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Old 01-07-13, 12:03 PM   #1
somegeek
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Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic vs Back-Packer Classic?

I'm looking to purchase either a set of Back-Roller Classics or Back-Packer Classics. I like the idea of having the flap on the packer however I see a lot of folks use the rollers. Curious if anyone else had to debate this before settling on a set? This will be my first set of panniers, appreciate any input.

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Old 01-07-13, 01:10 PM   #2
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I prefer the Classic Back and Front rollers. My wife, a very savvy and experienced bike tourist, prefers the Packer Plus.

I think it is more personal preference rather than one having a distinct advantage over the other. I don't think you can go wrong with either set.

The fabric (red)a on my wife's Packer Plus front panniers have faded from UV exposure. She has been using them for commuting as well as tours for the last 7 years so a little fading is probably OK. Her yellow Packer Plus rear panniers are still bright and shiny , even after 6,000 miles of touring. However, they are only 3 years old.

She also carries the cable, lock and sunscreen in the outside pockets which is really handy.

I like the rollers because I feel the fabric is a little easier to clean, and I believe it is more durable (no proof just perception). I was also a little more frugal and weight conscious when I purchased mine. I also keep the items that I feel I'll need during the day in one of te front panniers, which are easy to access. I did not think the outside pocket would be an advantage. That assumption is mostly true.



My front pannier after a high speed encounter with a high curb. While it looks bad, it is really just a "flesh wound", and is still waterproof.




My wife seldom uses both front and rear panniers. Depending on the tour she will use the Packer Plus front pannier in the rear along with her rack pack as shown in this photo. If she wants to carry more gear she uses a "real" rear pannier.


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Old 01-07-13, 01:27 PM   #3
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I've got the packers, my daughter has an REI clone of the roller style. Either works well. As Doug notes, it boils down to personal choice -- hard to debate (sensibly).

The roller style may be slightly more waterproof (if you're planning to swim across rivers, etc.). It's a bit more fiddly to get closed, especially when a bit overfull. The packers are easy to close, but sag if the pannier is lightly loaded.
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Old 01-07-13, 01:43 PM   #4
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Basic: note Doug's pictures..
Roll and snap closure, Vs. a drawstring to enclose the load and then a waterproof lid over that .

Strap center snap on roller can engage end snap on rack pack, laid crossways.. Packer version, not so.

I have 2 different fronts, the Older Sport-packer, has changed since then.
[Rollers remain unchanged]

lost the girth straps, and the D rings on the buckle straps on the lid..

you will see on the Company website, the horse packer,
they changed how the older bag is used, but still use the basic design.

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Old 01-07-13, 01:53 PM   #5
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Ive used rollers for many a year, with lots of commuting etc and I do like how the rollers are very versatile for odd, long shaped doo-dads that can fit in easily with lots of said doo-dad sticking out. Doesnt happen that often but enough that this is why I stuck with rollers. Handy for end of day grocery shopping on a trip as things can be put in higgily piggily, but really its been in daily use that I appreciate this most.
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Old 01-07-13, 01:59 PM   #6
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Do you need panniers that large? The front packers hold 30liters and the back rollers hold 40liters with the back packers holding 42 liters.

I don't see that the Classic Back Rollers have an exterior pocket but the Plus Back Packers do.

Pretty much starts with how much volume you need and how critical waterproofness is.
The Packer versions hold more than the Roller versions.

I have Back Packer Plus for doing laundry and major shopping. For medium load touring the front Packers are big enough. If your deciding between the rollers and packers the obvious difference is the greater waterproofness of the roller enclosure but honestly the conditions that would put water in a tightly closed set of Packers would be your bike laying down in 6" of water which will have other problems for the bike. Water gets in waterproof bags when you put wet things in them or open them in the rain. In that instance you'd want the Rollers rolled down well and tight. I'd be inclined to get the Back Roller Plus as it'll be easier to roll down an extra roll compared to the stiffer PVC cloth and it could be rolled smaller.
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Old 01-07-13, 02:50 PM   #7
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FWIW, if you really want an outside pocket, you can buy an optional pocket for the Rollers. I personally don't need them. I got the Rollers because they were less expensive, seemed more durable, were available in a range of colors, and can often be bought at discount.
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Old 01-07-13, 05:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somegeek View Post
I'm looking to purchase either a set of Back-Roller Classics or Back-Packer Classics.
If you want to keep it simple, lightweight and save a few dollars you might consider the Ortlieb Back Roller City panniers. They are basically the Roller Classics without all the hoopla. They are lighter than the stock Roller Plus at well less than half the price.

