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Are you looking for an easy way to haul your bike gear, but don’t know where to start?
Panniers are a great way to get gear off your back and onto the workhorse that is your bike. Whether you want to carry your stuff for the work commute, or go out on a small mountain bike tour, a good bicycle pannier and rack set up is a great first step in transforming your bike into a machine of utility, purpose and adventure.
With the growing popularity in bike touring and the recent boom in bike commuting, there are a plethora of bike panniers on the market.
We’ve bring together an in-depth collection of the best panniers around. All of the panniers that we offer could be considered “the very best” depending on your particular inclination.
We pride ourselves as the pannier experts because we do get to use a variety of bags on a daily basis. Our shop is literally full of bike panniers and we’ve had plenty of time to touch, feel and test them all. Let us offer our input of nuances and subtle differences between panniers when you’re deciding on a bag that’s right for you.
There are many different pannier options for configuring a useful bike commuting or bike touring set up.
One main point to consider is how much you want to carry. Some bags have distinct advantages over others when it comes to hauling specific items and load weight. For instance, experienced commuters usually prefer lightweight panniers with lots of organization pockets for a laptop, change of clothes, and small bits and bobs.
The touring set up, however, is usually more simple, designed to carry a lot, and endure the daily beating of traveling through a multitude of weather conditions and over various terrain. When maneuverability and simplicity are key, racks and panniers are a good solution.
Which bags you choose may also depend on which type of bike rack you prefer and are able to install on your bike.
Low rider front racks and rear racks with dual mounting rails are popular for touring because of the ability to mount panniers low to the ground to lower your center of gravity for better handling.
Distributing the weight evenly between a pair of panniers is an important key to maintaining balance when fully loaded, the lower you can pack the heavier items, the better balanced your bike will be. It is also beneficial to distribute your heavier items between front and rear panniers, as that will also increase your stability and handling.
Waterproof vs. Fabric Panniers:
- Waterproof bike panniers are made from material such as treated, high-denier Cordura or waterproof, dry bag style PVC. These bags take a heavy duty, minimalist approach to maintain that none of your gear will get wet. By reducing features like pockets and zippers, you can be assured you will have a dry pair of socks to change into after a long ride in the rain.
- Water-resistant panniers are typically made from heavy-duty, rip-stop Cordura fabric. With features like outer pockets, zippers, snaps, and Velcro closures, necessity items are easily accessible, and organization is a breeze. To increase usability of water-resistant panniers in inclement weather, there is the option of tight fitting rain covers, which offer the best of both worlds.
Pannier Mounting Systems:
- Secure Hook and Bungee: For more aggressive riding, a secure hook and bungee system is ideal. A secure hook system has the ability to clamp to the top tubing of the rack. Usually engaged by physically pushing or clicking the hooks into place, your bags will feel more stable, and not have the propensity to pop off over unruly terrain. The secure hook and bungee system is trusty and easy to use, but is limited to the bungee elasticity. After years of stretching use, you may need to replace the lower bungees.
- Quick Release with Lower Plastic Hook: The quick release top mounting system is very versatile because of the ability to latch on to the rack tightly, while easily being installed and removed by just lifting the pannier handle. The lower mounting system uses an impact-resistant plastic hook and rail set up which allows for a great range of adjustability. Ortlieb uses a full elliptical rail allowing the hook to be adjusted to a wide variety of rack designs. This system is incredibly durable, but can occasionally break under heavy stress. To prevent this from happening, some people utilize a second hook to secure the bag at two lower mounting points instead of just one.