Monday, December 23, 2013

Review: Ortlieb Messenger Bag Pro backpack of huge love of monstrous proportions

About a year ago, I reviewed the Ortlieb Velocity backpack -- which was a pack I'd been using for a couple years. In that review, I concluded that the main way the Velocity could be improved was to make it bigger, whereupon I discovered that such a pack existed and that's what we're talking about here: the Ortlieb Messenger Bag Pro ($195). Full disclosure: I did not buy this bag, but if you need to haul a lot of crap and you do it frequently and in all weather and on a bike, and you'll be doing this for many, many years, then you should consider this bag, because it rules.

Gush-fest is just beginning.

I've been using this bag for about three months, which is not normally enough time to really do a proper review, but Ortlieb has earned the durability pass from me. Based on many years of abusing many Orlieb products, I can say without hesitation that this bag will hold up just fine for a number of years of my abuse. And when something fails, breaks, or is sliced open: it's all servicable and fixable. This is all sensible, practical, well-engineered German stuff.

So all of the stuff I loved about the Velocity is on this bag: the super fat cushy shoulder straps, the padded attempt to minimize sweat and maximize airflow on the back, the broad belt and buckle, and the basic Orlieb Hole™ design.

As much as I love the Hole™ design -- and I do, see here and here -- this particular bag serves up a cavern of monstrous proportions. Unless you are a professional for whom this bag was originally designed, the cavernous size of this hole verges on ridiculous. It's sort of the Hummer of Holes, if you will.

The way the bag is designed to break up the space is smart: there are two plastic dividers that are rigid enough to stand up, but flexible enough to flop around stuff. This creates three sections to organize your crud and the infrastructure does not impose unreasonable limitations on how you pack it in. Smarty pants. A picture (even this crappy one) does a better job of illustrating this:

I love this. I keep my books and computer on the part closest to my back, clothes in the middle section, and lunch and lock on the outer section. It's still crazy deep and without this organizational help, a guy could get lost digging around in there... never to reach the bottom.

A couple other nifty features make this bag pretty sweet. The first is the built-in super long Velcro closure. On the Velocity, this is an add-on extra thing you need to buy. On this bag, it's included, which is nice. But I'd still rather have the buckle.

The other thing I like is the big awesome window on the back. It was designed so messengers can slide advertisements in there -- but I think it  makes an excellent spot for a giant reflective triangle. I'll get one of those one day. Until then, Maddie likes to keep fresh pictures in there according to the season.

Strap extended. Window dressing.
This is a monster bag. According to the website, it's got a volume of 30L. The Velocity, which is a great daily driver for most, has a volume of 20L. I've topped out the Velocity a number of times. By the time I approach topping out the Messenger Bag Pro, I'm scared of the weight, especially if it's a beer-heavy grocery store run. But in the end, I'm loving this the hugeness of this bag, and I'll use it for years.

1 comment:

Stine said...

Maybe you could get Maddie some reflective markers-- seasonal safety, with style.