The triangular Ortlieb Frame Pack is certainly not cheap and the gaudy statement zip won’t be to everyone’s tastes but as usual for the German brand it sets the benchmark for bombproof engineering when it comes to the best bikepacking bags. It also manages to combine convenient zip opening with uncompromised waterproofing.
Ortlieb Frame Pack: design
The Ortlieb Frame Pack comes in two sizes, the 4L tested here and a 10cm longer, 5cm deeper 6L version (£135) but both share the same design. That’s two basically triangular ripstop side pieces seam-welded onto a reinforced material “belt” that runs all the way round the bag to form the width.
Ladder loops on the underside and back edge give multiple frame strap options while the side and belt fabrics are welded together to form raised flaps along the top on both sides. These are further reinforced on the inside faces by a rubbery gripper fabric and slotted in five places for broad, notched-hook and loop-wrapover straps.
Access is via a comically oversized and orange-colored 30cm long waterproof “Tizip” on the right-hand side. A looped tab at the front end gives you an anchor to pull the initially stiff zip open and also keeps the big T-bar puller tucked in when it’s shut. While there are no internal compartments or permanent dividers you get a central hook and loop tab to keep the sides from bulging out too much while you’re bikepacking.
Ortlieb Frame Pack: performance
For almost 40 years, the big reason to pay extra for Ortlieb is the brand’s utterly bombproof and completely waterproof German design and construction, and that’s still very much the case here.
To be totally honest we’ve not used the frame pack as much as the Ortlieb Handlebar Pack QR or seat pack, but from talking to other Ortlieb users we wouldn’t be in a situation to give you any meaningful feedback on durability for several years yet. Even then it would almost certainly be just to say everything was still absolutely fine.
In terms of waterproofing the IP67 rating of this bag is actually higher than the 1P64 rating of the equivalent Ortlieb roll top bag. That’s mostly thanks to the high pressure-proof, airtight, watertight, German-designed “Tizip”, which also makes the Ortlieb Frame Pack faster to get into than a roll top. Even though it comes pre-lubricated, though, it still takes a decent tug to get it open for the first few times you use it, though it is just about possible while riding.
When it comes to the fit, the notches on the three top straps stop them pulling the bag out of shape and the rubbery inner face really sticks the bag into place very securely. In fact it’s worth taking the time to line it up accurately if looking down onto a wonky bag might annoy you, as it’s remarkably hard to tease them round once the straps are done up. You can then triangulate the security with the three belly- and backstraps supplied but we generally found the bag held steady even with just the bottom corner strap in place.
The 4L size still gave us clearance for a tool keg and small water bottle under the bag too. While clearance with this design will obviously depend on the size of your frame, if you definitely want to have bottle space there’s a rectangular 4L Top Tube Pack using the same zip and strap system for the same price. As you might expect, it weighs slightly heavier than some designs but that almost certainly means better durability and weather proofing.
It may be pricey and simple in terms of storage, but benchmark bombproof and waterproof construction along with excellent stability and zip access convenience make the Ortlieb frame pack well worth considering.
Tech Specs: Ortlieb Frame Pack
- Price: £115
- Colors: Black
- Weight: 205g
- Dimensions: 40cm x 24cm x 6cm