Made in Germany. Made to last: Ortlieb Waterproof
Words: Peter Obradović
The hashtag “#waterproof” has 3.1 Million listings on Instagram (as of 21.01.22). These numbers give a first impression of how much people care about being prepared against rainy, stormy weather. It also shows that sturdy, waterproof garments are now more fashionable than ever. The term “Gorpcore”, which has become a common saying in recent years, takes its name from hikers’ staple food: “Good ol’ Raisins and Peanuts.” It’s linked to the rise of outdoor wear seen in the cities and the invasion of outerwear into the fashion scene. Against the recent trend, some brands already saw the need for waterproof products decades ago and have enhanced their products ever since. One of those OG’s is the German brand synonymous with waterproofness – Ortlieb. It’s time to look at what makes Ortlieb unique and where they’re coming from.
The story of Ortlieb begins in 1981 in South England. Hartmut Ortlieb from Nurembergstands next to his fully packed bike in the middle of the South-British hills, which he had planned to explore by bicycle. But, unfortunately, the weather threw a spanner in the works and day in day out; he saw nothing but raindrops drenching his tent and clothing. When he saw the tarp of a passing truck easily repelling the water coming from the sky, Hartmut Ortlieb had the idea that would change the game for bikepackers.
Back home in Germany, he began to sew waterproof bike bags made from truck tarps and DIY items from the hardware store. In the beginning, friends and family became interested in Hartmut’s products, but soon local bike stores also showed interest in the innovative bags. This marked the beginning of Ortliebs sales strategy and the production of the very first bag line. After the rear pannier construction, Ortlieb developed a handlebar bag. During that time, demand had already surpassed the capacity of the one-person operation.
Therefore, in 1982, the company Ortlieb was founded. After the first presentation of the yet still small product range, word of mouth was the key to Ortlieb’s success. Unlike in 2022, Gorpcore wasn’t trending, and the outdoor scene was still a fringe group of outdoor enthusiasts. Ortlieb was an instant favourite inside the scene. However, the fact that the bags were yet to be made 100 percent waterproof bothered the inventor. To avoid the Achilles heel, water-permeable seams, Ortlieb invented a high-frequency welding method that made the bags completely waterproof. The next milestone was the implementation of roll closures that made the bags not only water- but float proof. During that time, another invention helped the easy mounting of the bags onto the bike: the self-locking system “Quick-Lock1”.
In the 90s, Ortlieb presented their first backpack, “Packman “, in response to rising outdoor interest. After that, the company moved from Nuremberg to Heilsbronn, where it is located up to this date.
What was an unconventional and pioneer idea has become a standard on the streets around the globe. While cycle messengers helped implement Ortlieb Waterproof bags into the pictures of our modern cities, the increasing number of commuters using their (e-)bike to get from A to B makes the bags indispensable.
Whoever uses one of their bags during rain knows exactly why Ortlieb can be seen as an equivalent to waterproofness. There are rarely any other products on the market that can compete with the German brand’s bike-and backpacks regarding durability against water.
By now, Ortlieb’s product range reaches from daypacks, over messenger- and bike-packs to dry bags. At HHV, you can find some of Ortlieb’s most popular products, such as the Duffle Metrosphere, a bag that’s perfect for travelling. Like the Duffle Metrosphere, most of the other silhouettes come in different sizes, making it easy to find the perfect fit for your personal needs. In Addition to their high quality, Ortlieb’s products guarantee long-term use, thanks to their minimalist and timeless designs.
Ortlieb bags and packs conquered the streets of metropoles worldwide from Berlin to Tokyo, New York, and of course, the brand’s birthplace Nuremberg. As they combine functionality with style, the bags make an excellent addition to the wardrobe of any urban dweller. When leaving the concrete jungle, Ortlieb still sticks to you with backpacks such as the Atrack Metrosphere. Be equipped for your adventures in nature, doesn’t matter whether on the bike or foot.
You can now discover ORTLIEB online and instore at HHV.