Product Review: Ortlieb Velocity Messenger Pack
The Ortlieb Velocity Messenger Pack is a good quality waterproof backpack. I owned my first one for about three years. During the winter, some of the plastic hardware became brittle in temperatures under 25 degrees, and broke. After the waterproof coating began to degrade I bought another one.
The pack has a fairly large capacity, stays put while biking and is comfortable to wear. Although handy in the rain as a regular backpack, it is not as comfortable to carry while walking or hiking as some backpacks, but I used mine during our month-long trip to New Zealand and was very happy with it.
Like any backpack, much of the comfort comes from how you distribute the load.
In the above photo you can see the reflective strips on the shoulder straps. These give the backpack good frontal night visibility.
Straps and Support System
Two of the features I most like about the backpack are the shoulder straps and the waist belt. These are what keep the bag in place when I ride, and the waist strap is very useful to redistribute the load so that my hips carry more of the weight.
I found I could remain comfortable on day hikes carrying a 12 to 20 lb. load by adjusting the shoulder straps, sternum strap and waist belt throughout the day. I have used the backpack to carry as much as 25 pounds, which is unwieldy on a bike, but not too bad on foot.
The above photo is of my new(er) backpack. They have added a place to clip a red blinking bike light for night safety - an improvement!
- This backpack is really, really waterproof. Patterned after dry bags designed for canoeing, the roll top and Velcro closure ensure that, ya, your stuff is gonna stay dry. This came in especially handy when we visited wet places like Olympic National Park in Washington or Milford Sound in New Zealand. It's nice to have a dry change of clothes when you need them.
- The straps cinch the bag up snug against your body so that when you're riding, the back does not flop back and forth.
- Foam pads keep the pack away from your back, so you get pretty good ventilation.
- I found that even cinched down as low as it could go, the roll top was still sticking up over my shoulders and catching air.
- The sternum strap was sometimes uncomfortable and restricted breathing.
- The plastic hardware partially broke under extreme conditions.
- The weight and design make this a comfortable cycling backpack, but not so comfortable as a regular backpack.
- The bag has one small internal zippered compartment and the rest is open space. Sometimes I do not find the zippered compartment large enough to contain what I want to segregate inside the bag.
- If you want a backpack that is really waterproof and stays put on your back when you ride, and your load doesn't vary all that much, this is the bag for you, especially if you're over 5' 10" tall.
- If you want a backpack that will expand to fit anything you stuff in it and you want to use it as a regular backpack as well as a cycling backpack, this is probably not your bag.
All in all, I like it. I will get another one when my current wears out.