Ortlieb Velocity Backpack 2.5 Year Review

26 05 2010

My Ortlieb Velocity showing a bit of wear and tear...

Read my initial thoughts about this bag from early 2008 here and my 5 month update here.

This backpack has become my “go to” bag for most of my day to day backpack needs.

This is why:

  • 20L size is perfect for most loads
  • roll top closure lets you carry large odd sized items [bike fork] by leaving top open
  • waterproof bag makes it a no brainer when you want to carry a laptop in the rain
  • PVC fabric is very rugged
  • simple design is easy to use
  • fits well and is comfy even with a moderately heavy load
  • back of bag ventilates well

The bag it has displaced is an aging Camelback Transalp which was my favourite bag for years.  Interestingly the Transalp featured many small pockets to organize my stuff.  I figured the fact the Velocity is a simple bag with only a small organizing pocket might be a problem…as it turns out that’s not an issue and I rarely wish I had more pockets.

If you need a medium sized backpack and you care about waterproofness and durability this is a good bag to consider.

The excess belt straps req'd a ghetto DIY solution...

Stuff I don’t like:

  • basic black goes with anything, but some reflective material like Ortlieb puts on their panniers would make me happier riding late at night.
  • every bag made for cyclists should have a simple cloth tab to allow you to easily attach a red blinky…come on that isn’t rocket science.
  • the removable organizer pocket is handy, but it can slap around inside the bag making an irritating sound with every step you take…an extra snap at the bottom or some velcro would cure that issue.
  • the bag has a waist belt that is rarely needed due to the moderate size of the bag.  This belt comes with two plastic clips to manage the excess strap ends when the belt isn’t being used.  They were made of brittle plastic are broke early on requiring me to resort to a ghetto tape solution.  A sewn on velcro strap on each side would solve the problem while looking nice and lasting as long as you have the bag.

BTW – if you like what you see, but need more than 20L of capacity Ortlieb sells two larger bags similar to the Velocity.  I’m keen on getting the Messenger Bag Pro…I’m just waiting for one to cross my path on sale!



16 responses

26 05 2010

Thanks for the review – the better blinky lights are so directional that I think they are rarely going to be pointing in a good direction when attached to a tab.

26 05 2010

I won’t disagree with your comment, but:

1) If I need to put a light on or ride a bike with no lights I’d rather have a poorly aim LED blinky than nothing.
2) a smart rider would use one of the multi-direction LEDs to account for the poor aiming
3) adding a tab for a light is a small incremental cost that is highly useful and is not easy for the user to do on their own

26 05 2010

Good points.

27 05 2010

I used black Ortlieb panniers for many years. These are similar to the Velocity. The thing I hated most was the fact the inside of the bag was so dark, it was like a black hole. Pretty hard to find your stuff back.
I now have a Timbuk2 messenger D-Lux wich has a light blue liner on the inside, now I can actually see what’s in my bag.
All Timbuk2 bags have a blinky light tab standard by the way.

27 05 2010

I agree that light coloured interiors are nice….

I’ve checked out the Timbuk2 bags, but they’ve never rocked my world.

I do use two messenger bags that have light interiors:



27 05 2010

I’m in agreement with the blinkie issue and the dark innards issue.

My Ortliebs really need a blinkie tab. I’m a shorter guy, so mounting to a seat post isn’t an option if I use a wedge under my seat for supplies. I end up having to rig stuff all the time to make a blinkie work when I use my Ortlieb.

And it is REALLY dark in there. I lose stuff all the time when there’s no direct light shining in.

Great thoughts, Vik.


28 05 2010
Ty Smith

I have had the black Ortlieb panniers for years on my regular bike, and use the Ortlieb Messenger Bag (in yellow) when riding my Season Tikit. I purposely bought the obnoxious yellow one for visability as I ride daily in downtown San Francisco.

