Ortlieb packs are a common sight on bike lanes during the wet Portland winters, as some they’re known as some of the most weather proof options available. The Hip Pack 2, Ortlieb’s take on the waist pack is unsurprisingly waterproof as well, making it an excellent choice for riders in the Pacific Northwest seeking alternatives to riding with a pack. The seam-sealed construction and dry bag style rolltop design means one can tote electronics and gear on rides worry-free, even in the worst conditions.
The Hip Pack two is packed with features. Looking it over, I get the sense a team at Ortlieb said, “let’s design a waist pack and think of everything the user could possibly need,” and then made it. An overview of the feature set reads as follows:
- Available in two sizes: 4 & 6 liter
- Rolltop drypack style closure
- Compression straps
- Carry handle
- Loop for rear light
- Removable external zipper pocket
- Dual zippered mesh pockets on waist belt
- 2 external water bottle compatible pockets with draw cord
- Uber-adjustable waist/ lumbar pad / strap
- Removable internal valuable pocket
- 5 Year warranty, made in Germany
A lot of thought went into the construction of the waist belt, which is extremely adjustable using hook and loop fasteners. The velcro is an ongoing theme as the main pocket is seam welded to keep it waterproof.
For internal organization, Ortlieb provides a removable valuables pocket that sized well to store keys, wallet, phone or similar items. As I move gear between various waist packs and backpacks regularly for testing, I utilize a Sticky Pod to keep a multi-tool, levers, patch kit, chain pins, links and a few zip ties organized and separate. It easily fits the space, and complements the Hip Pack 2. The padded neoprene is a nice base I place my camera directly onto as well.
In terms of capacity, the 4 liter Hip Pack 2 easily totes a small camera, pump, tools, 2x water bottles, tube, keys & wallet, jacket and food. When packing the waist pack, I begin with the mini-pump at the bottom, followed by the Sticky Pod, camera then jacket, with the small items stowed in the valuables pouch.
The roll top feature allows the ability to easily overload the pack, but also makes it extremely versatile and it shines equally when placed into use for hikes. I’m even planning to utilize it for upcoming trail work (where I won’t need to tote tools).
On the Trail
This is easily the most adjustable waist pack I’ve ever seen. The adjusters on the waist belt are so well done they deserved a shout out of their own. If you’ve ever been annoyed with your waist pack coming loose, you’re not alone. The adjusters on the belt pull from the sides and make it easy to move the belt’s fasteners off-center. (my preferred location) For aggressive riding, it is easy to cinch the pack down securely. It holds its settings reliably, allowing one to set it, forget it and focus on the ride.
Although it has provisions to carry two water bottles, due to the weight with my camera, you’ll note from the photos I’m not carrying a bottle, to keep the weight down. When I do, I run a soft collapsable flask style to avoid potential back injuries, and use it to refill the bottle I carry in the bottle cage.
The Hip Pack 2 is available in a 4 and 6 liter version. I’ve been using the 4 and I’d argue you wouldn’t want to go bigger. With dual water bottle capacity, the pack is capable for standing in for a backpack on for big days of riding.
That said, at some point, after a certain weight threshold is reached, a backpack starts to make more sense, as I started wishing for shoulder straps to distribute some of the weight and get it off my hips. When it’s really full, it started moving and bouncing up and down without shoulder straps to stabilize it.
The Hip-Pack2 is the only waist pack that I feel comfortable carrying a camera in bad conditions though, so I often finding myself carrying a bit more than I’d ideally like. Fortunately the side mesh pockets mean you can redistribute some of the load to the sides and off your back, something I’m starting to experiment with more. That said, running a waist pack should be an exercise in minimalism anyway, which means one should carefully consider each and every item that goes into it.
That said, the Ortlieb is the first waist pack I’ve used that feels like it could truly replace my backpack for backcountry riding. At $115.00 for the 4 liter version tested, it’s a bit more expensive than other options but if you carry a camera to document the ride — and the packed feature set — there isn’t much that will keep up.