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If you enjoy commuting, touring, or jetting around town on your bicycle, you may be wondering what the best bike pannier is for your needs. Riding a bicycle is one of the most efficient human-powered forms of travel and people across the globe take up cycling for all sorts of reasons. When you need a high-quality pannier, you want to be sure that the investment you make is worth it. That’s why we delved into the factors that make up a great pannier to give you some insight into which bicycle bag is the right one for your needs.
The truth is that panniers are even more popular than backpacks for those who bike. This may be related to the fact that a pannier is more practical while cycling. You don’t have to deal with a lot of weight on your shoulders while you pedal up steep hills. This makes for a ride that is decidedly more comfortable and can increase your stamina at the same time. The best bike panniers are those that are easily removed for when you need to go into pedestrian mode. If you spend time commuting, adventuring, or touring on your bike, a pannier will provide a high degree of utility when it comes to getting everything you need from one location to another.
This pair of Ibera PakRak Panniers is built to attach onto on your back tire using convenient quick release technology. All you have to do is snap them on and off whenever you need, without hassling with straps or other pieces of equipment. As might be expected, these panniers fit Ibera racks best, but they can attach onto other racks when you take the time to adjust the bottom hook’s position. It’s a minor inconvenience that is far from a deal breaker, especially considering the inexpensive nature of the panniers.
These bags have a capacity of 30 liters combined, which is a bit north of average compared to the other panniers we’re looking at today. What makes the storage a delight is the fact that these panniers have a number of compartments inside. That means you can store your bike tools in one place to find them easily and perhaps store your fragile tablet in another, so it doesn’t get shaken around while you ride.
One thing to be aware of with these panniers is that they do not come with shoulder or back straps. This can make carrying them around a bit challenging when you aren’t on your bicycle. There are handles, which makes the situation a bit better, but they aren’t always easy to use so you may want to consider that if you spend a lot of time walking after you cycle to work or school.
The PakRak isn’t waterproof but it is water resistant. It also comes with a rain cover which is helpful when you need to be out and about when it’s wet outside. The material seems to be fairly durable but might not stand up to constant use. However, with the price point for the pannier, it’s one to consider. It’s even better that you get two instead of just one.
Fairly inexpensive when features and capacity are considered
Incorporates multiple pockets for a higher level of organization
Capacity is fairly good for the price and will be sufficient for most riders
Does not offer waterproofing so may not be optimal in some climates
If you know anything about the brand Ortlieb, it’s probably that they offer the best of the best in terms of waterproof panniers. The bags are made in Germany and come with welded seams that cyclists can’t seem to get enough of. The problem is that most of the panniers from Ortlieb can be pretty pricey. Thankfully, this Back-Roller City doesn’t have that problem. While it is more expensive than the last bag we looked at, the price is fairly reasonable for the quality you get.
Even though the price is right, the panniers here have the same roll-top closure you would expect. It’s also manufactured of durable PVC, which is part of what makes these panniers waterproof to the extreme. Beyond that, the bags are easy to remove or attach to your bicycle rack by simply grabbing onto the included handle. Ortlieb has a special locking system with their bags, so you can expect that your bag will stay put once you lock it onto your rack.
These panniers are flexible which makes it easier to haul around whatever you need, no matter its shape. Assuming the weather is nice, you can also lead the top rolled down to make the bag even larger than it would be otherwise. Another perk of the Back-Roller City is that they work well even when you aren’t on your bike. You can even toss them on your roof rack on your vehicle and not have to worry about anything getting wet.
Considered to have the best waterproofing of any pannier on the market
Innovative locking system ensures you never lose your belongings
Plenty of capacity even for long trips on the road
Does not include shoulder straps so can be inconvenient when walking
Lacks an inside pocket to keep belongings organized
This set of Tandem Panniers from Timbuk2 are saddlebag style and are made of water repellent material. These panniers have a ton of features that are likely to be appreciated by commuters who spend time on the road to work every day. Each of the pair has a laptop sleeve so you can bring everything you need with you and have no worries about security. There are also a few pockets inside, so you can organize small items that you might need to gain access to more frequently. The system is secure but simple to use and you won’t need to spend much time grabbing the bag and using the adjustable strap to go to walking mode.
