Originally Posted by Erroniousfunk
I used (lived out of) the Novara Safari panniers for about 6 months putting in about 3K miles. By the end of the trip the zippers were both having a LOT of trouble zipping open and closed, and looked like they were just about to bust open. Also, the reflectors are pretty sub-par compared to just about every single other bag I've ever seen. The bright side is that when I took them back to REI they gave me my money back in under 45 seconds. That money went right into a set of Ortlieb BikePacker rear bags. I love 'em. If you can buy them through REI, now that would be a real treat. I have frontrollers on the front rack and they don't seem to pack in quite as much stuff... (due to the design, not the volume!)
My recommendation to you is the same advise that a wise man once gave me:
"Do whatever makes you blissful."
This weekend I bought REI Transfer Panniers, I like them a lot, have loaded them up and I like the pockets they have. They have rain covers should it get wet and I think they will be fine for my use.
I have long list of items that are in the panniers already and need just to add a few more.
As of now they contain:
Two rolls of toilet paper
5 Shirts - 3 long sleeve, 2 short sleeve
2 T shirts
of cargo shorts
of extra reading glasses
of Pearl Izumi leg warmers
One light REI (down syn) jacket (sleeves may be taken off and used as a vest)
One light rain jacket.
One pants and jacket set (Starter Brand (very light), bought at Walmart, very cool)
Weekender first aid kit (pretty big and has lots of stuff)
Items in Novara Deluxe Rack Bag are:
10 nutrition bars.
Tooth brush and paste
Flash Light (hand pumped, does not need batteries)
Cat eye bike light (very good unit bought at Performance Bike in Santa Monica, European model)
Heavy duty cable lock
The only thing I will add will be a water filtration unit (have lots of bottles water at home), and a pair of light tough shoes. these bags are for my bike, but if I need they can quickly be thrown in my car if driving permits. All items are grouped and in zip lock bags for rain protection should it be nasty weather.
This system is based on the fact that an emergency can happen at anytime, and I need to be prepared, I can use it on a bike should roads be clogged or we have an major gas crunch, or it can be used in the case of another emergency of some type. This (emergency kit) won't keep you going for a long time, but it can help for a few days till things settle down. The reason for this set up is my dad who is 92 lives about 15 miles from me and I will need to get to him should the need arise, and # two, my business is about the same distance should I need to get there in an emergency if roads are clogger or ?
Now comes the challenge of what bike to buy, I like the REI Safari, but I'm going to Hollywood Pro Bike shop this weekend as the have Surly and Salsa frames and will build a custom bike for you (very cool).
So we will see !