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Ortleib Panniers - LARGEST? Best? Which do you buy and use?

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Ortleib Panniers - LARGEST? Best? Which do you buy and use?

Old 02-18-11, 01:02 PM
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Ortleib Panniers - LARGEST? Best? Which do you buy and use?

Okay, I'm the proud owner of a couple new front roller Ortleib panniers from eBay. But now, I'm looking for the largest and best rear panniers. I see there's the Ortleib PLUS and the CLASSIC.

What do you guys use? Why?



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Old 02-18-11, 01:22 PM
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seriously?
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Old 02-18-11, 01:36 PM
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They're both good products (or Ortleib wouldn't still sell both). Look over the specs and get whichever you like better -- don't agonize over it.
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Old 02-18-11, 02:19 PM
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Plus is a Cordura fabric custom made for Ortlieb with a thermoplastic lining coating ..
its a bit lighter, used in the higher priced lines with different mounting parts.

classic is long using Vinyl industrial tarp stuff, front and back,

I have a Classic back roller set.
and a front roller too, but big = the rear bags.

Back roller + a rack pack on top and you should be good to go in any weather.
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Old 02-18-11, 02:36 PM
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If you are really looking for ginormousness as the main criteria,look at the Arkel and Jandd lines. Totally different style of pannier, though -not waterproof. I have the Arkel GT-54's and they are absurdly huge.
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Old 02-18-11, 08:50 PM
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Thanks guys. I'm living on a limited budget and prefer to buy the best and most durable. I found some time ago that buying the best and most durable of anything is much less expensive in the long run. So, I'm thinking that getting Ortlieb, as many of you suggested a few months back, may be best. Then, looking at their different lines, I see the Plus and also the Classic. I was hoping that some of you have had a lot of experience with one or the other. I hate like hell spending good money for something, only to find out I bought a piece of crap and wasted my money.

Fietsbob - you're saying that you bought Classics, but you think the Plus is a better fabric? If you had it to do over, which would you guys buy?

Positron - Yeah. Seriously.
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Old 02-18-11, 11:21 PM
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i would venture to say that i have seen some faded (sun/UV exposure induced?) Plus panniers, and don't recall (or i'm having amnesia) any faded Classic panniers. i inferred from the assumption that only susceptible items would react with sunlight badly...

so everything i got, were Classic - Back Rollers, Ultimate 5, Rack Bag - note that there ISN'T a choice for the Rack Bag's material though...
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Old 02-19-11, 12:42 AM
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I got Plus ones in I think 93, because I liked that they were lighter. I have used them for commuting in all the years since, as well as touring, but its been teh year in year out commuting that for me shows that they are well made. Yes they are faded, but they still keep things dry, and as you say, a well made thing that lasts for a long time is great.
I would not hesitate to get another pair. I would say that with teh Plus, the fabric is not as thick as the Classic, but with common sense for treating them, they have stood up perfectly well.

You should try to get your hands on the two types to see how you find them. I forget the exact diff in weight, but it was worth it forme to pay a bit more for the lighter set.
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Old 02-19-11, 12:50 AM
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My wife uses the Ortlieb Packer Plus and I use the Classics. I think it comes down to whatstyle you like; the rollers or the flap lid. There are some differences in the connecting hardware, but I don't think one is any better than the other. Her red Plus's did fade some, but bothe types have taken some heavy use and are very durable.
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Old 02-19-11, 06:03 AM
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Classic back roller and classic front roller and as of this past year also have the medium size duffle.

