Bicycle Crumbs Reviews: The Ortlieb Commuter-Daypack High Visibility


Bicycle Crumbs Reviews: The Ortlieb Commuter-Daypack High Visibility

Purpose-built for commuting, the Ortlieb Commuter Day-Pack High Visibility brings new meaning to the term reflectivity. But before you start picturing a Day-Glo aesthetic, this piece utilizes a high-luminosity yarn that’s woven throughout Ortlieb’s signature black, waterproof fabric. After testing the backpack through moody Portland commuting, Bicycle Crumbs shares his review.

Let’s get this out of the damn way: this backpack is $250-270, depending on where you find it. Is it worth it? To me, where I live, HELL YEAH.

Reflective AF

I’ve reviewed a ton of bags in my day. Yet the Ortlieb Commuter-Daypack High Visibility model does something no other bag ever has for me. It is the only backpack that has made me feel safer through wet and dark Portland winter commuting. Like most other commuter-related cycling products, the Daypack features reflective details. But unlike other bags, where small reflective accents have been added as an afterthought, this entire bag is woven with reflective non pvc thread. The reflective weave wraps all the way around the bag, until the bag touches your back. The same material then continues onto the front of the bag on the shoulder straps. The second any car’s headlights hits this thing, it explodes reflectivity. Because the reflective fabric contours the entire bag, it can reflect in weird eye-catching wavy shapes that can also help convey the motion of the wearer. I consider this next level in high visibility. It’s one thing to have a product made with bright or fluorescent colors, and reflective elements, but by incorporating the reflective material throughout, this bag ups the ante by creating a completely novel, eye-catching design that people just aren’t used to seeing. It’s impossible to miss and, as a commuter, that’s exactly what you want.

Ortlieb’s Function First Approach and Waterproof Ratings

Ortlieb is a brand I’ve never been super into as the company takes a function first (or function-only?) based approach to design. This approach centers on its products being “waterproof.” Of course, this isn’t a bad thing, but I like some style with my products; if I wear it I want it to say something about me. Many will know that words like “waterproof” are tricky language in this industry. IP ratings (Ingress Protection) are used to denote a material or product’s durability and moisture resiliency, where the first digit is the strength against solids and the second digit indicates how waterproof it is. For instance, the Ortlieb Commuter Daypack has an IP64 rating, out of an IP69 scale. Starting with “6” means it’s totally dust proof, which is a huge benefit when carrying electronics like a laptop or camera. The “4” basically means it’s pretty damn waterproof but don’t submerge it completely or shoot a firehose at it. For the eight months that I’ve had this bag, my commutes have been four miles each way and I’ve never had an issue with water seeping in. It also hasn’t lost any of the reflectiveness that I’m aware of, whereas early reflective threads and fabrics would deteriorate with a lot of movement and wear in my experience.

Fit and Features

In terms of its normal backpack functions, the commuter daypack features a removable padded laptop sleeve with an extra zippered section that has two more pockets. The rest of the interior is wide open. The front of the bag has a side zipper that goes into its own compartment (not the main bag for easy access to cards, cash, or a phone). There are two sets of cut loops—nothing more than die-cut long oval holes in the outer fabric layer—that work perfectly for securely mounting a light. These loops are also off-set low so that when you are in a riding position your lights are closer to eye level. They can also store a U-Lock. 

There are pads on the back panel that keep the bag comfortable, as well as give it some lift from your back to help prevent sweat. Like most cycling-focused backpacks, there are chest and waist stabilizing straps. The chest strap can be adjusted vertically and horizontally. The main compartment is a standard roll top closure that hooks to a daisy chain webbing allowing you to minimize the vertical height of the bag. A common annoyance I’ve had with many backpacks is that they hit my helmet, at times limiting head mobility when really loaded up. Fortunately, this one stays out of the way with my standardly carry. The base is totally reinforced and looks like a “welded construction” of some sort but Orlieb does not claim as much.

In terms of size it’s about 20”x12”x6” or an advertised 21L. In realistic terms, I can fit my computer, camera and change of clothing (without shoes). Finally the bag is surprisingly light and simple with an overall weight of less than two pounds when empty. For the price point, this bag simply delivers. It’s not overly complicated, the simplicity is what helps make it shine, but it hits all the marks for commuting.