Technical > Luggage

Carradice vs Ortlieb for new Nomad

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So in preparation for the arrival of my Nomad Iíve been trying to research what type of panniers to fit. There seems to be no shortage of admirers of both solutions and Iím left wondering if itís too much of a ďreligiousĒ question.I should say that at least to begin with most use will be within UK. I was looking at front and rear roller plus for the Ortlieb option and Super C for the Carradice.

From what Iíve read both would be good enough in terms of water resistance, the Carradice are larger and have the extra side pockets which is a useful feature. How do the mounting systems compare for ease of use? Any other advantages of one over the other?

Many thanks for your help.

Happy user of Ortlieb SportPacker (smaller front, drawstring closure with cap-top) and BikePacker (larger rear, also drawstring closure with cap-top) here!

I would suggest if you go the Ortlieb route, it is a Wise Idea to fit two sets of spare hooks on the more heavily loaded rear bags. This way, you get self-storage of spares in the event of breakage or a crash and you also get a little more hassle if a thief tries a snatch-grab (the bags will remain in place unless and until the second handle/release strap is pulled. I also fit all of my bags with the stainless steel tethers intended to work with a small padlock to also discourage snatch-grab thefts while the bike is parked).

I would also recommend a second lower mounting "fin" on each bagfor added security and to use as self-storing spares. I have mine on the rear configured to catch in the "V" of the Thorn Expedition rear rack on my Nomad. This ensures the bags are held rattle-free.

The bags are extremely easy to remove -- just yank the handle and the hooks are released as the bag is lifted up. Mounting is the reverse: Pull the handle and slide the lower fin(s) behind the rack struts as you lower the hooks onto the mounting rail. Let go of the handle and the bags are mounted.

For use on rough roads, I would suggest adding cinch straps to any pannier. These ensure the load stays compressed against the rack, eliminating rattles and preventing secondary impacts from the loads inside the bags if you have to crash through deep potholes and such.

My Ortlieb "Packers" have proven reliably waterproof in all circumstances short of immersion. If you intend to immerse yours during stream crossings and such (a generally Bad Idea as that would likely also expose pedal, bottom bracket, and hub bearings to water as well as the lower frame tubes), then a wiser choice would be the Classic roll-top Ortliebs which do indeed remain water-tight even if fully submerged.

There is no exposed hardware inside Ortlieb's panniers. All nuts and such are capped with plastic covers to prevent (much) abrasion of the bag contents.



Dan where do you come up with all these ideas your a feckin Genius. 8) 8)

carradice look cool but i reckon there on the heavy side .
the ortlied bikepacker plus are nice sportspacker up front and ultimat 7 barbag your away in a hack.
but before you buy all that gear are you sure your going to need them .


Of further note:

I prefer the Ortlieb drawstring and cap-top design for several reasons that might not be obvious:

1) The drawstring closure is easy to replace and won't jam like zippers or freeze shut as metal snaps can do on some other brands of bags.

2) The drawstring closure serves to vertically compress the contents, yet allows the bags to open as wide as possible when needed to carry short-term overloads in bulk -- i.e. food before you can strip it of its excess packaging.

3) The cap-tops serve as extra pockets with waterproof covers that allow very quick access without having to open the main compartments and dig inside. For example, I carry items in stuff sacks under the four bags' covers: Rain kit (jacket, hood, hat, pants, gloves, booties), medium weight fleece pullover, folding chair, wind-faced wool long-sleeved jersey.

4) All the bags include a zippered inner envelope pocket. There is an full length envelope back to this pocket and a zippered mesh outer compartment to the same envelope. I load my bags with these envelope pockets held up by one hand. Once the bag contents are loaded, I then put things in these envelopes and fold them in half so they lay atop the load, just under the dust cover beneath the drawstring. This allows easy access by simply flipping the cap-top and undoing the cordlock on the drawstring. If the envelope pockets are left to lay flush against the stiffener, then it is extremely difficult to access the contents once the bags are loaded.

5) When I have been in need of extra water, I have had no problems securely carrying an extra 1-1.5l bottle under each cap-top strap set. Very handy.

Used in this way, each bag has four compartments (main, cap-top, inner envelope, outer zippered envelope) for easy organization and access. A fifth means for carrying stuff is at the sides of the bags, under the cap-top straps (you simply need to resize them to the load).

Hope this helps.



I've long used both but have slowly sold off my Ortlieb gear, leaving only one set of sportspackers (30L total) of which I only rum one - on the left hand side up front.

There are many disadvantages of the Ortliebs I found over time, compared to the simpler more rugged and more repairable Carradice super C system.  Let me mention some of these details. 