I use dry bags on kayak trips that have a rolltop closure. For canoeing I use a SealLine Pro Pack which is a giant dry bag with rolltop closure. I even have a laptop computer bag that is waterproof with a roll top closure. If you prefer the other type of closure, get the other type.
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Old 02-19-11, 08:32 AM
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I have the back rollers. They're great. I've heard the rollers will stay water tight even if you dunk them in a river. The plus won't stay waterproof in a dunking but will stay dry in any kind of normal cycling. I've never dunked my rollers and I don't care that you can. But they're great panniers.
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Old 02-19-11, 09:02 AM
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Your front roller Ortleibs are a nice size for front panniers. I would suggest that you just might have your priorities a bit out of whack if you are looking for the biggest available. I know that I would get by fine with 4 panniers the size of your front rollers. My current set of panniers is just a bit more volume than 4 front rollers, and they are never full even when hauling a lot of extra food and water.
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Old 02-19-11, 09:59 AM
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Decide the rest of your kit first, then decide what kind of pannier "system" you need to carry it all in. I'd "round up" to a larger size so you won't have to stress packing and so that you'll have room for that loaf of bread. Some people like pockets, others don't. Incremental pockets don't weigh much; the weight of a pannier is in the hardware, frame, and type of fabric. Cordura is tougher than reinforced vinyl. Both are repairable using different techniques.

As Pete says, maybe you can get away with two sets of front rollers.

I'd buy an Ortlieb that matched your front panniers so you don't look like a hobo.
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Old 02-19-11, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by positron
seriously?
How does your implied superiority help the OP?
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Old 02-19-11, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by xizangstan
... I hate like hell spending good money for something, only to find out I bought a piece of crap and wasted my money...
I don't think you need to worry about Ortlieb selling a piece of crap or a waste of money. As others have suggested, just think in terms of the size you need.

I have the sport packer up front and the backroller classic for rear. All the capacity I need.
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Old 02-19-11, 12:17 PM
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There always seems to be a little confusion with regard to Ortlieb's naming scheme - some people associate "Rollers" with "Classic" and "Packers" with "Plus". Here's how the names actually work:

"Classic" and "Plus" refer mainly to the material - Classics are made of thick PVC, whereas Plus are made from thinner coated cordura. (Actually there are also some differences in the mounting system and side pocket options with the Plus, but the main difference is the material - it has nothing to do with the bag being roll top or flap).

"Packer" and "Roller" refer only to the closure style of the pannier - Packers have a flap, Rollers are rolled down at the top. Packers are not immersion-proof, Rollers are more so (as long as you roll them well - you can't dive with them, but they'll usually take a dunking in a river without letting water in if you rolled them up tightly enough). Both Packers and Rollers are completely rain proof.

There are Classic Rollers, and Plus Rollers, and Classic Packers, and Plus Packers.

I have used both Classic and Plus Rollers, but not the Packer style. I got my Plus Rollers back in 1998 and used them on my TransAm and another tour in 2003, and some commuting. One of the rear bags got a hole ripped in it in 1998 from a pitbull attack in Kentucky. I patched it crudely on the road, and left it that way for a long time. Then in 2008 I decided to get it repaired properly, and sent it in to Ortlieb USA. However they informed me that the glue around my repair was too difficult to clean up, and in addition they had found "pinholes" at various points in both rear bags. This surprised me, since I had thought they were still otherwise waterproof. So I decided to get another set, this time trying out the Classic style, because my faith in the durability of the Plus had been shaken somewhat (and I was curious about the differences in the fabrics). I used my new Classic Rollers on my tour in 2008 from St Louis to Yellowstone. I found that the Plus material is much nicer to roll up, since it's thinner and also feels better (and doesn't smell of PVC). The thicker Classic material tends to form little peaks in the material, since it's not as flexible, which made me a little nervous that those peaks would form fatigue points over time. However this doesn't seem to have happened yet.

The Classics are heavier than the Plus, and the Plus bags tend to have more accoutrements - e.g. the Plus handlebar bag has side mesh pockets, and the Plus panniers have the option to attach side pockets (which cost extra). Also, the Plus panniers have the QL2 mounting system, which is doesn't require tools to adjust, and I think you can tilt the top rail on the rear Plus panniers a little, which might help with heel strike if you have that issue.

If you call Ortlieb USA and ask them which style is more durable then they will say Plus, because it has better abrasion resistance. However I think in reality the two fabrics just have different failure modes. While the Plus might be better for abrasion, my impression is that since it's thinner, it might not stand up to some puncture type abuse as well as the thicker Plus material does. But then the Plus maybe won't stand up to other types of abuse as well as the Classics. So I'm still not sure which type is really "better", though I might veer toward the Plus, simply because I like the feel of the thinner fabric better than the "rubbery" PVC; also, I don't really like the rubbery smell that PVC has. And finally, the Plus bags are a bit lighter weight, and you have those "extra" options like side pockets, which the Classics don't have.

