Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL front
Sturdy, spacious, and it stands up by itself.

Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL Review


Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL Review


Robert Matusek


A review of the Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL


The Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL was designed in cooperation with professional bike messengers and they are the intended market for this bag. However, I want to show you that the Messenger Bag XL is not just useful for messengers.


For my purposes traditional messenger bags aren’t big enough. I need to carry lots of equipment and that requires a sturdy bag with lots of room. I had no concerns for the space requirement with the Messenger Bag XL due to its 60-litre capacity. This king-size version of a courier bag will impress most people with its size.


Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL action

Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL in its natural environment


This roomy backpack easily takes all tools, and tons of stuff that a race tech support needs to carry. The Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL features a huge main compartment big enough for an “A2 folder and 2 boxes of photocopier paper”, or a load of tools. Extra storage is provided by some handy straps on the sides, originally designed for mail tubes. A zippered front pocket provides enough room for additional tools, although it’s not waterproof. Bulky things can be securely fixed to the lid with the provided buckles.


Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL straps

The webbing, padding and straps help to distribute the weight when you carry the bag.


With all this weight the padded and ventilated shoulder straps and webbing are a very welcome addition. It’s been great while hurrying from one place to the next, to be able to carry the fully loaded bag whilst the straps help to distribute the load evenly. With its reinforced edges, the base is stable enough to keep it upright without needing something to lean up against. These reinforced edges also help to protect the bag’s contents. This is useful to protect documents as a messenger, but also relevant to life in a cyclocross pits!


Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL base

The base helps the bag stand up by itself if you have nothing to lean against


After a positive test with Ortlieb’s Seat Pack, my expectations were high when I took delivery of Ortlieb’s Messenger Bag XL and it didn’t disappoint. The Messenger Bag XL is made from a combination of polyester and Cordura. At times I was worried I might destroy the integrity of the bag, since it’s been heavily laden. The weight on the straps was quite considerable at times. The bag has coped well under these conditions, Ortlieb spend a lot of time designing their bags to be as durable as possible.


Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL front

Sturdy, spacious, and it stands up by itself.


My team-mates were surprised to see me carrying my kit in something that looks like a big rucksack. As I mentioned above, this isn’t what this bag was designed for, but it coped well with my unusual demands. With the Messenger Bag XL my tools were close at hand in cyclocross race pits and as a mobile tech support in races, in a bag bulky enough to take all the necessities, and strong enough to take a beating in the process. That’s a recipe for success in my book. It endured 2 heavy downpours so for me it’s waterproof enough.


Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL inside

The pen gives an idea of the sheer scale!


My only issue was that even if the bag isn’t full it’s still a huge bag to carry. Sure, the bag is very light, but unless you’re going to be using most of the space regularly then you may need to consider something smaller, or an additional bag for days when you have less to carry. Some of Ortlieb’s products utilise roll-top closures to make the size of the bag smaller when you carry less, so I guess I was spoilt with that before. In addition to this, you need to be aware of over-packing the Messenger Bag XL. If you have too many heavy items, then you may struggle to carry it!


In conclusion, the Ortlieb Messenger Bag XL gets a high score in my assessment. If you use this bag for messengering it will excel (or XL- Ed), because that’s what it’s designed for, but it’s also so much more than a messenger bag.


Ortlieb Website


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