I have been checking out these panniers for a while now and I was wondering if anyone has any experience with them?
I have not used panniers in the past, so I am pretty green when it comes down to it. One of my main concerns would be foot clearance on the rear bags. I wear a size 13 (48UK) so there is alot of foot flying around down there. How can I tell if there will be enough clearance?
thanks for any help or recommendations.
I don't have Ortliebs--everyone seems to say good things about them. I've thought about getting a set; I currently have Arkel stuff.
I imagine some of the question of heel clearance will involve the length of your chainstays as much as the design of the rack and panniers. What kind of bike is it and how long are the stays?
One thing you might do is to get the dimensions of the Ortliebs and make a cardboard cut-out, mount them with zip-ties or something to your rack and get a friends to tell you if your heel is overlapping the cardboard.
Baysell from ebay is the same as Wayne from thetouringstore.com. Almost everyone who has bought panniers and/or racks from him has nothing but good things to say about him. He is very knowledgeable about the products he sells. You ought to give him a call and ask him about your concerns. I bought some Ortliebs and Tubus racks from him. I know there is a way that you can adjust the QL2 mounting system so that it connects to the back of the pannier at an angle so that when attached to the rack you have more heel clearance.
You may well have problems with paniers of any type with the sleds you have for feet. If you don't have a touring bike with long stays, you could have problems. There are solutions though, from shifting the paniers to the rear, to installing brackets that move the rack to the rear. I would probably just buy the paniers if I wanted them, and then just do what I had to to mount them. The cutaway is more important than raw panier size. My feet occasionally hit the smal front paniers when I mount them on the rear rack, because even though half the size, they are square and catch my big feet more.
I just bought a pair of the Ortlieb Bikepacker Plus rear panniers (from thetouringstore.com) a couple of months ago. That particular model of rear panniers is quite adjustable in terms of where they sit along the rear rack, so you're probably less likely to have clearance problems than with other rear panniers. I've already used them on a trip. Overall, I'm fairly happy with the panniers, but to be honest, I think the mounting system is a little over-engineered. I had minor problems with 2 of the 4 plastic mounting pieces, too. They did, however, keep my stuff dry in one intense tropical downpour.
I just found out that the minor problem I said I had with my new Ortliebs was not a problem at all. It was my own fault. (I wasn't pushing hard enough when I was setting the hook position.)
I'll add to all of the praise that Wayne & thetouringstore.com have received in this forum for excellent service.
Punk Rock Lives
Originally Posted by BLM
My recommendation? DON'T BUY ORTLIEB. I took them on my world tour to make sure i tetsed them over a LONG time and a LOT of different conditions, and they fail the test. You do NOT WANT waterproof panniers. Think moisture from outside will never get in? You are wrong. Think moisture on the inside (damp clothes/wet clothes) will ever get out in time to avoid mildew? Wrong again! You'll use just as many plastic bags with ortlieb (to keep your dry stuff dry from the moisture trapped inside the bag) as you would with bags that cost 1/5 as much.
Size 14 feet here (no lascivious comments, please) and you have to pull the bags way back using an antiquated strap/hing attachment system to avoid hitting it.
The bags are heavy and overpriced. Get a good pair of regular bags...mine are from Nashbar...and you'll do fine.
Roughstuff, since you bought your Ortliebs, the attachment system has been redone. And they are "over-priced" because they were not put together by 15 year old Chinese kids. They are manufactured in Heilsbronn by employees receiving fair wages. I haven't had enough experience with them myself yet, but I imagine you are absolutely correct about the downside to "waterproof" panniers. Something I'll have to keep in mind.
I agree with jcwitte the panniers are of exceptional quality. There are many combinations of where to put the brackets and angles to have your pannier excatly where you want them. Tottaly waterproof and so easy to put on and off. Its important to read the instructions as you pull the carrier to clip the pannier on and off.
It is also very important not to get the inside wet as suggested by Roughstuff. I have never had a problem as I put my wet stuff in a palstic bag seal it tight before it has to go in the pannier, same for food stuff with moisture. I would not buy anything else. It is well made and I think you will only buy this once as it will last. Anyhow if I do have to travell with wet stuff it goes on the rear rack in a little net so it gets blow dried, if its raining then in a plactic bag but on the rear rack. What clinched it for is this guys said he bought ortillebe 10 years ago and toured all over the planet with it and reckoned it was still good for another 10 years.
