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Ortlieb Gravel Pack Review

A well-designed, waterproof pannier set built for fast and light adventures.
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Price:  $180 List | $180.00 at REI
Pros:  Lightweight, great mounting system, waterproof
Cons:  Smaller capacity, lack of organization pockets, expensive
Manufacturer:   Ortlieb
By Nick Bruckbauer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 12, 2019
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Mounting System - 25% 9
  • Storage - 20% 5
  • Durability - 20% 7
  • Weatherproofing - 20% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Ortlieb Gravel Pack pannier set is a thinned down version of Ortlieb's well-regarded touring panniers in a much smaller and lighter package. It has the same top-quality adjustable mounting system found on many other highly ranked models and a lightweight waterproof body that is secured by a roll-top closure system. While this is an impressive product, it seems to best fit a small niche of fast and light offroad adventurers or racers, as it is not as big and burly as some other touring panniers, and is without some organizational features found on commuting panniers. Riders needing only minimal storage in a lightweight and waterproof package will appreciate the Gravel Pack.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $180.00 at REI$179.99 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$169.95 at Competitive Cyclist$89.99 at Amazon$65.21 at Amazon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, great mounting system, waterproofLarge capacity, fully waterproof, easy & secure attachmentRugged, spacious, weatherproof, and comfortable to wearQuick to attach/remove, easy transition, lots of extra features and pocketsInexpensive, ready-for-use, easy installation
Cons Smaller capacity, lack of organization pockets, expensiveNo outer pocketsInitial installation time and extra hardwareNot totally waterproof, a little bulky/heavyNot a pair, lacking adjustable hardware
Bottom Line A well-designed, waterproof pannier set built for fast and light adventures.A durable, high-quality design that is worthy of winning our Editors' Choice Award.This is a bomber pannier that works just as well when worn on the back; our favorite hybrid bag in the lineup.Totally bomber pannier that is quick to turn into a backpack.A solid touring pannier that is rugged, fully waterproof, and affordable enough to buy two for a pair.
Rating Categories Ortlieb Gravel Pack Ortlieb Back Roller Classic Ortlieb Vario Waterproof Backpack Seattle Sports Titan
Mounting System (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
Storage (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Durability (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weatherproofing (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
Specs Ortlieb Gravel Pack Ortlieb Back... Ortlieb Vario Waterproof Backpack Seattle Sports Titan
Volume (cubic inches) 1526 cu in (pair) 2441 cu in (pair) 1403 cu in 1100 cu in 1100 cu in
Dimensions (in.) (H x W x D) 11.8" x 9.8" x 5.5" 16.5" x 12.6" x 6.7" 19.7" x 11" x 7.9" 15.5" x 11.5" x 6.75" 13.5" x 11" x 6"
Weight 2.6 lbs (pair) 4.2 lbs (pair) 2.8 lbs 3.1 lbs 2 lbs
Material Polyurethane-coated nylon PS 490 and PD 620 nylon Nylon Two-layer: ballistic outer layer and welded-seam liner Vinyl
Pockets No sleeves or pockets Internal sleeve and zippered mesh pocket 2 side pockets, waterproof front pocket, internal laptop sleeve and zippered mesh pocket 2 side pockets, 1 zippered side pocket, zippered front lid pocket Exterior splashproof zippered pocket
Best Use Touring Touring Commuting/Urban Commuting/Urban Touring

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ortlieb Gravel Pack has a unique lightweight design that is intended to cut the weight and bulk of typical touring panniers for fast and light adventures, without compromising on waterproof construction and a top-notch mounting system. Made for offroad bikepacking or lightweight tours, this model sees the performance tradeoffs one might expect from a smaller and lighter pack. By saving weight, this pack doesn't have the same overall storage volume, organization sleeves or pockets, or thick, durable material of other touring panniers. While some riders might look past this model, its size, weight, and waterproofing will likely make it just right for certain riders.

Performance Comparison


The well-designed Gravel Pack is a smaller  lighter version of Ortlieb's famous touring panniers.
The well-designed Gravel Pack is a smaller, lighter version of Ortlieb's famous touring panniers.

Mounting System


The Gravel Pack has our favorite and most secure mounting system out of any model we've tested so far. On top, it has two clasping mounting hooks that are adjustable side-to-side (fore-to-aft on the bike rack), and come with additional spacers to make sure they fit the bar diameter of your specific rack. Down on the bottom, two latches can be adjusted in both angle and direction, to hold tightly to the bottom rungs of your bike rack. This is one of the highest-performing systems we've tested, that is very secure, easy to adjust, and quick to mount and dismount.

