Anyone who is a bike commuter or does bike tours knows the vital importance of a good bike pannier. It’s almost as important as having a great bike. Mrs. Average Joe Cyclist and I have tried many differnt bike panniers over the years on our various adventures. We have put together this list of 7 of the best bike panniers, based on our experience and our research.
No. 1: Ibera PakRak All Weather Bike Panniers
This pair of panniers is excellent value for money – two high quality, easy on and off panniers with great storage space – and the low price includes rain covers. They are highly rated for commuting and for touring. Multiple compartments and pockets means you can be super organized. And they look good too!
No. 2: Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Rear Panniers
This set of Ortlieb panniers is a classic, well loved by many cyclists for many years, and very highly rated, especially for being rugged, durable, and weather proof. Plastic coating and welded seams combine to make these panniers impervious to rain. In addition, the main compartment has a hermetical roll closure to ensure your stuff stays dry.
It’s a cinch to take these panniers off your bike, as the Quick Lock hooks open automatically when you pull up on the pannier handles. The strap and buckle closures double as shoulder straps, so it is easy to carry these panniers off the bike. Inside is a flat pouch with a zipper to store your laptop.
The price includes TWO matching panniers. These are ideal commuting and touring panniers, thanks to capacity, waterproofness, and strength.
No. 3: Axiom Panniers
As we live on the West Coast (aka “the rain forest”), waterproof panniers are very important in our lives. So we are on an ongoing quest to find completely waterproof panniers. We have had good results with Axiom panniers, which are usually sold in pairs for around $100 to $170.
Axiom panniers come with a variety of model names, all of which remind you that they are there to protect your stuff from the rain – such as Axiom Typhoon, Axiom Stormfront and Axiom Tempest (are you sensing a theme here?). The colors and styles change from time to time, but the bottom line is that you get a big, strong, completely waterproof pannier. We have transported laptops and cameras inside these panniers in monsoon-like weather without getting a drop of water on them (we almost drowned, but our stuff was just fine). This ability to withstand heavy rain comes from the heavy-weight polyester material of the bag, as well as from the fact that the top flap folds down over the bag for extra protection.
Most Axiom panniers have a very simple design – they are kind of like a large bag, with minimal to zero frills, such as pockets or sub-divisions. However, the new Axiom Tempest Hydracore P35 Plus Panniers are a little more complex and stylish than your basic polyester bucket.
Axiom Panniers are reasonably attractive and highly visible (thanks to lots of reflective details), and are available in black, grey, yellow or red.
Finally, Axiom panniers fit well and easily to any standard bike rack.
No. 4: Timbuk2 Tandem Pannier Bag
The Timbuk2 Tandem Pannier Bags are highly rated, very affordable, extremely water resistant panniers that perform as saddle bags on the bike and convert into a shoulder bag or briefcase off-bike. This is a budget-priced, balanced two-pannier set. It comes with a removable shoulder strap so that you can carry the bags in messenger or briefcase style, and Fits a 15 inch laptop. The built-in magnets can be clipped together for a slim profile when carried off-bike. All in all, a stylish and convenient pannier system at a very good price.
Timbuk2 was founded in San Francisco 25 years ago by bike messenger Rob Honeycutt. Timbuk2 designs quality bags, packs, and accessories and has become “an industry leader in forward-thinking, sustainable manufacturing.”
No. 5: Axiom Monsoon Aero DLX Panniers
I thought I would leave it to a more stylish person than me to highlight the most good-looking option in basic panniers. Well-known avid cyclist and blogger Ulrike Rodrigues highly recommends the Axiom Monsoon Aero DLX panniers. She says: “slim-line, slate-gray Axiom Monsoon Aero DLX panniers, I regularly get compliments on them and when I wear one over my shoulder, it looks like a satchel not a big, goofy pannier. They are a very simple, Ortlieb-style, with a roll-top closure. They are quite deep, so for keys I punched a hole in the rigid plastic liner, threaded a thin chain through it, and then clip my keys to that. No problems whatsoever after 3 years.”
The Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible can be easily and quickly changed from backpack to pannier and back again. It has many handy, clever pockets and a rain cover. However, the rain cover comes standard with the Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible. It is super light and compact, and has a clever little lock to ensure you won’t lose it while speeding down a hill. It is rugged and good looking, with many reflective elements. I must say I love the black and red styling. Also, the Two Wheel Gear pannier sits high on the rack, making it easier to reach my keys, a snack or my phone without dismounting. I have had this backpack convertible pannier for ages, and I use it very hard, and find it to be totally rugged and long-lasting. No signs of wear and tear after years of use!
No. 7: The Two Wheel Gear Classic 2 Garment Panniers
I have saved the best for last. The Two Wheel Gear Classic Garment Pannier is pretty much the definitive top-of-the-line commuter and touring pannier. It’s a double pannier that straps over your rack, and will carry your clothes (without creasing them) from your home to your office – or all over the world, as they are designed to double as carry-on luggage and bike touring panniers. I can’t wait to take ours on a bike tour around The Netherlands! (I have the perfect panniers and bike, now I just need the perfect Lotto ticket.) It has just about every clever pocket you can think of, and the waterproof cover comes standard and can be fitted over in seconds.
We have done TWO in-depth reviews of the Two Wheel Gear Garment Pannier. (We liked it so much, we reviewed it twice!) Here’s a review from a woman’s point of view, and here’s a review from a man’s point of view.
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