This is a stylish backpack that neatly adapts Ortlieb’s unmistakable look and tech for a commuter setting. The quality is second to none; this bag is “sustainably produced” in Germany and has a five-year warranty.
Comfortable when loaded up
Has the distinctive Ortlieb look
Relative lack of reflectives
The fabric used for the Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City is a nylon cordura that looks woven rather than shiny and smooth like the company's famous touring panniers, but like them it's totally waterproof and uses the same method of 'welding' seams that Ortlieb pioneered. It is also lightweight, so if you’re carrying a minimal load you’ll hardly notice it.
And the renowned Ortlieb roll closure, which ensures total waterproofing in panniers if correctly executed, is present in a slightly more user-friendly form which allows much quicker access. There’s a keys/wallet/phone zipped side pocket that Ortlieb says is not waterproof.
The internal padded organizer is held in with Velcro so can be removed if you want a simple, compartment-free bag for your stuff, but if you’re carrying a laptop it is very useful indeed.
As for comfort, Ortlieb has, um, sweated the details. In an attempt to avoid your back getting too soggy separate blocks of TPU allow air to circulate while the shoulder straps have slots cut into them. If you’re using your commute as a training ride and riding reasonably hard you will never avoid sweatiness, but the design of the Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City does prevent sweat from soaking into foam padding and getting really stinky.
The waist and chest straps are removable, but when both are used they make for very secure and comfortable portage.
We found the 21 litres swallowed a typical commuting load of 4.6 kilos easily, although because the bag is made of a single layer of material it needs to be packed with care or it looks lumpy.
Although the Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City is not the most ergonomic shape it nevertheless sat very comfortably when loaded and in a cycling position. There is enough room between the tops of the shoulder straps and bag not to touch the back of a helmet and the waist strap ensures that it stays stable and central.
The only thing the Ortlieb lacks is reflectivity. With just one reflective Ortlieb logo plus stitching on the shoulder straps you obviously won’t stand out at night as much other bags, not just the Proviz REFLECT360, but most cycling-specific bags. It could be pretty easy to remedy this without ruining the chic style of the Ortlieb.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism.
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Mercian Classic fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
And the vital statistics:
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