Ortlieb Outdoor Equipment Camera Bags

harness-system for camera bags
Padded, waterproof bag with Quick-Seal fastener, designed especially for cameras with zoom or tele lenses. Individually adjustable foam pads ensure that your equipment is transported reliably at all times. With the four D-rings the bag can be fastened to the ORTLIEB – Camera Harness System (shown above) to keep the bag securely attached to your body. That is an advantage when you’re hiking, mountain climbing, biking, or canoeing. You have your hands free and your camera within easy reach.
You say you’re planning the trip of a lifetime, and it involves lots of water, sand, or wind? Maybe it’s a rafting trip or a cruise on a sailboat. Or how about a jaunt to Morocco or the Sahara? Maybe you’ll be hiking the Appalachian or Colorado Trails. Your question is, “What kind of bag do I carry my camera equipment in, so it doesn’t get ruined?” You’ve looked at hard cases. They’ll certainly do the trick, but they’re heavy, awkward to carry (especially when you’re hiking), and they can be very expensive. Ortlieb Outdoor Equipment has the answer to your problem in their extensive line of bicycling, outdoor, and camera bags.

Ortlieb Sportatikel GmbH was founded about eighteen years ago by German entrepreneur Hartmund Ortlieb in response to a need for absolutely waterproof touring gear. Since then, Ortlieb has become the major producer of welded fabric products suitable for any outdoor venue. The technology is an adaptation of the RF welding employed in dry bags using higher frequencies and tighter tolerances. The camera bags use Dupont Cordura fabric that has been laminated, not sprayed, with a sheet of urethane–creating a fabric that’s completely waterproof. Fabric panels and hardware, such as hooks and straps, are then welded together, so that the seams and joints are fused, making them stronger than the fabric itself. The result is a complete shell devoid of any stitch points that could let water leak through.

The bags are waterproof, dustproof, and sand proof–but not submersible. This limitation should be explained. Unlike other bags that use quick connects, Velcro, or zippers, Ortlieb uses a closure known as the “Roll-n-Snap” labyrinth closure, which won’t admit water in a quick dunk or spill situation. To close the bag, two plastic profiles are pressed against each other at the top end of the bag, then rolled three times in the same way in a classic roll closure. A strong lockable fastener buckle locks the roll into place and simultaneously represents one of the handles. Water will eventually find its way in, if the bag is left underwater for a prolonged period of time. This closure makes for a slightly slower access than those used for conventional bags, but no slower than a hard case–a slight inconvenience when the trade-off is superb protection against the elements.

The camera bags come in three models:

Aqua-Cam comes in two sizes and features a removable insert with supportive foam pads individually adjustable to your camera or camcorder. It can be used as a shoulder bag, belt-mounted, or combined with the Ortlieb Camera Harness System. The smaller size is roomy enough for your 35mm camera and one or two lenses. The larger bag, which boasts a volume of almost two gallons (7.5L), is large enough to hold a camcorder plus some accessories.

Aqua-Zoom was designed for cameras mounted with longer lenses–such as a zoom or telephoto–in addition to several rolls of film. However, it’s not designed to hold additional lenses. It can be attached to the Harness System, carried on a shoulder or a belt. Inside, there are adjustable foam pads to make sure your camera rides snugly.

Protect is a smaller bag for small, compact cameras, digital cameras, and digital mini-cams. As above, it can be mounted on the Harness or worn on the shoulder or belt.


The Aqua Zoom: Here you can see the bag opened, as it
is rolled closed and in the closed locked position.


We tried out the Aqua Zoom and the smaller of the two Aqua-Cams. These are definitely sturdy bags. The fabric is tough, and the hardware and straps have heft and are well-made. The bags themselves are semi-rigid, with a thick protective padding inside the waterproof fabric. Theirs aren’t merely waterproof canvas enclosures. In fact, it took us a while to adapt to the closure system. The lazy among us might be tempted to leave the bag open when we’re not actually in transit, defeating the purpose. Setting an open bag down on the deck of a sailboat that’s subject to splash wouldn’t be a good idea. (Remember; it doesn’t let water in, but it doesn’t let it out either, so it will hang onto whatever washes inside. )

We also liked the idea of the harness. While you’re biking, hiking, and especially, horseback riding, it’s advisable to keep your camera close. The harness holds the camera snugly to your chest, preventing it from swinging around and keeping it quickly accessible for that unexpected encounter with wildlife. On long hauls through the mountains on horseback, strapping your camera to the saddle horn or tucking it into a saddle bag still leaves your equipment subject to a lot of shock–especially when your horse is trotting or cantering.

The closure system is a real plus in riding situations. Dust, sand, hair, and dander seem to find their way into everything. And need I mention the sudden, afternoon rain showers prevalent during monsoon season? After a summer of riding through the mountains using conventional camera bags, my equipment always ends up at a repair shop for a good cleaning. The Ortleib closure system cuts way down on the problems that come with unexpected downpours, dust storms, and blowing dirt and hair. The only aspect I haven’t been able to determine is how easy the bags are to clean after a summer of trekking.

Are these bags expensive? Currently the Aqua-Zoom sells for under $80, and the Aqua-Cams are both under $100. Not bad! To find out more visit their websites at: http://www.ortliebusa.com/photo/camera.html or http://www.ortlieb.de/ephoto.htm


Camera Bags: Specifications

num.gif (129 Byte)

rolle.gif (166 Byte)

pins.gif (113 Byte)

pf_auf.gif (87 Byte)

pf_re.gif (74 Byte)

pf_tief.gif (89 Byte)

eim.gif (119 Byte)

gew.gif (105 Byte)

P 90 L4Aqua-Cam







7,5 in.



8,7 in.



5,1 in.






15,2 oz.

P 90 L9black
P 91 L4Aqua-Cam




9,1 in.



9,4 in.



5,3 in.






18,7 oz.

P 91 L9black
P 92 L4Aqua-Zoomred-black25


9,8 in.

6/19 cm




3,5 in.






9,9 oz.

P 92 L9black
P 93 L4Protectred-black12


4,7 in.



5,9 in.



2,8 in.






6,3 oz.

P 93 L9black

by Michael Fulks

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.