Ever set out on a bike tour and realized your bags just weren’t up to the task? I’ve been there. So, which panniers genuinely have your back on those long rides?
To keep your gear safe and your ride smooth, I’ve hit the road, tested and reviewed numerous panniers, and rounded up the cream of the crop. Say goodbye to those luggage woes and find the best panniers for touring!
In a rush? My top recommendation is the Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic. What’s the secret behind its rave reviews? Let’s say it’s a game-changer.
Looking for more options and insights? Roll on through this guide! 🚴🎒🚴♀️
Summary of the Best Panniers for Touring
Detailed Reviews of the Best Panniers for Touring on the Market
If you’ve just dipped your toes into the touring world, you will likely have stumbled across Ortlieb – a well-known and highly respected brand.
Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic has an IP64 rating, giving you total security from dust and water – ideal for all-weather touring. The name ‘back roller’ is inspired by how they close. The top rolls over to close, making them impervious to the weather.
It feels like Ortlieb has thought about everything with these panniers.
There is an internal pocket, giving you quick access to those items you need to get to quickly. As with every Ortlieb, the Classic has reflectors on it. This increases your visibility on the road – which never hurts!
Each pannier has a shoulder strap, making it easy to carry when not attached to your bike.
It has to be said, it’s little touches like this that make these panniers stand out – every aspect of the design has been thought about. Back it up with a five-year guarantee, and you can see why these panniers are a favorite among cyclists.
The Axiom is beautifully understated but smart in design.
There’s nothing complex about these panniers; they will see you through your touring adventures with a good amount of capacity that has been used wisely (with style, too!). You can’t ask for more than that.
This could be for riders keen to make an environmentally friendly purchase. The Axiom is constructed in Oceanweave 600D (that’s recycled fishnet polyester to you and me).
Adding to the durability, there is a waterproof coating and a red interior lining – this enables you to see inside the pannier more easily, but it also protects the items inside from being scratched or damaged.
The top closure is operated by a drawstring, nice, simple, and secure. You get zips on the pockets – there are rear, front, and side pockets. As well as some daisy-chain webbing loops, there are plenty of places to store little items!
Visibility is vital to any cyclist. These panniers give you a reflective Axiom logo and space to clip your light. A Rixen and Kaul mounting system is used with the Axion Seymour.
To finish things off, you get a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.
The flexible storage option.
While the capacity of these panniers isn’t the largest we looked at, how space can be used is what shines through. An excellent solid rectangular shape – ideal for putting oversized items in.
You get a zipped compartment at the front of each pannier to store smaller items.
A carry handle is attached to make things easy for you off the road. There is also a rigid back panel inside, which keeps the pannier’s structure. It also allows easy access, as you aren’t fighting to keep the bag upright when trying to retrieve an item!
Visibility has been considered, and a 3M reflective trim is applied. I have to say, it’s a decent amount of trim, and it does a great job of increasing a rider’s visibility!
With each pannier, you get a bungee hook on the back. The purpose of this is to secure the lower portion of the pannier. This will give a good amount of stability when riding.
BV has thought about how a rider will fit their panniers, and there are three separate spots where you can attach the bungee hooks.
If you’re looking for value for money, then the Roswheel panniers may be your answer! Roswheel describes it as multifunctional, and I can see why – you get 3 bags for the price of one.
Two bags are the traditional pannier style and sit on the side of your bike. While there is also a top bag. The three combined give you an impressive capacity of 37 liters.
You shouldn’t be short on compartments as there are plenty to choose from, helping you to keep everything organized.
Like many panniers, this set is angled to ensure it doesn’t make contact with your heels while pedaling – much appreciated! Being seen in low light isn’t too much of an issue as the handles are reflective, as are the logos.
Each bag is constructed from reinforced polyester, and while Roswheel doesn’t state that it is waterproof, it does provide a degree of water resistance with the polyurethane coating.
A slight downside to these panniers was that the zips didn’t seem the best quality and would stick on occasion.
Overall, the Roswheel offers a little something different to the market with the added top bag, and that’s a welcome addition!
Topeak states that the DryBag DX is “sonically welded and fully seam-sealed,” and I have to say, these panniers seem watertight! There is a great sense that whatever you keep in your pannier will be protected from Mother Nature.
Getting the DryBag where you want it positioned on your bike is easy, as Topeak has slidable hooks in place. They also feature a quick-release system to quickly attach and remove the bag.
The build quality of the Topeak DryBag DX is superb. They are lightweight but sturdy. On the sides of each pannier are reflectors, and you also get a handle and a shoulder strap for the times when you want to carry your bag off your bike.
Installation may take some getting used to, and don’t be surprised if you don’t get it spot on the first time. However, it will pay off in the long run if you’re willing to spend some time understanding how it works.
