Why the Ortlieb Duffle RS 85 Is the Ultimate Waterproof Bag

Leonard Schoenberger

Waterproof duffel bags are a great companion on a trip into the backcountry.

Yet, in my eyes, it’s not easy to find one that ticks all the boxes. At least it wasn’t for me. That is until I came across the Ortlieb Duffel RS. In my eyes, this duffel bag is the ultimate choice. Here’s why.

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First Impression

Ortlieb RS 85 Duffel Bag
The Ortlieb Duffle RS 85 has it all: it’s waterproof, submersible, rollable and features shoulder straps to carry it like a backpack. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger


Sizes: 85L (pictured above), 110L and 140L

Colors: black and yellow/black

Price: $420-450

Submersible: Yes

Waterproof: Yes

Removable shoulder straps

Ortlieb has decades of experience in producing the toughest, waterproof gear, mainly for cyclists. Their customers need to be able to rely 100% on the quality of their gear (make sure to read our review of their fully submersible Atrack backpack as well). When I first got my hands on the Ortlieb Duffle RS I could tell right away that it’s tough as nails. In this review I want to break down the features that turn this duffel bag into one of the best waterproof duffel bag options out there.

Standout Features of the Ortlieb

Ortlieb Rolling Duffle RS
The Ortlieb Rolling Duffle RS 85 during our testing. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

At first glance you can tell that the main fabric of the RS is made of a very sturdy nylon material that is fully waterproof and can take a lot of beating and scratches. In certain areas the duffel has extra patches of fabric for even higher abrasion resistance. Between the wheels it features a metal plate that protects your bag from rock or stones when you pull it over gravel roads. The only little downside I’ve found here is the fact that the handle is not extendable. On the one hand that’s nice because its shorter design prevents it from sticking out over the edge of the bag, on the other hand I had a few instances where the bag hit my heels cause the handle wasn’t long enough.

Handle on the Ortlieb Duffle RS
The handle on the Ortlieb RS 85 duffel bag. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Besides the fact that the Duffle RS is rollable (and features tough wheels that can even handle real gravel roads) it can also be carried like a backpack. The shoulder straps are detachable but I always leave them on since it gives me all the options. I really like this feature because despite the fact that the Duffle RS features handles on each side to lift the bag into or out of a boat for example, the shoulder straps allow you to carry the bag over longer distances even when it’s heavy – well done, Ortlieb.

Shoulder straps on the Ortlieb Duffle RS
The shoulder straps on the Ortlieb Duffle RS feature enough padding for shorter distances. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Waterproofness and Submersibility

Now let’s talk about what this duffle was really made for: water. Not only is the RS fully waterproof but, thanks to the bulletproof TIZIP zipper, it’s also fully submersible. What does this even mean you might ask? It means that, technically, you could submerge this bag entirely underwater and the water would still not penetrate. In real life this means that not only will the RS be able to withstand and rain coming at it from the top but even if you drop it into the water when travelling on a boat, it won’t bother it. In the end you might think that’s not very likely to happen which is probably true. However, I want to throw in that this ultimate protection from the elements will simply give you peace of mind when you probably have other things to worry about on a trip to a remote place.

TIZIP zipper on the Ortlieb Duffle RS
The TIZIP zipper on the Ortlieb Duffle RS makes sure everything on the inside stays bone dry. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

The big waterproof zipper opens the Ortlieb up to one big main compartment that will hold all your gear. On the inside you’ll find neat little zippered pockets for better organisation.

Zippered opened on the Ortlieb RS Duffle
The RS 85 can hold 85L. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

If you’re planning on packing one or two rods into your luggage as I often do, I have good news for you: the RS 85 is long and wide enough to fit most 9′ rods (if they are 4 pieces rods). I also managed to fit longer rods (such as salmon rods) when they’re travel rods (6+ piece rods).

Zippered mesh pocket on the outside of the Ortlieb Duffle RS 85
Small zippered mesh pocket on the outside of the duffel bag. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

On the outside the Duffle RS features a little zippered mesh pockets for essentials such as car keys. Please be aware that this pocket is not waterproof. Last but not least the Ortlieb comes with an important feature if you want to check in your bag: it offers the possibility to lock the bag when the zipper is fully closed using small lock (does not come with the bag).

Final Thoughts

You get it: I’m a fan of the Ortlieb Duffle RS. In my eyes it features all the characteristics you’re looking for in a waterproof and fully submersible bag. It’s very sturdy and also the wheels are big enough to pull it comfortably. Downsides? Hard to come by but like I mentioned further up, I think the handle could use an upgrade. Also: the Ortlieb RS doesn’t come cheap obviously with prices between $420 and $450 (depending on the size you go for). Yes, that’s a lot of money for a bag. But considering the prices of bags that offer much less being not far off, I’d definitely go for the Ortlieb.



FAQs: Ortlieb Duffle RS

Is the Duffle RS suitable for air travel?

Absolutely! The Duffle RS is designed with travel in mind, and its rugged construction makes it a reliable companion for air travel, protecting your gear from the rigors of the journey.

Can the Duffle RS withstand heavy rain and wet conditions?

Yes, indeed. The Duffle RS is not only water-resistant but fully submersible, ensuring that your gear stays dry even in the heaviest downpours or wet environments.

How spacious is the Duffle RS for packing fishing equipment?

The Duffle RS boasts ample space to accommodate various fishing gear, including fly rods, reels, and other essentials. Its well-thought-out design ensures efficient use of space without compromising on protection.

Are the shoulder straps comfortable for extended carrying?

Absolutely! The Duffle RS features comfortable and adjustable shoulder straps, making it easy to carry for extended periods.

Can the Duffle RS be used for activities other than fishing?

Certainly! While perfect for fishing adventures, the Duffle RS’s versatile design makes it suitable for various activities – from outdoor adventures to weekend getaways. It’s a multi-functional companion for any explorer.

Our expertise: Leonard Schoenberger and his team spend dozens of days each year on the water testing and reviewing new gear for you. Their ultimate goal is for you to make a solid purchase decision. They never get paid for reviews and always express their honest opinion on the pros and cons of a product. By purchasing through one of the links provided you support our business without any additional cost to you. Thanks!