Ortlieb Bags

Since my Patagonia bag failed catastrophically at protecting the contents of my bag from water in January, I’ve been looking at preventing it happening again. Things such as keeping electronics from the upper pocket that was affected by the rain water was the start. I then went on to buy a HUMP rain proof cover but found that the size supposed to fit my bag size was to small and didn’t offer decent protection - it often kept slipping off the top and exposing the zip that was caused the initial problem!

So after weeks of messing around, I settled on a new bag. There were a few reviews I said about the rain getting in to the bag via the zip but I ignored them. Turns out my mistake cost me a Kindle and the cost of a replacement bag, as I’ve now bought a different one to replace the Patagonia. In fact, I’ve recently ended up buying two new bags to replace the single one!

I didn’t mean to buy two, it sort of just happened…

Ortlieb Messenger

After some Googling, I came back to Ortlieb. I’ve a few items of Ortlieb gear already - the Mini O bag, in both Brompton and standard bike formats and I’ve seen the panniers. Overall, I’ve been impressed with them and they’re extremely waterproof (though I have noticed the O bag can leak in sustained rain and I believe this is from the attachment method for the Brompton specific mount). So I took a look at the backpacks they offer.

After some looking around, I went for the Messenger bag - a 30L backpack that would replace the 27L Black Hole bag from Patagonia.

On picking up the back, I was blown away with how large it is.

Ortlieb Messenger Bag

This bag seems to dwarf the Patagonia, even though it’s not that much larger in terms of storage capacity (in litres anyhow). Like the Patagonia Black Hole bag, it’s a single compartment. Unlike the Patagonia, it doesn’t contain any other pockets and it doesn’t contain any zips. Which means that it’s waterpoof as water can’t get through any zips.

I was using this for a while and it’s been good, but it’s a bit big - I’ve come to Germany for a four day trip and I was able to fit everything I needed within this. It’s small enough to qualify for hand luggage as well. But for day to day travel to and from work, it’s a bit big. All I take in with me is my work laptop (a 13” Dell) and a change of clothes (along with some additional items, like Kindle, iPad and Phone/Wallet). This bag was to big for that - plenty of room left over and I felt like I was taking up huge amounts of room on the train. So I decided to get the next size smaller.


The Ortlieb Velocity is the same style as the Messenger Bag, just a bit smaller. It’s only 20L, in comparison to the 30L of the messenger bag.

Ortlieb Velocity Bag

It’s a lot more similar in size to the Black Hole bag.

Patagonia Black Hole Compared with the Ortlieb Velocity

and you can see the size comparison between it and the Messenger Bag.

Ortlieb Messenger Bag and Ortlieb Velocity

I’ve been using the Velocity backpack now for a few weeks and it’s performing extremely well. It’s a good compromise between the larger messenger bag but still having the waterproof features.

However, neither bag are cheap - I paid £80 for the messenger bag, but was lucky enough to get the Velocity backpack on sale at Evans for £45. However, I’m hoping that both bags will give some good service and they come with a fairly long warranty. My only concern is that they seem to have a single point of failure - the bag top rolls down to prevent water getting in. However, this is then “stuck” in place with a single piece of velcro. After a while, that velcro is going to stop working and I don’t know what’ll happen then. However, I hope it’s far in the future, because at the minute, both bags are really handy.

If only I’d paid attention to the reviews of the Patagoina, I’d have saved myself the cost of the bag in the first place, prevented a broken Kindle and would have probably only have bought one bag instead of three!