Ortlieb Backroller Classic Pannier
Love them or hate them if you want your stuff dry when you arrive you have to have Ortiebs.
There is a good reason why Ortlieb panniers are well regarded by touring cyclists. They provide excellent design, function and durability and are absolutely waterproof. When we took a poorly equipped last-minute tour through Bali we met monsoonal rains and had to resort to wrapping our dry set of clothes and computer in the only waterproof thing we had: our Gore-Tex jackets. Our stuff stayed mostly dry, but leakage was a constant source of stress. We longed for our Ortliebs and were very happy to have them with us on our more recent tours in Europe. Most critics of the Ortliebs prefer to have the organizational advantage of pockets other panniers provide. In the end it’s a personal preference what you choose. Read below for our full review. We will rate these panniers based on design, function, durability, and how waterproof they are.
It is clear after using these panniers that they were designed to withstand even the most rigorous tour. They are incredibly simple to use and adjust to fit any style rack. The hooks that connect the panniers to the rack are designed so that no amount of shaking or bumping can cause them to fall off. This is a huge improvement over panniers that just rest on the rack. Closing the pannier is also simple. They just need to be rolled and clipped. In addition, the trademark Ortlieb triangle on the sides of every pannier is an excellent reflector, increasing visibility when you’re on the road.
These panniers are really just a giant vessel to throw your gear in. There is a small zipper pocket to organize a few items for easy access, but their bucket-like design means you often find yourself unpacking the whole pannier just to locate the one item you’re looking for. This can be kind of annoying, but with inside organization it can be kept under control. We use color coded compression sacks to help organize our gear. One nice thing about having no pockets or compartments on the inside is that it liberates you to fit oddly shaped items in with ease. It is also convenient to secure a layer of clothing, or some other item you want easy access to, under the top strap that helps close the panniers. We strapped our map book this way a few times and it made it easy to access when we needed to reference it. The strap that secures the panniers can be used as a shoulder strap, which makes it easier to carry. Unfortunately the straps are not thick enough to distribute the weight of a heavy load comfortably if you need to carry it around for a while, but hopefully you will be spending most of your time with the pannier on the bike.
We have around 3,000km of riding on our set of panniers and there is visible wear on the back where the pannier rubs against the rack. It hasnt yet worn through. Our friend Sarah has reported that even though she has worn through the back of her Ortliebs they are still waterproof.
If you absolutely have to have your stuff dry then Ortliebs are the way to go. It can be a blessing or a curse. But for electronics or other water sensitive items that absolutely have to be dry these panniers are perfect. The curse comes in when you have wet clothes or other items. Stuffing them in your panniers means they will never dry and can even cause mold issues. This can be easily avoided by finding another way to store your wet gear (i.e. strapping it to something else). Our trailer was not water proof at all, so when we had wet stuff we just tossed it in there. If we didn’t have the trailer we would have just strapped the wet stuff to the back rack and left it, rain or shine.
I really have no complaints with these panniers. Overall I would give them a 9 out of 10. They are easy to use, durable, and waterproof. They are a bit expensive but you are paying for quality and durability. In the event of needing to replace them I would definitely buy these again.
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