I used Ortleib front and rear bags on a long tour through Australia. It didn't rain much so they weren't tested thoroughly from that point of view, but being watertight and also airtight does mean that they act as useful floats should you drop your bike in the river, which is what happened to my friend on the same trip! Apart from that, they worked fine as things to keep your kit in, but the clips at the bottom of the bags were hopeless at staying on the racks (can't remember what make the racks were), so we ended up having to use bungies and wire to keep them in place as we bounced along the rough tracks. Even on a bit of rippled tarmac they came unclipped. The bags were okay, but it was a bad bag/rack combination. Also, think about whether or not you want pockets, which you can't have on a fully waterproof bag. You can see some photos of the bags in Australia at www.red-line.moonfruit.com.
Ortliebs are great. If you're worried about, fit, etc., just buy them from somewhere with a good return policy and try them out. Wayne at the touring store was very cool about letting me return something. REI also sells ortlieb.
Very well built. Waterproof.
I use Ortliebs backrollers on both front and back racks. I have size 11 feet and found that I had to slide the rear bags back to make sure that I could pedal easily. I do have a touring bike and the geometry might be different. But, checking the bags before buying then is a great idea. Either take your bike and rack to the store and fit them on or buy them from a place like REI where you can get a refund if you want.
As regards REI, I recently returned a pair of cycling shorts that never did fit me that I had purchased 18 months earlier. They took them no questions asked. That kind of service builds loyalty.
i have not tested this myself yet, but when I was talking to wayne at the touring store about choosing between lone peak and ortlieb panniers, he had some interesting things to say about waterproofness. i'd want to preface it by saying that i was going ot buy a set of equally priced panniers from him either way, so it's not like he had to twist the truth to upsell anything.
Originally Posted by jcwitte
he pointed out that if you put something wet into ANY bag, even one with good ventilation, you will need to put it in a plastic bag to keep it from getting other stuff wet. which puts it in a watertight, warm place - same problem as one would worry about with the ortliebs. all it comes down to is that no matter what, stuff will need to be aired out / dried as expediently and thoroughly as possible in any situation to prevent it from getting kind of ripe, and if you're stuck in a weeklong downpour where wet things are crammed into the bags all the time and don't have a chance to dry it doesn't matter WHAT bag you have - they'll get kinda gross. all of this made a whole lot of sense to me, so i got the ortliebs - i'll let you know what i thought of them once i've taken them on my summerlong tour.
Punk Rock Lives
Ahh..thanks for that info. Also I understand your concern with fair traded panniers!
Originally Posted by jcwitte
I am glad you got my major point: you do not want your panniers to be waterproof. You want them to be breatheable so that your stuff doesn't rot in the hot sun after a prolonged rainy stretch. Remember, you are gonna have stuf which gets wet, and when you put that wet stuff in your ortlieb, you have moisture for the duration. Ortlieb barks endlessly that their panniers mean 'you won't need plastic bags.' The hell ya don't! Ya need plastic bags for your WET STUFF (to separate it from dry stuff in your pannier) and ya need plastic bags for your DRY Stuff (to prevent it getting all soggy from the moisture escaping from the wet stuff, unable to escape thru the waterproof bag.)
I have a multipage discussion of the non-joys of owning Ortlieb on my webpage: Ortlieb Sucks.
Punk Rock Lives
This is not correct. When the weather is good I have my wet material (from say, the previous days rains) loose in my pannier on top if the dry stuff, which I put in a plastic bag. The wet stuff warms up in the pannier, and dries out thru the breatheable fabric. The dry stuff stays dry in its own sac. I might add that panniers with double zippers (my ortliebs had this antedeluvian snap-and-fold system) you can open the zipper a bit and the air streaming by will help dry your stuff as well.
Originally Posted by srrs
You are correct about the floundering that occurs in a sustained stretch of rainy weather. I dealt with Hurricane Mitch in 1998 in Nicaragua, and it was not a pleasant experience. EVerything ended up wet anyway...so i saw no advantage to Ortliebs at all. Thank god it was warm enough that I could ride soaking wet without freezin' to death!
well, i guess i'll get the chance to figure out which i like - i've got a pair of breathable panniers for the front and a pair of ortliebs for the back... my plan is to keep dry stuff that needs to stay dry in the ortliebs and if something gets wet to stick it in the front or clip it to the back rack so it can dry there. we'll see if it works!