The adjustable top hooks and adjustable bottom latches on the Gravel Pack make for a very secure and easy to use mounting system.
The adjustable top hooks and adjustable bottom latches on the Gravel Pack make for a very secure and easy to use mounting system.
The lower latches can be adjusted to hold onto your specific rack just right.

The only potential drawback of this system is that since it has four adjustable attachment points, it could take ever so slightly longer to get it properly mounted and adjusted than a pannier with a simpler, less secure system. We think this is a negligible price to pay for easy adjustment and ultimate holding ability, as we had no issues using this system.

The Gravel Pack's mounting system is one of the favorites that we've tested.
The Gravel Pack's mounting system is one of the favorites that we've tested.

Storage


This model scores a bit lower in the storage ratings, as it's one of the smallest dual-bag panniers in our review, coming in at 1,500 cubic inches (25 liters) for the pair. While this is definitely on the smaller side of any bag in our review, it should be noted that the design purpose of this product is to be a lightweight add-on for fast and light races or outings, where only the essentials are packed along. It certainly seems to accomplish this task, as it is also one of the lightest models in our review.

The 1 500 cubic inch (25 liter) capacity per pair is smaller than most other panniers.
The 1,500 cubic inch (25 liter) capacity per pair is smaller than most other panniers.

The Gravel Pack also lacks any internal or external sleeves or pockets, having only the main storage compartment. This could be a drawback for many riders but is again intended to save weight with its minimalist design. While the storage volume and options for this pack are limited compared to others, it's low size and bulk could be just right for a rider looking to save weight and pack minimally.

There is one main storage compartment with no other pockets or sleeves.
There is one main storage compartment with no other pockets or sleeves.

Durability


The Gravel Pack is made from laminated ripstop nylon, which is one of the lightest materials of any pack in our lineup. The straps, buckles, and mounting hardware are all of very high quality but are also slightly lighter and thinner than what is found on some other bulkier touring panniers. While we had no issues with durability during our testing period, this pack just doesn't have the heft that some other models have with their thick, coated material and heavier-duty straps. While we don't expect this to be an issue during recreational use, we could see the durability of the thinner and lighter materials being compromised in more severe conditions or rugged terrain.

The lightweight laminated ripstop nylon is strong and waterproof  but may not be able to withstand the abuse that other thicker materials can.
The lightweight laminated ripstop nylon is strong and waterproof, but may not be able to withstand the abuse that other thicker materials can.

Weatherproofing


This model scores well in the weatherproofing rating metric with its waterproof laminated ripstop nylon, roll-top closure, and additional side buckle closures. This pack simply keeps the water out. While we had no issues during our testing period, the lighter and thinner material could be susceptible to long term wear after prolonged exposure to heat, cold, mud, and similar extreme elements, compared to the thicker material found on other heavier-duty touring panniers.

The Gravel Pack can easily withstand cold  dreary weather.
The Gravel Pack can easily withstand cold, dreary weather.

Ease of Use


The Gravel Pack scores well in the ease of use category, but its high-quality design has a couple of small nuances that make it slightly more tedious to use than the most simply designed competitors. The four attachment points that make the mounting system so effective could extra seconds to get adjusted just right compared to the simplest slide-on panniers, and the three closure buckles that help ensure your contents arrive dry take slightly longer to open and close than other designs with only one buckle. It's worth repeating that these nuances are what make this pack so high-performing. Other models that are easier to use or mount and dismount make performance sacrifices for that simplicity.

All the Ortlieb products have thoughtful and user-friendly designs.
All the Ortlieb products have thoughtful and user-friendly designs.

It's also worth repeating that this pack has a very minimalist design. If you're looking for organizational pockets or sleeves or extra handles or straps, you won't find that here. If you're looking for a smaller, lightweight, high-performing model for fast movement, this is the one for you.

Value


The Gravel Pack's retail price finds it among the more expensive products in our lineup. Because of the unique minimalist design of this pack, it probably doesn't represent a great value for most riders. Riders looking for larger volume, heavier duty touring panniers, urban or backpack style panniers, or more refined commuting panniers will find better value products in those specific categories. Riders looking specifically for a lightweight, low profile design for racing or fast touring will find this a tremendous value, as it fills this niche perfectly.

Conclusion


The Ortlieb Gravel Pack has a solid waterproof design and one of the best mounting systems we've seen, all in a lightweight and low profile package ideal for fast and light touring or racing. While other products have bigger storage volumes, heavier duty materials, and more refined storage options, riders looking for a simple and light design with top-notch construction should definitely check out this model!

The Gravel Pack is ready for your fast and light adventure.
The Gravel Pack is ready for your fast and light adventure.


Nick Bruckbauer