I was going to order the City Rollers, when I found a closeout on the Roller Plus at the same price, which I ordered. The store then sent me the Packer Plus instead. With that series of coincidences I can state that the Packer design allows for some breathability and the Roller series are pretty close to submersion proof. The fabric is the same throughout the Classic designs (PVC coated polyester) and the same for the Plus designs (urethane coated nylon). I wrote an article on Crazy Guy on a Bike about waterproof pannier fabrics and waterproof fabrics in general that might be of interest to the detail oriented rider.
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Old 01-07-13, 05:46 PM   #9
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I will be using these for multi-day tours. I'm 6'5" so any clothing I pack takes a little extra room. This is my first set and I know I'll need the space when I start doing longer rides with my kids(least that's the plan). I do like the option of loading the rollers up while open like grocery sacks, though I do like a flap. In time I may get a trunk bag to carry smaller, readily available 'stuff' though I could toss a smaller zipper closed container under a flap of a packer just as easily. I'll prolly be happy with either set, but like reading what folks have experience. Thanks for the replies. Will post when I do get my setup orderd and installed on my bike.

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Old 01-07-13, 07:13 PM   #10
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Some geek, sounds like you're going to be a hauler. This is like picking bikes,N+1, get the basic PVC Rollers to start and if you need to carry more go for a front rack and put the rest there in panniers or dry bags.
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Old 01-08-13, 08:30 AM   #11
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The packers are easy to close, but sag if the pannier is lightly loaded.
That is probably my biggest complaint with my bike packer plus. They just don't compress well unless fully-loaded. That and the fact that the bottom "hook" of the QL-2 mounting system is both flexible and leaves a lot of space between the inside and the back of the bag, which can requite you to wrap the rack in something like cloth tape to prevent rattle.

OP: I hear you about clothing taking up extra room. I am 6' 2" with broad shoulders. I am L or XL in everything. The extra material can add up, especially if you have to carry clothing for a range of weather conditions. Plus, you undoubtedly need a longer sleeping bag and mattress that many others. And you likely have larger off-bike shoes. I wear a size 12-13 depending on the make and model.
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Old 01-08-13, 08:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by somegeek View Post
I'm looking to purchase either a set of Back-Roller Classics or Back-Packer Classics. I like the idea of having the flap on the packer however I see a lot of folks use the rollers. Curious if anyone else had to debate this before settling on a set? This will be my first set of panniers, appreciate any input.

somegeek
I've used both. I certainly consider rollers to be more convenient run as bucket panniers around town, but the packers are nice as they operate like mini rucksacks with compression straps and an extendible lid.

the practicality of the packers is much greater in my experience.

I'm a fan of the lid on the packers as it lets you stuff a wet sitpad, groundcloth, raincoat, cans of soda, or anything else that needs wet storage under the lid.

the lids allow under the top storage the rollers do not. I've always found the packers work quite well cinched in with minimal loads. I've since relegated the front rollers to around town use, and have front sport packers.

I've found the back packers to be the far more versatile choice of rear Ortlieb pannier.
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Old 01-08-13, 08:59 AM   #13
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... ... I do like the option of loading the rollers up while open like grocery sacks, though I do like a flap.

... ... In time I may get a trunk bag to carry smaller, readily available 'stuff' though I could toss a smaller zipper closed container under a flap of a packer just as easily.
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You need several inches of "flap" when you are done loading them to roll the closure. Look at one in a store and throw some stuff in it to see how much of the top needs to be rolled to close it. You will find that your "grocery bag" is only about two thirds full when you can't put more stuff in it and still close it. That said, I still prefer my rollers over most others.

Most people do not strap stuff on top of the front rollers, but I more often than not have stuff strapped on top of each front roller. See photo, on one side I have a mesh bag that has a bit of damp laundry that I did not want to store inside the waterproof and air tight panniers, on the other side I have my rain gear strapped on top. I use the Ortlieb straps that go over the top. Being on front, I can see this stuff while riding so I am comfortable in knowing it is not going to fall off. This way some of the extras do not need to go into pockets.

And, handlebar bags are great for small stuff to keep at hand.



