DSC01230 deniz merdano crankbrothers candy showers pass ortlieb tibolts knolly (1)
Review

Ortlieb Soulo Metrosphere Daypack

Photos Deniz Merdano
Reading time

Why Backpack?

Experienced riders - commuters, bikepackers, tourers - will tell you to avoid backpacks. Put the weight on your bike and save your back, shoulders and neck from the strain. Mountain bikers have recently learned this lesson and are falling over themselves to attach as many things as possible to their bikes instead of their bodies - or at least greatly lightened the load thanks to the renaissance of the hip pack. My review here of the Ortlieb Soulo Metrosphere is coming at things as a commuter first, and bikepacker/mountain biker second. You’ve been warned!

So, why a backpack? I've been commuting to university daily, 25 kilometers each way, for the last five years with an Arc'teryx Granville 25 - a simple, flip top style bag made of ripstop nylon with a single G-hook closure. It's now faded and patch-riddled, but has served its purpose well. Given my experience, packs are the simplest option that I can rely on for the daily race. They transfer easily between bikes, keep your valuables safe and secure, and look normal in casual use. Panniers can carry large volumes, are easily removed, and take weight off your back. However, they lack versatility, can be awkward to carry around and expose fragile goods like a laptop to road chatter and bumps. Lighter options like bike packing bags have flexible mounting options and are rattle free, but they're time consuming to install and remove, and can’t accommodate the same variety of loads as a pack (or pannier). Backpack bias established.

The first thing I noticed about the pack was the quality and thickness of the materials. It has ample room for daily belongings, a laptop sleeve, a frame to help it keep its rigidity, and a magnetic lid closure. I've spent the last 4 months commuting on the Ortlieb Soulo Metrosphere and I have some thing to say about it.

DSC01196 deniz merdano crankbrothers candy showers pass ortlieb tibolts knolly

Any excuse to ride my bike where one shouldn't.

Key Details

  • Convenient magnetic lid closure allows for easy access
  • Strong magnets can be locked with discreet controls to protect the bag from unauthorized access
  • Small exterior pocket on the front
  • Integrated laptop compartment
  • Waterproof and sustainably manufactured in Germany.
  • CO₂e footprint: 9.08 kg - cycle commute 95.58 km to compensate for this product
  • Weight: 1050g
  • Volume: 25L

Inside

Once loaded with daily essentials like my laptop, spare change of clothes, lock, charging cables, lunch, Hydroflask, and a textbook, there was little room to spare in the Metrosphere. Despite this, I have also used it for running errands and day hikes. 25 litres isn't overly large when not fully loaded, but it can still accommodate an unexpected grocery request from mom while riding home from work. For those of you who like to travel light, I took my Arcteryx bag of the same volumeon a three week backpacking trip across Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro last summer and I never lacked space.

The upper part of the bag, alongside the magnetic closure equipped lid, is reinforced with a plastic inner shell, providing a welcome rigidity. The plastic insert for the top half of the bag came uninstalled so the bag could ship flat. After a few minutes of massaging, the insert was securely in place and has not moved since. My only quibble is that when nearly empty, the few things inside tend to rattle around a lot, like a tennis ball in the back of a cargo van.

The inside build is very simple: a laptop sleeve, a large zippered pocket, and two small pockets. I managed to fit my 14" laptop and sleeve with room to spare, so I estimate it could handle a 15" laptop. Ortlieb offers packing cubes that will fit and seem like a great idea. If you're organized enough to compartmentalize your gear, it'll save you from rifling through your bag.

Outside

The outside PS33 material (a nylon with a single PU coating) has a rugged and durable feel. The pack is fully waterproof, with an IP53 rating, and I never experienced water ingress, even when during heavy rain. The Metrosphere finish looks classy AF. The only gripe with the finish being that it wasn't reflective, a surprising decision for a daily commuter pack.

The shoulder straps won't win any awards for supreme comfort but they were amply wide and had plenty of adjustment. The Metrosphere version doesn't have a chest strap, although other finishes (fabrics/colours) of the Soulo do. I wish I had one. Soft rubber ribs on the back of the pack allowed for a pleasant amount of airflow. Unlike mesh these were always dry for my return trip home. The extra outside pocket was handy for stashing small items like a transit pass or keys that you might want to access during a rainy ride without opening the whole pack.

The magnet system has two levers that lock by rotating 60 degrees from left to right. The system, while discreet and simple to toggle back and forth, gave me confidence that no one could open the bag in busy areas. The magnetic cover didn't align perfectly with the magnets on the pack, so securing the cover was tedious for the first few weeks. This improved with what I suspect is a little bit of friction wear.

