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Ortlieb Back Roller pannier review

Ortlieb Back Roller Classic reflective pannier review
22 Jan 2016

The Ortlieb Back Roller pannier has received a high visibility make over.

Cyclist Rating: 

You would imagine that reviewing panniers would be quite simple: Did they keep my things dry? Yes. Did they stay attached the entire time? Yes – Excellent, five stars. Except it’s not quite as easy as that because there’s more to a pannier than material and buckles, and the Ortlieb Back Roller proves it.

If you’re familiar with Ortlieb panniers, the high visibility model might surprise you on first encounter. Gone is the tough plastic in favour of a thick, 100% waterproof cordura that has reflective thread woven in with it, so when hit with a headlight the whole thing lights up like a Christmas tree.

Also changed is the mounting system of old – the latches still drop over the top of a rack, and there is still a hook to hold it all in place, but you no longer need any tools to adjust it. The panniers will latch onto racks with tubing between 8-20mm though a series of adaptors.

The main body of the panniers is 20L (making a 40L pair) and, apart from a small pocket for little bits, it’s just one big compartment inside so I’d recommend splitting your things up into dry bags.

Ortlieb Back Roller Classic reflective panniers

The Back Roller is a roll top closure, which is about as waterproof a style as you can get. You just roll the top over itself three times and clip together. If you’re not filling the panniers up with much you can use the shoulder strap to tie down the sides in a neater package. Weight for the full package (not that it really matters) is 1680g. 

In at the deep end 

In my opinion, the only way to test touring equipment is to go on a tour, and preferably in horrendous weather. Lucky the opportunity arose at the end of last year and so it was that a few friends and I headed to Kielder for a couple of days riding. What we actually did was huddle by a fire and hide from the inclement horrors taking place outside of the bothy.

On the final day the weather briefly broke and we made a dash for it, attempting to get to the train station and back home. No sooner had we gone five miles, the wind whipped up and the heavens opened. The wind was so extreme that I was blown off my bike twice, once into a small bog. The weather had conspired against us and we managed a paltry 35 miles in six hours. Despite all the wind, rain and crashes the Ortlieb Back Rollers managed the two things I asked of them – they kept my things dry and stayed attached. Excellent, five stars.