Ortlieb Gravel-Pack Test & Experiences (2 years long term test) – waterproof bike bags for offroad use

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A lightweight bike bag for extra long bikepacking tours – that’s the Ortlieb Gravel Pack! The Gravel Packs are attached to the luggage carrier or lowrider and pack extra securely. There are no extra bells and whistles, so the weight remains pleasantly light. The Ortlieb Gravel-Packs* are available in the chic color slate (grey) and black-matt (black).

Visually, the small bike bags fit perfectly with the Ortlieb Bikepacking bag collection (Seat-Pack, Handlebar-Pack, Frame-Pack). Ortlieb has put its years of experience in the field of bike bags to good use and has made clever adjustments to the Gravel Packs for off-road use.

  • Where exactly is the difference to existing Ortlieb saddlebags?
  • Why is the Gravel Pack particularly suitable for off-road tours?

In this Gravel Pack test you will learn all the details about the small Ortlieb bike bags >>

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Ortlieb Gravel Pack Experiences Lowrider bike bags front and rear
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Experiences Lowrider bike bags front and rear

This is how it was tested: The Ortlieb bags are already in use for several years. On many long tours, the Gravel Packs were allowed to prove themselves in practice e.g.:

  • on a 4000 km tour across Europe from Germany to Turkey on the Iron Curtain Trail (EV13)
  • on a 4-week tour of Laos and in Thailand.
  • during a circumnavigation of Iceland with a detour into the highlands

In this article, I share all my experiences with you. What did I notice? What’s good and what’s bad about the bags?

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test waterproof bike bags for rear Action Shot
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test waterproof bike bags for rear Action Shot

You’re in a hurry? Click here to go directly to the Ortlieb Gravel-Pack

What are the special features of the Ortlieb Gavel-Pack?

Lightweight: 1,160 grams for the Gravel Pack complete set. The Gravel Pack is 430 grams lighter than a set of Ortlieb Sport Roller Classic front panniers (comparison at the end of the article).
More stability on the bike: Holds securely on the bike with two safety hooks (even on trails and gravel roads). Conventional Ortlieb saddlebags hold with only one safety hook on the bike
Attachment to the wheel: One-handed attachment and removal. Done within seconds
Waterproof: according to protection class IP64 (dustproof and protected against splash water on all sides)
Volume: 12.5 litres each. In the pair thus 25 litres. Height: 30 cm, width: 25 cm, depth: 14 cm
Manufacturer: ORTLIEB Sportartikel GmbH
Origin: Made in Germany

For whom suitable? The Ortlieb Gravel Pack bike bags are versatile: They can be used as a front bag as well as a rear bag. In addition, the bags are waterproof according to IP64 and are among the lightest wheel bags in their class. Even after years in use, am totally convinced of the bags.

You are planning a longer tour, where the going gets rough and you want to travel light at the same time? Then the Gravel Packs are worth a close look. Let’s take a close look at all the details in the Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test 😉

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Bombtrack Beyond Bike Trip Packing List Laos Temples
Ortlieb Gravel Pack on Bombtrack Beyond in front of a Buddhist temple in Thailand

Overview – Ortlieb Gravel Pack

At first glance, the waterproof pair of bags is reminiscent of a reliable companion for many touring cyclists: the well-known Ortlieb Sport Roller and the Ortlieb Gravel Pack look remarkably similar. In detail, however, there are some important differences and also similarities.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Lowrider bike bags front and rear
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Lowrider bike bags front and rear
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags page
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags page
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Lowrider Bike Bags Front and Rear Details
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Lowrider Bike Bags Front and Rear Details

Low weight

Due to the material used, the Bikepacking bags are more than 400g lighter compared to the Sport scooters. Will talk about 1160 grams vs. 1590 grams.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear set
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear set

