Author Topic: Which panniers to buy???  (Read 14122 times)

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Offline KevinSherm

Which panniers to buy???
« on: March 02, 2005, 01:44:43 pm »
I'm planning on riding the Pacific Coast tour the beginning of this summer (and comments on that appreciated as well!), and I'm getting ready to buy my set of panniers.  I'm just looking for any suggestions that anyone has about what to look for (size, waterproof, brand, etc.), and any suggestions/preferences you have.

I've heard that waterproof panniers are overrated since the rain covers usually take care of that I right about this?  Also, what size should I be looking for?  I definitely want them big enough to carry everything, but what is too big?

I can get a good deal on the Trek Interchange panniers (for my 520).  Anyone used these and have an opinion about them?  The ones i can get are the 1700 cu. in. size...are those going to be too small???

I just have so many questions, and don't know where to start.  So any help will be greatly appreicated!

Offline TNGuy

Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2005, 01:48:33 pm »
 I just bought a set of 2000 cu. in. Lone Peak panniers off ebay from Wayne. A few people have told me I got a fair deal.
 Haven't used them yet, but they appear to be very well made.
 I think you're right about the rain covers.

Offline valygrl

Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2005, 07:22:51 pm »
1) size:  how much are you going to carry?  are you camping/cooking, or staying in hotels?  pile up all the stuff you are taking, see if it fits.  take it to the store, or buy the bags and return them if they are too small.  are you carrying front bags too? that said, 1700 sounds pretty small, even if you have front bags too, if you are camping at all.

2) top vs side load: are you going to load stuff on top of the rack/panniers?  (sleeping bag, tent)  if so, side/panel loading is the way to go, it's such a hassel to have to unload the stuff on top of the rack to get into the panniers during the day.  If everything will fit inside, top access is OK, I guess.   I have a strong preference for panel loaders, but that's just me.

3) rain:  i use lightweight dry-bags and trash compactor bags to organize and waterproof my stuff inside the panniers.  Pannier covers don't keep the bike-side of the pannier dry (at least not the ones I've seen) so you would need to do this anyway.  The ortliebs are waterproof, but they don't have any pockets.

4) pockets:  I like a number of small/medium pockets on the outside of the pannier to organize/hold stuff that you want quick access to.  lights, snacks, flat tire supplies, and I carry my fuel container in one of these too, so if it leaks it doesn't contaminate all my other stuff.  

5) how many:  i really like the way my trek 520 handles with both front and rear bags - much more stable than rear alone.

6) budget:  if i had unlimited $, I would check out Arkel Overdesigns.  Ortlieb, if you are rich and like waterproof toploaders with no pockets.  Jannd and Lone Peak are good quality products, somewhat less $$.  I wouldn't go as budget as Performance.

7) Attachment systems... I don't know what to say here, but they have to stay on your bike.

RE: Pacific Coast - COOL!  it's gorgeous.  Saw your post on bikeforumns... slow down and smell the redwoods.  ;>  And I second the remommendation for Kirkendall and Spring's book.  Also, if you are pressed for time, don't worry about missing anything south of santa barbara, I thought the best parts are all of oregon and california between Legget and San Luis Obispo.

Have a great ride!

Offline JunkMan

Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2005, 07:47:18 pm »
While talking about panniers, I have a question:  Can any small pannier be used on the front, or are front panniers specially designed?  

I bought a used Cannondale bike this winter, and it came with rear Cannondale panniers, but I think I would like to add fronts also.  The fork has a place to mount the low rider style mounts, so that won't be a problem.  I don't want to spend a lot on them as I won't use them very often.  I see lots of small panniers on ebay, but they don't usually state if they are for the front or rear, so I wonder if there is much of a difference.

Offline RussellSeaton

Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2005, 11:53:39 pm »
I've done a little loaded touring.  4,000 miles around Europe in the summer of 1992.  400 miles in Iowa in 1993.  800 miles in Colorado in 1997.  700 miles in Portugal in 2000.

