Crankshaft Culture Gear Garage: Ortlieb Duffle RS Series Bag

Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag on ground

Ortlieb has long been known for high quality waterproof wares: from bicycle panniers, messenger bags, to day packs and duffle bags, these bags can take a multitude of beatings and keep on going.

Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag standing up
Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag standing on it’s wheeled base

Ortlieb, based in Germany, was founded in 1982 with a principle of creating durable goods while adhering to a strict code of environmental and sustainable awareness as well as action. I’ve always had a strong interest in sustainability (I’ve been an accredited LEED AP interior design professional for 10 years and have practiced sustainable design for over 15 years); so I appreciate Ortlieb’s commitment to the environment as well as their sensitivity to their climate footprint while conducting business.

Being an avid off-roader, I’m always on the lookout for better gear—whether they’re lighter, smartly designed, more durable, or updated. One thing I didn’t have in our adventure arsenal, so far, was a heavy-duty, oversized bag to house our camp gear when traveling. I’ve made due with multiple smaller totes, backpacks, and cases, but I really needed a one-stop-shop type of container: something that could house all our gear for a quick weekend camp get-away, or even round-up our adventure items when traveling overseas. I wanted something waterproof, well-made, smartly designed, and colorful. I definitely found what I was looking for with the 110 liter Ortlieb Duffle RS series bag.

Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag's handle
One of Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag’s two handles

Ortlieb’s Duffle RS series is an expedition-ready IP67-rated duffle. No matter if throwing it atop your roof basket before heading out on a 4×4 adventure, tossing it into your SUV for a cross-country trip, or flying to Iceland for a crazy camp adventure (like we just did), the duffle RS series holds up extremely well to dust, rain, and elevation. In addition to a watertight TIZIP zipper that runs across the entire top of the bag, Ortlieb uses high-frequency welding to join thermoplastic coated polyester, nylon, and Cordura fabrics together—creating a waterproof container that’ll withstand years of voyages.

Ortlieb ensures their products aren’t sewn or glued together or are made with cheaper items, but are meticulously made with the highest grade of materials and attention to detail. Although I didn’t try this yet, they claim the inside of their bags will remain dry when submerged under 1 meter of water for a period of 30 minutes. Given the amount of rain we had in Iceland, I should have just thrown it outside our tent and seen how well it did!

The Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag's full-body zipper makes gear access easy.
The Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag’s full-body zipper makes gear access easy.

My Ortlieb RS 110 tester (the 110 moniker signifies the liter size of this particular model) has a few different ways of transport: via supplied adjustable shoulder straps for a backpack, a heavy-duty wheel system to roll it along, or even sturdy handles on both ends to carry it. The RS 110 quietly rolls behind you and is fairly easy to turn when changing direction. The adjustable handle on the top (opposite the wheels when the bag is standing vertical) is intuitive and easy to use, but when taking long strides when rolling the duffle about, can nick the back of your heel. Carrying it as a backpack can be a bit tricky when it’s full—it’s a bit large, but it’s nice to have padded shoulder straps to grab over a single shoulder in a pinch.

This is the Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag's adjustable handle.
This is the Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag’s adjustable handle.

When loading and unloading the Ortlieb RS 110, care should be taken to not rub it against your vehicle as its long in size. But, its rigidity makes simple work of that most times. When the RS 110 is fully loaded, however, I’ve found it a bit difficult to lift it into the back of a vehicle. I’ve got short arms and it doesn’t have a side handle. While I can’t grow longer arms, I wonder if a side grab handle would help my “short arm issue”. My husband Andy (@andy_lilienthal) doesn’t have any issue with loading and unloading it, though.

The Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag's oversized wheels are easy to use.
The Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag’s oversized wheels are easy to use.

Ortlieb’s thought just about everything when designing this duffle. It’s got padded shoulder/carrying straps, tear resistant PD620 fabric, as well as four exterior loops for rigging it atop your vehicle’s roof or tying it down in your truck bed. Along with those features, the RS 110 duffle features interior niceties like abrasion resistant Cordura material and a slick zippered pouch incorporated into a double-strap compression strap—of which we used every time we stuffed it to capacity.  I wish they had four compression straps, as they work so darn well.

The Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag's compression straps work well!
The Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag’s compression straps work well!

Weighing in at just over six-and-a-half pounds, this sturdy duffle is super lightweight, given its large size. It was an excellent travel companion for our Pacific Northwest off-roading adventures and our recent Boeing 757 Iceland trip. Never once did I experience an issue, just slight discoloring of its vivid yellow color as it met with yet another conveyor belt at the airport. I stuffed the RS 110 completely full during our camping trip to Iceland, and it was still several pounds underweight! The aluminum base between the high-clearance wheels protected the duffle’s base well as I dragged it up stairs and over uneven ground. I did notice, however, that it tipped forward occasionally when standing vertically (wheels on the floor). That could be how I packed it, though. Our double-wide Big Agnes sleeping bag, pad, and sleeve was on one end, with our tent, small stove, Mountain House meals, and condensed mess kit on the other. If you disperse your interior weight better than I did, I’m sure you won’t have this issue.

The Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag's aluminum skid plate protects the duffle's bottom.
The Ortlieb RS 110 duffle bag’s aluminum skid plate protects the duffle’s bottom.

The Ortlieb RS 110 duffle measures 13” high x 33.9” wide x 17.7” deep. Once stuffed, it easily fits into most trunks and roof baskets. It also easily travels well as checked luggage. TSA and international security had no issues with the RS 110 via our Icelandic camp trip. Underweight and easy to spot, our bright yellow test mule was great to use!

If you’re in the market for a secure, well-designed, and quality waterproof bag, then Ortlieb should be on your short-list to check out. Andy and I are very impressed with our RS 110 duffle—it leaves us scratching our heads on how we made it this long without it!

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