Author Topic: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --  (Read 2434 times)

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Offline djkotze

panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« on: January 28, 2023, 08:22:13 pm »
Trans America -- single rider -- camping - self contained as much as possible -- how to carry my luggage ?

FlaSpin

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Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2023, 08:29:09 am »
2025 is a long way off. Things can change. Anyway...

I've never towed a trailer. Over the years, all of my bikes have been built to support racks and panniers. The frames have included all the necessary attachment points, the clearances have been good and the wheels strong enough to support the load.

...never had any trouble. Such a setup has long been a top choice among self-contained tourists. It works well for most folks.

A trailer should allow you to tour with a bike that is not quite so well suited to racks and panniers. There may be other advantages, but in general terms, a trailer seems like a second choice.

One note: as time passes, it may become harder to actually find a traditional touring bike. The market for such bikes may well shrink in the coming years.

Offline canalligators

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2023, 01:22:01 pm »
Recommend you search for old threads.  Offhand I would guess there are tens of threads that can offer many insights.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2023, 01:29:47 pm »
Depending on your bike and surface preferences I can recommend an Xtra wheel trailer.
One wheel, same size as the bike, carries panniers. Great for off-road and no handling issues if well packed and balanced.

Also....
It may just be me but a 14 word question that requires a lot more words in return for an answer doesn't inspire a huge urge to reply.

Offline ray b

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2023, 03:01:41 pm »
Agree - a quick search for and review of other threads.
A summary to match the conciseness of your question:

Travel light.
Take half the clothes, twice the money, and twice the time.
Enjoy.

(In the modern era or lightweight, packable gear - no need for a trailer unless you're quite fit and packing a lawn mower or large dog or the kitchen sink.)
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline canalligators

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2023, 06:57:52 pm »
Packing light (desirable) has been discussed at length too.  Search.

Just be aware that you can’t, or may nor want, to pack ultra light on some tours.
1. If you have to take cooking gear PLUS group food PLUS camping gear PLUS group gear, there will be a limit to how light you can pack.
2. If your daily mileages are high, you’ll have little discretionary time in camp, so you’ll want more clothes, to stretch laundry intervals.
3. On a months-long tour, you might want to take more comfort items.  For example I made daily online journal entries for the family, so I took a phone and a tablet.  Plus more backup battery and cables.
4. If you have special personal/medical needs, those can take cargo space.  Extra pillows, CPAP, medication insulators, warmer sleepwear, hygene goods…

Offline John Nelson

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2023, 11:30:10 pm »
I can't add to the exhaustively discussed religious debate on panniers vs. trailer, but I can definitely say no to both.

Laundry? Laundry? We don't need no stinkin' laundry.

Offline canalligators

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2023, 11:39:02 pm »
I hear ya.  I will not ever go on a group tour, cooking, challenging, fixed schedule.

Offline hikerjer

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2023, 05:43:17 pm »
Trailer vs Panniers:  All I can say is that of all the tourers I've seen, and that's quite a few, including myself, I would say that over 90% of them have used panniers. I don't know if that says anything, but it might.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2023, 07:15:54 pm by hikerjer »

Offline John Nelson

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2023, 12:43:07 am »
Trailer vs Panniers:  All I can say is that of all the tourers I've seen, and that's quite a few, including myself, I would say that over 90% of them have used panniers. I don't know if that says anything, but it might.
I made the observation years ago that I thought it was about 75% panniers. If you believe in the Wisdom of Crowds (and I do), then the choice is clear. There are exceptions, of course, where the trailer makes more sense.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2023, 11:55:16 am »
I have used both, but not at the same time. It is easier to organize with panniers in my opinion. I used the BoB Ibex trailer on the C&O and the GAP and no matter how careful I was in packing the trailer bag, things tended to shift and settle, with the heavier stuff working it's way to the bottom. I traveled with my wife and it was our first trip so I had the gear for two. We had to camp a few nights and when we got to camp i needed to completely unload the trailer bag to find the tent and sleeping gear, etc. That was a pain when it was raining. The weight is pretty much an even trade off. The trailer weighs in around 18 pounds. I ride a Surly Disc Trucker and use their chromoly racks which add about 7 pounds with front and rear combined. I also have Ortlieb panniers that weigh in at 4.2 pounds for the rear and 3.5 pounds for the front. So racks and panniers add about 15 pounds and the trailer adds 18. There are lighter racks and maybe panniers, but Ortlieb panniers are the best you can buy in my opinion.

