Battle of the Bags

June 7, 2011

Pretty much once a week someone calls and says, "So, just lay it out for me. Which are better? Ortlieb or Arkel panniers?"

If only it were that easy! First off, I'll start out by saying that Arkel (Canada) and Ortlieb (Germany) are both fantastic companies that stand behind their products. If you ever have any problems with them, you'll have no problem getting them warrantied or replaced.

So, let's talk water proofiness. Orlieb panniers are without a doubt the most waterproof; they're made from an extremely waterproof polyester fabric with a tight fitting lid closure (just don't let water get in!). Arkel panniers are made out of a super tough, water-resistant Cordura; but, in an actual downpour, you'll need a Raincover. Arkel makes ones that fit each bag and can be purchased separately (more economically minded tourists just use a trash bag).

Are you the kind of person who likes to throw everything into your suitcase and head out for the weekend? Or do you like to have separate sections for your socks and shirts? This may ultimately decide whether you choose Arkel or Ortlieb panniers. Arkel panniers feature lots of different inside and outside pockets, so you can put your toothpaste and hairbrush in one place, and your stock of apples in another. Orlieb panniers are basically one big compartment, so you can either divide things into separate stuff sacks, or let chaos reign.

This is a case where personal preference really rules. And either way you go, you won't be disappointed.

Photo by Sarah Raz


SHIPPING NEWS is brought to you by Sarah Raz, sales representative/outreach coordinator/lover of all things outdoors. She also wishes Eddy Merckx was her father (sorry Dad!)


llewellyn June 8, 2011, 6:23 AM

Having used both brands , my personal preference is for waterproof Orlieb. Like nearly all panniers they are prone to "jumping" loose from your rack on rough roads. I have alleviated the problem to a degree by adding an extra clip to the bags, but the downside is they are plastic.In the 60's bags had steel clips for the top of the rack and either straps or those new fangled stretchy straps with a hook for the bottom attachment. The day of the 100% perfect bag is still a long way off.

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