Originally Posted by Roughstuff
I have heard this complaint for awhile now about water proof panniers and I do not understand it. I don't have experience with panniers but I have experience with backpacks that were not waterproof. In my opinion/experience if you put anything wet or damp into any kind of a bag for an extented period of time you are going to have problems. Common camping procedure is to air dry stuff as much as possible as soon as possible before packing it away. Although I should add that I have never backpacked in a rainforest so I don't know what you would do in that situation.
Originally Posted by Roughstuff
I use Ortlieb Classics (front), and I love the fact they are water proof. Almost all of my clothing goes in there, and they've never gotten wet--not even in VA and KY where it sometimes rained heavily. I did not have to put the clothing in plastic bags to keep things dry.
On the other hand, I put any already-wet clothing in plastic bags to keep them separate from the dry stuff (well duh).
It's great how easy it is to attach and detach (just pull the strap) the Ortliebs from my Old Mountain Man rack (great rack).
My rear panniers are from REI and cost only $90, roughly. I've toured with them for more than 3,500 miles, and they held up almost perfectly. Nothing broke, and they're large enough to hold almost anything. However, they didn't come with rain covers, which is strange but true. Stuff that had to be kept dry I'd either put it in my front Ortliebs, or put the item in a plastic bag and then in the rear panniers. Overall, I've never had a problem with something important getting wet in driving rainstorms.
I think my experiences with the REIs says something good about certain "cheap" panniers; you don't have to spend a fortune for all your touring gear.
David in PA
Otlieb is like a lot of things, they appear to be absolutely fantastic, but when you step back it is basically one feature - waterproofness, just about everything else about them is not as good as other panniers. Waterproofness is not actually a problem with regular panniers, so buying Otliebs is kinda stupid. I cycled through a week of solid rain, and fairly serious wind last fall, and my cordura panniers were fine. Just don't buy them with lots of seams. Otliebs don't have lots of seams, one really can't compare some monstrosity with a millions zippers and pockets to Otlieb on waterproofness. Get some simple panniers. If you are expecting rain, and who isn't, get some covers, though I don't have covers, but I may make them just to be on the safe side, I've used them backpacking and they are great. My Seratus only leaked in one of the rear pockets where I kept stuff that was unaffected. My seratus were not new but at least 15 years old. never been seam sealed. So there are still things I can do to improve even their performance.
The thing I most want to keep dry is my sleeping bag, and I keep it in it's stuff sac, inside a garbage bag, no Otlieb for it. Dry as a bone.
I take seriously what Roughstuff says, since he did a world tour which includes, I assume, some places with pretty different weather. Even if Otliebs were the best pannier for places like Northern Ireland were it can be cold and rain all day for a year, it might not work out as well in a high humidity jungle areas where ventilation might be a bigger issue.
On the waterproof pannier stuff there are a lot of folks coming out with Otlieb variants. There is REI (not new maybe...), MEC, some other brand my local store is selling off the Otlieb for. Seems like there will be lots of choice.
I just got through reading Robert Beckman's package, which is dozens of pages about his panniers. Sure makes other people's panniers sound a little ridiculous, or course it is more than a little problem that the Beckman's are such a long wait. The irony is that after wadding through page after page of stuff on how great Beckman panniers and racks are (the racks look awesome), his 2006 update is all about ultra light camping for which you need minimal panniers (basically you don't need his). What an emotional whipsaw, like one of the movies where the serial killer turns out to be the hero. Back to my Seratus.
While I don't really care about having great panniers, Beckman is nuts over them, and he does point out a lot of ways in which what we all accept is pretty bad stuff. The attachment system on my seratus is really good, designed for mountain bike touring, yet I have had them come off And certainly the racks are so bad as a platform that the panniers don't really have a chance. Did open my eyes to a lot of things, that while I can live with them, are more important. Waterproofness is actually something you can deal with industrially without having to deal with the fact that racks and panniers would be a whole lot better if they actually fit, didn't come off, didn't rattle, were sized for the user, didn't get in the way of the brakes or the cyclist's body, etc... So I don't think Otlieb/waterproofness is so fantastic as much as it is the one thing that everyone worries and is easy to fix without overturning the cookie cutter solution applecart. Beckman goes on and on about a lot of detail that doesn't interest me, just not as passionate, but the basic point about how low the platform is, I find pretty convincing. Beckman is so passionate about it that it isn't an exaggeration to say that he builds racks so the panniers will have somewhere to go, and bikes so that he will have somewhere to put the racks. Unlike the rest of us who buy a bike, then try to figure out how to attach stuff to it without getting it caught in the spokes.
