Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review

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Ortlieb just unveiled the new Seat-Pack QR, which combines their proven welded waterproof seat bag design with a new quick-release mechanism that easily hooks onto the saddle rails, providing a fast and easy attachment system that also works with a dropper post. We’ve been testing one for this detailed review…

Released today, the new Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR combines the overall form of a standard seat pack with Ortlieb’s own stylings, a unique set of thoughtful features, and an innovative saddle rail attachment system. The result is a user-friendly, rock-solid bag that works on most bikes, including those with dropper posts. We managed to take one on a few rough rides to see how it performs prior to launch. Find a detailed review and a full photo gallery below.

Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack Quick Release bag
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review

Just when you think everything’s been done in the world of bikepacking seat packs, something else comes along and turns the (sewing) tables. There’s no denying that at this point most new bags coming to market are inspired by designs that came before them. All told, there’s a 16-year lineage that led up to this particular bag. Jeff Boatman invented the seatpost-mounted seat pack back in 2006. Then Revelate released the venerable Viscacha a year later. Porcelain Rocket created the first ultra-stable waterproof welded seat bag with the Mr. Fusion. Then several companies continued the progression with various types of connectors and straps, a host of features, stabilizers, and ways to make attaching and removing them simpler and more efficient. A lot of other bells and whistles were introduced and perfected throughout the 10-year duration of this site’s history, too.

Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review

Some readers might be thinking the new Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR looks similar to Revelate’s Spinelock bag. You’re kind of right, but once you see how it works, it’s clear that it’s in fact quite different. And if we’re splitting hairs, Ortlieb actually released their own iteration of a saddle rail clamp seat bag at about the same time as Spinelock. It’s also worth mentioning that Arkel came out with their saddle rail bracket prior to that, and Bedrock Bags made the Rail Wing clamp before all of them. They’re all unique, and fortunately for us, they’re all building blocks and stepping stones that have helped usher in bags that keep getting better. And while the Seat-Pack QR could still stand for a few improvements, which I’ll touch on later, Ortlieb’s done a damned good job at piecing together a lot of excellent details and spinning up something original that works extremely well.

Saddle Rail Interface (Seat-Lock)

As you might expect, the engineers at Ortlieb devised a name for their new saddle rail fastening system. The all-new Seat-Lock mechanism is nothing like the clamp used on Ortlieb’s Saddle-Bag Two, a small 4.1-liter seat bag. It’s completely different than any other saddle rail system we’ve seen, for that matter. Instead of using two separate components—an apparatus that clamps to the rails and stays there and the mounting plate on the bag—the Seat-Lock system is self-contained within the bag hardware.

  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack Quick Release bag
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack Seat-Lock
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack Seat-Lock

The Seat-Lock system is comprised of two injection-molded plastic plates and a saddle rail clamp assembly. The two main plates connect via four through-bolts that sandwich the top of the bag and form the bag’s overall structure. The interior plate (shown above left) is about 25.4cm long and 16.5cm wide (10 x 6.5″) with a curved contour. The exterior plate is about 16cm long and 10cm wide (4″) and features a hollow central channel. The third main component is the Seat-Lock clamp assembly that fits in the channel and is secured via four T-bolts. The assembly can slide fore and aft within the channel to adjust the fit of the bag, as well as its angle.

  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review

The crux of this system is the Seat-Lock assembly. It features two U-shaped rail contours at the base and two pivoting hooks that rotate to clasp the top of the saddle rails. Each hook connects to a compression strap that cinches the bag’s load and keeps the hooks from rotating upward and inward. It seemed kind of odd at first, but the system works really well. You simply push the recessed U-points on the plate into the corner bend on the saddle rails, rotate the hook handles downward, and latch them onto the rails. Once you tighten the straps, it’s locked into place. To disconnect the bag, you just loosen the straps and rotate the handles upward. This releases the rail hooks and you can remove the bag for off-the-bike packing or unpacking. It’s extremely simple to use but clearly has some intricate engineering behind it.

Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review

Structure & Strap System

Once connected, the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR is as solid and stable as saddle-mounted seat packs come. The main principle at work is a simple cantilever. The Seat-Lock system suspends the bag from the saddle rails, and the nose of the two-plate armature rests against the seat post, or in this case, the included seat-post clamp, which I’ll talk about a bit later. This two-position connection forms a solid structure that’s cantilevered against the seat post, making a relatively immovable structure once the molded nose of the armature is secured to the seat post with the simple velcro strap.

