MEC/Serratus Panniers came in! (Initial Gear Review)
After asking about the shipping costs a couple of weeks ago, I went ahead and ordered a set of MEC's 40 Litre panniers. I was a little apprehensive ordering a bit of gear that I couldn't touch, check out the construction, mess with all the bobbles and zippers, etc. This is for those of you that are interested, wanna get a better idea about the bags and aren't Canadians, eh. I also ordered the oversized clips and rain covers to go with.
I'm impressed! As soon as I saw the box, I tore into it and ooh'd and ahh'd over them and messed with the buckles and what not. These are pretty nice! The main body material is heavy weight with a nice plastic backing to it, similar to a new schoool backpack in feeling. The "frame" material is a piece of 3/16" rigid plastic in a sleeve within the bag. This is what the attachment system is mounted to. The attachment system is made up of a pair of sprung clips with a ribbon coming out of the top of the clips. When you press the clips down there's a bit of resistance then a solid snap when the bag locks into place. Then set the bungied hook under the bottom of the rack. The hook is held to the body of the bag with a stout plastic bar that's riveted to the frame of the bag. There's a webbing loop on top of the frame to carry the bags and to check the attachment. It's worth noting that the clip system is no longer riveted to the frame as noted in other posts on the Serratus bags (and in the oversized clip replacement instructions). Now they use philips screws with nylock nuts, so no drilling is required to make the change. I put a bunch of stuff in the bags and bounced and shook the bike all around to see how the bags set and the thing didn't budge. To remove the bag you pull the ribbon on the clip to draw bag the spring closure and lift the bag at the same time. No problem.
The bag itself has quite a few nice features. All edges are trimmed with grosgrain and the stitching is neat. The zippers have cord pulls with a rubber end on them. The outside of the bag has two mesh pockets, one across the body of the bag with an elastic edge to hold it close and one taller one on the side. The mesh is thick and plasticized. There's a large reflective panel on the other side (orange). On the body panel behind the mesh pocket is a zippered pocket large enough to put my hand in to the wrist and spread my fingers all the way out. Above this is a pair of daisy chains (sewn on gear loops) vertically on the body panel. The top also has a daisy chain sewn to the top left to right above the zipper pocket. The zipper pocket is large enough to put both of the rain covers in with a bit of room to spare. The underside of the top has another zippered pocket with a keyloop on it. The top has cinch straps on both the front and back so the bag can be mashed down evenly. The top has enough fabric to reach far over the collar and pull everything down. The buckles are nice quality with a solid snap to them. The webbing is run back through the buckle with a fair bit to spare. The end has a loop to keep the webbing from flying through and hold the end to the strap. This also gives you something to grab ahold of to cinch the top down tightly. There's also a strap across the belly of the bag to draw it back to the frame. This strap doesn't have a loop, but instead is a free end. The strap can then be doubled back through the buckle to prevent it from coming loose. The collar of the bag is a different material than the body, sort of a heavy windbreaker nylon with a drawstring closure on it. The end of the cord has a bit of velcro with a corresponding piece on the bottom of the collar to keep it from flapping in the breeze. Inside the bag, the top of the frame is exposed with the top edge of it's pocket. The rest of the bag is open. MEC's logo is embroidered on the top, low key style.
The rain covers are generically sized and very big. I can put my head, shoulders and arms into them while walking around the house yelling "Who bought the extra large showercaps?!?!" Very Big. They're screaming safety yellow with a bungee closure, lots of reflectives with MEC's logo on them.
All in all, this looks like a nice setup at a really good price relative to some others. The attachment system is better than I expected and hardware is good quality. If they hold up well, and are an example of the quality of MEC's products, I'll be buying more junk from across the border, eh.
As a side note, if anyone needs or wants a pair of standard clips as replacements or spares, I have a pair for you.
Its easier to mount these by hooking the j-hook on the bottom of the rack struts and then lifting the pannier up and placing the clips on the bar (rather than the other way around). I have the larger version of these and was just going to return them for the ones you have today actually as I don't need all the space.