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Old 06-24-09, 11:47 PM   #1
johndavis
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A quick question about pannier capacity.

I've noticed that panniers are listed according to the volume they can hold in liters.

I know what a 2 liter soda bottle looks like. Am I right to assume that a 40L set of panniers can hold as much as I could stuff in 20 2L bottles? That seems like a lot of space.
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Old 06-25-09, 12:17 AM   #2
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The size is also frequently given in cubic inches and the 40 l pair holds about 2440 in^3. Not sure that either figure is all that useful in visualizing how many clothes, food, camping gear, cooking utensils, etc. will fit. I find it more useful to compare the capacity to some bag that I already have.

OTOH, note that you won't come close to getting the 20 2 l bottles to fit in the panniers since there'll be lots of wasted space. I was only able to fit a dozen of them on a recent shopping trip.
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Old 06-25-09, 04:01 AM   #3
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yes, 40 liters is 40 liters, regardless of what form it is in.gratned, wasted spaces will surely make packing harder, but like I said, X liters is X liters.

X can be cubic inches, liters, whatever, that does not chage a thing.

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Old 06-25-09, 05:03 AM   #4
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Think of it the other way: how many soda bottles could you dump into that pair of panniers? Sounds like a big number? It's 1.4 cubic feet or a bit less than an 18" cube.

Bear in mind that capacity doesn't come close to describing utility in terms of packing, finding, unpacking & repacking stuff. Two different containers, each 40L could be vastly different in layout, and thus utility.

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Old 06-25-09, 05:18 AM   #5
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Basically panniers come in 3 sizes. Small, Med and large.

Small ones up front, medium is for commuting and lite touring, and the large suckers for camping/touring.

What do you plan on doing?
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Old 06-25-09, 06:41 AM   #6
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Most manufacturers give pannier dimensions. I built cardboard mock-ups to get a real idea of capacity before committing to an on line purchase. Keep in mind you can stuff a little more in the actual soft panniers. It is however, a way to get a relatively accurate idea. When my panniers arrived, they were the same size as the mock-ups.
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Old 06-25-09, 06:57 AM   #7
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This whole thread is predicated on the false notion that there's such a thing as panniers that are too big. If they're not dragging on the ground, they're not too big.
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Old 06-25-09, 07:11 AM   #8
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Have to agree with stevage. I've often wished I had more room, never wished for less. But less forces packing discipline. That is good.
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Old 06-25-09, 12:29 PM   #9
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Panniers may not be too big, but they can be more expensive than necessary...
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Old 06-25-09, 12:35 PM   #10
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Another way to think of it is compared to a rucksack. A normal day rucksack that you use for school or day to day use is probably around 15-20 litres. A backpacking sack is around 60-70 litres. The usual layout of panniers would be 2x20 rear and 2x12.5 front giving 65 litres. Possibly plus a barbag, 7 litres. Many people strap something like a tent to the rear rack and carry water bottles on the frame giving another few litres.

One thing I found when packing for my first mini tour recently was that it was more difficult to fill all the space in four panniers compared to one big rucksack. The four seperate bags resulted in more wasted space. I think I will prabably get better with practise though.
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Old 06-25-09, 12:55 PM   #11
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Pannier space is not a significant factor for me. I hit my weight limit before my panniers are full. More space would just encourage me to take more, and I don't need such encouragement.
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Old 06-25-09, 10:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pubb View Post
Think of it the other way: how many soda bottles could you dump into that pair of panniers? Sounds like a big number? It's 1.4 cubic feet or a bit less than an 18" cube.
As I wrote above, a dozen was all that I could fit on a recent shopping trip - and I wasn't able to fully close the pannier top flaps. The figure of 1.4 cubic feet for a 40 l capacity is correct, but that's less than half the capacity of an 18" cube (5832 in^3). The panniers would be the same capacity as a cube only 13.5" on a side. That size cube sounds smaller than visualizing 20 2 l bottles even though the actual volumes are the same. I think it's because I think of how much space the 20 bottles would occupy on a counter and that includes a lot of empty space between the bottles.

I agree with some other comments that the exact capacity isn't usually that much of an issue. If everything fits ok then I'll pack the tent, sleeping bag, and Thermarest inside the panniers. But if there isn't enough room then one or more of those items can easily be moved to the top of the rack instead
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Old 06-25-09, 10:20 PM   #13
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If you took 20 2L soda bottles and poured them into your proposed panniers(water proof of course)they would fit. They are based on volume. Soda bottles are not square and do not fit perfect. The liquid would.

Does that make sense?
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Old 06-26-09, 02:47 AM   #14
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Another win for the education system.
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