-  Mugginess in hot humid weather.  I do not find the pvc sort of waterproofing an advantage, but a small disadvantage.  I first rode with all my stuff thrown in without the use of dry bags.  How that turned out to be a poor ideas came quickly at the first tire repair during a rain.  They were so loaded up, it was very inneficient rummaging through all my mixed it together clothes to get to the bottom where my tool kit lay.  Another time when the weather was nice, I just resorted to throwing my clothes on the grass, just to make it easy to get my tools.  I came back from that trip, got some sleep and then imediately got online and ordered some dry bags.  Now my bottoms are in a black dry bag, my tops in a red dry bag, my dirty laundry in a yellow bag and underwear and socks in a small black bag.  The tools and my extra shoes still sat on that same side on the bottom due to the weight.  I should mention the other important lesson I learned on that early trip was the importance of a dirty laundry bag.  It's amazing how one smelly shirt makes every other clean item reak, in that hot sealed Ortlieb, in North Carolina's 42 degree, two thousand percent humidity.  They are completely sealed in Ortlieb bags, no way to breathe.  Lesson quickly learned.

- inability to repair tears.  I'd not had this happen, but have read of it enough where I think it could be a major pita in an expedition sort of setting.  If the ortliebs tear or rip, and they can, then they have to be duc-taped and prayed over so as to hold out to the next bit of civilization. They then have to be replaced.  No waxed needle and thread on the road repairs possible - as is the case with Carradice Canvas.

- Plastic vs Aluminum retaining systems.  I'd only worry about this with heavy loads on rough roads or if I rode like this guy ( in sub zero temperatures in the dead of winter in places like Canada's arctic or montana during the worst of it.  The rode in temperatures down to minus 30 degrees.  The bottom plastic race that holds the adjustable catch mechanism broke.  New bags were needed.  I trust the aluminum race employed by Carradice much more, they are strong and robust.

I've had both the regular and the plus line and now they both come fitted with the Q.L 2.1 system.  I thought that would be a nice feature but I wound up HATING it.  The reason is that I don't want to just pull up and remove the bags.  If I remember right I had the bag hanging by only one hook on four seperate times and I almost crashed one time due to that.  It's my fault I'm sure but its so easy to do.  You hang it  a thousand times and it seems like it's properly clicked but it isn't all the way, and the next bump it's bouncing one one hook.  I've never made that mistake with the manual way of tightening the Carradice - though now they come with a new fangled system, with which I'm unfamiliar with. Of course the old fully manual clasps are available and fit right on. I like also to use three hooks on top and that is available on both brands bags.

limited adjustability without tools vs limitless adjustability with tools.  The Ortliebs have a nice tool free adjustment bar, which fits on of my racks almost perfectly and disappointingly on my other two racks.  There are discreet steps in the spacing so it's a matter of luck if I can spread the bar just the perfect length apart so that it holds perfectly.  I consider "perfect" adjustment important  because it relieves strain off of the bottom if forward and backward motion is held on the top as well.  The price paid is that one needs a Philips screwdriver and it takes longer to change it from one rack to another.  But I get it "just so" and the bag doesn't slide at all even without the bottom hooked in.  So I find that another Carradice plus.

I favor the Carradice front bar bag a bit over the Ortlieb bar bag due to a small detail.  The bottom on the Carradice is flat while the Ortliebs are rounded and when using a divider, the stuff would push dow to the middle and lift the divider up, leaving all the small items mixed up.  On the other hand the Ortiebs have a way to lock the bar bag to the quick release mechanism.  Some may find that a nice feature which the Carradice does not have, but as I've got my phone there and put the GPS in when I go eat or whenever I'm away from the bike, I always remove it and take it with me.  Both release sytems are about equal - but not at all as nice imho as that Canadian made Arkels. 

I appreciate the Carradice supper C rear panniers back separate pocket.  On the right hand side I now carry my repair kit and tools and on the right size I can put in an extra 48Oz watter bottle.  This fat watter bottle is too large to put in a regular triangle cage and fits back there as if it were made for it.  I used to carry my rolled mattres which fit as well.  Also those large straps on top, the adjustable ones they can actually have a large mat stuffed in there and I often take soaked items and snake them through in order to dry.  The details are surprisingly useful on both front and back Super C's.

- Lunch and Beer money.  The rear bike packer plus versus the Super C rear panniers are 35% more expensive.  That winds up to approximately 35 hard to find British pounds.  I don't know how many times I can chill out in a pub after a long days ride - but I do take my beer budget seriously.  You should too. 

- Lastly .... and this is important of course, here we get to support either a huge faceless, soul-less, global German mega corporation (who admittedly make some nice stuff)... or a hard working mother of possibly several young children, who is working tirelessly in a 100 year old traditional job.  She is part of a team of fine craftsmen and women.  Don't they deserve a pint too?  They, a real human being, will even sign you bag with their real name - as they toast you, their valuable customer.  Where's yer heart man?  :D


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