BIKING

Best Bike Panniers: Keeping Your Gear Safe on Your Ride

Best bike panniers
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Going for a bike ride should be hassle free. The wind’s in your hair, the sun is shining, and the only thing you really have to tackle are those uphill climbs.

However, if you’re one of those people who enjoys taking their bikes with them on a camping trip, then there’s a lot more to have to take into account and prepare for. Accidents happen or you may need a boost of energy from a granola bar, but you can’t do that if you don’t have some means of carrying a first aid kit or spare food with you.

That’s why you should invest some time into finding the best bike panniers the market has to offer so that you’ll be fully prepared.

What Exactly Are Bike Panniers?

These are bags that can be clipped or strapped to the front or rear rack of your bicycle. They make it much easier for you to carry around the things you need while you’re on the go, without the hassle of shoving things into your pockets or wearing a backpack.

Bike Panniers

Some of the most sophisticated panniers can be converted into backpacks when you’re ready to take your gear with you, so that adds another level of convenience that many bikers aren’t aware of.

Selecting The Right Panniers

Whether this is the first time you’re looking for bike panniers or you’re looking to replace your old ones, there are some considerations you should definitely keep in mind to make your purchasing experience go more smoothly.

Not heeding these tips may result in your purchase not fitting right or not being suitable for your purposes.

  • when looking for panniers, it might be a good idea to bring your bike with you to see if it fits. This is not only to see that they’re capable of being clipped onto your bike, but you want to make sure that they’re not too big. Oversized panniers can result in your heels coming into contact with them while you ride, and that can lead to a lot of discomfort, as well as scuffing up your bags.
  • consider where you’re going to be riding your bike and what you’re going to be doing on your trip. If you’re going to be taking them on a trip with you to the grand outdoors and national parks, you’re going to need pannier bags that are more durable and versatile for your needs.
  • in developing a list of pannier bags that meet your style and purpose, there are four main features that you should look at to see how well they can hold up: fabric/material, how they’re constructed, their size, and how they’re attached to your bike.

Fabric/Material

The most commonly used materials in pannier bags are nylon and polyester. This is because they’re known to be quite durable and easy to apply coats to in order to make the panniers waterproof. When looking at such bags, you should look at the denier or Tex number of the fabric, as this refers to the linear mass density of the fabric.

Bike Panniers material

Think of it as a thread count for sheets. Keep in mind that the higher the number, the better the quality and the more expensive the panniers will be.

Construction

Along with the material that is used, how the different panels are stitched together and the kinds of zippers/enclosures used should also be considered. When joining fabric together, there are three main methods that are used:

  • Sewing: this is the most common method and one that everyone is familiar with. It’s the most affordable method, but there are still gaps in the seams that may let water through.
  • Hot welding: the edges of the fabric are overlayed, and heat is applied to them to melt them together, creating a smoother seam without all the texture of stitches. This method can be a little more expensive.
  • Ultrasonic welding: the edges of the fabric are joined together with sound, and is guaranteed to keep water out of the inside of your panniers.

Whichever method is used, the seams will always be taped just in case in order to add that extra layer of waterproof security. If you’re not interested in how the seams are accomplished, you may want to look at pannier bags that come with covers to ensure that your belongings stay dry.

Size

This is all dependent on the amount of gear you think you’ll be carrying with you. If you’re not a heavy camper, then you may want to travel light and that means smaller bags. Getting the biggest ones you can find will only result in wasted space and heavier bags on your bike.

Bike Panniers size

However, if you’re one of those campers who wants to be prepared for everything, a large pannier would do you good, and you can have all the gear and kit you need to ensure that you’re safe and comfortable. Smaller panniers just aren’t going to cut it for your level of preparation.

Sizes are also dependent on where you want your panniers to be mounted. Front panniers are usually limited to being about twenty liters in size, while rear panniers can be as big as 40 liters. You’re free to mount front panniers on the back rack of your bike, but the same cannot be said for rear panniers, as the extra weight and size could drastically affect how you ride.

Attachment

Companies are always trying to outdo each other when it comes to how their panniers are attached to bikes. Some manufacturers choose to use their brand specific attachment system, while others use a combination of these various designs in order to prove to consumer just how secure they are.

After all, no one wants to invest in costly bags with a cheap system that falls off after the first use, resulting in broken or lost gear. There’s also the option of buying an attachment system separately that is designed to be universal with all kinds of bags.

Not only do you want your attachments to be secure, but they should also make it easy for you to remove your bags when you need to. Who wants to struggle with clips all day that will make your outdoor experience unbearable?

The best way to figure out which ones are most suitable for your bike and that you’ll feel comfortable with is to try them out for yourself. Look for attachment systems that have replaceable parts, just in case the worst happens.

Bike Panniers Attachment

In addition, look for rear attachment racks that have a “dog leg” support, as this will keep your panniers from interfering with your back tire.