As noted on the outer plate’s sliding scale, the load limit changes depending on where the Seat-Lock mechanism is mounted. If it’s in the front position, as I have it, the load limit is 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds), just after that is 4 kilograms, and when the Seat-Lock is slid toward the rear—creating a much more upright bag angle—the load limit is 5 kilograms, or 11 pounds. In my opinion, those weight limits are plenty generous, and much more than I’d generally carry in a seat pack.

  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review

Aside from the velcro seat post strap, four additional structural straps connect the rigid top plate assembly to the 230 x 105mm HDPE skid plate that forms the bottom of the bag. The two front compression straps attach to the rail-hook levers, as described above, and the two others are posisioned about 12 centimeters rearward and simply help secure the load and cinch down the bag’s contents.

  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat Pack QR Rear View

The sixth strap on the bag laterally compresses it, and unlike my photos here, it can be threaded through the channel to reveal the reflective panels and make the light attachment slots useable. I didn’t really need those, and I also didn’t read the directions. However, I did so after all these shots were taken and it works fine, with one benefit: it can prevent the risk of the rear strap getting into your spokes should you forget to attach it, which has actually happened to me before.

The Long and Short

As you can see in the photo, the Seat-Pack QR is long. However, at 63.5cm (25″) when laid flat, it’s only 6.4cm (2.5″) longer than the Ortlieb’s 11L Seat-Pack, which I’m a big fan of. To be exact, the 13L Seat-Pack QR sits squarely in the middle of their the 11L and 16.5L Seat-Pack models. And while I thought it appeared to be too long at first, it’s actually not overly lengthy. For one, you can roll it up to accommodate a smaller load. I typically don’t like packing too much in a seat pack, so as shown in many of these photos, it worked well with a smaller contents list: an inflatable sleeping mat (wide version), a down jacket, a wool base layer top and bottoms, two dehydrated meals, a camping pillow, and a spare pair of socks. That said, with its narrow nose, you have to pack carefully to fill that space.

Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review

Part of what gives the QR a lengthy appearance is its dramatically tapered shape. Compared to a rather slender nose, its 45.7cm rear opening appears to be almost out of proportion, even though it’s only 3.5cm wider than the opening of the 11L Seat-Pack. Either way, it’s not overly cone-like once it’s strapped down, and the roll-top design helps in that regard. They connect to one another on this model, whereas the roll-top ends on Ortlieb’s other two Seat-Packs fold forward and connect to straps that originate at the front of the bag.

Another benefit to the tapered construction is tire clearance, despite the fact that the Seat-Lock mechanism and plate seem to take up some space. Based on our measurements, the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR requires about 14cm (5.5”) of clearance between the saddle rails and the rear tire. That might vary a little bit based on the angle you place it at, but I’d say 15.2cm (6”) to be safe. The bag measures about 13.3cm deep at the Seat-Lock clamp using calipers.

Speaking of size, the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR isn’t light, though it’s not too much heavier than similar offerings. By comparison, it’s about 53 grams (1.9 ounces) heavier than the Revelate Spinelock (573 grams/20.2 ounces) and 66 grams more than the Rockgeist Mr. Fusion (560 grams/19.7 ounces). It’s significantly heavier than soft bags: about 266 grams more than the Ortlieb 11L Seat-Pack, for example.

Have Dropper Will Travel

Having an easy-to-use quick-release system is nice, but the fact that this bag works with a dropper was what grabbed my attention. The Seat-Pack QR’s small nose and sliding Seat-Lock mechanism allow it to sit just against the top of the seat post in most situations, letting you use most of the dropper’s travel, save the 35-40mm required to fit the included lock ring.

The lock ring is very similar to the Wolf Tooth Valais. It has two bolts instead of one, and comes in just one size. However, it also comes with two pairs of shims, which allows it to work with 26, 25, and 22mm dropper post stanchions. Prior to this, there was no such option for small 22mm posts.

  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat Pack QR Seat Post Collar

It’s worth mentioning that I chose to leave the Seat-Lock mechanism slid all the way forward, giving the bag a horizontal position when mounted and maximizing the dropper post’s travel.

