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Bicycle Bags and Panniers

For cycling enthusiasts who enjoy commuting, touring, and trail riding, bicycle bags and bicycle panniers offer a means to carry necessary items while they ride. Panniers, which are packs or bags that are mounted on the front or rear of a bicycle to an attached rack, vary in type and purpose. Identifying how your bicycle pannier will be used is a necessary step to purchase the right one for your bicycle.

What are the different types of panniers?

Just as there are different types of bicycles and accessories for different types of riders, there are different bike panniers to meet specific cycling, travel, and packing needs. Since these bags can carry a variety of different items, it is important to identify the riding conditions under which the pannier will be used. There are three main categories of bike panniers to consider:

  • Shopping. For cyclists or riders who live in the city or within towns where using a bicycle is a practical or preferred method of travel, shopping panniers offer the ability to pack groceries or other household goods onto your bicycle to transport home after purchasing. Look for panniers with large spaces as well as rigid side walls to protect fragile items.
  • Commuter. For cyclists or riders who use their bicycle as transportation to work, these panniers are often multi-functional and may detach quickly and easily from the bike rack to double as work bags. Look for models that offer well-padded compartments to protect electronic devices such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones.
  • Touring. For cyclists who use their bicycle as transportation for trips and travel over a span of several days, these rugged panniers offer room for packing basic travel or camping gear. For greater storage capacity, the two-pannier system, a rear pannier as well as a front pannier, is often used. Special racks to accommodate these larger panniers and greater weights may be necessary.
How do you mount a pannier to a bicycle?

The pannier is mounted to the rack in one of three ways:

  • Basic hook and bungee system. Holds lighter weights and is easily manipulated and attached around the tubing of the bicycle rack.
  • Secure hook and bungee system. Offers a sturdier attachment for the pannier via clamps as well as hooks and bungees. This system works well for trail riding where conditions are rougher.
  • Quick release latch or hook system. Allows the pannier to be removed easily for access or dual purposes.
What should you look for in a waterproof pannier?

Waterproof panniers are often desired to provide protection from rain while cycling. When looking for a waterproof pannier, consider options that are made from materials that are rated waterproof, not water resistant, such as high-denier PVC. Ensure that any lining and padding is also waterproof to protect valuable items such as electronic devices.