Author Topic: Panniers  (Read 16590 times)

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Offline popeyespal

« on: December 12, 2010, 11:10:38 pm »
Are Arkels really the best? That seems like an awful lot of money for a bit of fabric and plastic. Are they really worth it?

My first big trip starts in April 2011 and will, hopefully ;), be a perimeter of the USA trip...
« Last Edit: December 12, 2010, 11:28:11 pm by popeyespal »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Panniers
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2010, 11:18:45 pm »
Arkels and Ortliebs are generally the best regarded panniers. But there are many other fine panniers that will serve. It depends on what your needs are, and what your preferences are. Almost every pannier on the market is the right one for somebody. Some people like pockets. Some like totally waterproof. Some like value and will trade off a few things to get it. Everybody has different preferences, but nobody can make the decision for you.

I have Ortliebs and like them, but they may or may not be right for you. It sounds like you're a value man, so you'll probably be happier with something else. As is true with much gear, you have to pay twice as much to get something 25% better, so the value proposition at the high end isn't quite as good. If you're going to use something a few times, the middle-range gear is usually best, but if you're going to be using something a few hundred times, the high-end gear may be better.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2010, 11:23:14 pm by John Nelson »


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Re: Panniers
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2010, 11:34:30 pm »
Canadian craftspeople need to be paid more than Chinese ones.  And Arkel will cheerfully repair any of their products, if not for free then for a small nominal charge.  The company sells 1000 denier nylon panniers with multiple pockets and heavy duty YKK zippers that cost a bundle and also lower quality material / fewer feature models that cost much less.   If you don't need the quality or features, you can pay much less money for their lower end offerings.   Your choice.

I have toured 25k miles with Arkel T42's rear and customized for the front.  After cleaning, they still look new.

Offline litespeed

Re: Panniers
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2010, 03:32:32 pm »
Both Arkels and Ortleibs are waterproof. I, personally, hate messing with rain covers and consider this a necessity. Apparently the Arkel panniers are very complex with lots of straps and outside pockets. I am quite happy with my Ortleibs but they are much simpler and a lot cheaper. They work fine for me. I'd like to know if the Arkels are as easy to remove and mount as the Ortleibs.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Panniers
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2010, 06:41:18 pm »
Are Arkels really the best? That seems like an awful lot of money for a bit of fabric and plastic. Are they really worth it?

My first big trip starts in April 2011 and will, hopefully ;), be a perimeter of the USA trip...
If You care about weight at all, the Arkels are very heavy.  That probably equates to a long life, but I would want lighter.  It depends on what you want though.

Also, I think that one of the key factors is whether you like multiple pockets or one big compartment.  I personally prefer to use one big compartment and organize things in stuff sacks and ziplocs.  I am happy with the inexpensive waterproof panniers from Nashbar or Performance.  They are inexpensive to start with and are often on sale.  Mine have done the TransAmerica and a couple other longish tours and are holding up OK.  My daughter used her's on the TA and other tours and also used them for commuting.  Hers are holding up well too.  Some folks don't like the retention system, but I find it works well for me.

If you want to spend a bit more Ortleibs are supposed to be very nice.

Offline rvklassen

Re: Panniers
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2010, 09:23:19 am »
Unlike staehpj1, I have little positive to say about Nashbar panniers.  Perhaps they have a better model than the cheap one I got.   The only good thing about it is that it converts to a pretty nice knapsack.  But it lacks stiffness, so it would wobble, and get caught in the spokes.   And then there isn't enough springiness in the elastic that is supposed to hold them down, so they fell off my bike.  My laptop still bears the wounds.   

Previously I had some 80s-era Cannondales, that finally wore out.  I probably paid over $120 for each of them in 1983.  But they lasted about 25 years, including two tours, and lots of commutes.  The Nashbar lasted a bit over one year. 

As to the question of Arkel, they are very well made.  The guarantee enumerates everything that ever goes wrong on panniers, and covers them.  The attachment takes some adjustment to fit the racks we have (on singles and a tandem), but once adjusted, they are quite easy on and off, and quite secure once on.  The lower priced ones are just a touch more fiddly to put on, but still secure.   I fully expect our Arkels to last well in excess of 25 years, barring a catastrophic accident.  At our age, that means I don't expect to ever need to replace them.  Amortized over that many years/miles they are quite inexpensive.

But the majority of Arkel's line is designed for the sort of person who doesn't like having to rummage in one cavernous bag for the thing that seems to have made its way to the bottom.  That is, it has pockets.  And if you're the sort that prefers to create your own organization within a large space, that's not adding value for you, only cost.  We are pockets people.  And somewhat suspicious of a bag that is truly waterproof for what happens when you put something wet in?  Does it every dry?

So yes, Arkels are very well made.   So, I'm told, are Ortliebs.  In my opinion the extra money is worth it for the longevity.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Panniers
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2010, 03:28:52 pm »
I have some Nashbar mountain panniers from 1991.  Big single pocket with a side pocket and a top pocket in the flap.  Cordura.  Once or twice the hooks came undone from the top of the rack.  Bag dragged on the ground for a bit but didn't cause any harm.  Fixed it by squishing the hooks in tighter.  I've used them for about 8000 miles of touring.  Plastic bags inside the panniers keep everything organized and dry.  I think mine were made by Cannondale for Nashbar because they have a Made in Philipsburg, PA tag on them.  Current ones are made in Malaysia.  Only $40 a pair right now.  And Nashbar has a 20% off sale going on.  $32 a pair, $16 each.  I'm quite content with the four I own.  I paid a lot more way back when.