I found the panniers were also easier to access when riding. I keep my rain/warm gear in the front right and can get at it without dismounting. Also in bear country I have a separate pannier for food and bear-bagging stuff. I found it easier to over load the trailer as well. On the plus side for the trailer, the weight is distributed over a 5th wheel which I have to assume reduced overall drag but never researched that. Another thing with the trailer is that I took it shopping and was able to throw 2 bundles of firewood on the trailer to bring back to the campsite.  :D

As far as handling it some ways the trailer handled better. A few times I had my panniers unbalanced and hit a scary shimmy at 18 mph, got past that only to hit a worse one at 24 mph. Never really had a bad shimmy on the trailer but people do complain about that. I did have a trailer crash when I was hauling at about 18 to 20 mph on the C&O  trying to get to a campsite. I was passing through a partially closed gate and glanced over my shoulder to look for the campsite. The tip of my handlebar clipped the gate and the forward momentum of the trailer pushed me into a bad skid and we had a yard sale. Minor scrapes since it was dirt.

We now travel with panniers and split the gear between us, but 4 panniers for a 10 day trip might be overkill. The other odd thing that I noticed from the backpacking side of my life is that thru-hikers (I thru-hiked the AT in 2007) carry less weight that weekend or section hikers. I started a cross-country bike trip which I did not complete, but I also over packed. I should have know better from my backpacking experience. However, living in the woods on the AT, and going into trail towns, you can get away with being a little less hygienic or dressed in a ratty outfit. I hiked with boots and crocs 2 pairs of shorts, 2 t-shirts and rain gear. I wore crocs in town and threw on rain gear to wash my clothes. When I set out on my cross-country bike trip I packed town clothes and town shoes, etc. to not offend the general public. Next time I will skip all of that. Plus food is way easier to find on most bike routes, as is water. You think that you can ship back what you don't need, but on a long-distance bike trip you are better off to start without it and buy it later if you really need it. Biking brings you past shopping areas almost daily and now there is Amazon that would ship to you next hotel or hostel.

Hope this helps, safe travels.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2023, 02:08:59 pm by HikeBikeCook »
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline KF8MO

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2023, 11:27:41 am »
My wife and I use a BOB Yak trailer, but it's because we ride a tandem. Getting enough pannier space for two people onto one bike is tough, plus the rear wheel of a tandem is already heavily loaded even when the bike isn't. Our system is pretty neatly divided: our camp goes in the trailer, packed in the order we take it out to set up. (We've never had problems with things shifting on us back there, but then we bundle it tightly.) Our clothing and such go in the rear panniers. All food and cookware, and anything else potentially interesting to bears, goes in the front panniers. That distribution seems to make our rig pretty stable riding, and is functional.

Offline wildtoad

Re: panniers or single-wheel cargo trailer or both --
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2023, 06:15:06 pm »
Looking at it from a broad perspective, a rack/pannier setup with a few bikepacking-style bags mixed in will give you the most flexible setup across the broadest variety of "tours." You maintain the footprint of a bike, which can help tremendously when traveling to/from a tour start point, parking your bike securely on off days, partaking on tours that might involve connecting segments on buses, ferries, trains, etc. Such concerns might not apply to every tour, and a trailer is not always a problem in such scenarios. But I have toured w/ companions who experienced complications w/ trailers in those situations. They have all sold off their trailers and use panniers/bikepacking bags nowadays.

And, of course, with a trailer, you have an additional tire/wheel to worry about. Many years ago was touring w/ a friend in British Columbia. He had a BOB at the time. The tire on the BOB started to gradually disintegrate. By a stroke of luck, we stopped in a medium sized town that had a bike shop. They sold him a hot pink tire from a kid's bike on the shop floor, so he finished that tour in high style!

If you have any interest in doing small group self-contained tours, you will likely be the only participant running a trailer (different story 10+ years ago). As such, the group will designate you as the grocery getter as it's easiest to transport all that heavy food from store to campsite on a trailer!  Fair warning.