As far as durability goes, the tarpaulin that is water repellent is a nice feature which also seems to do well against abrasions. Even small components like the buckles and zippers seem to be of a high-quality so you aren’t going to be breaking this pannier down anytime soon. However, this is not an entirely waterproof bag so if that’s something you won’t budge on, you may want to select a different option.
What Tandem does well is having a great capacity and offering little extras that you will love, even if they aren’t strictly needed. There are plenty of pockets and when walking the magnets that hold the panniers together are extremely useful. Other than lacking waterproofing and having no secure closure, it’s an excellent pannier set that many commuters will love.
Includes multiple pockets and laptop sleeves for convenience
User friendly with a simple mounting system
Higher than average capacity will appeal to commuters and tour riders alike
Is water repellent but is not waterproof so moisture may be a problem
Price may be high compared to other bags in this range
The first thing you need to know about the Seymour Oceanweave P55+ Panniers is exactly what the name means. It’s not just a hip name for the sake of itself. The Oceanweave label refers to the fact that the fabric for these panniers comes from fishing nets abandoned and dragged off of the floor of the ocean. The nets are processed and all dyes and metals are removed before the plastic is turned into a yarn that makes up the panniers.
These panniers also incorporate a waterproof coating and the interior is a bright red color which makes it easier to shuffle through your belongings and find what you are looking for. This pair of panniers has the largest capacity of all the bags on this list at a whopping 55 liters. That’s pretty impressive since the panniers go for a less expensive price than others with nearly half the capacity.
The P55+ has rear pockets with zippers, a drawstring top opening, pockets on the side and front, and webbing loops. It also incorporates reflective logos and a small light clip, so you can be sure that you’re visible no matter what time of the day you’re on your bike. Before jumping on this deal, you’ll want to be sure that your bike rack is compatible with the panniers. The P55+ will work like a charm with Kaul or Rixen mounting systems.
Eco-friendly panniers made of materials fished out of the sea
Inexpensive considering the features and components of the bag
Offers an amazing 55-liter capacity so you can carry anything you want
If you have an MTX bike rack, the first thing you want to know is that the DXP is compatible with it. It’s easy to get it on and off and takes only a few seconds. This is a perk for those who alternate between two bikes or for those who go from biking to walking on a regular basis. The bag also features a side pocket where you can store essentials like your phone, keys, and bike tools.
This is not a waterproof pannier, but it is water resistant. As long as you aren’t out in a torrential downpour, you likely won’t have to worry too much about your gear getting wet. If you are interested in the bag but live somewhere with heavy rainfall, there is a rain cover made for the DXP, but it will add to the cost of the pannier itself. The good news here is that this is a budget friendly bag, so it may not be a serious hit to purchase the cover along with your pannier.
As far as capacity goes, the DXP can hold up to 22.5 liters which is plenty for a commuter. For more extensive riders, this may not be enough, but that’s a personal decision for you to make. The Trunkbag does have reflective strips and also incorporates a water bottle holder so you can get to your favorite beverage easily. You’ll be safe even in traffic at night since drivers will see you from a distance.
Plenty of space without taking up too much room on your bike
Simple to attach and remove to your MTX bike rack
Rigid design that doesn’t sag even when empty
Zippers are rather lightweight and may not stand up to abuse
The EVO Saddle Bag Tour is a little different from the other panniers we’ve looked at so far. It is the simplest option we’re going to take a look at. For some people, that might be a positive but for others, it’s likely to go the other way. The pannier by EVOC has only a liter capacity, so you can guess how small it is. It’s also easy to install using two simple straps for the saddle rails and one for the seatpost. That’s simple, too, but it doesn’t seem to suffer from that. It stays where it is supposed to while you’re riding your bike.
