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  1. #1
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    Best Panniers/ Recommended Cargo Capacity

    What is a good brand of panniers that most tourers recommend? What is a good cargo capacity in cubic inches?
    I am interested in doing some week to two week trips. I would have camping gear, food, warm clothing, rain gear, and room for souvenirs/hitchhikers. So I'm thinking in the area of 3000 cubic inches total? About 1500 cubic inches per rack.

    What are the thoughts on the bargain panniers on ebay?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    First, consider front and rear panniers for more even weight distribution. Many find this combo contributes to a more stable ride and is by for the most common preference for touring cyclist. Maybe 2000 cu in rear and 1000 cu in front, aiming for a 50/50 weight distribution. Lighter stuff in back, heavier in front.

    As for 'bargain' panniers, you can make most anything work, but I've had no luck finding a bargain on eBay with panniers. I've found the panniers on Amazon priced the same or less than those on eBay, but with patience, you might luck out on something used. Rarely comes up.

    I've used Sunlite panniers for 4 years and found them very durable. They'd fall in the 'bargain' category. Gonna replace them with Axiom waterproof. BTW, in case you didn't know, Ortliebs are the gold standard.

    Do a thread search on here for panniers. I'm sure there is tons of info.
    Last edited by Cyclebum; 11-20-09 at 10:06 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    THE go-to-guy for panniers and pannier information is Wayne at: http://www.thetouringstore.com/

    He is a great guy, generous with his time and knows his stuff. Many on this forum have dealt with him and I've never heard a negative comment about him.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Opinions vary widely on how much to pack and what is the best choice in panniers. Personally I think about 3000 cubic inches is plenty and could get by with less. I like the inexpensive waterproof panniers from Performance or Nashbar. I have found them to be light, inexpensive, and durable. I like having one big compartment and using ziplocs to organize my gear within the bags. Some people prefer pockets, but I find that with lots of compartments you need bigger panniers to hold the same amount of stuff, I have a harder time finding stuff, and the panniers weigh a good bit more.

    Some folks have had issues with these bags not holding up, but three of us used them in the Trans America, one of us did some subsequent touring, and another used the small ones for daily commuting for a couple years and all of the three sets are still in great shape. I expect to use mine for years to come. We definitely have not babied them and they are holding up well.

  5. #5
    Senior Member deepakvrao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobframe View Post
    THE go-to-guy for panniers and pannier information is Wayne at: http://www.thetouringstore.com/

    He is a great guy, generous with his time and knows his stuff. Many on this forum have dealt with him and I've never heard a negative comment about him.
    Absolutely - one online seller who has not had a negative comment printed that I have seen at least.

  6. #6
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    I like the Lone Peak stuff that Wayne (thetouringstore) sells, it's light, medium price, reasonably durable, good features. REI has some of their house brand panniers on pretty good sale right now (never used these). Ortlieb is the de-facto standard, if you like a waterproof bucket-style bag (never used these).

    I like side-loading with pockets, and have used Cannondale (love them, but they are discontinued), Arkel - good features, but WAY too heavy and too many features that are not really needed, and Lone Peak - which is what I would buy next time if I buy again.
    ...

  7. #7
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    Arkel makes quality Cordura panniers. I use T42's for both the front (for conversion see http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...oc_id=5670&v=U) and back for a total of 5000 cubic inches. They are large enough, pocket-free enough, and otherwise feature-free enough to fit everything you need for a comfortable 3-season unsupported tour in the mountains. I have enough space to not have to jam anything and plenty of extra space for food and water when well away from civilization.

    Whether you need both front and rear panniers depends on your bike. Front panniers often greatly increase inertial stability and help get weight off the rear wheel where you get the more failure, wear, and punctures.

    If you'd rather minimize weight, you might want to challenge yourself to get by with a large handlebar bag and saddle bag/pack (Carradice). This might get you down to about 2000 cubic inches and eliminate the need for racks. Then, you might as well tour on a carbon road bike. Many people do this and crow about it on this forum. Of course when they are actually touring they are occassionally broken down, rolled up in a fetal position, drenched, shivering, and dreaming of hot food whenever things don't go perfectly. I've seen it. It's called being unprepared. Feeling lucky? Perhaps they count on being able to ride out of trouble.

