Is this to say I will never use Ortliebs? Absolutely not. They are great panniers and serve their purpose well. If I planned a tour in the UK where I could reasonably expect a high percentage of rainy days, I might deal with the inconveniences of the Ortliebs. If I planned to ride through the Sahara desert, probably not.
What are the alternatives? As far as I know, the best two alternatives on the market today are Arkel and Carradice.
- Arkel panniers are built of breathable nylon with an internal dry bag that folds away when not needed, but is easy to pull out for those days when rain is likely.
- Carradice panniers are constructed using a heavy duty cotton duck fabric. When they get wet, the cotton fibers swell to seal out all water. They are 100% waterproof when it’s raining, but are breathable when it’s not.