If you want a better idea of what you can manage to pack in this pannier, think along the lines of a chain tool, a couple of inner tubes, and a multi-tool. You might be able to squeeze in something else small but you’re going to be cutting it close. If you’re someone who is minimalist while riding, this might be completely reasonable. However, if you take long trips or commute every day, you might find this isn’t enough space for you to pack in everything you need.
This model is a water repellent option, so you also won’t get the waterproofing found in other panniers. However, this is an extremely inexpensive pannier and that alone will result in plenty of happy customers who are working to keep to a budget. It also comes in a few different colors so you can show off your style or complement the colors of your bike by choosing between black, red, light petrol, and neon blue.
Safe and secure fastening ensures you won’t lose your gear
Small size will appeal to those who prefer less bulky bags
Will attach to any bicycle, regardless of style or brand
Pannier is not waterproof so may not be for everyone
One-liter capacity is fairly small compared to alternatives
Our second selection from Ibera is the PakRak Waterproof Panniers. This is a two-piece set that will attach to most carriers, Ibera or otherwise. It can also be used at the same time as other top-mounting bags by Ibera. If you don’t have an Ibera carrier, that’s okay too. You can attach the carrier easily by adjusting the position of the bottom hook. The company promises that attaching or released the panniers can be done in less than three seconds, so if you’re in a hurry, you have nothing to worry about.
You also don’t have to worry about throwing all your gear in a single compartment, which can make it challenging to find what you need when you need it. There are multiple pockets to hold important tools and belongings. The panniers also have a drawstring pouch design so overflowing the bag isn’t an issue like it is for other options. For safety purposes, the bag is also a bright color and includes reflective trim. There is also a system to avoid straps flying around as you ride so you can keep your eyes on the road.
The set of panniers can be used together or as a single bag, depending on your needs. They are waterproof and offer ultrasonic welded seams, so no water can get in and destroy your gear. All in all, it’s an excellent bag with plenty of features that will satisfy most cyclists out there.
Dual panniers offer up to 30 liters of capacity
Quick release system takes only three seconds to attach
Has no flyaway straps to get in the way while riding
Fairly expensive and may be out of the budget for some
The VENZO 600D TPU is an inexpensive pannier that has a capacity of 25 liters. That should be sufficient for commuters and may even meet the needs of those who do more extensive bike riding. Regardless of what sort of biking you do, you don’t have to worry about inclement weather since this pannier is made of coated polyester with sealed seams. It’s waterproof and will keep all your gear safe no matter where or when you tend to ride. If you find that it doesn’t work out for you, it even comes with a one-year warranty, so the durability is there.
You can expect a quick release attachment design on this pannier so it’s no hassle to move from bike to walking and back again, even multiple times in a day. In addition, there is a carry strap to add even more convenience to your pedestrian moments. Whether walking or pedaling, the reflective panel on the bag will ensure you are always seen by passing motorists.
If you’re looking for a bag that does the job without emptying your wallet, there are few options better than the 600D TPU. It may not have the bells and whistles of the expensive panniers, but it stands up to what you throw at it and that’s likely the most important thing for most cyclists.
Extremely inexpensive pannier for the budget conscious
Comes with a removable shoulder strap for walking
Reasonable capacity for commuting or other cycling
Plastic clip mounts aren’t as durable as other bags
Some components may need reinforcement for best results
We have already looked at the Ortlieb Back-Roller City, but the classic deserves a nod too. It has the Ortlieb standard waterproofing that is the best available, so you never have to worry about moisture reaching the inside of the panniers. It also has a secure mounting system that is easy to use. The only issue may be in finding the right adapter pieces if you have a rack that is not standard for the bag. Once you do, you can expect an amazing fit and a bag that isn’t going anywhere.
Storage capacity is king for many bike riders and the Back-Roller Classic does that right by offering 40 liters of space. Even using a single bag may be enough to hold most of your gear, depending on the length of your ride. It features a roll-top design, so you can even overpack if you really want to bring everything except the kitchen sink.
