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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 05-16-07, 04:14 PM   #1
Ken Wind
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Ortlieb Flight 27 backpack review

Here are some pictures and first impressions of the Ortlieb Flight backpack (rucksack). I had trouble finding any personal opinions of this bag when I was trying to decide on one, so I thought it would be nice to give mine.

Ortlieb is a well-known German company that manufactures high quality waterproof / weatherproof products such as bike panniers, backpacks, dry bags, camera cases, and various other bags and storage equipment. The Ortlieb Flight is a waterproof backpack that is designed to on and off the bike comfortably. There are two different sizes a 22 L and a 27 L bag. I have the 27 L. Some of it's features are a helmet holder, hydration bladder opening, suspended mesh back, and waterproof tizip zippers.

The main reasons I chose this bag over others is becasue I wanted a bag that was waterproof for commuting, more comfortable than a messenger bag, and it has the mesh back which will keep me cooler and less sweaty in warm weather. Some of the other backpacks I considered were the Deuter Trans Alpine 30 and a Freight Baggage backpack. While this was definitrely not the cheapest of those (that would be the Deuter Trans Alpine at $120, both the Freight and Ortlieb set you back about $200), it had all the features I wanted.

Immediately after opening the package with the bag in it, I took everything out of my Chrome Metropolis and proceeded to stuff it into the Ortlieb. The Ortlieb is smaller, but it's not considerably smaller. I like the fact that it has a large front pocket too. I'll keep tools in there.

I went around the block with the bag loaded up. It felt comfortable, but I'll reserve judgement until I've had more time with it. I'll post more pictures and impressions after using the bag more.



I'm a little over 5'10" (about 179cm), so this should give you an idea of how large the bag is. The side pockets are made of neoprene and the Kryptonite Mini just fits. I believe they are intended for water bottles.



The front view.



Here you can see the suspension system holding the bag away from my back. Most of the weight is on the bottom (lumbar) section of the bag and my shoulders when I am standing up. It is more evenly distributed across my back when on the bike. Note the chest strap can be moved up or down.



A closer view of the chest strap. The left side is bunched up a little because the bottom strap is elastic, so it has some give while you're wearing it. The top strap is there to reinforce the elastic strap, and it is the same nylon material as the strap on the right side.



The front pocket filled with some tire levers, Topeak Road Morph, Clif Bar, tube, 15mm wrench, and a Rudy Project sunglass case.



The main compartment has a box of Cheese Nips, some Q-tips, a large shampoo bottle, two bottles of lotion, a notebook, folder, long-sleeve shirt, and various other small items inside. Sorry, I don't have any large containers of alcohol to stuff in it at the moment. The total volume of the bag is 27 liters, 7.59 adorable kittens, or 1648 cubic inches.



This is a closeup of the main compartment TiZip zippers that keep the bag totally weatherproof.


If you have any questions or picture requests, I'll be happy to oblige.

I made my purchase from the online retailer wallbike.com. They have excellent customer service, and I highly recommend them.

Ortlieb Flight product page

Last edited by Ken Wind; 08-29-08 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 05-16-07, 04:21 PM   #2
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It looks like you have boob(s).
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Old 05-16-07, 04:25 PM   #3
Ken Wind
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Go ahead, make fun of my man breasts. Even if you don't say it, I know you want to touch them.
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Old 05-16-07, 04:31 PM   #4
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Hm.. nice looking bag, thanks for the writeup.

Now. What's with the labia/snake-headed thing on your shirt?
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Old 05-16-07, 04:52 PM   #5
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You know, I've been looking at that backpack daily for the last week, but waiting until I could find out more. I don't think you could have posted a more timely review, even if you tried.

I'm currently using a Chrome Citizen, and wanted to ditch it for a backpack. This pack sounds slightly bigger, and has the functionality I want. Tell me a few things, if you wouldn't mind:

- How does it feel with a heavy load? Does it stay suspended? Does the metal frame dig in at all?
- Does it have a blinky loop?
- Would you mind terribly taking a flash picture in the dark, or otherwise show the reflective bits?
- Does the hydration pocket fit a standard Camelback bladder? If not, does it come with one?

