The new Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR is a waterproof saddle bag with ingenious quick-release mounting. Just what you need for a bit of bikepacking.
Before we get into the Seat-Pack QR, let’s delve back in time…
Who is Ortlieb?
Ortlieb is one of those brands that is associated with making good stuff. Reliable stuff that once you’ve bought, you never really have to think about again. Products that just get on with things. Stuff that lasts a long time. Stuff that is really flipping waterproof too.
Ortlieb is someone’s surname. Hartmut Ortlieb. Ortlieb the brand has its origins back in the early 80s when little Hartmut began mucking about with outdoor gear and his mum’s sewing machine.
To cut a long and stitch-tastically geeky story short, Hartmut Ortlieb didn’t think traditional taped seams were good enough. You’ve probably had a taped seam garment that’s ended up with the tape falling away from the seams and thus losing its waterproofness.
Say nein to stitches
Anyway, in 1982 Hartmut invented a technology called high-frequency welding (HFW). HFW is basically melting fabric together instead of stitching it. Two ends of fabric have electricity passed through them, causing them to melt a bit, then the fabric join is squeezed together. Bonded.
Ortlieb boffins version: “HFW involves the application of high frequency voltage to the objects that need to be welded. The voltage causes the molecules within the various materials to vibrate and, essentially, to generate heat. Softened from within by the heat, the materials are then bonded under high pressure, leaving the welded seam at least as strong as the surrounding material.”
Products made using HFW are waterproof up to 100,000mm water column. That is a lot. To give you a comparison, the best waterproof jackets are waterproof up to 10,000mm water column.
HFW isn’t the only unique technology to Ortlieb. Over the past 40 years they’ve patented loads of innovations. Perhaps their main other invention beside HFW is their version of the roll top bag closure.
The main thing that Hartmut Ortlieb liked to do in the 1980s was travel. If you had to boil the Ortlieb brand down to one thing it would be: travelling in any weather. Whether that’s travel in the global adventuring bike packing sense, or just travelling to work every day.
Although Ortlieb products are designed to travel for miles all over every corner of the globe, Ortlieb’s manufacturing is all about remaining local. All their waterproof product is manufactured in Heilsbronn, Germany. 90% of all processes take place in-house too.
Their roots and their future in one place. Made in Germany.
Bikepacking, gravel bikes and Covid
The latest development in the Ortlieb story is tied to two phenomena. Bikepacking and the Covid pandemic.
Bikepacking and gravel bikes have been on Ortlieb’s radar since around 2016. Bikepacking and gravel bikes being essentially a more adventurous form of cycle touring, Ortlieb were in a great position to bring their knowhow and experience to the scene.
Then we had 2020 and the pandemic. In a nutshell, like many, Ortlieb saw more and more people turning to smallish scale adventures nearer to home.
Ortlieb’s Martin Esslinger explains it well: “Being on the move has changed, pandemic-related restrictions and the increasing environmental awareness of many consumers have given the trend towards regional, sustainable holidays a real boost. People are rediscovering their homeland, often by bike, very often in bikepacking mode. The term escape routes is a good way of describing these small breaks from everyday life. Only the essentials are packed and attached to the bike and then for a short time everyday life is exchanged for complete immersion in nature.”
The new Seat-Pack
Which brings us to this new bag on the block, the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR.
Named in a typically no-nonsense Ortlieb way, the Seat-Pack QR is a seat pack. With a quick release. Refreshingly Ronseal.
We’ll break the pack down into two different things: the pack itself and the attachment mechanism.
Let’s start with the attachment mechanism. The ingenious Seat-Lock fastening system makes the pack quick to mount, regardless of what bike it’s going on. A couple of hooked levers easily click into place on saddle rails. To remove, operate the two hooked levers. There is also a hook-and-loop anchor for fixing around the seatpost.
Once removed, the Seat-Lock system leaves no trace. No bracket required, as Herr Phil Collins would say.
When the pack in place it really does stay in place. There’s virtually zero swinging or jostling around even on bumpy terrain.
The pack can even be used with a dropper post (an increasingly common sight on gravel bikes) via the use of a dinky 43mm adapter clamp.
The bag itself has a storage capacity volume of 13 litres. There is also an elastic cord array on the outside of the pack for stashing things (clothing layers, for example).
The dimensions of the bag are 28cm x 48cm x 22cm.
There maximum load weight of the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR is an impressive 4kg (or 8.8lbs in old money).
The total weight of the pack itself is 625g by the way. We know every gram counts when bikepacking!
The bag contains zero PVC (it’s made from PU-coated rip-stop nylon) and is sustainably produced in Germany. As you’d expect from Ortlieb.
The bag’s internal stiffener reinforcement and four compression straps ensure the contents within stays in place.
Regarding cinching things down, the pack has a cute little compression valve that allows air to escape when you’re squeezing the pack down to rid it of extraneous space. This air-ridding would otherwise be hard to do due to how well sealed the roll-top closure of the pack is! Once suitably cinched, close the compression valve.
The roll-top closure keeps your stuff dry and dust-free. The closure meets the IP64 standard (6 means dustproof, 4 means protected against splash water coming from all directions), so long as the closure is rolled 3-4 times.
There is a protective plate on the underside of the pack which, as well as helping to even-out the compression straps’ squeezings, is designed to protect the pack from any tyre contact (on smaller frames and also on full suspension bikes).
Finishing off the pack, there are 3M Scotchlite reflective patches and a series of loops for attaching a rear light.
So there you have it. For bikepacking or exploring the unpaved world out there, the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR is there to keep your belongings secure in as hassle-free way as possible.
UK SRP for the Ortlieb Seat-pack QR is £155.
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