The back and front panels are both fully coated so you don’t have to worry about it breaking down under heavy riding. In addition, these panniers offer reflective areas, internal pockets complete with zippers, and shoulder straps. It’s clear this bag was made for the hardcore cycling tourist and it will make sure your trip is a success anytime you use it.
Industry best in terms of weatherproofing so you’ll never get your gear wet
User friendly with tons of features for convenience
Finally, we come to the BV Large Capacity Bike Panniers. This is a set and the two panniers can hold up to 28 liters in total when combined. While that’s hardly the highest capacity on the list, it’s not too shabby for a commuter or someone who bikes on a less than regular basis. It has a great aesthetic with orange or blue accents and is made from a lightweight but durable material.
The panniers come with a rain cover that is built-in so while it’s not waterproof, it’s the next best thing. It also has detachable shoulder straps, so it can be worn comfortably when you aren’t on your bicycle. If you prefer to cart it around by hand, that’s possible too since it has carrying straps, as well. It’s a great option for a commuter or someone who doesn’t take extended rides. It’s also easy to install and remove whenever you need to do so.
The BV Bike Panniers include side pockets which give you immediate access to important belongings like your phone or wallet. It’s a reasonably priced option for a commuter or someone else who needs an occasional pannier to run errands or bring home a few groceries.
Panniers are compatible with most bike racks on the market
Offers multiple compartments for easy storage and organization
All Your Options When Considering a New Bicycle Bag
If you’re looking for a bike pannier to strap to your cycle, there is no limit to the options available to you. One of the first things you’ll want to consider is whether you need a frequent means of storing your gear or whether you only plan to use the bicycle pannier on occasion. Knowing how you will use the bag and how much gear you have to stow is the first step to finding the right bag for your needs. We’ll look at the typical activities that cyclists take part in and give you a few tips on how that might affect which pannier is perfect for you.
Touring vs. Bikepacking
There are a couple of popular options when it comes to securing your gear to your favorite bike. There is no wrong or right answer here, the right option is going to be a personal decision that you need to make on your own. That said, bikepacking is a modern option where you pack up all your gear into a bag which is then attached to your handlebars and frame rather than being on a rack. Some people believe that this helps streamline your cycling while reducing the amount of weight on your bike. Those who go with bikepacking are often those who own mountain bikes with dual or front suspension. This is the type of bike appropriate for riding on challenging terrain, often in an off-road location.
Bike touring is the more traditional mode of carrying all your gear on a bike. It is most often used by those who spend their time cycling on pavement from one specific location to another. Touring usually involves the use of a rack which is placed over the front or rear wheels. A bike pannier, or pair of them, are placed on the rack to hold gear. Most gear for touring is built to offer distributed weight on your bike so you are comfortable and can efficiently travel around. It’s also typically simple to remove the equipment when you hop off your bike.
Panniers for Touring
Most of the high-quality panniers out there are going to be a touring style. They are often waterproof or water resistant, which makes them an excellent choice for going on lengthy rides in the snow and rain. You don’t have to stress about moisture getting into your bag and ruining the contents. These panniers are also built to be durable and can handle long or repeated trips like a dream.
If you decide to go with this type of pannier, you’ll want to pay attention to the quality of the mounting hardware, while also considering the weight of the bag itself. This means your pannier isn’t going to go anywhere while you cycle, but it also isn’t going to fatigue you. Many of these panniers have a rolled top and large capacity. However, they may not have shoulder straps or a bunch of pockets inside. This is the pannier you want if you are a serious cyclist who needs the best of the best but isn’t too worried about the little things.
Commuter Pannier Options
Panniers made for commuting are more of a utility storage item that is perfect for students, workers, and other individuals who use their bike to get from one place to another. This isn’t the right bag for a long-distance rider, but it does provide great ergonomics, higher comfort, and easier use than some of the other panniers out there. Most of these bags won’t be waterproof but many will at least offer some amount of water resistance.