Bells and Whistles

I usually like simple bags. But there are a lot of bells and whistles on the Seat-Pack QR that have changed my tune. First and foremost, it has the most useable bungee deck I’ve encountered on a seat pack. The bag’s rigidity makes it so you could strap a watermelon to it and it wouldn’t sag—although the Seat-Pack QR has a max load limit that might not allow that (see above). Second, the horizontal position of the bag and space provided by the Seat-Lock plate position items below and away from your butt. That’s always been a peeve of mine with strapping things back there. You can also remove the bungee if you don’t want it.

  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review

There are a few other excellent small details that Ortlieb integrated into the Seat-Pack QR. The locking compression buckle on the back is nice, as is the metal hook. Reflectors and a daisy chain for strapping lights are other great features. Being an Ortlieb product, it’s fully waterproof, of course. The air bleed valve is a nice touch, as found on all Ortlieb bags. There are finger loops built into the straps for leverage, as well as nice rubber strap keepers with a finger tab.

Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review

Trailside Changes

As I’ve hinted throughout this review, the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR is a unique and innovative design that’s very stable on the trail and extremely easy to attach and detach. Similar to two of my favorite seat packs of all time, the Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion (now Rockgeist) and Revelate Terrapin, you can easily remove the bag, stash it in your tent vestibule, pack it up off the bike, and easily reattach it. It’s a little more fiddly, however, as you need to think about what goes in the nose of the bag and properly stuff it so the front straps have enough leverage.

It also ticks a lot of boxes and has loads of well-conceived features. However, nothing’s perfect, and it’s also my job to truly dissect products like it. As such, there are a few improvements I’d make if I had my way. First, there’s a bit of a rattle that comes from the saddle rail attachment, as well as where the molded plastic contoured nose contacts the seat post collar. It’s not loud, and you can’t really notice it over the crunch of gravel. But when you’re on smooth two-track or singletrack with intermittent bumps, it’s definitely present. To solve [part of] this, I’d use a ratcheting strap on the front (like ski boot straps) or maybe even something like a BOA dial. The front strap could then be tightened more than it can be with the simple velcro strap.

The only other thing I’d change, if I’m nitpicking, are the oddly twisted strap loops that connect to the rail-hook mechanism, I’d consider some sort of dedicated hardware interface that attaches to the strap, like a D-loop or something similar. Those are really my only real complaints, and the second one is minor.

  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR Review
  • Model Tested: Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR
  • Volume: 13 liters
  • Load limit: 3-5kg (6.6-11 pounds)
  • Actual Weight: 626 grams
  • Place of Manufacture: Germany
  • Price: $190/€160/£155
  • Manufacturer’s Details: Ortlieb.com

Pros

  • Super stable design using a unique molded internal plate and clamp system
  • Highly adjustable interface to work with a broad range of posts, including droppers
  • Skid plate, removable bungee attachment, and nice strap keepers round out a good feature set
  • Good volume range options
  • Well thought out tapered design to maximize tire clearance

Cons

  • Heavy (weighs 266 grams more than the Ortlieb 11L Seat-Pack)
  • Requires careful packing at nose of bag to ensure proper strap tension at rails
  • Makes a bit of a rattle from plastic interface at Seat-Lock hooks and seat post connection
  • Maybe a little too long; I wish it was a slightly smaller, which might reduce the weight

Wrap Up

All in all, I’m extremely impressed with the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR. They nailed the feature set, and it’s as stable as any other seat pack on the market. It’s also easy to remove and attach. As mentioned, there might be a few little nitpick adjustments I’d make if I had my way, but the only real suggestion is that I’d like to see some sort of ratcheting strap at the front to firmly lock the nose against the seat post (or seat post collar) and eliminate the slight vibration there. That’s not a deal-breaker, however. This is a fantastic seat pack that will likely be on my bikes quite a bit this season.

And that leads to the only unanswered question left hanging in this review: is the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR durable and reliable? I have no doubt that the fabric and other features will hold up, as we’ve put loads of miles on their other seat packs. But only time will tell if the Seat-Lock mechanism proves to be long-lasting. We’ll update this down the road once it sees a few thousand miles of use and abuse.

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