These panniers are secure. They can take rough terrain at a fair speed and not complain once. Ideal!
The Waterfly pannier is made from 1000D polyester and finished with a waterproof PVC layer on both sides. This makes it an excellent option for riders who venture out in wetter conditions.
Durability is a consideration when buying a pannier. This pannier is designed to be with you for many adventures. It’s anti-tear, wear-resistant, and heat-resistant, so your belongings should be safe inside!
Not forgetting that practicality is also important – Waterfly has a front pocket to store important items, such as your phone or things you need to access quickly. The best bit? It’s waterproof, too!
The listed capacity of the bag is 25 liters. In reality, it’s closer to 22 liters. It will hold 25 liters when the bag isn’t folded. The fact is, you aren’t likely to ride any distance unfolded. That said, 22 liters should be ample space to pack everything you need!
Your belongings should be kept secure in this pannier as there are two ways to close it. As with other panniers, it features a roll-up top. However, it’s finished with buckles to keep the top cover in place.
Sahoo’s mission is to provide first-class cycling equipment and its products are developed with cyclists’ input. Hence, they know what makes a good pannier – this certainly is!
The design of these panniers has been upgraded, and now you get a 3 in 1 design. The 3 in 1 design gives you 2 large side bags and a top bag, which is detachable.
If that doesn’t seem like enough, you also get string bags on all three bags. These are ideal for storing extra water bottles.
With a combined capacity of 37 liters, you should have enough for a touring holiday!
The panniers are versatile and can be used as a shoulder bag as the strap comes included.
Sahoo panniers are easy to clean. A simple wipe-down will remove the mud and dirt build-up. Not to mention, these are waterproof at the back, helping to keep your items dry from the inevitable road spray.
Installation is relatively easy. Straps and buckles are used to keep the pannier in place. These are secure, and when up against bumpy terrain, bushes, and everything else you encounter along the way, they tend to hold their own!
Thule makes some impressive stuff. High-quality, durable materials throw in a user-friendly design, and you’ve got yourself a great pair of panniers!
The mounting system is user-friendly, a welcome change from other manufacturers. There are no latches or straps to contend with. However, the rotating clip system was tedious. Having said that, it was very effective.
The Shield closure system is easy and shouldn’t pose too many problems when accessing your gear. It also keeps things nice and secure with a roll-top opening, even protecting them from harsh weather conditions.
Durability is excellent. Yes, it’s one of the heavier panniers in the roundup, but it’s also one of the most well-built.
These panniers are rated IPX4 thanks to the heavy-duty nylon material and welded construction. It’s worth noting that all the attachments, handles, and straps are also brilliantly constructed. Nothing short of what you’d expect from Thule.
A slight negative to the nylon material is that it can scratch off when you hit it. It’s not easy to do, but catch it just right, it can happen. However, these bags should last a long time and withstand abuse!
The design of the ParkRak can be described as stylish. Ibera knows that straps flapping around in the wind can be distracting, so their buckle straps get held down. Not only does that make these panniers more streamlined, but it also takes away that annoyance!
The material on the PakRak is water-resistant and will protect the contents to some extent. It isn’t fully waterproof, so you will likely experience some leakage in heavy rain.
However, Ibera includes a rain cover with panniers, so you can make everything 100% waterproof without too much effort. That’s a nice touch!
Capacity sits at 30 liters (15L per bag), so it should provide you with enough space for your touring adventures. Mounting is quick. It works on a clip-on and quick-release system. It genuinely can be done within seconds!
With this pannier pair from Ibera, you get a large pocket that has a zipper. Inside are two pockets so you can organize your belongings exactly how you want to.
This sleek, durable pannier effortlessly clips onto any bike rack, boasting ample storage space and a waterproof design. This design looks more for urban cyclists and commuters. Regardless, it keeps your gear dry, organized, and readily accessible!
The Timbuk2 Tandem Pannier is perfect for the commuter or the weekend trip. Its versatility shines through, catering to both long hauls and quick trips.
While we love the Tandem Pannier, it’s worth noting that it lacks external pockets, a feature in some competitors like the Axiom Bag Pannier Seymour. However, the Tandem’s internal organization compensates well for this.
Last but not least, Timbuk2 stands behind its products and offers a lifetime warranty on the panniers.
Should You Buy Touring Panniers?
Touring on a bike is a thrilling experience. Whether you’re pedaling through scenic countryside or challenging terrains, having reliable panniers to carry your essentials is crucial.
They are intended to be used in pairs. While you can use them independently, they will alter your balance and general stability.
Pros To Using Panniers
- You can carry more gear (and more food!)