You will also find that they are often the simplest to detach and reattach to your bike rack, since it’s expected you’ll be hopping on and off your bike on a regular basis. Those who plan to use the pannier as a pedestrian will also find these bags are the right option. The majority of them will have a comfortable shoulder strap that can be removed when not in use. You can also expect to find internal pockets that help you organize all of your belongings easily.
Delivery and Errand Panniers
There are panniers that fall somewhere short of a commuter pannier but that isn’t quite a touring pannier either. This type of bag is usually made to carry larger and heavier items from place to place. A delivery pannier will often be seen by someone who is heading to or from the grocery store or running a bunch of errands while cycling. That means these are going to be the largest panniers, often coupled with a square shape that makes it simple to travel with boxed items. As with the commuter panniers, you can expect to see that these bags have a detachable shoulder strap or handles so the bag can be carried around while errands are being run.
Backpack Style Panniers
This is the least common type of pannier, but it bears a short description. A backpack style pannier is similar to a commuter bag, but it has features that make it stand out from the pack. The most innovative thing about these panniers is that they offer both shoulder straps and mounting hardware. This makes it simple to go from walking to riding in moments. You’ll find the function and capacity of these panniers is similar to that of a commuter, but you can also wear them on your back whenever you like. Most of these bags have detachable straps that you need to put on when needed, but a few of them have stowaway straps. This pannier option is great for someone who spends just as much time on their bike as they do walking around without it.
Choice of Placement for a Pannier
A pannier is made to hang on the side of your bike by virtue of a rack built to hold it there. The three locations you will find for panniers include near the top of your front wheel, close to the rear wheel, or nearby the front wheel’s hub. The most common location for a pannier is the rear, although there seems to be no particular reason why this is the case. If you choose this location, you’ll want to be certain you own a bike with a substantial chainstay. This ensures that your pannier leaves heel clearance for you while staying above the contact point of the rear wheel. This is one of the reasons that you aren’t likely to see this location used by road racing bikes. With a light frame, the load in back can be precarious and the pannier may shift and move around, which is far from ideal. Those who do more touring will find this pannier can work well since the bike is heavier and has a longer chainstay.
Those who want even more capacity than a single pannier can offer may want to choose panniers that fit on the fork, as well. There are various rack choices here, some of which place the pannier near the wheel hub and others which hold them as high as your rear rack.
Most people who choose a front rack are those who are looking to carry some lightweight items on the rack top. It makes an ideal location for a sleeping mat or similar items. In most cases, high front panniers are going to be a bit smaller than the ones you’ll find for the rear location.
What to Know About Rack Construction
In most cases, the racks you find are going to be made of either aluminum tubing or steel in a tubing or rod composition. If you want a bargain, the steel rod racks are the least expensive. The problem is that they can be more flexible and flimsier than the alternative. Aluminum rod is a better option for most people and is still inexpensive and fairly light. However, moving into a higher bracket of price is where you’ll find the best quality racks for your bike.
Choosing aluminum or steel tubing will immediately add to the durability of your rack. It’s what you want, at minimum, if you plan to be carting around anything heavy. Both are a bit more expensive than rod racks, but the price is well worth it. If you spend a lot of time on your bike, it won’t take long to wear out a rack made of steel or aluminum rod.
There are also a few racks that are made of even more high-quality materials. If you want the best of the best, you’ll want to look at titanium racks. However, keep in mind that these racks can be fairly expensive, so they may not be in the cards for every cyclist out there. If that’s the case, sticking with tubing racks is a reasonable compromise.
Beyond the material of the rack, you also want to be sure that the rack you choose utilizes triangulation which helps it remain stiff laterally. As an example, a rack that looks like nothing more than a rectangle is going to be less durable than one with struts incorporates into it. Choosing tubing of a larger diameter can also add stiffness to your rack, just like it does for a bicycle.