Now that you’re aware of the various features and styles of bike panniers, it’s time to take a look at what customers are raving about in the market place.

Top Products for 2017

Seattle Sports Titan Pannier

Seattle Sports Titan Pannier

Cost: $64.95

Weight: 2 pounds

Liters: 18

Dimensions: 13.5 x 11 x 6 inches

Special Features: RF welded seams, waterproof body, reflective details, splash-proof zippered pocket, heavy duty clips to attach to bike rack, compression straps, compatible on both front and rear racks.

Description: If you’re looking for a pannier that’s both versatile and affordable, then Seattle Sports Titan Pannier could be the one for you. Consider the Titan Pannier as part of your gear the next time you plan on taking your bike with you on your next camping trip.

It has very easy installation that’s extremely secure, so you’ll never have to worry about losing your things. However, it can be a bit difficult to remove when you’re ready to take your gear with you.

The reflective details also makes it easier for you to be noticed at night, making this pannier the perfect choice for those who go biking on roads as well.

The main body of the pannier is exceptionally waterproof, but some have reported that the front zippered pocket doesn’t exhibit the same qualities, so it might be best not to place your expensive electronics in this part of your pannier.

Thule Adventure Touring Pannier

Thule Adventure Touring Pannier

Cost: $94.52 – $156.43

Weight: 3.1 pounds

Liters: 26

Dimensions: 23.6 x 11.8 x 7.8 inches

Special Features: vanishing hardware system, easy to attach, extra pockets to store safety light, waterproof, compression straps, reflective strips, integrated grab handles, detachable shoulder strap, versatile for front or rear rack, can fit on any kind of bike rack.

Description: Some say bigger is better, and they would be right about this pannier. This Thule Adventure Touring Pannier is designed to carry everything you could ever think of on your camping trip, and then some.

It works well for those who are interested in the outdoors, riding to work, or both, as it’s well-made and rugged enough to handle anything nature can throw at it.

It attaches to the bike rack very easily, and even has vanishing attachment hardware so you won’t feel the fasteners digging into your back. And if the black is not to visible for you, it’s also available in a bright yellow so that you can make yourself more visible to those around you.

Green Guru Gear Carbon Cooler Pannier

Green Guru Gear Carbon Cooler Pannier

Cost: $80.10

Weight: 2.8 pounds

Liters: 22

Dimensions: 4 x 13 x 14 inches

Special Features: insulation, adjustable to fit most racks, reflective light loops, extra pockets for storing smaller items, bright coloured patterns to choose from, adjustable strap.

Description: One thing that this pannier has going above the rest is how well it can be used to store food. Green Guru Gear Carbon Cooler Pannier has insulation that’s perfect for keeping your food hot or cold, so you can enjoy a hot tasty meal or a cold beverage when you’re taking a break from your ride.

And these bags were made with “green” in mind, as they’re all made from upcycled banners, so by purchasing one, you’re doing your part to help save the planet. That also means that no two panniers are the same, so yours will be unique and easy to pick out from a crowd.

There’s also an adjustable strap that allows you to detach it from your bike and wear it over your shoulder so you can carry it around more easily when you’re not riding.

Timbuk2 Tandem Pannier

Timbuk2 Tandem Pannier

Cost: $129.00

Weight:  2.14 pounds

Liters: 30

Dimensions: 14.2 x 14.6 x 4.7 inches

Special Features: waterproof, laptop pocket, reflective strips, available in three colours, can double as a shoulder bag.

Description: If you’re looking for a pannier to help you carry a lot of stuff, this 30-liter bag will do the trick. Timbuk2 Tandem Pannier is large enough to hold a 13-inch computer, gym clothes, camping gear, and whatever you need to carry with you without jeopardizing the functionality of the bag.

However, exercise care to not overstuff your bag, as this reduces its ability to keep water out of the inside of the bag. It does have some reflective patches on the bag for increased visibility, but the manufacturer could have chosen brighter fabric colours to enhance the experience.

The biggest problem with this double-saddle pannier is that it is difficult to attach to your bike rack.

The security of the attachments relies heavily on gravity, and although the bags may not fall off your rack, they do tend to shift around while you’re riding. The elastic at the bottom connection will also stretch out after a few months of use, which can reduce the security of your panniers somewhat.

Avenir Metro Panniers

Avenir Metro Panniers

Cost: $32.72

Weight: .05 pounds

Liters: 22

Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.6 x 1.6 inches

Special Features: reflective strip, rear light attachment clip, internal pockets for smaller items, easy attachment, shoulder strap.

Description: This affordable Avenir Metro Panniers makes it easy for you to carry your gear and belongings without having to break your wallet. At just a little under $35, you get 22 liters to work with, which is a lot more than other panniers you’d find at this prize.

The nylon construction is designed for durability and for keeping out moisture on those rainy days, and the added shoulder strap makes it easy for you to carry with you when you’re no longer on your bike.