Offline knolltop

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Re: Panniers
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2010, 05:25:02 pm »
In attempt to avoid confusion, panniers Russ detailed are not same as staehpj1 uses.  Russ' are not made from waterproof mat'l but do have several pockets.  staehpj1's are made from waterproof mat'l and have 1 compartment.

Arkel high-end bags are super well-made and have multi pockets and are heavy.  Jandd also makes very well-made multi-pocket bags.  The larger bags from bothe these sources will swallow up ALOT of gear!  You'll likely want to invest in rain covers as these bags aren't waterproof.

Ortlieb's (& likely the Nashbar/Performance knockoffs) hold alot of gear even though there's just 1 compartment.  And you don't need to buy/pack/put-on rain covers.

I like pockets, but found the Jandd bags to be more capacity than needed.  And, since I'm poorly disciplined, I found myself determined to fill them to capacity ...................  ;D  I'm also "value-oriented", aka cheap.  I have been satisfied with the largest of the Lone Peak rear & front bags.  Bought them from Wayne at, and he also carries Ortlieb bags & Tubus racks.  He has some kinda sale going on now.

Based on postings at CGOAB, Ortlieb-type 1 compartment waterproof bags are the hands down favorite.

Hope this helps and does not further confuse.
Have fun on your tour!
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Offline PeteJack

Re: Panniers
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2011, 04:02:32 pm »
Personally I have four Ortlieb panniers, two Sportpackers and two Front Rollers which I like a lot. They are a bit on the small side which is a good thing, you end up toting less. I also have a Lone Peak bar bag I would not recommend. Even with a rain cover everything gets soaked. I've noticed that rain covers fill with water, apart from soaking everything in your non-waterproof pannier this adds a bunch of weight. But it's a religion thing really, whatever you do will be the right decision some days and some days it will be the opposite. Don't talk yourself out of going because you can't get the perfect gear especially for the first trip. I've met a guy who had rode across the country with all his gear in a black plastic bin bag held on with bungy cord. Mind you he told me he'd found his bike, a Schwinn 8 speed, in a ditch. About as "value-oriented" as you can get.

Offline mucknort

Re: Panniers
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2011, 11:41:08 am »
I prefer a waterproof bag for touring at this point. I own Ortliebs and love them. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative I'd consider Banjo Brothers Waterproof Panniers. I own one of their handlebar bags and find it to be a good combination of quality and price. Here's a link to a review of their pannier:

Offline bogiesan

Re: Panniers
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2011, 10:02:12 pm »
Topic of panniers (like panniers vs trailers) gets dragged out a couple times every year so try searching the forum or just hit google.

this guy's set of links has some broken ones but a marvelous resource:

david boise ID
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline popeyespal

Re: Panniers
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2011, 07:36:30 am »
Topic of panniers (like panniers vs trailers) gets dragged out a couple times every year so try searching the forum or just hit google.

Very true. However, product line offerings change, features change and, unfortunately, sometimes the quality of a product changes over time and does not keep pace with a previously established reputation. Seeing as this particular thread asked a specific product question rather than a philosophical/logistical one I don't think it's unreasonable to trot the topic out once in awhile. Opinions from years past may be dated and not very useful.

I did search. Always do. Both here and @ Crazy Guy. But considering the cost of high quality panniers I really wanted to get fresh perspectives or reviews.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Panniers
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2011, 12:25:28 pm »
+1 for Ortliebs - used them on the LEJOG ride last year and it was very wet and I mean rain.  They kept my kit dry although you do have to be careful how you roll the tops over as water can lurk in the folds waiting to give you a nasty surprise, not that bad really.  Didn't use any other weather proof bags inside the panniers and very pleased.  Also robust as I tend to be pretty tough on my gear.

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Offline fatmanonabike

Re: Panniers
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2011, 03:39:47 am »
I have 3 pieces of Arkel gear and recommend them wholeheartedly. But I didn't see anything in this discussion about the attachment mechanism. I had some budget panniers that came unhooked and dumped my groceries. The Arkel hooks are substantial hunks of aluminum. Most importantly the cam system (also aluminum) actually locks the pannier to the rail of the rack. The value for me was the combination of exceptional construction and the attachment system. I have 2 of the utility baskets  and just recently purchased a tailrider.

Offline cyclocamping

Re: Panniers
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2011, 03:30:18 pm »
Arkel manufactures good panniers, but they are not waterproof and are very expensive. In my opinion, panniers should be waterproof. The vast majority of people traveling by bicycle choose Ortlieb, as their panniers are very reliable, very durable, and waterproof. The most common complaint that people have about them is their lack of interior pockets, which, in my opinion, is an advantage (I don't like to have to look for my gear in different compartments and I prefer to arrange them in nylon bags). Topeak also manufactures good waterproof panniers (the Dry Bag model), which are perhaps not as durable as the Ortlieb panniers, but are slightly cheaper.

Another brand that is starting to get a lot of attention is Pacific Outdoor Equipment. They are relatively new in the market, but the quality and design of their panniers is really impressive. They took some of the disadvantages of the Ortlieb and Arkel panniers and tried to find a compromise. Their panniers are 100% waterproof, have great features like additional pockets, removable top covers for extra protection when needed, retractable outside mesh pockets (to dry laundry, etc. while riding), and a few other nice features, such as very strong mounting hooks. I really think that all the big guys out there finally have a real American competitor to worry about.

Here is the link to their bike products.  My favorite is the Super Rear Bike Pannier: "Gear Up and SAVE on the Best Touring Equipment!
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