volume - 4L
  • Weight - 170g

Other Thoughts

The only thing I felt was missing was a top tube bag – not a big issue but something to store a phone, cables and a multi tool would have been a nice finishing touch to the set. Ortlieb have also recently added their Cockpit Pack which does this job perfectly!

Ortlieb Cockpit Pack 0.8L

Ortlieb Cockpit Pack 0.8L

Weighing in at just 82g, the Cockpit Pack from Ortlieb is mind-blowingly practical for its size, ensuring your fuel supply is accessible with just one hand, so you can grab your favourite snack whenever you want it, without the need to stop.

  • Fabric - PS21R
  • Height - 8cm
  • Width - 8cm
  • Depth - 8cm
  • Volume - 0.8L
  • Weight - 82g

Value for Money

As with most Ortlieb products, they are not cheap. Which for me is a good thing. You get a 5 years guarantee – which is amazing – and a quality of design and manufacture that you don’t often see in other products. However, have a serious think about what you’ll be using them for and the type of riding you will be doing. You may not need the whole set or might even just need the seat pack. There is nothing wrong with mixing brands and buying packs that suit your needs.


Ortlieb have created a fantastic bike packing set – with a few modifications and perhaps an additional bag or two they will continue to be a serious contender in this relatively new market in the cycling industry.

Ortlieb Back-Roller Free Panniers review > Bike Bag and Luggage Guide > Touring Bike Guide >

The Full Range

Ortlieb Rackless Seat-Pack 11L Grey

Ortlieb Rackless Seat-Pack 11L Grey

Ortlieb's Rackless Seat Pack is a well engineered seat post mounted bike bag that is easy to attach by using the durable Velcro® straps as well as being lightweight, waterproof and delivering a load capacity of 11 litres.

  • Fabric - PS21R
  • Height - 26cm
  • Width - 40cm
  • Depth - 15cm
  • Volume - 11L
  • Weight - 325g

Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack 9L

Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack 9L

The Rackless Luggage Range from Ortlieb is a highly innovative selection of unique solutions from the iconic bike bag brand, and the Handlebar-Pack is no exception to that.

  • Fabric - PS21R
  • Height - 16cm
  • Width - 45cm
  • Depth - 16cm
  • Volume - 9L
  • Weight - 375g

Ortlieb Frame Pack Large 6L

Ortlieb Frame Pack Large 6L

Embrace minimalism on two wheels today with Ortlieb's new 6 Litre Frame-Pack. Simply attach the Frame-Pack to the top tube of your bike and you have the ideal stowage location for all of your essential tools and supplies.

  • Height - 29cm
  • Width - 50cm
  • Depth - 6cm
  • Weight - 232g
  • Volume - 6L

Ortlieb Gravel Pack QL2.1 25L Pannier Pair

Ortlieb Gravel Pack QL2.1 25L Pannier Pair

Ortlieb's Gravel Pack consists of two lowrider bike panniers for those bikepackers that require more space for further equipment during long bike tours.

  • Fabric - PS21R
  • Features - QL2.1
  • Height - 30cm
  • Width - 25cm
  • Depth - 14cm
  • Volume - 25L
  • Weight - 1160g
Shop the Ortlieb full range >

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