Ortlieb Fork Pack Bags 2
Photo credit: Kurt Barclay

Ortlieb Fork-Pack Review: Extra Bikepacking Storage With Peace of Mind

We swapped office chairs for bike saddles for a multiday bikepacking and gear-testing adventure along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in Colorado.

Bikepacking is about being efficient and effective with how you use the space on your bike to pack your trip necessities. The Ortlieb Fork-Packs offered a simple option that would increase my carrying capacity and keep whatever I packed protected from the elements.

Up until then, my fork had been naked and valuable space on my bike that went unused. The adapter plate that Ortlieb includes with these packs fit right on my fork mounts, and within minutes they were ready to roll.

These packs took me from making a tough decision on what gear to cut from my “essentials” list to comfortably packing everything I needed without hesitation.

Bikepacking on thesis ob1
Photo credit: Kurt Barclay

Impressions and Testing

I put Ortlieb’s new Fork-Pack system to the test bikepacking along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in Colorado. Our ragtag group spent a handful of days and nights cruising remote gravel roads and broken old two-lane highways.

I mounted the Ortlieb Fork-Packs to a Thesis OB1 and loaded them down with gear for the open road. The Thesis OB1 has a multitude of mounting options, so installation was easy. The Ortlieb Fork-Pack mounted directly to my fork and only took a few minutes to set up.

I snapped the bags into place with one hand and was ready to ride. With a 3.2L (per bag) volume, I was able to get my whole shelter and sleep system — Six Moon Designs Deschutes Plus shelter and pole, Therm-a-Rest UberLite pad and Vesper quilt, Sea to Summit Aeros pillow, and a few other smaller items — packed into these bags on my fork.

That opened up the rest of my bikepacking kit for other essentials.

Orlieb Fork Pack Bags
Photo credit: Kurt Barclay

Simplicity in All Conditions

No matter how much you plan, every bikepacking adventure is filled with variables and some level of uncertainty. Keeping your gear safe, dry, and accessible goes a long way in easing the mind and keeping the chill vibes rolling along the trail. Ortlieb has a reputation for making durable, waterproof bags — these Fork-Packs are no exception.

While we didn’t encounter any notable rainy weather on this trip, we did come through stretches of wet trail where dusty and loose gravel turned to mud and scattered puddles. We also had a few creek crossings that were deemed “definitely rideable” that were not, in fact, rideable. My gear stayed dry throughout the trip.

The rollover closure makes it easy to get gear in and out of the bags at pitstops and keeps all the grime from the ride far away from whatever you have packed inside. If your gear is compressible, you can roll the closure down tight to cut down on the bag’s overall size on your fork.

I used the adapter plate that Ortlieb provides with these fork packs, and they were a delight to use. Snapping the bags on and off the bike was effortless and could be done with one hand. It was simple and effective.

Pros

  • Durable materials and waterproofing you can trust
  • Quick-Lock feature holds bags very stable on any terrain
  • Very simple to mount and unmount from the bike
  • Bags are sustainably made
  • Reflective hits on the front and rear of the bags for added low-light visibility
  • Lightweight with universal mounting options

Cons

  • Ortlieb currently only offers one size (3.2 L)
  • Hardware is left behind on your forks when you’re not bikepacking
  • Potential for overloading bags and ruining the bosses on your fork (if you’re not careful)
Thesis bike with bikepacking bags
Photo credit: Kurt Barclay

Final Take

The Ortlieb Fork-Packs are a great way to add more space to your bikepacking setup without adding an abundance of weight. The design is simple and effective, allowing you to bring that extra nice-to-have item or two along for the trip. With a simple-to-use design and waterproofing you can trust, these bags are an addition worth a look for any serious adventure cyclist.

GDMBR_Kurt Barclay-011
Photo credit: Kurt Barclay
Zach Burton
By

Zach has shaped his life and work around outdoors, adventure, and generally being as active outside as possible. He’s devoted to activities and experiences that push him mentally and physically and is a firm believer that there is 'no such thing as bad weather.' If he’s not riding his bike or planning his next adventure, you can find Zach hunting with his dog Stella, fly fishing, or climbing.