Indyfabz (above) suggested cloth tape on the rack. Thanks, I had not thought of that, I suspect that works well. I think I still have part of an old roll of cloth handlebar tape somewhere. I have used small pieces of inner tube rubber under a few layers of electrical tape, but that does not last very long.
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Old 01-08-13, 09:18 AM   #14
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The packers are easy to close, but sag if the pannier is lightly loaded.
On my Sport Packers I have a long bungie that loops from the bottom of the rack over the bags then onto the rack. That keeps them compressed when empty. Important to make sure the bungie can't pop off. The larger back Rollers have two bottom hooks, helped a lot to reduce looseness in the bags.
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Old 01-10-13, 08:59 AM   #15
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I can't weigh in on one versus the other as I only have a pair of old, large Ortliebs that the top rolls up towards the rear of it.

I'd like to add a question to the discussion though, which may be helpful to the OP as well: with the Ortliebs that have the outer pocket, how hard is it to get stuff out of (or into) this pocket when the bag is stuffed pretty full? I've been curious about this model, but I have trouble packing light (also a large fellow with correspondingly large clothes) and so my panniers are usually quite full. Somehow I'm imagining it being a real pain to get my big hands into those pockets when the pannier is stuffed full of clothes and bulging against it.
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Old 01-10-13, 10:41 AM   #16
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I'd like to add a question to the discussion though, which may be helpful to the OP as well: with the Ortliebs that have the outer pocket, how hard is it to get stuff out of (or into) this pocket when the bag is stuffed pretty full? I've been curious about this model, but I have trouble packing light (also a large fellow with correspondingly large clothes) and so my panniers are usually quite full. Somehow I'm imagining it being a real pain to get my big hands into those pockets when the pannier is stuffed full of clothes and bulging against it.
It's got to be REALLY full before I have any problems. I commute with my Sports Packers, and leave keys and ID in the external pocket. It usually only takes a push or two to compress the clothes inside enough to grab the keys that have fallen to the bottom of the pouch.
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Old 01-10-13, 11:23 AM   #17
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The External pockets are a small dry bag , to put on the end of the bag, where the reflective patch is,
so, they have a reflective patch on them.
http://www.ortliebusa.com/prod-76.htm So, There is a roll and snap closure to cope with..

Currently , there is an Internal pocket, that lays against the stiffener panel .. the 'Put-In',
when they are offered for retro fitting prior bags..

the Internal pockets are now standard, the external one is aftermarket.

Bike Packer Plus has an external Outside pocket.. outer face .. included .

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Old 01-10-13, 01:06 PM   #18
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I have the Packer Classics, and I'm very happy with them. That they do not have compression straps on the sides like the Packer Plus panniers did not turn out to be an issue for me, and I can easily fit my 15" MacBookPro with some extra towels and stuff for protection. They look very nice, and the shiny polyester on the front is very durable so i consider it an advantage over the Plus panniers. I was surprised when I found there is an internal pocket along the back of the pannier that takes magazine sized items or possibly a thin 13" sized computer, as well as an mesh pocket with zipper, these have been very useful!
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Old 01-10-13, 10:15 PM   #19
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I was surprised when I found there is an internal pocket along the back of the pannier that takes magazine sized items or possibly a thin 13" sized computer, as well as an mesh pocket with zipper, these have been very useful!
Be careful about storing your computer in that back pocket. We usually carry a magazine in there to protect the computer (stored in the main body of the pannier) from those fasteners holding the pannier hardware. If you could see the dents they put in the magazine, you'd understand.
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Old 01-10-13, 11:05 PM   #20
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good point Doug, Ive used cut pieces of an old closed cell blue sleeping mat to protect laptops (and other stuff) for years in knapsacks etc. Great for both hard points like you mention as well as vibration reduction (and of course knocks)
Going from experience in photography, keeping vibrations down can help avoid, among other things, screws and such coming loose. Think of the constant vibrations of stuff on a bike, so using common sense to insulate a laptop or camera with clothes or whatever just means you reduce the possibility of issues.
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Old 01-11-13, 08:51 AM   #21
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It's got to be REALLY full before I have any problems. I commute with my Sports Packers, and leave keys and ID in the external pocket. It usually only takes a push or two to compress the clothes inside enough to grab the keys that have fallen to the bottom of the pouch.
Agreed. Things might be different if you have something like an already compressed sleeping bag stuffed into one. If you do pack your bag, put stuff you might need to access more frequently in the pocket of the pannier without the bag.
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