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Old 11-01-12, 10:41 AM   #1
huie
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My Ortlieb Panniers leak

I've done a fair bit of googling but haven't come up with much.

My Ortlieb Roller Plus panniers have maybe 20,000km of hard kilometers on them with scorching sun and torrential rains but they show almost no wear and look fantastic. They used to completely impervious to water but now when it rains they get damp. Like I said they look great and I can't see any holes in the material or the inside coating.

Has anyone ever experienced this? Besides spending a couple hundred dollars for new panniers do you know what to do?

I wondered about spraying the outside of the bag with some type of water repellent. Any ideas on how this would work or what to use?

Thanks.
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Old 11-01-12, 10:56 AM   #2
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reverse of inner tubes, fill the bag with water, and see where the leak is..

Consider that you may not have closed them right, and the bag is fine,.. IDK..

Plus fabric liner, is a Polyurethane coating, maybe Seam sealer will plug micro leaks..
check MEC.. (or REI, if the other Vancouver)

I got Plastidip, the tool handle stuff to stick well to Cordura nylon with the
thinner coating..

Ortlieb orders a Custom Thicker coating, that is also the seam glue.

the classic is a PVC.. like Rubber Boat stuff ..
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Old 11-01-12, 11:19 AM   #3
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I've been using a pair of back roller classics about 5 years/35K kms that are now leaking. In my case the cause is fairly obvious as there are visible splits in the fabric. In their defense these bags have been used pretty much daily for that time and tend to get heavily overloaded on a regular basis; so really I have no complaints and feel I've had my money's worth from them. For the time being they're being used in conjunction with heavy duty garbage bags to keep my stuff dry. But ultimately I will likely replace them with another identical pair.
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Old 11-01-12, 08:49 PM   #4
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Besides spending a couple hundred dollars for new panniers do you know what to do?
You do nothing because you should have planned for minor leakage from the day one. Nothing that is subjected to abuse stays waterproof. Also, every time you open a pannier in the rain to get something out, you allow water in. Or you might store something wet inside the pannier (fresh food, water bladders, damp clothing) which brings in moisture. All your food should all be in OPSaks, your books/maps/electronics should be in Aloksaks, and your clothing/sleep gear should be synthetic. Or if clothing/sleep gear is down, you should have a bail-out plan in place. You replace the panniers when leakage is major or they are so worn that they threaten to fall apart completely.
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Old 11-01-12, 10:13 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by revelo View Post
You do nothing because you should have planned for minor leakage from the day one. Nothing that is subjected to abuse stays waterproof. Also, every time you open a pannier in the rain to get something out, you allow water in. Or you might store something wet inside the pannier (fresh food, water bladders, damp clothing) which brings in moisture. All your food should all be in OPSaks, your books/maps/electronics should be in Aloksaks, and your clothing/sleep gear should be synthetic. Or if clothing/sleep gear is down, you should have a bail-out plan in place. You replace the panniers when leakage is major or they are so worn that they threaten to fall apart completely.
Re-waterproofing them would seem to be the better idea.
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Old 11-01-12, 10:40 PM   #6
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Eventually everything breaks.
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Old 11-02-12, 01:12 AM   #7
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Stand on a busy sidewalk in the bright sunshine. Pull the pannier over your head and turn in circles, looking for points of light...

Either that, or the afore mentioned water test.
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Old 11-02-12, 03:37 AM   #8
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If you don't find any holes, it might just be condensation if it's just damp and not really wet. Especially if you're in a humid climate and the temperature goes down considerably when it rains.
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Old 11-02-12, 08:36 AM   #9
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Thanks for the suggestions. I think first I'll try to test it like a tube. Fill the bag with water and put in water to look for bubbles. I'd try the sunshine test except there won't be any bright light around these parts for months.

From fietsbob's suggestion if I find leaks I'll try to use this to seal leaks and this to shed water from the bag.
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Old 11-02-12, 11:53 AM   #10
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Just use a bright flashlight in a dark room to look for wear and holes. Repair it with aqua-seal. We use that method for waders, dry suits, etc.

Filling the bag with water might be too much weight for the bag's seems or supports. One cubic foot or water weighs ~62 pounds.
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Old 11-05-12, 01:15 PM   #11
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Just use a bright flashlight in a dark room to look for wear and holes. Repair it with aqua-seal. We use that method for waders, dry suits, etc.