My panniers are 1992 Nashbar mountain bike panniers.  Top loading.  2200 cubic inches or so.  All four identical, front and rear.  Cost $50 a pair in 1992.  No complaints.  They've worked well and still work well.  The attachment is via the hook and bngee cord method.  Good for road, not off road.  But I've never toured off road so its not a concern to me.

Panniers come with cinch straps so you can make larger bags that are not overstuffed smaller.  Its harder to make smaller bags that are overstuffed bigger.

Top loading panniers are less convenient to get into on the back if the top of the rack is covered.  Or if the stuff on the rear rack overhangs the rear panniers.  You would have to make sure anything you need during the day is in the front panniers.

I put all of my stuff into ziploc bags.  Keeps everything organized.  Then all of the ziploc bags go into garbage bags lining the panniers.  Everything is very waterproof.

Offline burleyrider

Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2005, 03:43:53 am »
The best panniers are Arkel.

Here's the web address:


Offline Dan

Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2005, 03:41:42 am »
I've only done two self-contained tours: northern tier in 2002 and the great divide from Mexico to Jasper in 2004.  Before the northern tier I bought my first set of panniers, Ortlieb Back Rollers (2441 cu/in).  Then for the great divide bought the Ortlieb Front Rollers (1526 cu/in) to even out the weight on the bike.  With close to 7000 miles (2,500 off road) on the back rollers there has never been any sort of problem with them.  In the 3,200 miles of mostly off road travel with the front rollers there has never been a problem either.  I've seen lots of rain, especially on the great divide and everything stayed completely dry.  More time riding and less time worring about your gear. I was so confident in them that I didn't need to worry at all during heavy rains that the down bag and tent might get wet.  The attachment system is such that they cannot come off while riding even the roughest of roads yet are easy to pop off at camp.  Coming out of two days of rain on the great divide before Steamboat Springs the bikes and panniers were covered in mud.  The first bike shop we saw, Ski Haus, had a hose outside that we used to hose the bikes and bags.  We popped off the panniers and gave a thourough high pressure soak while leaving the contents safely dry inside.  I've also used them at camp to do laundry in.  Throw in the clothes, add soap and water, roll closed and shake vigorously, repeat, add fresh water for the rinse cycle.....clean clothes. I like having one large opening and use smaller nylon bags to organize my stuff.  
Negatives might be the price but with the supurb attachment system, excellent reliability, and complete protection from the elements I feel it's worth it.  
True, I've never used any other brands but how the Ortliebs have performed and lasted I'm sold.


  • Guest
Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2005, 11:19:13 am »
My experience is the same as Dan's. The Ortlieb rollers leaked not a drop in a 5800-mile trip. I saw another guy carry water to the campsite in his. I suppose he emptied it first.

They achieve their performance by eliminating all seams and stitching. That means no external pockets for gear you need during the day, so plan on a supplement. I used a small handlbar bag that held the ACA map as well.

They will probably be the last panniers you ever need to buy, so the cost hurts but once. I have no experience with the cheaper imitators. Has anyone else?


Offline sam21fire

Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2005, 05:36:27 pm »
I've also used the Arkel panniers quite a bit and love them!  Also, their customer service is outstanding.

Good luck, and maybe I'll see you out there since I'll be riding a short part of the Pacific Coast mid summer also.


Offline dombrosk

Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2005, 11:17:17 pm »
I have Jandd panniers which I love, and especially liked being able to purchase at my local neighborhood bicycle shop, thereby supporting a business I appreciate.
But I'll put in a plug for the Arkel SMALL handlebar bag... it's a great little bag that holds just enough without being too big.  It has a metal to metal attachment point and a comfortable shoulder strap.  It's the bag that comes off the bike and travels with me whenever I leave the bike.  

Offline Mira!

Which panniers to buy???
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2006, 10:35:33 pm »
So - a year or so later, how do you like the Lone Peaks?  I'm considering buying them.