Bikepacking is getting increasingly popular, and at last week’s Sea Otter Classic (a cycling festival in California), German bag specialist Ortlieb unveiled a new range of waterproof bikepacking products.
Ortlieb is a familiar name in the cycle touring and commuting luggage market, and has an enviable reputation for producing high quality bags that are made to last. Its panniers are ubiquitous in touring circles. It was only a matter of time before it brought its expertise for waterproof luggage to the bikepacking market.
The new range consists of four packs. Each pack is manufactured using the company’s own RF (radio frequency) welding process, instead of stitching the panels together, to ensure the bags are waterproof.
There’s the Seat-Pack, Handlebar-Pack, Accessory -Pack and Frame-Pack. The Frame-Pack isn’t available until 2017, but the other three packs will be available from May.
The Handlebar-Pack (£85) provides 15 litre of luggage capacity with uses a twin roll closure system for easy access. It’s ideal for soft items like a sleeping bag or down jacket. There are compression straps and shock cords that can be used to attach other items to the outside, such as spare jersey.
The Seat-Pack (£110) attaches to the seatpost and saddle rails and offers 8 to 16.5 litres of luggage space - it can be packed down depending on how much luggage you need to carry for any particular ride. It weighs 430g.
The Frame-Pack (£TBC) uses velcro straps to fix it to the frame and each is adjustable for length to suit most bikes. A waterproof zip provides easy access and makes sure the contents don’t get soaked.
The Accessory-Pack (£45) has a 3.5 litre capacity and is light at just 206g. It’s designed to provide easy access to things like food, cameras or mobile phones. It can be used in conjunction with the Handlebar Pack or used on its own, and a shoulder strap makes it a useful bag when off the bike.
We'll hopefully get a closer look at these packs soon. More at www.ortlieb.com
What is bikepacking?
Bikepacking differs from traditional cycle touring in that the emphasis is on travelling fast and travelling light, and instead of using racks and panniers, packs are strapped to the frame, handlebars and seatpost.
Bikepacking was born from mountain bike events like the Iditarod and Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which required competitors to carry all the food and clothing they would need for the entire event. Because mountain bikes rarely come with rack mounts, luggage was strapped in bags to the frame, seatpost and handlebars.
The influence of bikepacking is spreading beyond its mountain bike roots with the popularity of gravel and adventure bikes, and even fat tyred endurance bikes, opening up a whole new market to the idea of heading on a multi-day adventure with everything you need strapped to the bike.
There are even events now that cater to this style of riding, such as the TransContinental Race, which challenges racers to balance the need to be fast and light but also comfortable and reliable for the long distances involved.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.