Options for a Bicycle Without Eyelets
The best-case scenario is that you are going to have a bicycle that already has frame eyelets that makes it simple to bolt on a rack of your choice of pannier. Most bikes today do, but that doesn’t mean that your does. The good news is that you still have options even if you don’t have eyelets installed. There are a few manufacturers who offer racks which don’t need eyelets installed. Those who have eyelets for the mudguard, but not the seatstay, can also manage something by replacing the seat clamp for one that is made to hold rack attachments. There are also some racks that go over the seatpost, but this option should be reserved for those who only plan to have light loads.
Considering Protection Options of Panniers
There is a large variation in terms of how well a pannier protects the items that are inside of it. Thankfully, times have changed since the first panniers. Back then, most panniers had to be lined with thick bags made of plastic to prevent water from reaching biker’s gear. When it comes to waterproofing today, most of the major manufacturers do a good job. Ortlieb is considered the best by some as they include a roll top closure and welded seams for the ultimate protection from moisture. However, other companies are jumping in and innovating as well so finding something that works for you shouldn’t be difficult.
The Perfect Pannier Size for Your Specific Needs
As we mentioned earlier, bike panniers are useful because they carry weight for you, so you don’t have to ride around with a heavy backpack for miles at a time. But the truth is that not everyone needs the largest pannier out there. Some people might need only a tiny bag to hold a few parts, others might want something medium-sized to carry home your shopping. There’s no wrong answer, but we wanted to provide some insight into what size of pannier might be best for you based on what you do while cycling.
The Teeny Tiny Seatpacks
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t carry around a lot, getting a massive pannier might be more trouble than it is worth. With a small seatback style bag, you can store a spare inner tube and repair kit or other small items without having a pannier taking up a ton of space. Even the smallest of these devices will hold a few tools and larger ones may even accommodate mini pumps or other compact tools. One of the perks of a seatpack is that a saddle bag can usually fit in the same space. This will give you additional storage space if you need to store your lunch or a fresh shirt to change into later.
Rear or Front-Loading Luggage Racks
Those who need to carry a larger amount of gear will want to look into a rear rack for their bicycle. This will attach a traditional pannier with ease, as long as your bike has the necessary eyelets to do so. One thing to keep in mind is that racks may be hard to fit onto bikes that feature disc brakes. If that isn’t an option, going with a seatpost rack is the next best thing. A front rack can also be used and is common for touring. You can have both rear and front panniers if you have a need for substantial space and don’t mind paying for dual bags.
Side Loading Panniers
With a pannier bag, you secure your belongings in the bag which is hung off of a luggage rack. We’re already looked at the pros and cons of this type of storage, but it’s worth mentioning again that this is one of the most popular options for bike storage today. A single pannier is usually reasonable for the daily commuter, while two panniers is best for those who are going on longer trips with large amounts of items that need to be stored. The good news is that side-loading panniers can come in small, medium, and large sizes so they work well for any cyclist.
Small Handlebar Bags
A handlebar bag isn’t the same as a pannier, but it can be a great addition to one. These bags are often the best choice when you have items you need close to you for easy use. For instance, you can sock your phone, wallet, and sunscreen in the bag and grab it out any time you want. There’s no need to take a pannier off the bike and dig through a million pockets. Plus, these bags are easy to remove so you can walk around with them, as well. Some of them come with a shoulder strap which adds even more convenience to the equation.
Top-Loading Trunk Bags
A trunk bag is an alternative to the seatback. They are quite similar but offer a large amount of space to you while you ride. These bags are behind you while you ride so there isn’t an effect on aerodynamics. Your rack holds them, so you also aren’t forced to carry around a lot of weight while you ride. This type of bag often comes with bungees, so you can add additional items on top when you have a lot of move from one location to another. For those who favor versatility, look for a trunk bag that unzips to turn into a pannier for the best of both worlds.
You should be well equipped to choose the best possible bike pannier for your needs at this point. All 10 candidates in this article are durable, capable, and offer features that will be appreciated when you’re on the road pedaling. Some are more appropriate for commuters while others are best for touring riders, but there are options for everyone. Take a look and consider what sort of riding you do most often and you’ll be on your way to purchasing a pannier that will be your new riding buddy. Good luck!