Parting Thoughts

I want to give a nod to Ortlieb's amazing quality - if you know them for one thing, it's probably panniers. The set of Ortlieb backrollers purchased by an adventure-fueled cyclist in the 90s to ride around South America, now dug out of the garage, unchanged, and passed on to the kids for more abuse. The stories that I have heard about the quality and durability of their product it legit. I have been selling their panniers for over 9 years and have not once seen a warranty issue on the fabric. I have completed warranties for the small plastic parts on their products, but this was in rare cases of riders putting lots of wear on their gear (+1 for riding bikes so much) and Ortlieb was quick to send replacement parts.

The Soulo Metrosphere is a classy looking, fully waterproof, daily driver backpack with ample space, a generous laptop compartment, and rugged build. The spacing of magnetic lid caused me some faff at first, the lack of reflectivity was a miss for a commuter pack, and I really would've liked to have seen a chest strap. Despite a few of its quirks, the Ortlieb Soulo Metrosphere is a pack that serves my daily needs admirably.

Ortlieb Soulo Metrosphere Backpack // 320 CAD

Matthew_Cusanelli
Matt Cusanelli

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 155lbs/77kg

Inseam - 34"/86cm

Ape Index - The Original Slinky™

Age - 22

Bar Width - 780mm

Preferred Reach - 485-500mm

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB

Comments

fartymarty
0

Matt - I'm curious about the lock you're carrying.  Is this just a small lock or full D Lock?  I've gone back to strapping my D Lock to my frame with ski straps rather than add the 2-3 kg to my backpack.

Reply

Matthew_Cusanelli
0

Hi Marty! I’m currently using an Abus Bordo 6000 folding lock. It’s light enough, can lock two bikes, and has a secure mount although I don’t use it. I’m thinking about an Abus Granit 640 U lock as it’s the best strength to weight ratio u lock I’ve come across.

Reply

Timer
0

While I feel that Abus looks are quite expensive for a given level of security, they have by far the best hardware for attaching locks to frames. Their EZ-KF mount makes ski straps seem barbaric in comparison.

Reply

Matthew_Cusanelli
+2 Timer Andy Eunson

Agreed. Whenever customers mention mounting to their bike I steer them clear of the Kryptonite locks, which are fantastic but have a klunkier mounting system than the Abus. My family has a few commuter bikes with the Bordo mount on it and we can transfer the lock across when needed in a matter of seconds.

Reply

fartymarty
0

Thanks will take a look at Abus.  I'm on a Kryptonite and have long lost the mount hence the ski straps and liberal amounts of inner tube wrap.

Reply

TristanC
0

If you're looking for almost this same pack without magnets and with reflective details, check out the Ortlieb Commuter-Daypack High Visibility. I've had one for about nine months now, using it daily. The reflective details are subtle until it's in a light and then it's super visible, and I like the roll top. It looks like it has the same laptop sleeve/pocket inside. It also has a chest and waist strap.

Reply

fartymarty
0

I'm going to need a replacement for my Upso (https://upsobags.co.uk/) when it dies - probably a few years from now so will keep it in mind.

Reply

Matthew_Cusanelli
0

Some of those designs look wild. I’ve also heard enough praise about Chrome Industries bags over the years to be keen on trying one.

Reply

Kelownakona
0

Great article. Used quite a large Chrome pack for a few years commuting and short travels and it's been great. Really tough, waterproof panels and a waterproof separate laptop compartment you dont have to open the bag for, It's only a roll top which has pros and cons. The back is nothing like that Ortlieb so I'd be interested how much better those ribs work as the Chrome can get pretty warm.

Reply

CrazyLou
0

This comment has been removed.

Matthew_Cusanelli
0

Tristan, this is a great shout! I have a buddy with one of these and it’s super simple, kind like the Granville 25. The ease of quickly popping open the Mestrosphere is growing on me though.

Reply

finbarr
0

Love the look of that Knolly Cache. Thinking about picking one up myself.

Reply

Matthew_Cusanelli
0

Depending on what size you are they have them on sale right now for 30% off. This is a personal bike so we won't have a review coming for it. But hey, It's been putting a smile on my face thus far :)

Reply

jt
0

My fav commuter pack was from Banjo Brothers. The Commuter pack was waterproof in just the right ways and had most all of the organizational features one could want. Unfortunately, I don't think they're still in operations as they never responded to a phone call or email about a warranty enquiry and all their socials seem dead, which is a heckuva bummer. That said, I went with a Road Runner bags Anything backpack. It lacks a lot of the organizational features of the Banjo (pen holders are freakin' sweet to have and I do miss em), but it's even more waterproof, using the floating tarp liner commonly used in true mess bags. The flap-over-a-roll-top design allows one to carry a heckuvalot of weird things (rims/wheels, frames, jumbo packs of TP or paper towels) while still keeping the contents dry in a deluge.  The laptop pocket swallows my 19" with plenty of room to spare for the power brick and mouse.  Granted, it isn't a light pack but the old maxim 'strong, light, cheap, pick' two applies and it really feels like it's a forever/one n done purchase.

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.