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February 15, 2024 2 min read

Backpack or Pannier? No need to choose, you can have the cake and eat it too.

I recently had the opportunity to try out the Ortlieb Vario Pannier/Backpack, and it has certainly left a lasting impression on me. From its rugged build to its clean aesthetics, this versatile cycling accessory stands out as a reliable companion for daily commuters who need to bring their stuff between work and home.

One of the standout features of the Ortlieb Vario is its remarkable ruggedness. The durable materials used in its construction give it a robust feel, providing a sense of security for whatever the road may throw at it. Whether navigating through busy city streets or tackling rougher terrains, the pannier/backpack hybrid maintains its integrity, with no signs of wear and tear during my testing period.

The clean looks of the Ortlieb Vario are also worth commending. Its sleek design adds a touch of sophistication to my commuting setup. The simple yet stylish appearance seamlessly blends with any bicycle, maintaining a professional look suitable for both the workplace and social outings. The matte finish and minimalistic branding contribute to an overall aesthetic that is both functional and eye-catching.

One of the standout features for me is the speed at which the Ortlieb Vario converts from a pannier to a backpack. The transition is seamless and takes just a matter of seconds. This proved to be incredibly convenient, especially when arriving at my destination and needing to switch from biking to walking. The well-designed shoulder straps and back padding provide comfort when wearing it as a backpack, making it a practical choice for those who are constantly on the move.

Durability is a key aspect that any cyclist looks for in their gear, and the Ortlieb Vario doesn't disappoint. The zippers, buckles, and seams all held up exceptionally well during my testing. The waterproofing also proved effective in keeping my belongings safe and dry during unexpected rain showers. The peace of mind that comes with knowing your gear can handle various weather conditions adds significant value to this product.

Maintaining the Ortlieb Vario is a breeze, thanks to its easy-to-clean design. A quick wipe-down with a damp cloth is usually sufficient to remove any dirt or grime accumulated during rides. This convenience adds to the overall user-friendly experience and ensures that the pannier/backpack remains in top-notch condition for an extended period.

The Ortlieb Vario is pricey!

It is a premium product and for some there might be other alternatives out there. However, considering its ruggedness, clean looks, quick convertibility, and durability, I feel the the price point is not completely off. Investing in a high-quality and versatile piece of cycling gear like this is a wise decision for those who prioritize both form and function.

In conclusion, my experience with the Ortlieb Vario Pannier/Backpack has been overwhelmingly positive. Its rugged build, clean aesthetics, swift convertibility, durability, ease of cleaning make it a standout choice in the world of bicycle panniers. Whether you're a daily commuter or a weekend adventurer, the Ortlieb Vario proves to be a reliable and stylish companion on the road.