All that being said, I'm now trying out set of Arkel panniers (GT18 on the front and GT54 on the back), since I can see some merit in the viewpoint that totally waterproof panniers are maybe not the best idea after all. The theory here is that when you have a bag that is completely closed up and waterproof, that means water can't get in... or get out. So if you have anything even slightly wet inside the pannier, then it can't dry out, and it gets everything else in there wet too, and you end up with "swamp bag syndrome", mold and mildew and bad smells. The thing is, if it's raining a lot then you can't really avoid getting some water in the bags whenever you go to find something. And the thing is - if it's raining a lot (exactly the type of situation that people think Ortliebs will be useful) then you are almost certain to get water in the bags, since you generally do always have to access stuff inside at some point (and since Ortliebs are "one big bag", you have to open up the main compartment to get at anything). And you'll be wet, and you'll drip water in there even if you're under cover when you stop. So the inside of the bag is certain to get wet, if you're in a wet climate; and it can't dry out. You do the math. On the other hand, if you're in a drier climate, where you just get the odd rain shower, then you probably don't really need the 100% waterproof bags anyway. The one nice aspect of having the 100% waterproof is that it also keeps out dust and ants (but no bag will keep out a chipmunk).

And what happens if you get a hole in your pannier? The fact you are depending on the outer shell of your pannier for waterproofness means that this outer shell has to be perfect - any compromise, and it's pretty much useless then as a barrier. So if you have stuff that you don't want to get wet, then you really need to pack it inside its own waterproof bags inside the pannier, "just in case". But if you are doing that anyway, then why bother with the waterproof outer shell at all? Why not just use a more accessible pannier, which has more pockets and zips and openings, so you don't have to go digging through ALL your stuff every time you need something (and the one thing you need always seems to be at the bottom). So now the outer bag doesn't have to be 100% waterproof, and you have more access, and the outer bag can get naturally scuffed and worn and it doesn't matter as much - and if you get bigger rips then you can just sew them up, and sew on patches or whatever, and it doesn't matter because the outer shell is not trying to be a 100% perfect waterproof barrier. You can still get pannier rain covers, which have other benefits - e.g. your panniers can be of more subdued color, while the covers are bright yellow, thus giving you the option of being either lower profile or more visible, depending on circumstances. Also, covers protect the panniers from dirt and mud, which can help at the end of the day when you want to bring everything into the tent (with Ortliebs, the bags themselves will be covered with crap sometimes). And another, more subtle advantage of rain covers: You can use them in crowd situations to reduce the accessibility of all those nice pockets on your panniers. In places like India where there can be many little prying fingers in the cities, this might come in handy sometimes. In any case, the Arkel GT bags actually have a waterproof inner liner which will keep stuff in the main compartment dry even if you don't use rain covers (stuff in the side pockets will still get wet, though, so you either put stuff that doesn't care about getting wet in there, or use ziploc bags).

Another thing is that "one big bag" factor - this is a personal style preferences. Some people like the simplicity of the one big compartment, and they use things like color coded stuff sacks to keep some order and findability. This is how Ortliebs work, and to be honest you can get used to it, I certainly did. But it can be a bit of a revelation then to use a different style, like Arkel, which gives you lots of pockets and options on how you access your gear. Since most of the time on tour it won't actually be raining all the time (hopefully!), you won't have the rain covers on, and it's quite nice to be able to access little things from side pockets without having to dig through the main compartments.

