I recently purchased a set of Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers for use on tours, on commutes when I need to take clothes etc into the office and possibly for shopping expeditions.
I purchased the Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus Panniers from Evans Cycles for AU$161.32 delivered. As per past experience the service from Evans Cycles was very good with the panniers only taking a few days to arrive.
In the past week I got to use the Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus Panniers in anger on a four-day bicycle tour through the Darling Ranges so here is my update on the panniers.
Specifications of the Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus Panniers
The Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers are one of the more expensive pannier options in the Ortlieb range as they are made of a PU-coated Cordura fabric referred to as PS36 which is PVC free. They also use the QL2 mounting system which maybe considered a better quality system than the QL1. Personally I prefer the QL2 mounting system over the QL1.
The capacity of the panniers are 40 litres (pair) and they have a reported weight of 2070 grams (pair). I found that the weighed in for me at 2044 grams.
Other features of the panniers include:
- Lid with compression straps as opposed to a roll-top closure;
- Inner pocket;
- Internal dust flap;
- Waterproof outer pockets;
- Rotatable anchoring hook and elliptical hook rail to hook the panniers to a rack;
- Base feet;
- 3M Scotchlite reflectors;
- Shoulder straps for carrying the panniers off the bike;
- Suitable for pannier racks up to 16 mm in diameter;
- 8 mm and 10 mm reduction insert are provided to allow for mounting to racks smaller in diameter.
Performance of the Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus Panniers
As mentioned above I used the Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers on my recent a four-day ride of the Darling Range and hence my comments below reflect in the main what I learnt during this ride.
Fitting the panniers: As both the Extrawheel Voyager racks and the Tubus Cargo Expedition rear rack on my Surly Long Haul Trucker are small diameter racks I did need to fit the 10mm reduction inserts. This was fairly straight forward process and now means the panniers clip on to the racks easily but firmly. No rattle is noticeable that is for sure.
Similar the QL2 anchoring hook and elliptical hook rail is such that it fits the racks firmly. I do like the amount of adjustability that QL2 system provides. This ensures the panniers are securely connected to the racks.
The QL2 system is one of the aspects that really sells me on these panniers.
Using the Waterproof Outer Pocket: I initially had my doubts about the pockets to be honest. They are not very deep and they narrow towards the bottom, so don’t provide a nice more functional rectangle shape. That said I actually found them useful for carrying maps and my note-book in one and a book in the other. So I can now see them being handy for maps, documents and the like. That is things that are fairly flat and which I want easy access to but also want to keep dry.
Accessing the pockets involves loosening off the compression straps at each side of the pocket. Not an overly simple process but not a big issue either. That said, maybe not something I would like to be doing repeatedly during the day!
Using the Inner Pocket Sleeve: The Bike-Packer Plus comes with an inner pocket which is in two parts. A deep inner pocket which has no zip or closure and a smaller netting pocket with a zip. I use the deep inner pocket to hold my Asus eePC R051PX Netbook which is kept in a Belkin Honeycomb Clamshell case for protection. I find the package fits well and the pocket holds the netbook firmly against the inside of the pannier. So far this has worked well. I haven’t used the other panniers’ pocket as yet and I am not sure that I will.
Using the internal dust flap: The Bike-Packer Plus comes with a â€œtwo stageâ€ internal dust flap. That is there is an inner flap to tension up and then a second outer flap to tension up. I hope that makes sense! Anyway, I actually find this quite useful and a good feature as it provides an extra layer of protection and allows for top of the pannier to be closed up before closing the lid. As the roads where not that dusty (recent rain) I have yet to test their effectiveness as to keeping out the dust.
Loading up the panniers: The pair of Bike-Packer Plus panniers have a capacity of 40 litres. On my recent ride I really didn’t push the capacity of the panniers but having said that I did find that they loaded up easily. I had one pannier loaded with my netbook, cooking system, other camp gear (not tent or sleeping gear) and my camp sandals and I still had room to add a bit more gear. I cannot see it being a problem taking my camping gear in one pannier.
I used the other pannier to hold my food for the four days and again I really didn’t push the limits of the pannier. I cannot see myself having a problem packing in carefully seven to 10 days of food, maybe even 14 days of food.
Overall I found the Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers easy to pack. My only niggle is that the lid has little give in it so it is important to make use of the internal dust flaps to pull the top of the panniers in tight to allow for the lid.
Waterproofness: The key question I suspect.
It is now summer time here in Western Australia so rain is not that common, however I have had a chance to use the panniers in a bit of rain and they came through just fine. In fairness, I haven’t used them as yet in a sustained decent downpour so would prefer to reserve judgement on this aspect. Having completed a 3,000 km tour in winter using the panniers where I did ride in a few downpours/wet days I have been very happy with their performance in the rain. I have not experienced any issues with them leaking. They seem to be as good as the Ortlieb Front-Roller Classic panniers I had previously.
Other features: The Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers have a few other neat little features.
The first of these are the reflectors. These are made of 3M Scotchlite material and from what I observed wandering around camp using my headlamp, they are quite effective.
The Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers have feet on the bottom and a protective strip on the edge. I haven’t used the panniers enough to decide how effective these are in terms of protecting the panniers but I did find that they help “sit” the pannier for packing so a tick from me so far.
The panniers also come with shoulder straps but as I haven’t used these I cannot comment further.
Future changes: Following my recent ride with the Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers I have decided to fit a pair of Ortlieb Bottle cages. Mainly to allow me to carry (I hope) one litre bottles of methylated spirits on the outside of the panniers rather than the inside.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of the Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus Panniers
- The QL2 system is one aspect that really sells me on these panniers;
- Easy to pack
- Good capacity at 40 litres;
- Outer pockets handy for carrying maps etc;
- Internal pocket sleeve is useful for carrying my netbook;
- Internal dust flaps;
- Base feet â€“ panniers sit nicely for packing;
- They look good!
- One niggle I have is that the lid has very little give in it so it is important to make use of the internal dust flaps to pull the top of the panniers in tight to allow for the lid;
- Not sure of the value of the shoulder straps;
- Would like to be able to remove the internal pocket/sleeve.
These are great panniers. They fit well, they travel well on the racks and they pack well. So far I am very impressed with them and I feel paying the extra for the QL2 mounting system and the Cordura material was worth it.