- Easy to pack and get on the road again
- Larger capacity to be able to fit a single big item in
- Fairly easy to repair (though a good pair will be durable and shouldn’t require it!)
Cons To Using Panniers
- Panniers make your bike wider, potentially making it less stable
- Adds extra weight and can slow you down as a result
- You won’t be as streamlined with panniers. This will increase drag
How Many Panniers Do I Need?
The standard set-up for a long-distance adventure would be four panniers.
This usually means two small ones at the front and a larger set at the bike’s rear. If you still need additional storage, you can add a handlebar bag.
For lightweight and shorter trips, two rear panniers will suffice.
As you get used to touring, you will likely find that you don’t need four panniers. You may find that you have started to take a minimalist approach and have learned what you do and don’t need to pack.
What To Look For When Buying Bicycle Panniers
Here’s what you need to know before purchasing the best panniers for your touring adventure:
If you’re touring, you will likely be out when it’s raining.
Opt for panniers made from waterproof materials like TPU-laminated fabric or those that come with rain covers. This ensures your belongings stay dry during unexpected rain showers.
Finding your change of clothes wet after a long time in the saddle is not fun!
Design and Accessibility
Panniers for touring are designed differently from those for day-to-day riding and come in various sizes, materials, and colors.
Touring panniers are labeled ‘front’ or ‘rear’ and commonly sold in pairs. Depending on the model, there are sometimes differences in the left to the right pannier.
Front panniers are smaller. They have to be. The weight that goes into these will directly impact the weight on your front wheel. This weight will affect the steering and handling of your bike, so try to keep things light at the front.
Accessibility of your things is also important. Keep an eye out for:
- Compartments: Multiple compartments can help organize your belongings. Some panniers also come with external pockets to easily access frequently used items.
- Roll-top vs. Zipper Closure: Roll-top closures are typically more waterproof, while zippers might offer quicker access.
Front panniers have a capacity of around 10-15 liters each. As they are sold as a pair, this equates to around 20-30 liters.
You don’t want anything greater than this on the front of your bike as this will increase the chances of the bag hitting the down tube or the ground if you turn sharply.
Rear panniers usually hold double the capacity of front panniers.
If you ride a tandem, firstly, you’re very brave, and I greatly respect you. Secondly, you can have even larger panniers!
Some panniers have expandable pockets or compartments, giving you storage flexibility.
There are two main categories for pannier material; fully waterproof and semi/non-waterproof.
As mentioned, fully waterproof panniers, the fabric is usually TPU-laminated, and the seams are sealed. I advise always packing a simple repair kit – Gaffa tape will do. This will ensure your kit stays fully waterproof throughout your trip.
Non-waterproof panniers are often made from heavy-duty canvas. The lid of the bags is similar to what you find on a backpack, with zippers or buckles.
You do get some degree of water resistance, which will protect you from road spray.
Additionally, look for materials like Cordura or ballistic nylon, known for their durability and tear resistance.
Some riders like to have a good amount of padding on their pannier. It’s worth considering as it will provide some protection to the contents while helping to maintain the shape of the pannier.
How To Pack A Pannier For Touring
This will depend on what you like to pack and where you’re going. However, there are some basic rules to get you started.
Don’t pack anything you might need while you’re cycling. You won’t be able to get to them. Anything you might need should be stored elsewhere.
Heavy items should go at the bottom. This helps to balance the weight and always protect the lighter items.
What would you take on a 900km ride? Find out what one rider would take!
Frequently Asked Questions
How important is reflective detailing on touring panniers?
Reflective detailing on panniers is crucial for safety, especially if you plan to ride during dawn, dusk, or nighttime.
The reflective elements increase visibility, ensuring that motorists can see you from a distance, reducing the risk of accidents.
Can all panniers fit any bicycle’s rack mounts?
Not all panniers fit every bicycle’s rack mounts. While many panniers are designed with universal fittings, checking the compatibility with your bike’s specific rack mounts is essential.
Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and, if possible, test the fit before purchasing.
Do I need a specialized set of panniers for off-road or mountain bike tours?
Yes, if you’re planning off-road or mountain bike tours, it’s beneficial to invest in a set of panniers specifically designed for rugged terrains.
These panniers are typically more robust, have reinforced stitching, and offer superior protection against dust, mud, and external impacts.
My top pick would be the Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic.
The capacity is one of the best at 40 liters, and things are kept simple. One pocket, everything in there. The back-roller cover makes getting into that pocket easy, and it keeps the contents secure and dry when sealed.
Overall, the Classic gives most touring riders everything they could want from a pair of panniers, and that’s why it gets my top spot!
Looking for something a bit different? Check out our reviews of the Best Convertible Pannier Backpacks.