It is mounted to the rack with just Velcro straps, so you should exercise care in inspecting these on a regular basis to ensure that they’re not wearing out.

Axiom Seymour DLX 30 Pannier

Axiom Seymour DLX 30 Pannier

Cost: $64.49

Weight: 2.5 pounds

Liters: 30

Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.25 x 12 inches

Special Features: adjustable hooks to fit 6mm 20mm racks, replaceable Rixen and Kaul Flip Lock, rear LED light mount, adjustable hook and bungee system, water-resistant polyester.

Description: Tired of flashy panniers? These Axiom Seymour DLX 30 Pannier are designed to be low profile so you’re only drawing the right amount of attention to yourself. These bags are large enough to hold a lot of your camping gear, and then some.

And you don’t have to worry about them fitting to your bike rack, as the straps are completely adjustable to fit almost any size. The waterproof and wind-resistant fabric make it easy for you to keep your belongings safe and dry, and won’t slow you down on your ride.

Ibera 2-in-1 Bike Panniers

Ibera 2-in-1 Bike Panniers

Cost: $45.99

Weight: 2.2 pounds

Liters: 18

Dimensions: 12.2 x 11 x 3.9 inches

Special Features: elastic document holders, hook and strap attachment, conversion into a shoulder bag, multi compartments, 1680 nylon fabric.

Description: Other than the attractive style of the orange highlights on this Ibera 2-in-1 Bike Panniers , it’s also one of the most cost-effective bags for those shopping on a budget. With 18 liters to work with, they’re very suitable for those smaller items you don’t want to shove into your pockets or leave behind.

It’s a very simple design with plenty of pockets to work with, but there are some drawbacks. First, there are no zippered pockets, which does slightly increase the chances that you could lose your things, as well as minimizing the waterproof properties.

Secondly, the attachment clips are only on one side, which can make attaching these bags a bit awkward. Lastly, they don’t fit wide racks, so you may have to get a new rack to accommodate these or skip it altogether.

It is a great choice for those who are going on short camping trips, however, or those who pack extremely light.

Detours D2R Bicycle Pannier Set

Detours D2R Bicycle Pannier Set

Cost: $90.79

Weight: 2.7 pounds

Liters: 34

Dimensions: 12.5 x 8 x 15 inches

Special Features: adjustable four-point attachment system, suitable for a majority of rear racks, water-resistant ripstop nylon, waterproof rain cover, reflective strips, rubberized touch points, mesh side pockets, large front pocket, bungee cord top, rear water bottle holder.

Description: These Detours D2R Bicycle Pannier Set may look small and compact, but they certainly know how to fit a lot of gear inside them. The stylish look of these bags will only draw the attention you need, with its sleek design and minimalist appearance.

There are plenty of added accessories to fit the other gear you can’t stuff inside, like your water bottle and jacket. The bungee cord top makes it easy for you to tie and strap on any other external gear you may have, and will keep it in place during your ride.

They’re built to endure some abuse as well, so you’ll never have to worry about these bags ripping or tearing after your first trip.

Final Words

Packing is probably the least favorite pre-camping activity involved with any trip, as it can be difficult to figure out where you’re going to put all your stuff. But with these panniers, you have the added extra space without the hassle of added weight.

Choose your Bike Panniers

And because many of them can be converted into shoulder bags, you can kill two birds with one stone when it comes to reducing the number of bags you carry.

Do you have a favorite set of panniers you’d like to share with us? Tried out any of the above products and you’d like to share your opinion with us? Please your comments and concerns in the section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Sabrina Bell

    Timbuk2 tandem pannier has a great amount of space. It’s made out of sturdy, waterproof plasticky/vinyl-ish fabric, and any time I’ve ridden in the rain, my belongings have stayed dry. Also, it’s entirely manageable – it stays in place reasonably well and doesn’t get in the way while riding.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Are you bringing a lot of things to your camping? The Timbuk2 has a 30 liter capacity so that’s quite roomy in my book. The material is also sturdy and waterproof. I think these bike panniers are so useful and make packing sweet and painless. You’ll actually pack more when you have these products so they are highly recommended for everyone.

  • Luke Carver

    The Thule Adventure Touring Pannier is yet another reason as to why I’m such a big Thule fan. It can be left outside comfortably, indeed, on a number of mornings whilst out touring we awoke to heavy dew and yet nothing had seeped into the bag. Similarly, when actually riding, no mud or dirt was able to penetrate the bag. I’d definitely agree with the ‘bigger is better’ thinking behind this bag too, as you mentioned. Easily carried all my equipment with room to spare!

  • Daniel Carraway

    Yeah, I agree with you about the Thule Adventure Touring Pannier. The material of these bags are awesome and the workmanship is exceptional. It’s better than carrying a backpack while we ride which can be bothersome, especially if it’s too heavy.

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