Ortlieb Frame Pack: Waterproof and Easy to Fit [Review]

The Ortlieb bikepacking frame bag is offered in two sizes and is designed to fit most frames with an open front triangle.

The Ortlieb bikepacking frame pack ($150-165, available at REI and Competitive Cyclist) is offered in two sizes and is designed to fit most frames with an open front triangle. I recently tested the 6L version on a 340-mile trip around Central Florida and here’s what I learned.

Fit and sizing

In addition to the 6L version I tested, Ortlieb offers a smaller version that’s likely compatible with more frame sizes. There’s a printable template on the Ortlieb website that I found super helpful for determining which size would fit my frame. After printing, cutting, and taping I was able to confirm the bag would fit. Every frame is different in terms of sizes and angles so be sure to check, even if it’s just with a tape measure.

The bag is two inches fat which keeps it away from your legs while pedaling. It’s possible to pack it a bit wider, allowing the bag to bulge slightly, and even then my calves never so much as brushed the fabric.

My extra-large bike has a bit of bracing at the seat tube and the Ortlieb Frame Pack fit no problem thanks to the positionable top straps. The hook-and-loop straps have stops on them to prevent them from sliding through the slots or twisting, and they kept the bag firmly in place throughout my testing. As you can see in the first photo above, I left the rightmost top strap slot open to accommodate the rigging for a top-tube bag.

I threw together this nylon carry handle using some webbing and plastic hardware.

My friend Chase had the brilliant idea of adding a nylon carry strap to the top tube of his bike, and I decided to do the same. I attached one end to my frame and looped the other end to one of the bag’s top straps, hoping that everything would hold together. After hoisting my 55lb+ rig over countless fences using the strap I can confirm the Ortlieb Frame Pack straps are durable, and strong enough to support not just the contents of the pack and at least half my bike’s weight.

One thing to note is the included frame straps are pretty rough and do not have any sort of rubberized/silicon coating on the frame-contact side. Be sure to add protection to your frame before attaching the bag, and note that the straps are free to rotate around the frame tubes a bit.

Inside and out

I like to stock my frame pack with items I plan on using during the day, and also heavier items like lights, tools, and batteries. There are no real organizational features inside the Ortlieb Frame Pack so everything winds up in the same area. I used zippered pouches and Zip Lock bags to separate things like repair supplies and food, and based on how things shifted around inside the bag during the day, that meant fishing for the right one when it was time to stop. Some buyers may prefer a more divided compartment, perhaps with an additional zipper, to keep items better organized. Personally, I’ll take the minor hassle of fishing for items over having a divided compartment that eliminates the flexibility in terms of what will fit. I mean, what if you find a cool deer antler along the way, or just want to fit that footlong sub someplace safe and dry?

Speaking of keeping things dry, this Ortlieb pack is all about it. So much so, they wrote ‘waterproof’ right on the pack. Officially the bag is rated IP67 which means it’s 100% protected against dust and can be immersed in water for 30 minutes without leaking. The burly zipper doesn’t look waterproof to me, but the proof is in the puddles.

While bikepacking across Florida earlier this month, I saw the sun for a total of a just few hours over three days. We rode through rain and mist and of course all kinds of sand from thick and coarse to powder-fine. There was steady overnight rain, and even the drive down (with the frame bag attached) was a wet one. You get the picture: I tested this bag in some really, really wet and gritty conditions.

True to its claims, the Ortlieb Frame Pack didn’t leak a bit. Not only that, nothing even felt damp inside, despite riding for days. The thick, ripstop material clearly does a great job shielding against the weather and scratchy sub-tropical vegetation, and the stitching and taping are very high quality.

Of course, the weakest link in any waterproof gear is usually the zipper, and this orange-toothed wonder gets the job done. Not only does it keep the water out, it’s super durable too. I tugged and pulled on it across hundreds of miles — often in exhaustion, sometimes in frustration — and it stood up to the abuse. There were a couple of times where the zipper seemed to get caught on something or snagged on one of my plastic bags inside, but a firm pull set it free every time. The zipper never seemed to get caught on the pack fabric itself which is all I can really ask. There’s also a handy holster for the zipper pull to keep it from tapping around during the ride.

Ortlieb claims the pack weighs 250g; my scale says 240g which is a nice surprise.

It seems most off-the-shelf bikepacking bags are either black or gray, with orange accents, and the Ortlieb Frame Pack is no different. Personally, I like the orange zipper since it complements my bike, though I’m sure it’s not for everyone. The upshot is the orange accents and reflective logos add nighttime visibility. I considered dressing mine up with some patches but decided against that to ensure the pack stays waterproof.

Bottom line

The Ortlieb Frame Pack seems to be well constructed using high-quality materials. It’s easy to install, fits many frame sizes, and is a cinch to use thanks to its streamlined design, however, some may want to look for a pack with more internal organizational features or a second zipper access.

Party laps

  • Easy off-the-shelf choice that fits many frames
  • Keeps water and dust out
  • Durable and yet fairly lightweight

Pros and cons of the Ortlieb Frame Pack.

Dirt naps

  • No inner organization and just one access point
  • Not a perfect fit for any frame