Yet another aspect to think about: Durability. Many people only use their panniers for short periods per year, so when someone talks about a bag lasting 10 years, you need to ask just how much total touring (and what type of touring) the bags have been used for during that time. For example, my original rollers are 13 years old now, but they've only really been used for a few months of actual touring and commuting, and already they have pinholes. If you'd like to see how things really fare, then look at the experiences of some people who have used their gear on long, extended expeditions. I found this review very interesting, because it really shows how the Ortliebs do when taken to their limits:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/revie...d=38352#127860

The Arkel bags have all-metal mounting hardware, which may be more durable than the plastic mounts of the Ortliebs. However, Arkel bags have zippers, which can fail (though they use nice beefy #10 YKK zippers, which don't fail very often), and more sewn seams, which can come undone (though they can be repaired by any cobbler). So nothing's perfect! It's useful to see the pros and cons, and then you can make your own judgment about what you want to focus on. If you really want the easy convenience of waterproof bags off the shelf that you probably won't have to worry about for a while, and you like the simplicity of one-big-bag, then Ortlieb is a good option to look at. If, on the other hand, you prefer many compartments, more features, more accessibility, and metal mounting hardware, and don't mind more total weight and more complexity, then the Arkel style of bags might be worth looking at.

There are others also worth a look too - Vaude, Lone Peak, Carradice, are just a few.

Hope this helps,

Neil

Last edited by NeilGunton; 02-20-11 at 11:20 PM. Reason: clarification on waterproofness/immersibility of Packers vs Rollers
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Old 02-19-11, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclesafe
I'd buy an Ortlieb that matched your front panniers so you don't look like a hobo.
chuckle-I'm trying to figure out if you are serious about this or not ;-)

take a peek at the male fashionista thread, I know feel inadequate knowing that all these years I have been looking like a hobo with my rear panniers only being Ortliebs.

Neil--good overview- I do however question the "pinhole" excuse by Ortlieb--they could be exxagerating (my 17 yr old pair probably have "pinholes" in them too, but they keep stuff dry. They might have been doing what car mechanics do sometimes, Oh your brakes need replacing--when you could still drive 5000 miles on the pads...you know what I mean.)

it could also be Germanic overzealousness (you know, theres an letter missing in an alphabet, so they cant call it an alphabet--my father in law is German and an engineer, so they can be quite pedantic....I mention this only to counter your comments that seem to paint a serious issue with "pinholes", thats all.

as you say, there are lots of well made panniers nowadays. Its personal perference, I now prefer one compartment, dislike zippers. I like with the rollers that you can fit all kinds of odd shaped things in them by loosely clipping the tops together. Ive done this on tour with grocery trips at end of day, and for years commuting, so for me I like the "open top" one compartment.

as you say, nothing is perfect but a well made bag by any company is certainly worth it for years of good solid use.

Last edited by djb; 02-19-11 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 02-19-11, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by scroca
How does your implied superiority help the OP?
thanks scroca, nice to see common politeness prevails.
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Old 02-19-11, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
Neil--good overview- I do however question the "pinhole" excuse by Ortlieb--they could be exxagerating (my 17 yr old pair probably have "pinholes" in them too, but they keep stuff dry. They might have been doing what car mechanics do sometimes, Oh your brakes need replacing--when you could still drive 5000 miles on the pads...you know what I mean.)
Well, perhaps I should have mentioned that Ortlieb USA very kindly gave me the replacement set of bright yellow Classic Rollers, basically for free. I had asked them if they wanted to do an ad-for-trade deal, and they just said they would be happy to send me a set of whatever I needed. I guess running a semi-popular bicycle touring website sometimes has its perks! I make very little money, but sometimes people send me stuff I need for free. The guys at Ortlieb USA are very nice people, I don't think they were selling me a bill of goods.

it could also be Germanic overzealousness (you know, theres an letter missing in an alphabet, so they cant call it an alphabet--my father in law is German and an engineer, so they can be quite pedantic....I mention this only to counter your comments that seem to paint a serious issue with "pinholes", thats all.
As far as I know, the guys at Ortlieb USA are all American, they are the importers for Ortlieb but not German themselves. I guess I just went with their recommendation that I needed new bags - they said mine seemed like they were just plain worn out.

as you say, there are lots of well made panniers nowadays. Its personal perference, I now prefer one compartment, dislike zippers. I like with the rollers that you can fit all kinds of odd shaped things in them by loosely clipping the tops together. Ive done this on tour with grocery trips at end of day, and for years commuting, so for me I like the "open top" one compartment.
Yes, it's absolutely a personal preference thing. I am not yet completely sold on the Arkel approach, it's just an interesting one that I can see a good argument for. However I haven't had the chance to go on any really good tours lately, so I have yet to really put those Arkels through their paces. There is also a very good case to be made for the lightness, simplicity and basic waterproofness of the Ortliebs, they are very good bags (I think).