Filling the bag with water might be too much weight for the bag's seems or supports. One cubic foot or water weighs ~62 pounds.
this seams (sic) prudent. Ive filled an old Ortlieb to about third full to check for a hole in a tube once and that was fine, but it seems to me that the flashlight in a dark room should work very well also. Makes sense that some Seam-Seal should do the trick.
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Old 11-05-12, 01:32 PM   #12
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If you can't actually find a hole or seam that is split, it could even be that you need to re-treat them with a DWR, like Granger's, should probably help. Gore-tex and other waterproof-breathable jackets need to be cleaned every year or so depending on use, and then have the waterproofing reapplied. I would imagine for panniers it would be the same thing - you can pick up a bottle of that for less than $10 and probably have enough to cover 4 panniers, plus a bit extra. Most waterproof fabrics have a DWR coating on them that can wear off with use, and then the water will stop beading off and just slowly soak in. I bet either the spray or the dab-bottle style would seal them back up again.
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Old 11-06-12, 02:01 PM   #13
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First of all -sorry if my ideas are already mentioned somewhere above- i haven't read other comments.
Now about your problem -I have had all kinds of ortlieb panniers (rollers, packers, plus, classics) and i don't think that the fabric could wear out that it would let moisture in. Of course if it's pierced it will, but otherwise - not.
So whats wrong with the panniers?
1) Humidity can build up inside panniers if you put something wet inside them and the weather is hot. (or the other way around - condensation)
2) humidity can get in when you open the panniers (rain).
3) Panniers are not closed properly
4) there's a hole in fabric (use water or light to check where. In this case, "Plus" panniers can be tricky, because the fabric is kinda transparent-ish by itself, but you should still be able to tell where the hole is.

Good luck!
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Old 11-06-12, 02:25 PM   #14
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Everything has a usefull life. You may have come to the end with these bags. They are worn out.

If you can't find a hole, the answer could be as simple and depressing as the sun has damaged the protective coating to the point that it is compromized. I know not much help.

In the misery loves company department I wore out my LL Bean Goretex all weather jacket. Top quality rain gear that it was, the material had a limit and when I got to it, it was a wet experience. I wore that jacket all the time as an all activity jacket. From running, to hiking, biking and kayaking. It got a lot of use and not a lot of love. LL Bean replaces defective products, no questions asked, so I could return it for a new one. But really, after six years? I don't think so! I bought a new jacket. Maybe it is time for you to pony up for some new bags. Sounds like the ones you have, like my jacket, served you well!
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Old 11-06-12, 10:45 PM   #15
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I would add that even if you are not successful in finding a hole/s and plugging them up, I would disagree about the panniers being at the end of their lives. My old pair of plus rollers are pretty worn, having been used for close to 20 years. They might not be as totally waterproof as before, but the advantage with the shape of ortliebs is that any good strong plastic bag could be inserted into them like a liner, to effectively make them still very useful in heavy rain.
My old purple ones still do a pretty good job of keeping showers out, although I commute with them so havent ridden for hours in hard rain for years and years. I would however gladly use them on a trip with a thick plastic bag liner in them.

caveat, the thick "rubber strap" thing that the hook is attached to does get a bit loose often now at the top where it passes through the plastic cinch thing. The actual mounting hardware has never missed a beat in their entire lives, a great system still.

Last edited by djb; 11-06-12 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 11-07-12, 01:28 AM   #16
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Personally just get a couple waterproof bags and continue using the bags till they die... Which would be probably never.
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Old 11-07-12, 12:00 PM   #17
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They're junk,I'll give you $20 for them....are they black?

Fill the sink with water,push pannier to bottom with your hands,look inside for water.

Trash compactor bags make good liners.

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Old 11-07-12, 01:02 PM   #18
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Thanks for the input. You can see a little wear on the inside top corner where the bag rolls but it looked like the waterproof lining was still intact. So I submerged the bags in the bathtub and noticed some small bubbles coming out around the roll top. When I looked inside it was dry though. Maybe it's humidity causing the bag to be damp inside. Who knows.

I bought the AquaSeal I mentioned earlier and will apply it to those areas and I'll see how it works.

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