Thanks a bunch. Awesome review and pics.
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Old 05-16-07, 05:40 PM   #6
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Oddly enough, I'm also in the market for one of these bags. Can you let us know when it rains, so schnee and I can see if your stuff got wet before we buy?
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Old 05-16-07, 05:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schnee
- How does it feel with a heavy load? Does it stay suspended? Does the metal frame dig in at all?
- Does it have a blinky loop?
- Would you mind terribly taking a flash picture in the dark, or otherwise show the reflective bits?
- Does the hydration pocket fit a standard Camelback bladder? If not, does it come with one?


I was wearing the bag, with all that stuff in it, for 20-30 minutes around the house and it never felt uncomfortable. It was comfortable during the quick ride that I did too. I'll need some more time to tell you for sure though. I pushed my hand into the mesh suspension as hard as I could and it still didn't touch the metal frame, so I don't think that will ever be a problem. I just noticed that there is a velcro strap going down the middle of the back (pictured above) to tighten or loosen the suspension as you see fit. Very cool.



This is the blinky loop.



This was taken with the flash in almost total darkness.



Unfortunately a very small portion of the reflective material has already come off as you can see. This leads me to believe that it will wear off easily.




The hydration port has a cap on the inside, and it is made of a hard rubber material. The material has a little stretch to it, but not much. You will probably only be able to get a hose through it, so if the Camelbak hose isn't detachable from the bag (or if the bite valve doesn't come off), you won't be able to get it through there. I'm using a Deuter 2 L bladder with mine because it doesn't come with a bladder. The Deuter bladder probably isn't ideal for this bag because the bite valve doesn't come off, so I have to leave the reservoir in the backpack when I fill it.

Last edited by Ken Wind; 05-16-07 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 05-16-07, 05:48 PM   #8
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Do you work for obrliet?
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Old 05-16-07, 05:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SD Fixed
Do you work for obrliet?
No, I already pointed out a flaw in the design of the bag, and I mentioned it's expensive. I also miss the pen pockets on my Chrome Metropolis. Why would you ask that?
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Old 05-16-07, 05:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Wind
No, I already pointed out a flaw in the design of the bag, and I mentioned it's expensive. I also miss the pen pockets on my Chrome Metropolis. Why would you ask that?
Don't go on the defensive, I just wondered, not much else. It was quiet the detailed report ~ you should write for periodicals, you've got a talent for it.
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Old 05-16-07, 06:22 PM   #11
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Definitely. You also just sold me on the bag. Thanks for the info and pictures, they really helped.

Only thing I'm debating is the gray or mustard yellow... a bit more understated, or visible. I'm leaning towards visible.
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Old 05-16-07, 06:31 PM   #12
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This Japanese site has the best pictures I've seen of them if you want to compare.

http://www.selectit.jp/item_acce/xpa...eb-flight.html

I'll definitely report back on the waterproofness. Something else to keep in mind is that the TiZip zippers take some force to open. Apparently they need lube frequently, which is included with the bag. I was worried about this at first, but then I realized that Ortlieb uses them on a lot of their products. I couldn't find any major complaints about the zippers online.