Attachment

The attachment to the lowrider or rear of the luggage carrier is done via the proven Quick-Lock System. This allows the bags to be comfortably hooked in and out with one hand. The so-called Quick-Lock2.1 is used for the Gravel-Pack bags.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags for mountain bike attachment with two hooks
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags for mountain bike attachment with two hooks
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small lowrider bike bags front and rear QL
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small lowrider bike bags front and rear QL
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small lowrider panniers front and rear Quick-Lock
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small lowrider panniers front and rear Quick-Lock

The new Ortlieb Gravel-Pack has two hooks for stabilization on the luggage carrier. Normal Ortlieb saddlebags have only one hook. This keeps the bag reliably on the bike even on rocky and gravel roads.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags for mountain bikes attached to the luggage carrier
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags for mountain bikes attached to the luggage carrier

Small adapter pieces are included with the Ortlieb Gravel Pack pair of bags. This allows the bags to be adapted to different luggage carriers and lowriders quickly and without tools. Attached to a front lowrider, the centre of gravity of the bags is also pleasantly low.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small lowrider panniers front and rear for hooking in
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small lowrider panniers front and rear for hooking in

The Gravel-Packs are adaptable and therefore fit to almost all carriers:

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  • For the adaptability to different luggage carrier tube diameters hook inserts for the tube diameters 16mm, 18mm and 20mm are supplied.
  • In addition, the two snap hooks can be moved horizontally to the left and right.
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test waterproof bike bags for rear detail
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test waterproof bike bags for rear detail
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front and rear
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front and rear
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small lowrider bike bags front and rear hooks
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small lowrider bike bags front and rear hooks

This is how the initial assembly of the Ortlieb Gravel-Packs was done within minutes

  • Clipping in the supplied inserts
  • Adjust the hooks on the locking rail so that they fit on the luggage carrier or lowrider
  • Hook bags

By briefly pulling the carrying handle of the Gravel-Pack, the bags can be removed within seconds. The upper hooks open and the bag can be removed. Compared to typical bikepacking bags, of course, a plus in handling.

Packing volume

The volume is just right for tours lasting several weeks or months, where the bike should remain relatively light at the same time:

  • Each Gravel Pack bag has a pack capacity of 12.5 liters.
  • What the bags have in common is the 25 litre packing size.

Touring cyclists like to use these types of bags at the front of the lowrider as an additional pair of bags. This is also possible with the Ortlieb Gravel Packs.

For bikepacking tours in rather rough terrain or for light bike touring, this size ideally lends itself as the main bag.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear view front open
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear view front open

If you pack thoughtfully, you can get gear for a multi-month exedition in the bags (in combination with other bikepacking bags, like a bikepacking frame bag and a bikepacking handlebar bag).

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear view front closed
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear view front closed

Locking and opening

The bags are closed with the roll closure known from Ortlieb and fixed with buckles on the side of the bag. The roller shutter is tensioned via a tension belt. The belt is easy to grip and the bags are comfortable to carry. It also compresses the contents of the bag once again.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear volume
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear volume

Durability

The material used is PSR21 (PU coated nylon fabric) which is lightweight and resistant to abrasion. The material has already proven itself with the Ortlieb Bikepacking bags.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear view rear
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear view rear

I can confirm the resistance of the material:

  • After all, I was practically constantly scurrying through the undergrowth and bushes with the bags.
  • From time to time I crawled along walls with the Gravel Packs and by mistake the bike and the bags tipped over.
  • Several times the Gravel Packs were also squeezed into cardboard boxes to pack them for the plane.

You can see the result in the photos in this Gravel Bike Test: For such stressed bags, the Ortliebs make a top figure and can still be used quite loosely many more years.

Waterproof

Rolled three to four times, the bags are also completely waterproof and dustproof (protection class IP64: dustproof and protected against splashing water on all sides).

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Waterproof River Crossing Bulgaria FPV
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Waterproof River Crossing Bulgaria FPV

The PU-coated nylon keeps water out completely. This also allows river crossings where the small bike bag is partially submerged. The exciting part is of course the roll closure: If the bag is closed properly, then no water penetrates inside. Believe me I have tested it: During my trip to Iceland it rained heavily for a whole week 😉 At the top of the roll closure collects some water but the moisture does not penetrate into the interior of the bag. Very good!

