I am embarking on my first ever tour at the end of October with several friends. It's a "credit card" tour over a weekend ... one day to ride to the destination (staying in a rented house), one day at the destination, then a day to return. I have NO touring gear and am totally undecided on what size panniers I should buy.
I "test packed" the things I think I'd need - clothes, toiletries, first aid kit, tool kit, and not much else - in a paper grocery bag so it would be easy to measure. I didn't tightly pack anything so I know I could squeeze in a little more but the total volume came to about 1,550 cu in. I do some hiking and backpacking so I know how to pack efficiently and I lean towards a pannier with compression straps, like my backpacks. I'm not necessarily ready to buy high-capacity panniers on the chance I may not ever want to do any long-distance touring but I realize if I buy panniers with a capacity more suited to a credit-card tour then I might have to buy additional panniers later if I do
decide to do some long-distance touring.
So ... what should I do?
I could buy lower-capacity panniers in the 1,700-1,800 cu. in. range to allow room for error and with compression straps I could snug down a smaller load. Or I could buy a pair that is in the 2,500-2,800 cu. in. range, only use one of them for this trip, and have the option to use the other later, if that makes sense. If I were made of money, the decision would be easy!
I know I'll probably get a different opinion with every response to this post but I'm sort of in a quandary since this is all new to me. I value everyone's input and suggestions and I do have a few weeks before I must buy something. The retail cycling stores in my area carry practically nothing in the way of panniers so they're not much help. BTW, I think this touring business will resonate strongly with me (similar to my affinity for backpacking and kayaking trips) so I am totally willing to buy SOMETHING rather than borrowing someone else's gear. Plus, the friends I'm going with only have enough gear for their own use so that's not an option.
Thanks in advance for your help!