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Price: $135.99

Ortlieb Vario Commuter Backpack Pannier

Stock status: 5+ in stock
A purchase of this item will earn you free stuff.

The Vario has been relaunched, choose between QL2 or QL3 mounting systems.

Waterproof Backpack and Pannier in One

Quickly transition between a pannier and a backpack with the Ortlieb Vario Bag. The Vario comes equipped with a removable backpack carry system, as well as the patented, adjustable Ortlieb QL3 pannier top mounting system for ultimate versatility. The roll top closure, waterproof fabric, and organization pockets make this bag great for turning day rides into day hikes, or for just commuting to the office.

Ride with the Vario as a waterproof pannier by folding up the carry system and rolling it into the front, vertical neoprene pocket for storage. The bottom of the bag is reinforced with a tough plate to protect the bag while riding, and to prevent scuffs on your rack. For added pannier stability, the Vario's fastening strap secures the bottom of the pannier.

When you hop off the bike, use the heavy-duty backpack version of the Vario. The QL3 system on the Vario has added buckles which the top of the shoulder straps buckle into. The back portion of the system is secured to the bag with U-clips which snap to the bag, while the bottom portion is secured with Velcro straps. This system is specific to the Vario, and is intended to fit snug on the bag so you don't have added movement when using the Vario in backpack form. The carry system has padding for your back, and is adjustable by your shoulders and at your hips. A chest strap is also included to offer better posture and support for hiking, or just walking downtown.


Waterproof, weatherproof, and great for your daily commute, reach for the Vario Backpack Pannier!


Sold as a single pannier

  • Available colors: black, red or lime
  • Made of waterproof, PS33 Polyurethane coated nylon fabric
  • Includes removable, adjustable carrying system for converting between a pannier and a backpack
  • Roll top, velcro closure
  • Outer neoprene zipper pocket to hold carry system when not in use
  • Two outer neoprene pockets
  • Inner mesh zipper pocket
  • Includes helmet holder and fastening loops
  • Reflective elements on sides of bag
  • Utilizes QL3 mounting system
  • Fits on racks 8mm-16mm in diameter; 8mm and 11mm inserts included for a more snug fit
  • Dimensions: 19.7" x 11" x 7.9" (H x W x D)
  • Volume: 20L / 1220 cu.in.
  • Weight: 1200g / 42.3 oz

All ORTLIEB products are backed by a 5 year warranty against defects in material and manufacturing.

Ortlieb Vario Commuter Backpack Pannierclick image to enlarge
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Price: $135.99