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Waterproof River Crossing Bulgaria
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Waterproof River Crossing Bulgaria

Where no water comes in, none flows out: If you store damp clothes inside the bag, then this moisture cannot escape from the bag. If you are then in a humid environment for days on end, a small amount of residual moisture often remains inside the bag. In these exact conditions, I kept having electrical devices like a tablet or drone in my Gravel Pack. I can give the all-clear: Both devices survived and the situation was never so critical that I had to worry 😉 Nevertheless one should pay attention to the topic

Security

To increase visibility, there are reflectors in the important places.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags for front and rear
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags for front and rear

They are attached at the front and at the back.

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Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear view page
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test small bike bags front wheel and for rear view page

On tour with the Ortlieb bike bags

I particularly liked the Gravel Pack from the first moment I saw it. With the look, the packs fit perfectly into the collection of Ortlieb Bikepacking bags. Since I already own almost all of the bags from this collection, so the Gravel packs were a perfect addition.

cube cross race pro with bikepacking bags
My Cube Cross Race pro with bikepacking bags on my 2 month trip from Stuttgart to Istanbul

This is how it was tested (supplement):From the middle of 2018, I was on a 4000 km tour from Stuttgart to Istanbul. Here I combined several Ortlieb Bikepacking bags and learned to appreciate the extra storage space of the Gravel Pack.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test and Experiences with Small Bike Bags Romania
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test and Experiences with Small Bike Bags Romania

The route led me two months long through many countries of Eastern Europe. As you can imagine, the roads were not always the best. Thus, the tour demanded a lot from the bikepacking bags and included uneven stone and gravel roads, as well as forest and back roads.

Of course, the term “bikepacking” is primarily understood to mean a rackless system and the greatest minimalism.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack test and experience with small bike bags Turkey
Ortlieb Gravel Pack test and experience with small bike bags Turkey

So on this trip I wasn’t going with a pure bikepacking setup – but again with more storage space. There was plenty of room for food like fresh vegetables to be prepared over the camp stove in the evening. A luxury I appreciated very much on this tour 🙂

The Gravel Pack comes with enough space for this and is therefore particularly suitable if a certain luxury is more important than fast progress.

I had the same travel philosophy on my Laos & Thailand, as well as on my Iceland bike trip. Again, I relied on the Ortlieb Gravel Packs. Again, the bags were challenged and also on these bike adventures I was completely satisfied with the small bike bags from Ortlieb. While traveling through Southeast Asia and Iceland, I rode my Bombtrack Beyond Gravel Bike. For the luggage rack I trusted the Tubus Vega 29 inch rack. One of the lightest steel luggage carriers for 29 inch bikes.

Laos Vientiane Sights Wat Si Saket Bombtrack Beyond
Laos Vientiane Sights Wat Si Saket Bombtrack Beyond

But back to the beginning: I mounted the Tubus Airy on my cyclocross. A chic and slim luggage carrier made of titanium. The Gravel Packs are supplied with suitable adapters for the hooks of the bags. This allows the bags to be adapted to luggage carrier bars of different thicknesses.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Experience and Summary

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test waterproof rear bike bags for hooking in
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test waterproof rear bike bags for hooking in

The Ortlieb Bikepacking bike bags are made for continuous use: Even after several years in use, I am convinced of the bags. They also have hardly any wear marks even after hard use.

The bags are with only 1,160 grams among the lightest bike bags in this class. In comparison: bags of the same size often weigh over 400 grams more.

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As always with Ortlieb, the Gravel packs are also waterproof. The attachment to the luggage carrier is done without tools and conveniently with one hand. In addition, the Ortlieb Gravel Pack bike bags with equal to 2 mounting hooks hold securely to the luggage carrier. Almost all other luggage carrier bag hold only with a mounting hook. This provides additional safety on rough surfaces such as gravel paths or trails.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack buy – yes or no?