Last edited by Ken Wind; 05-16-07 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 05-16-07, 06:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
if the Camelbak hose isn't detachable from the bag (or if the bite valve doesn't come off), you won't be able to get it through there.
FYI, on my Camelbak the bite valve comes off.
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Old 05-16-07, 08:24 PM   #14
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Thanks for the detailed review. I have been wanting to get a waterproof backpack and was considering one from the Chrome line. Did you consider something like the Chrome Ranchero? I'm particularly interested in finding out if the suspension design actually does allow your back to stay cooler.
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Old 05-16-07, 09:21 PM   #15
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Honestly, I didn't really consider the Chrome. I don't like the shape of their messenger backpacks. The Freight Baggage backpack, although more expensive, seems to be a better designed bag for various reasons. I like the idea of having a water reservoir in my bag too (something both of those bags lack), even though I've never used one before. I like my Chrome Metropolis, but I wouldn't buy any of their bags now because there are better alternatives that fit my needs.
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Old 05-16-07, 09:24 PM   #16
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sweet shirt.
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Old 06-20-07, 10:46 AM   #17
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thanks for this review. i got in an accident recently and my neck & shoulder have been giving me problems, so wearing my freight messenger bag is doing a number on me. i think i'm going to try and sell or trade it and get this.
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Old 06-21-07, 11:13 PM   #18
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thanks for the review. i agree with the other posters, you did a pretty professional writeup. i have a few questions:

1) have you tried putting a laptop in it?
2) the japanese product site has a picture of a mesh helmet holder. is this included?

Last edited by levity; 06-21-07 at 11:27 PM.
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Old 06-22-07, 05:55 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle!
sweet shirt.
Vintage T shirts seem to be the thing around town. I had an Atari shirt from WAY BACK WHEN (yeah, I'm old) and some guy paid me 50 bucks cash at Home Depot.

I went home without a shirt, but 50 dollars in hand.

Crazy.

It wasn't even clean...
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Old 06-22-07, 06:05 AM   #20
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Yea, how about an updated review now that you have had it over a month? Does it prevent sweaty back syndrome?
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Old 06-22-07, 07:28 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SD Fixed
Vintage T shirts seem to be the thing around town. I had an Atari shirt from WAY BACK WHEN (yeah, I'm old) and some guy paid me 50 bucks cash at Home Depot.

I went home without a shirt, but 50 dollars in hand.

Crazy.

It wasn't even clean...
I hear that fixed gear bikes are popular now, too.
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Old 06-22-07, 08:40 AM   #22
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I've been using it to commute by bike to work for over a month. My route is 39 miles round trip, I do it twice a week, working up to 3x.

The bag rocks. Here are my thoughts, good and bad.
- The zippers take some effort to open and close, but with some practice it becomes easy. I have the sense I can almost go swimming with this thing and everything inside will be dry.
- The suspended back thingy reduces back sweat better than any other backpack / bag I've ever had. It's shocking to go back to a lightly-loaded Chrome and feel the difference.
- The waist strap is the best thing ever. All the weight is carried on the hips. Very little on the shoulders. It unfortunately falls right on the top of my jersey pockets, so I usually have to work a bit to get stuff out of them. Very stable, only bounces around a bit when I'm at my fastest RPM and I have bad form.
- I usually leave the shoulders fairly loose when standing, so it's snug when I'm tucked over the bike. When I'm really in an aero tuck flying down a hill, the back of my helmet bumps the top of the backpack, it's annoying but not a show-stopper.
- I'm 6'-3", so my clothes are big, and I can fit shoes, jeans, long-sleeved shirt, socks, underwear, big shower towel, dop kit, extra jersey, extra socks, wallet, keys, etc. in the main compartment and it's still ready for more.
- The outside vertical pocket fits a mini morph, spare inner tube, multi-tool, levers, and two sets of sunglasses, and still has room. Stuff tends to collect at the bottom, but if you pack it right, it's fine.
- The blinky loop on the bottom makes the pack a bit harder to stand up straight when it's on the ground. I call it an OK trade-off for having the blinky in the perfect place when riding.
- The outer shell is tough, and holds it's shape well. It's definitely more rigid because of the waterproofing.
- The stretchy outside pockets are really high up and difficult to get to when riding, so I use them to hold extra food and Gu packets.

Hope that helps.

