Ortlieb folding bowl

Ortlieb BowlIt’s hard to separate the important accessories from the frivolous ones when choosing what to take on a tour. For a long time we put Ortlieb’s 10 litre folding bowl (£16.80 from Wiggle) in the second category. We couldn’t imagine why we needed one.

It wasn’t until we met a couple with not one but two folding bowls on tour that we reconsidered our decision.

Since then, the bowl (which comes in 5 litre and 20 litre sizes as well) has been one of our most regularly used items. What do we use it for?

  • Doing Laundry. Sinks are often without plugs or, if you’re camping, you may not have access to a sink at all. The bowl is great for doing laundry in and you can fold it together with the clothes inside to help squeeze out excess water.
  • Collecting water for filtering. We get a large amount of water together in the bowl to filter into our bottles when we’re in places where we can’t trust the water.
  • Showering. Use the bowl to carry everything you need for your shower back and forth between the bathrooms and the tent. If you’re wild camping, you can also use the bowl to collect water from a stream or river for a bucket shower.
  • Washing Dishes. Throw them all in with a little dish soap and you have an instant sink or just use the bowl to carry everything to the washing area.
  • Cleaning Food. You can throw large quantities of vegetables in the bowl to be washed. We use ours a lot for salad leaves, which are too bulky to clean in our saucepans. You can also use the bowl as an extra serving dish. We often make and dress our salads directly in it. Just ensure all the soap from the laundry is well washed!
  • General carry-all. If our panniers are full, the bowl can strap onto the top of our back bags to make another way of lugging bulky things. Usually this something awkward like a watermelon or once even the better part of a sack of potatoes we found by the side of the road.

It’s hard to think of a day where we don’t use our Ortlieb Bowl. When it isn’t being put to work, it folds up into a triangle and sits on top of our camping mattresses, which lie across Friedel’s two back panniers.

So, how’s it holding up? After 2 years of constant use, our bowl is showing some signs of wear but nothing that stops us using it as we want to. The sides are a little saggy but it still maintains the bowl shape. A small hole did develop in the bottom, along the fold lines of the bowl, but we patched it with our puncture repair kit and haven’t had a problem since.

Click here to check out the Ortlieb Folding Bowl on Wiggle’s Online Bike Shop


  1. Becky
    27th December 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    Can you add a link or a picture? Is this the same as the “kitchen sink?” (http://www.seatosummit.com/products/display/13)

    We almost brought one with us, but in the end decided to return it.

  2. Stephen Lord
    1st February 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Do you prefer the 10L or the 5L? I love the 5L, I can’t imagine ever going back to the 10L unless I had a family and took them cycling

    I remember once standing in my 5L Ortlieb folding sink to have a sponge bath in Baja California because I’d just seen a scorpion in the loo and I’m terrified of them!

    Mine has a few holes in now, easily plugged with glue though.

    • friedel
      1st February 2010 at 7:47 pm #

      We have the 10 litre. Most of the time, the 5 litre would have been plenty, though occasionally when we were doing a big load of laundry, the 10 litre was pretty handy.

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