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. 7: Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Rear Panniers
These could just as well have been #1 – like all 7 of these panniers, the Ortlieb panniers are outstandingly excellent. This set of 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. 6: 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. 5: Axiom Seymour panniers
Amazon now sells Axiom Seymour panniers – a set of two for under $100! This is a great price, and they get very good reviews. Best of all – no zips! However, they are not waterproof all on their own – you have to buy a rain cover separately. They are described as no-nonsense commuter bags. I have ranked them at no. 5 because of the attractive price point (i.e., it’s a bargain price for two good strong panniers).
No. 4: 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.”
No. 3: Arkel Bug
The Arkel Bug pannier converts from backpack to pannier and back again. For a very long time it was my go-to pannier (before I discovered Two Wheel Gear). It’s super easy and convenient for cyclist commuters to be able to take a pannier off their bike and convert it into a backpack in less than a minute. Also, I love all the pockets and pouches, which make it easier to sort and find your stuff. And it has handy pouches on the side for coffee travelers or water bottles.
If you want your Arkel Bug pannier to be completely waterproof, you have to buy a rain cover separately.
Like the Arkel Bug, the Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible can be easily and quickly changed from backpack to pannier and back again. It has the same features as the Arkel Bug, including many handy, clever pockets and a rain cover. However, the rain cover comes standard with the Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible, while with the Arkel Bug it is an extra you have to buy.
For me the Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible has the edge over the Arkel Bug, because it is substantially lighter and more compact, and has a clever little lock to ensure you won’t lose it while speeding down a hill. Like the Arkel Bug, it is rugged and good looking, with many reflective elements. I must say I prefer the black and red styling over the bright green and black. Also, the Two Wheel Gear pannier sits higher on the rack, making it easier to reach my keys, a snack or my phone without dismounting. I have had both of these backpack convertible panniers for ages, and I use them very hard, and find them both to be totally rugged and long-lasting.
No. 1: The Two Wheel Gear Classic 2 Garment Panniers
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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