The idea of attaching bags to a bike is not a new idea, but ‘Bikepacking’ has become more popular in recent years. It’s no surprise that manufacturers jumped on the band wagon. This has resulted in increased investment in developing new ways to attach luggage to bikes. The Ortlieb Seat-Pack is a great example of this development
I was aware of the popularity of bikepacking, but only recently had a chance to try it for myself. When I was invited to join an off-season endurance ride in Italy, I seized the opportunity. I accepted the invitation and before I lined up for the ride I had to make sure I had some suitable equipment. My plan was to carry a seat or seatpost-mounted bike pack instead of a heavy rack and panniers. I chose an Ortlieb Seat-Pack, which had been newly introduced at Eurobike. Far simpler and lighter than a rack and panniers, the Seat-Pack seemed the perfect thing for an endurance ride.
I was surprised by just how lightweight the Ortlieb Seat-Pack is, considering how substantial it seems. We got the opportunity to compare our set-up with other riders’, and given the Seat-Packs size, it proved to be the lightest seat bag at 430g. Despite its generous size the Seat-Pack is well designed and fits to your seatpost tightly and securely. When changing speed and/or direction the bag was settled and didn’t upset the handling of the bike even when fully or part loaded. The Seat-Pack goes from 8 to 16.5 litres by unrolling the roll closure on the side. When you unroll the Seat-Pack completely, it’s cavernous. When you don’t need the full capacity, you just roll the closure up, it’s very adaptable for different types of journey.
I had concerns over the connection with my saddle rails and seat post. Thankfully the Seat-Pack includes substantial compression straps that pull the Seat-Pack tight to the saddle, and in towards the seatpost. I’ve had no clearance issues between the bag and my rear tire, despite the 29 inch tires. Ortlieb recommends you need 14cm of clear seatpost to mount the Seat-Pack. The Seat-Pack also has enough padding to protect your frame and bike parts while riding on rough roads. Detaching the system quickly is very simple, and although I didn’t often need to, there were times when I rode on my own and had to stop at places where I’d rather take the Seat-Pack with me.
Given the relentless nature of the ride, the Seat-Pack became an essential and much-loved part of my riding gear. I stopped worrying about gnarly roads damaging my gears, bike and packs. The Seat-Pack took the beating convincingly. I was happy with the build quality of the Seat-Pack. I only had to pull the straps tight at the start of the ride and they weren’t shaken loose by the bumpy roads. On the third day of the ride the weather showed its nasty side with a torrential downpour that tested the Seat-Pack’s durability and waterproofing. The Seat-Pack stayed dry and my electronics and valuables were safe from harm inside it.
The Ortlieb Seat-Pack performed well in this endurance ride. I’ll be testing it under normal day-to-day conditions as well. Let’s see how it fares if we depart from its intended use. I am also curious to see how well it fits on my commuter bike. Although, I have tested it on my cyclocross machine already. I daren’t use its full capacity due to the fragile carbon seat post, but I rode on numerous singletracks without any disturbing rattles.
The Seat-Pack really has grown on me. The week-long race was a struggle towards the end and I had no energy to care about my gears, bike and belongings. I just wanted to get to the finish line in the best time possible, so I was really at the mercy of a reliable set of luggage that just did what it was supposed to do. Ortlieb’s Seat-Pack truly delivered, the only thing I had to do was wash it from time to time. After this first-hand experience I learned a lot, not only in terms of bike packing but also how demanding this type of ride is on luggage. I have already signed up for another ride in Sicily this coming Spring. It will be even more challenging so I’m considering adding another Ortlieb bag to my handlebars.
I had some concerns on the cost of this item but I soon realized how flexible, reliable and durable the Ortlieb Seat-Pack is. Now I know how important those properties are when you are on the limit, the price seems more acceptable. Some people make some compromises, and they don’t seem to mind constantly having to readjust and check their kit. I want to put all my attention to completing the ride itself, and have robust and dependable gear for the task. Ortlieb’s Seat-Pack ticked all these boxes a little bit more. I think I’ll unlock its full potential in even harder and longer races. So far, respect to ORTLIEB for their Seat-Pack.
If you’re looking for a slightly smaller saddle bag with similar properties see this review of the Ortlieb Medium Saddlebag.
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