Ortlieb is the market leader for bike bags in Germany for a good reason: The manufacturer’s bags have been almost perfected over the years! I’ve been happily relying on Ortlieb bike bags myself for many years and they’ve never let me down.

Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Lowrider bike bags front and rear luggage carrier
Ortlieb Gravel Pack Test Lowrider bike bags front and rear luggage carrier

The Gravel Packs are at the same time light and also very robust. In addition, the handling is very simple and the bags can be attached to the luggage carrier and removed again without tools. The whole thing within a few seconds and very convenient.

This makes the bags suitable for bikepackers and also for bike tours lasting several weeks at the same time. Ideally, the Gravel Pack is combined with a frame bag such as the Ortlieb Frame-Pack Toptube*. The space offered by the bike bags is downright luxurious for bike packers. On a bike tour, the bags can be used either as front panniers or as rear panniers.

So from me a very big recommendation 🙂

Good

Lightweight: With 1,160 grams for the pair of bags is one of the lightest in its class. In comparison, the Ortlieb Sport Roller Classic front panniers weigh a whole 430 grams more.
Secure attachment: Instead of one hook, the Gravel Packs each have two hooks in the lower area. This provides additional stability and the bags hold securely to the rack even on rough trails.
Waterproof: According to protection class IP64
Robust: Even after 2 years in use hardly any signs of wear. Thus also intended for hard use 😉

Bad

Bag consists of one large compartment: There are no organizational options, but the space is also used to the maximum. Just want to mention it – don’t think it’s a big deal with bags this size though.

Alternatives to the Ortlieb Gravel Pack

Ortlieb Bikepacking bags
Ortlieb bikepacking bags set
Ortlieb Bikepacking bag set in the test

The original Ortlieb Bikepacking bags are I have already tested some time ago extensively. Now Ortlieb has expanded the collection with the waterproof “Ortlieb Gravel Pack”.

Read about my experience with the new Ortlieb bikepacking bag pair in this article!

Originally, the Bikepacking saddle bag Seat-Pack, the handlebar bag Handlebar-Pack with associated Accessory-Pack and the frame bag Frame-Pack were presented for the Ortlieb Bikepacking collection.

To the detailed Ortlieb Bikepacking bags practical test (test & experiences)

Ortlieb Sport Roller-Classic

The classic Ortlieb bicycle panniers. The robust Sport Roller-Classic can be used as front wheel bags and as rear wheel bags. The Quick-Lock 2.1 system ensures easy handling. Extras like an integrated inner pocket and a shoulder strap provide more comfort, but increase the weight to 795 grams per bike bag or 1590 grams for the bike bag pair (430 grams heavier than the Ortlieb Gravel Pack pair). The Sport Scooters only have a mounting hook, making them more suitable for classic bike touring than off-road bikepacking adventures.

Vaude Aqua Front Light

An alternative to the Ortlieb Gravel Pack are the Vaude Aqua Front Light. The Vaude panniers are even about 100 grams lighter than the Ortlieb front panniers tested here. The volume is with 22 liters a little less and the bags seem in the long term use probably also less robust.

What do you think of the Ortlieb Bikepacking bags? Do you have any questions? Feel free to write me your comment.

The Gravel Pack is part of the Ortlieb Bikepacking bag set. I already have the complete bag set in practical use for several years. In the test I present you the bikepacking bags with all the advantages and disadvantages.

Want to learn more about bikepacking bags? Then just check out the Ultimate Bikepacking Bags Guide. There you will find out everything you want to know – and even more 😉

Geschrieben von Michael Luplow
Hallo, ich bin Michael, Bikepacker, Abenteuerfan und der Mensch hinter Bikepacking-Adventures. Die Idee für bikepacking-adventures.com entstand direkt hinter dem Fahrrad-Lenker! Nämlich als ich auf einer Fahrrad Tour von Deutschland nach Istanbul war. Hier geht es um Abenteuerreisen mit dem Fahrrad und um Bikepacking auf allen Kontinenten dieser Erde! Du möchtest mehr wissen oder hast Tipps? Schreib mir einfach!

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