When you're gathering up your stuff to go off to a race, a sportive or just a weekend away with mates, this Ortlieb Duffle will easily swallow riding kit, helmet and shoes, as well as some dry clothes and a towel. It's got Ortlieb's usual build quality and clever handles that double as rucksack straps if you need to carry it for longer distances.
You can have the Duffle in a range of sizes from 40 to a cavernous 110 litres, as well as a range of colours. It's made from the same PD620 polyester fabric as Ortlieb uses in its classic Back Roller panniers, which bodes very well for long-term impermeability.
Our bright yellow 60 litre test model, with contrasting black straps and details (it's also available in black, white or blue), has a really chunky waterproof zip from German brand Tizip, and when it's zipped all the way up, the bag isn't just waterproof, it's completely airtight – you can sit on it without air leaking out. This is where it beats many competitors that are water-resistant rather than totally impermeable.
On the inside there are a couple of pockets, one at each end, but they're relatively small and flat – good for documents, or small bits and bobs. There are no other internal pockets or dividers, and no means of separating wet clothes from dry without buying a separate dry bag. Access via the long straight zip means it's not quite as easy to get things in and out as with a C-shaped zip, like that used on The North Face Base Camp bag, for example.
On the outside, there's a small zipped mesh pocket and a "daisy chain" – a series of loops in straps running along the top of the bag that you can hang things from if you need to carry more stuff. That waterproof zip has another trick – you can lock it with a padlock if you want some rudimentary security against theft of the contents. There's a metal wire built into one end for this reason; obviously you could cut it quite easily with some cutters but it could help deter casual pilfering.
That chunky plastic hook at each end of the zip fixes to the stud in the centre of each end of the bag, allowing for a longer zip while keeping the bag's shape once it's loaded up. On the inside there's a cinch strap that runs between the sides, across the middle the bag, so that if you've stuffed it full, you can compress the contents a bit to get the zip shut. The attention to detail and bombproof manufacturing quality is really exceptional – any bits that are likely to wear or get yanked on are thoroughly reinforced. The bottom has a second layer of tough black PS650C fabric which wraps up around the corners – Ortlieb does this sort of thing really well.
For carrying purposes, there are a couple of broad straps with adjustable length. You can bind them together in the middle with a Velcro pad if you're carrying it in one hand, but these straps are also designed for shouldering the bag like a rucksack. They join the bag closer together at one end than the other, like backpack straps, and widen to spread the load on top of your shoulders. It's an infinitely better arrangement than a single shoulder strap, and means that you can hike or even ride with the bag held stably onto your back.
While the Ortlieb Duffle lacks some practical features seen elsewhere, it's tougher and more waterproof than any similar bag I've used. Really, it's probably more waterproof than you're likely to need for any kind of cycling short of bog-snorkelling – I suspect that its major market would be sailing or kayaking. It's rated to IP67, meaning that it'll keep your stuff dry even if submerged in a metre of water for half an hour.
There are a range of ways you could transport your kit, and this isn't a cheap one; £136 would buy a life-time's worth of supermarket carrier bags that would do the job if you just need something to chuck in the car. You could also get a roller bag, which might be easier if you're mostly using it for plane trips – we've also got a larger version of this bag with wheels in on test (review to come).
Various similar sized duffle bags can be had for around half this price, but none that I know of are as completely impermeable. If you need something you can use in really inhospitable conditions and will last for ages then this is an excellent choice. I'd suggest budgeting to add a 20 litre drysack to keep wet and dry contents separate.
Tough and very waterproof duffle that can be shouldered like a rucksack; not cheap but it'll last for years
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ortlieb Duffle 60
Size tested: 60 litres
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Ortlieb says: "The Duffle is for adventurers searching the extreme and expecting excellent performance. The waterproof travel bag protects clothing etc. from water and dirt, and can quickly be converted into a backpack by using the padded handles as shoulder straps. A long TIZIP zip allows quick access to your gear. Internal straps compress the volume. The tough PS620C base fabric makes it an extremely durable expedition bag. The bag can be secured with a padlock (not included) through a wire loop at the zipper."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
+ 2 internal zippered pockets
+ 1 outer zippered pocket (not waterproof)
+ Daisy chain for fixing and attaching further gear
+ Easy to clean
height: 29 cm
width: 58 cm
depth: 35 cm
weight: 1180 g
volume: 60 L
Extremely high standard of construction, as is generally the case with Ortlieb kit.
It's totally waterproof (airtight, in fact), and built to last. Add in the fact that you can carry it like a rucksack if you're going further than car to race HQ, and there's a lot to like. Access via the straight zip is a compromise, though, and there's no means of separating contents.
I have various Ortlieb bags I've tested over the years, and I've yet to have one that's worn out.
Genuinely less than I was expecting – not a lot more than a kilo is really good given how tough and waterproof this thing is.
Obviously it's not as comfortable as an actual rucksack, but it's a big improvement on a traditional duffle with a single strap.
You're paying for a level of waterproofing that is perhaps only really needed in water sport – might be overkill for most cyclists. On the flip side, it'll last for absolutely ages.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
There was certainly no danger of its contents getting wet, and it's pleasingly comfortable to carry. The straight zip is not as convenient as a three-sided one.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Waterproofing, bombproof construction and clever shoulder straps.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Access is a bit less easy than other bags with zips around the top.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's made to last and I like how comfortable it is to carry. It's not cheap, though, and if you wanted to separate wet and dry kit then you'd need to buy a drysack to go inside it. It's really, really waterproof – so if that's what you need, you should definitely consider it.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.