The 10 Best Bike Panniers
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in September of 2015. One of the downsides to bicycles is a lack of storage space for transporting things, which is why bike panniers are a good investment for regular riders. Whether you cycle to work or school or enjoy long excursions for fun, these handy carriers will ensure that you're always able to haul laptops, books, spare clothes, food, drinks, repair kits and other personal items when you're on the go. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 04, 2019:
Cyclists have very different needs from their panniers. For example, someone who commutes to work on their bike will look for different features than somebody touring the French countryside. We wanted to make sure our selection has a few options to suit all those needs, so you'll find a nice bit of variety in the offerings here.
During this update, we removed the Tourbon Trunk as there were simply too many complaints of them suffering catastrophic failure within a short period of time. Taking their place is the Two Wheel Gear Classic 2.0, which is ideal for professionals since it has a garment bag to keep your suit wrinkle free during your ride. It also accommodates laptops up to 15.6 inches. We also like the Timbuk2 Tandem, which come with a removable shoulder strap, for city commuters. Their tough exterior resists dirt and stains well, too, so they should stay looking nice for a while.
For those planning a multi-day cycling adventure, we recommend the Roswheel 14892, which is a set of three bags that, when combined, have a total capacity of 37 liters. The highly water-resistant material and heat-sealed seams of the Thule Shield and Ortlieb Back-Roller City also make them ideal for touring cyclists. Additionally, they are both extremely durable.
If you'd like to retain your bike's sleek look when not carrying cargo, but want to have that extra space available when needed, you'll like the Topeak MTX, which features expandable sacks that pop out of the side pockets. As you might expect from something like this though, sacks aren't made from the most durable material and are not ideal for heavy loads.
Arkel Bug Pannier The Bug Pannier is a convenient option both on and off the bike. It has straps for backpack-style carrying that hide away behind a zippered pocket to keep them out of the spokes when riding. It also features the company's extremely secure cam-lock mounting system and has multiple pockets to keep your gear organized. It is rather pricey for a single unit, however. www.arkel-od.com
North St. Bags Route Seven The Route Seven is an attractive option well-suited to city cycling. It has sleeve-style pockets on both sides that are perfect for water bottles or something else you may want quick and easy access to. Since each one is made to order, you can also customize it with options like a division organizer, a dedicated laptop compartment, or a shoulder strap. northstbags.com
Choosing Bike Panniers For Daily Use
These allow for easy loading and unloading of items, and can easily accommodate larger items like a gallon of milk or irregularly shaped items like a tall baguette.
If you use your bike for frequent crosstown commutes (without the need to carry a laptop or documents) or for short trips for exercise and recreation, then a compact set of panniers is a great way to carry your phone, some snacks, keys, and other small sundries. Consider a set that goes over the central tube of your bike, as this positioning can best center the weight you will add, admittedly minor though it may be. These compact panniers can also be a good choice for the cyclist who needs lots of gear, as they allow the addition of larger panniers on the back of the bike.
If you use your bike while shopping for groceries or other goods, consider basket style panniers that remain open on the top. These allow for easy loading and unloading of items, and can easily accommodate larger items like a gallon of milk or irregularly shaped items like a tall baguette. Of course the drawback with these options is the lack of privacy and the lack of protection against rain or other elements.
A good choice of panniers for the urban cyclist is a set that slings two narrow bags on either side of the rear wheel and offers additional storage space atop your rear of the bike. The side pouches should be able to accommodate a laptop or tablet and even a folded shirt and slacks, while the upper compartment can house other items, such as wallet, phone, charger, and more. A great set of panniers is the ideal way to make your bike as useful as possible.
The Right Bike Panniers For Long Distance Travel
For the distance ride, such as with bicycle camping trips, there are plenty of large pannier sets ready to help you tote along plenty of water, food, and supplies. Once you know how much gear you want to be able to carry, you can search for panniers that offer appropriate capacity. Your next choice should be about materials: make sure to choose baggage that can protect their contents against rain, mud, and any other substances you're likely to come in contact with while underway.
If you're in the middle of nowhere, this might be less important.
And consider whether or not you need to be able to easily remove your panniers. If you're in the middle of nowhere, this might be less important. If you will need to leave your bike locked up somewhere rather public, then it's imperative that you can pop those panniers off the cycle and keep them with you.
Of course there is a tradeoff to be considered when bringing gear along on a human powered trip: the more weight you load onto your bike, the more effort you will have to expend to move it along. It's a good idea to choose larger bike panniers for longer, multiple day trips, but that doesn't mean you have to load the bags to their capacity. And of course leaving some extra room in your panniers means that you can always acquire new goods, foods, or souvenirs along the way.
Carrying Gear Through The Years
The first device that can fairly be called a modern bicycle was first released in 1885. It was called the Rover and was designed by a British man named J.K. Starley. The bicycle as designed by Starley was, for the first time, both an affordable and practical means of transportation. Soon bikes were being used for everything from personal transportation to the ferrying of goods and messages to military applications; soldiers atop bicycles were a frequent site during the dark years of World War I, for example, and bikes were still often being used in World War II as well. Today bikes are used as the primary means of transportation by hundred of millions of people worldwide.
Today bikes are used as the primary means of transportation by hundred of millions of people worldwide.
But of course the first "panniers" weren't created for a bike, but for a horse. The saddlebag is, as the name suggests, comprised of bags that hang below or behind a rider's saddle, hanging over each side of a horse's flanks. Other saddlebags can be large and bulky and are designed to be affixed to a pack animal, usually a donkey or mule, without a rider atop the animal. Saddlebags were usually made of leather, though brilliant Native American examples were also created by weaving cloth, often involving intricate patterns and vibrant dyes.
In centuries past, saddlebags were used to carry everything from a cowboy's food during a long ride on the range to the mail of the famous Pony Express to medical supplies to, of course, arms and ammunition.
Modern equine saddlebags are usually made of synthetic materials such as polyester and ripstop nylon. Still their purpose remains the same: to carry gear while out for a ride in a manner that's comfortable both for horse and rider.