- It fits my Macbook and padded sleeve just fine.
- The mesh helmet thing is included. It folds into a pocket. I always forget to use it.
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Old 06-22-07, 12:16 PM   #23
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After using the backpack for several weeks on and off the bike I still like it, but there are aspects of the bag I dislike.

The waist belt should be detachable. I just got back from a trip to SF, and I didn't have a bike while I was there. My primary means of transportation were muni and walking, so the waist strap was just annoying most of the time. The lumbar padding is essential to the design of the bag, but if the waist strap threaded through that, being able to take it off would be nice.

Due to the suspension system frame of the backpack the rear inside portion of the bag is curved inwards. I don't like it, but it's unavoidable because of the way the suspesion system is designed. Unlike a messenger bag or messenger-style backpack you can't pack this bag to capacity if you have a lot of heavy things with rigid shapes. I bought a couple school books yesterday which weighed about 20-30 lbs (roughly 10-14 Kg). They made the bag difficult to close, distorting the shape of back panel from curved to flat (basically flattening the spring steel frame). This made it extremely uncomfortable on the bike because there was a piece of the frame pressed against the middle of my back.

There are redeeming qualities I've noticed too.

Adjustability is superb on this backpack. The above picture of the velcro strap under the mesh panel shows that the bag can be adjusted to fit a wide range of people. I previoulsy stated (incorrectly) that this strap tightens the mesh on the back. That strap is actually connected to the shoulder straps, which are thread through a part of the frame. It is used to adjust the shoulder strap length in conjuction with the front shoulder strap ends. Although it's not something you need to change after you find a good spot for it. The mesh panel is actually tightened or loosened with a horizontal strap attached to a buckle that can be found underneath the lumbar padding.

I still haven't had a real oppurtunity to test the bag's waterproofness. I was in a light rain with it and nothing got wet, but like schnee said, you could probably submerge this thing and it would be fine. I just went outside, turned on the hose, and soaked it for about two minutes. There wasn't any water inside afterwards.

The suspesion system works well while riding. It's not amazing, but it does alright. After getting off the bike it provides a considerable difference. When I've just finished riding is usually when I get the sweatiest because my body is trying to cool down, but there is no more wind to keep it cool. While I was using the backpack in SF my back never got soaked in sweat like it would have with a normal backpack. I did still get some sweat marks on my shoulders and lumber region (where the paddding is) on one occasion, but I was running / rushing to meet someone when that happened.

The mesh helmet holder in the bottom pocket is a nice feature. I used it to carry a light package that was too big to fit in the bag one day (not it's intended use, but it worked well). The helmet holder can be left out all the time too. It won't interfere with the rear pocket too much because the pocket opens vertically.

Last edited by Ken Wind; 10-27-07 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 06-24-07, 03:08 PM   #24
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I have a question for the people that own this bag. I'm currently trying to decide between the 22 and 27 liter models and I was wondering whether people felt that this bag was awkward to carry when it wasn't fully loaded. Can it be compressed? For the OP, does it feel too tall at all? (we are about the same height is why I'm asking)

When using my Freight messenger bag, it felt fairly unwieldy at times. While I liked that I could fill it up with lots of groceries and whatnot, I didn't like that it was a pain in the butt to bring into a bar or any place that is crowded, which is everywhere in NYC, even when I didn't have much inside the bag

So I'm leaning towards the 22 L bag. My experience bicycle touring seems to have taught me that I carry too much when I have the opportunity to carry it, so maybe it's best to cut that option off at the beginning.

Thanks for any help.
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Old 06-25-07, 02:43 PM   #25
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The waterproof coating on the inside gives the backpack a rigid shape. It doesn't compress very well. It's desgined to be aerodynamic, so it is tall, thin, and deep. The height has never been a problem, but the way the bag can stick out was annoying, especially on the bus or in a crowded place. I'm not usually in situations like that though, which may have been the reason I noticed it. Keep in mind that the 27 L is only 2 cm (0.8 inches) deeper than the 22 L.

.pdf link for Ortlieb Flight specs
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