Attachment... That's what's important to me...I have issues!
Soggy or bone dry, packs are useless if they wobble off the rack at the first sign of a bumpy road. And when I am ready to take them off the rack I don't want fifteen minutes of arm-wrestling with straps, clips, or duct tape.
My Ortliebs adjust -remarkable so- and clip firmly to my rack. When the road gets rough, the hinged lip holds the pack in place. And when I want them off I lift the strap and -viola- both hinges release, giving me my pack without my bike connected. I have another brand of packs that turn me into a raging, furious lunatic (those issues) every time I try to take them off the bike.
And for those of us who consider ourselves cheapskates (me) Ortliebs hold their value. Check out the used price for Ortliebs on eBay. They sell -second hand- for about the same price you can get them new from thetouringstore.com. At that rate you could buy a brand new set for each and every tour, sell them at the end, and start all over with clean new packs for the next.
Around the World in a Volkswagen
I guess I'm an Ortlieb fan. Like anything they have their flaws. I live/tour in the PNW and have also toured a very rainy Ireland, Wales and England. I want water proofness in my panniers.
I got the cordura Bike Packer Plus rears and the codura Front Roller Plus in the front. I also got two of the add on Outer Bags for the rear of the rear bags. They cannot be added to the front due to heel clearance. I got the handlebar bag too.
For my tent, poles and air mattress, I got one of their Rack Pack roller bags. I cut the handles in the middle, added click buckles to each of the four ends, and added two web straps to each of the rear panniers with matching click buckles. The adjustable male buckles are on the panniers. This allows me to attach and release the Rack Pack in seconds. It mounts long wise with the rack, not across the rack like Ortlieb shows. I highly recommend this. Ortlieb has a saddle bag adapter kit that will supply you the buckles.
If you look at the Bike Packer style bags, you will see there are outside mesh pockets. The handlebar bag has one too. That's were I put my wet clothes to dry. Or not, if its raining. But not in the bag. Wad wet stuff into a bag, any bag, and leave it until it can mildew and it will mildew. While camping in the VI, I found out that can take about a day.
On my Blackburn racks, the front rollers rattled. If you ride around the world listening to that, you will hate Ortliebs. But I took some rubber hose, split it and glued/zip tied it to where the lower hook grabs the rack and the noise was gone. But I was still unhappy because the ease of removal/replacement was hampered with. Tubus racks ended this hassle. Either I adjusted them right or the tube thickness is right, but they rattle no more. Never had one fall off. Love the quick on off features especially the one I added. The new system is supposed to be better.
The "big sack" problem. It's true, that's what these bags are, big sacks. They have no cool compartments in them that are never the right size anyway. I use my fronts for clothes, and put stuff at the bottom I don't need much. Tools other then the pocket thing, First aid kit, water purifier (in areas you need it) etc.
In the rears I use those organizers bags you find at camp stores. Cooking stuff bag, toiletries bag, stove and stove stuff bag, etc. It has all seemed to work well and I like to stop and brew coffee once in awhile, and stow the groceries in the rear pack. No problems.
One other thing. I had a suger container open in the rear bag once. Oh God, what a mess. Thankfully the Ortlieb sealed bag was cleaned very easily with a sponge and a towel.
On the down side, my cordura bags have faded to the point where the tops are an ugly scruffy looking yellow. Thieves probably ignore the impoverised looking things. Oh, and the little blue Ortlieb sticker that says "made in Germany" has mostly worn off. The original map pocket turned so yellow I could not see the map. The exspensive replacement will not yellow, they say.
They have these new "pockets" that you can retro fit inside the bags. 12 bucks each.
At this point, my Ortliebs have served me to the point I don't even bother looking at other panniers. If I were to change anything, I might get packer style for the front (for the outside pockets) rather then the roller style.....but now they are all faded evenly and I'm basically happy with the rollers in front. I would not like rollers in the rear too, I think. I pack these things drum tight but sometimes do like the compression straps on the Packer. No failures so far.
No zippers is the Ortlieb's BEST feature, IMO. Personally I don't like zippers. I have an uncanny ability to jam and break the thinks.
I like the bags, but it seems to me that depending on all kinds of personal preferences, habits, methods and locals you may prefer in the way you travel, camp, etc these might be the wrong bags for you totally.