as you say, nothing is perfect but a well made bag by any company is certainly worth it for years of good solid use.
Yes, you'd hope so. One of the downsides of the internet is that any single story of bad experience can become amplified and stays around for years. It seems like just about any product you care to research has someone giving some kind of horror story about it, if it's been around long enough. I am very confused, for example, right now about Velocity rims, because I have seen some people talking about multiple failures, while others (and some really major wheelbuilders) seem to really like Velocity. And with Ortliebs, here you have Erin giving her very honest and candid review of her experiences with these bags, which might make anybody reading that to really think twice about Ortlieb. And yet I know (and you know) than many people use Ortliebs for years without problems. So who knows... all you can really do is gather your anecdotes and pick where you want to place your faith, and go with it. I don't personally subscribe to "faith", really, I don't become an acolyte of any particular brand or a true believer in any particular style. There's too much dogma in the world, and not enough open mindedness. I like to experiment, so I try lots of different things. Ortliebs and Arkels are both great bag systems, either one will see you for a good long time I think. Just pick your style and preferences, and that's what my post is all about - trying to give something to work with when making that decision.

Neil

Last edited by NeilGunton; 02-19-11 at 01:00 PM. Reason: speling, grammer
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Old 02-19-11, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by scroca
How does your implied superiority help the OP?
Nothing implied...

The OP asked about the difference between Plus and Classic Ortliebs: a question easily answered in two seconds using google.

As far as size, there are two models: roller or packer. also found in two seconds using google.

finally, Im pretty sure ortlieb panniers might have been mentioned around here once or twice before
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Old 02-19-11, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton
Just pick your style and preferences, and that's what my post is all about - trying to give something to work with when making that decision.
Neil
yup, and thats the other side of the internet, its great to be able to see peoples takes on products, bikes or whatever. Its a great tool to help with ideas for gear, trips, etc and your comments fit right in there.

*I still feel strongly about being able to hold a "doohicky" in your hand, pull on the seams, see how well it is put together, see if "x" part seems like it would break off if your dropped it etc etc. I still rely on my gut instinct with outdoor gear, but of course doing internet reading is great to be able to get some informed ideas on stuff before you see things in a store. (and like you said, balancing out negative comments to the good ones) In fact, it was doing lots of reading on Brooks saddles last summer that finally got me to try one out, and I love it, but it was the internet resource that got me going finally.

cheers and keep on writing away.
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Old 02-19-11, 01:18 PM
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I was a little confused about Ortlieb's products when I was getting ready to order too. Fortunately everything you need to know is explained in detail here:

https://thetouringstore.com/ORTLIEB/O...101%20PAGE.htm
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Old 02-19-11, 03:09 PM
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mbcharbonneau, you beat me to it. Your questions will be answered after you visit the above site. Then you should buy them from Wayne!

If you plan on moving the bags between different bikes with different racks, or from front to back etc... the QL2 system makes it easier since it doesn't require any tools. I like the back/front rollers because if you want to make a trip to the grocery store, you can leave them unrolled and carry a lot more stuff in them. The top will be open but we are just talking about a short trip around town or maybe to and from a campsite. The packer series are probably easier to access if you have stuff on top of the rack as compared to the roller series. If your only consideration is which material is better, I would save a few dollars and get the classics.
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Old 02-19-11, 08:46 PM
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on the bright side, i use one of my back roller classics as a daily work backpack - to carry and waterproof my laptop, and work documents. i know it'd look odd if i tried with an arkel pannier.... LOL
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Old 02-19-11, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by sehsuan
on the bright side, i use one of my back roller classics as a daily work backpack - to carry and waterproof my laptop, and work documents. i know it'd look odd if i tried with an arkel pannier.... LOL
Funnily enough, the Arkel GT-18BP converts to a backpack:

https://www.arkel-od.com/us/all-categ...t-pannier.html

Neil
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