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Product Reviews

09 Jul 2014
Charles H says...
I love this bag. Installation on my Tubus Cosmo rack was super easy. It is unbelievable how easy it is to put it on and take it off of the rack. One hand is all you need. Others have commented on the shoulder straps being difficult to use. I would disagree. They stow in their own compartment, and are easy to hook up. I would definitely buy this bag again. You just can't go wrong with Ortlieb.
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars
12 Jun 2014
Mike P says...
I've been using it for a few weeks and so far so good. I used to have a timbuk2 viaje pannier/backpack and it was decent but it was big and heavy. I got the QL2 because I didn't want to deal with leaving the attachments on my bike. It locks on the bike pretty solid and I haven't had an issue with it flexing and getting caught in my spokes. I like it because it is about the size of a regular daypack. There are two exterior pockets for beverages or locks or whatever and two interior pockets inside the main compartment. It pretty much holds everything I need. Attaching and detaching the backpack straps are the only hassle but through practice I'm getting that down to a science. Overall pretty satisfied.
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars
18 Sep 2013
Jessica O says...
Got this pack as a birthday present for my sweetie for commuting to work in Portland. She loves that it converts to a back pack and uses it for leading field trips for her class. Excellent waterproofing. Very easy to snap onto the rack and to remove or install the shoulder straps. Very Pleased.
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars
06 Sep 2013
Musa A says...
This is a very nice and versatile bag. Its main plus is that you can use it as a back pack. Its first down side however is that it takes quite a bit of effort to convert from a regular pannier to a back-pack. My main grouse against it is that it is too deep and therefore the contents are not easily accessible. I was frustrated when I tried to insert my laptop into it. I finally gave up using this bag and bought the Ortlieb Office Bag Large Plus. The summary is that if you are an academic looking for a bike bag that you can put a laptop and some reading materials, don't go for this bag. Instead go for Ortlieb Office Bag Large Plus.
Rated 4 out of 5 Stars
30 Jun 2013
Robert A says...
I've had this bag for about a month now, just in time for the rainy season in New York, so it's definitely earned its stripes. Never had a leak or a problem. I've used it both as pannier and backpack, but have come to prefer it as a backpack, though that will probably change for longer rides. Easy to convert between the two modes, and definitely useful. Without hesitation, a good value and a worthwhile purchase.
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars
08 Aug 2012
Donna R says...
I have only had this bag for about 2 weeks and think it is a pretty good bag. I am having some trouble fitting the backpack harness into the small zippered slot and so often just leave it out and use a bunji cord to secure it. It also takes up internal space when it is crammed into the zippered slot, so I have more capacity if it is left outside. It is very comfortable as a backpack and is amazingly easy to put on/off the rack holder. Really slick. It appears like it is very well made. The velcro strap and its partner could be a bit longer for full loads. I am amazed that, even fully loaded, it doesn't seem to throw the bike's balance off.
Rated 4 out of 5 Stars
13 Jul 2012
Jocelyn N says...
I have a weird setup for my rack because of disc brakes, so I went for this since it mounts differently than other bags. It didn't fit as well as I hoped because the bottom of the mount didn't sit within the rack frame but after figuring out another way to mount it, it has been working well. The backpack isn't perfect, but it's decently comfortable and is definitely better than any other pannier carrying system I've tried so far. It has been holding up against water so far, though I haven't had it for a winter season yet. I replaced the velcro closure with a clip, and made a handle to clip into the top of the backpack attachment so that when carrying it as a pannier I didn't have to carry it by the release. There's enough space for what I need for my commute (computer, change of clothes, lunch and purse), and with the clip instead of the velcro there's even more space for when I overstuff it and still get it closed. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the pannier.
Rated 4 out of 5 Stars
29 Nov 2011
David R says...
This is the best investment I've done on my bike, no more punishment for my back when riding. At college I simple mount the straps on an ready to walk around campus. It's very comfortable as a back pack too. I tough it would be bigger, but it's ok, that way I a forced to carry only the necesary.
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars
18 Sep 2011
Georgina R says...
Purchased this to hold my laptop, school gear and lunch for the commute. It's a little less roomy than I would like, but I think that keeps me in check regarding weight and necessities. More interior organization would be nice - the mesh pocket is fairly useless for anything more than pens/pencils. The conversion to pack is quick and easy, as is attaching to the bike rack. I did purchase the fixation strap per the suggestion of previous reviews, and was a little bummed to find that one was included with the bag. So now I have a backup. Good bag, seems durable.
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars
09 Sep 2011
Kirsten P says...
Used two of these for a recent off-road bike camping and hiking trip. As panniers, they stayed securely attached my bike's rack, despite getting knocked around by roots, bushes, etc. Also, they kept everything dry and clean when I crossed a stream. As backpacks, the sternum and waist straps make these quite comfortable over many miles. Granted, the backpack straps aren't easily or quickly tucked into their storage compartment, but this is a small price to pay for the versatility. Unfortunately, one of the lower pannier attachment straps became snagged on a branch, tearing open one of the strap slots on the rear of the pannier. This likely falls outside the "normal use" for this pannier, and I shouldn't have run the strap through the slot for off-roading anyway. For me, this will not affect future performance, but it's something to be aware of if you use this off-road.
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars
06 Jul 2011
Micah M says...
Excellent for commuters and college biking. The Vario has enough room to carry a small change of clothes as well as school or business supplies, a lunch, two water bottles, and bike tools. Perhaps the Vario's best feature is in its exclude design: unlike other panniers, the Vario was made to be both a backpack and a practical pannier. Clipping on the back straps for backpack use is easy and the pack fits well; I can see myself using it regularly. This feature makes it easy to take short stops, such as a cafe or a grocery, while taking your pannier with you. I wish the Vario had brighter colors--the green is not as luminescent as most bike wear--and reflectors. With that said, there's enough space to clip on lights or reflective strips. I purchased a fixation strap, an extra hooked strap that can attach to the lower end of your bike rack, but found that it was probably necessary. The Vario's lock system is sturdy enough not to keep it moving too much on my rides.
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars
17 May 2011
Darin F says...
I am happy with my purchase of this bag. The BBS price is the cheapest I could find anywhere, and the shipping and customer service was great. I would shop here again. The beauty of this bag is its waterproofing. I have gotten caught in the rain on my commutes more than once now with this bag, and I have never worried. The inside contents were bone dry. Another plus for a bag like this as opposed to other backpack panniers is that the backpack system is packed away while riding and not down near the rear wheel. That way, when you arrive at your destination soaking wet you can change, convert it to a backpack, and the road grime will not rub off onto your dry clothes. The one thing I regret is lack of pockets/organizational features. There is an inside document holder and small zipper pouch, both of which are handy, but I often find myself digging for keys, phone, pencils, etc... that have fallen to the bottom of the bag. Still, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one if I keep commuting. I plan to go bike camping this summer and will use this as a dry bag for my sleeping sack, etc...
Rated 4 out of 5 Stars
02 Dec 2010
Janine P says...
Overall I can't say enough good about this as a Pannier. It is very durable, waterproof and even if gets stuck in the spokes comes out ok! I really love it and got the black one as I didn't want to worry about it looking dirty and having to wash frequently as I am commuting with it too work. If I'd pick a color I'd get the green tho. BUT! My problem with it came when using it as a backpack. I'm a short small person 5'2 1/2" tall and when I used it it was too tall, the rigid frame and hit me in the back of the head. While cycling I had trouble lifting my head and looking forward as I ride down in the drops. Very comfortable. I wanted a big bag but as a backpack this just didn't work so I really should have just got a pannier after all. The quick release feature is absolutely awesome as I *quick* have to get it off and pop the bike into the bike holder on the bus as everyone is waiting on me so time is of the essence. So I would of rated it tops if it would of worked for me as a backpack. Neat design for the helmet holder also!
Rated 4 out of 5 Stars
16 Apr 2010
Bunny C says...
Well,right off the bat, I'm quite peeved. I did not realize that strap that keeps the bag connected to the rack (so it doesn't wobble) is EXTRA. (For G*d sakes- add $10 and include it! It's a PANNIER-you NEED it!). Well, I've searched this website all over and can't even locate the damn thing! HEY Bikebagshop- how about a link to the proper accessory on the SAME PAGE as the item!! So now I'm rigging something from bungie cords. After dropping $270 for 2 bags, I did not plan to BUNGIE anything to make the bags work! The bags themselves seem very roomy- exactly what I need for my 17in macbook plus clothes,lunch, bike pump & tools. I ride 28mi roundtrip daily & wanted bags large enough to carry everything, and keep it all DRY. So far the size is amazing-I hope the waterproofing is as advertised!
Rated 4 out of 5 Stars
19 Mar 2010
Donald R says...
Rated 5 out of 5 Stars
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