Ortlieb did add reflectors to the side of the Messenger bag, but I agree that reflectors and/or a tab on the back would be a good addition. I am thinking about ordering some reflective stickers to put on the back of my bag. I have heard these are good:


Bottom line, I do love the bag and panniers and can testity to their being 100% rain proof.

31 05 2010

Hi there!
I’ve got a fairly new messenger bag (the one without the plastic sleeve) that i’m willing to sell cheap. clarinet DOT cola (no space) at gmail DOT com’


3 09 2010

I know I’m way late to the party here, but I wanted to thank you for the review. I’m considering an Ortlieb Velocity for my next ‘serious backpack’ purchase — the one that will be carrying my insanely-expensive textbooks to and from university all winter — and your review both confirms that this is the bag I’ve been looking for and gives me some idea of possible glitches I may need to address.

I second the Lightweights idea (or something similar). I’m planning on buying the obnoxious yellow model because I’ve been corrupted by roadies with their bright plumage and have since developed a taste for day-glo 😉 — but I’m going to get reflective tape stuff anyway, for the straps and sides. Nothing succeeds like excess, as they say!

For the loose-flapping inner baglet: you can get rip-and-stick (think Velcro) dots, strips, or squares at craft, fabric, and hardware stores with adhesive backing. That way, you can add rip-and-stick functionality without having to use a needle and thread, which might compromise the bag’s waterproof quality.

When I buy my Velocity, I plan to stick a set of these on — one to the back of the accessory bag, one to the wall of the pack where it rests. That should keep it from flapping around.

A similar solution might allow you to attach a blinky — stick some rip-and-stick on the back of the blinky and the face of the pack. It would, however, probably require some truly industrial-grade rip-and-stick stuff. If I try it, I’ll also try to remember to post the results of my experience.

For the flailing straps, I’m thinking rip-and-stick wrap straps, maybe? I use a pair to hold my ginormous lock on my skinny little road bike: I ride a pretty small frame, but use two bottle cages (the spare gets used for long rides just about every week, not to mention carrying random accessories in empty bottles), and thus I wind up with nowhere to put the lock mount. Rip-and-stick wrap straps save the day. I’m guessing something like that might be able to handle the excess strappage, too.

…As you can probably tell, my bikes tend to wind up looking like they were involved in an explosion at the rip-and-stick factory 🙂

30 12 2010
John Duplo

Having a black interior on a roll top does kinda suck. Hard to find stuff at times. But what I wanted to mention is about timbuk2. Their bags are terrible. Especially their messenger bags. The strapping system sucks, the strap sucks, and they aren’t waterproof. In fact when you close your bag you can see 2 wide openings at the corners where water can freely get in. They only have a couple of waterproof bags, the maverick bags. Their backpacks are decent for what they cost, but the messenger bags I wouldn’t recommend to anyone.

1 05 2012

Love the pic of the Velocity standing tall next to the Bike Friday with the big buildings in the background. Ortlieb bags are a free-standing structure in their own right…

30 04 2013
James Douglas

Hey, thank you for your update on the Ortlieb Backpack, I’ve bene looking at getting one for a while, but haven’t decided which yet. Its good to see you are still using 2.5 years on as there’s plenty of my mates who ditch their bags well under a year into having them. Cheers!

30 04 2013

@James – the Ortlieb Velocity is going strong….now 4.5yrs old. I have no plans of getting rid of it. 🙂

7 11 2016

The last version of this model has “fixing for bike light or helmet”.

7 11 2016

Nice 🙂

7 11 2016

I’m about tu buy the Velocity “High Visibility” model :
“Both the waterproof, polyurethane-coated Cordura fabric in neon yellow and the black fabric parts of this bag are densely interwoven with high-luminosity reflective yarn. This composition turns the entire bag into an eminently visible reflector when it is picked up in the headlights of passing cars.” (https://www.ortlieb.com/en/Velocity%20High%20Visibility/)

It’s a bit more expensive but it’s probably worth it ! 🙂

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