    Decide what you are bringing and then buy the rig that will carry it with some capacity to spare. BTW, Wayne is so great that I'd buy everything I could from him - no matter which brands he carried.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 11-22-09 at 08:21 AM. Reason: typo

  8. #8
    Senior Member cmcanulty's Avatar
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    Nashbar panniers are cheap and often on sale, I have used mine for 20 yrs no problem

  9. #9
    BeaverTerror Yan's Avatar
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    I tour fully loaded, and I have 3500 cubic inches in just my rears! I have somewhat smaller front panniers, and no bar bag. I don't fill my panniers all the way up, but you'll find that it's useful to have some spare room for stuff you'll pick up along the way (especially food). If you have just enough room for all of your stuff, it'll be impossible to organize your panniers on the road.

    I use the MEC World Tour 56L panniers (rear) and Axiom Lasalle Journey panners (front). No complaints about either. Waterproof with covers. Bungie cords built into the top of the Axioms are very handy for drying laundry on the road.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I use Ortlieb Classic on my expedition tour bike and Lone Peak on my Giant Excursion road tour bike. I have full sets, front/rear panniers, handlebar bag and rack bags. I don't necessarily use all bags on all tours. I like the flexibility the systems offer. Good advice on not packing the bags full at the outset. I don't have a problem self limiting the amount of stuff I pack. I occasionally go out with a bag empty, but it is usually because I am planning on picking something up along the way. Make a packing list and stick to it, also review the list before/after every trip and remove non essentials that don't get used.

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  11. #11
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    >Of course when they are actually touring they are occassionally broken down, rolled up in a fetal position, drenched, shivering, and dreaming of hot food whenever things don't go perfectly. I've seen it. It's called having fun.

    Fixed that for you.

  12. #12
    Senior Member macwild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmcanulty View Post
    Nashbar panniers are cheap and often on sale, I have used mine for 20 yrs no problem
    1+ for the Nsshbar panniers. Mine are 14 years old and still look relatively new and work well.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member cyclotoine's Avatar
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    I have a full ortlieb roller plus kit with bar bag, actually I own two sets, one is my girlfriends and is older roller classics, I'm going to sell one of our front roller set and run back rollers front and rear on our next tour and she will run front and a rears... That should be more than enough capacity for me, but yeah arkel makes stupid big panniers... my beef with them is they only make two fully waterproof models.. I live in the pacific northwest where waterproof is pretty much a necessity for daily life and it never hurts on tour either.

    One word about ortlieb PVC bags like the classics... rats and mice like 'em. in one campground a rate ate holes in one of our bags.. other cycle tourists had it happen to theirs as well both in that camp and in other places on previous trips... use cation!
    1 Super Record bike, 1 Nuovo Record bike, 1 Pista, 1 Road, 1 Cyclocross/Allrounder, 1 MTB, 1 Touring, 1 Fixed gear

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclotoine View Post
    I have a full ortlieb roller plus kit with bar bag, actually I own two sets, one is my girlfriends and is older roller classics, I'm going to sell one of our front roller set and run back rollers front and rear on our next tour and she will run front and a rears... That should be more than enough capacity for me, but yeah arkel makes stupid big panniers... my beef with them is they only make two fully waterproof models.. I live in the pacific northwest where waterproof is pretty much a necessity for daily life and it never hurts on tour either.

    One word about ortlieb PVC bags like the classics... rats and mice like 'em. in one campground a rate ate holes in one of our bags.. other cycle tourists had it happen to theirs as well both in that camp and in other places on previous trips... use cation!
    I found this stuff not long ago, http://www.pacoutdoor.com/splash_pdfs/POE_4.pdf but I've never seen any discussion on it. It seems like pretty nice looking stuff, anyway, it's worth a look.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I don't know if Ortlieb's are the best, but we have used them for three years ( about 5000 miles of touring). My wife also uses hers for commuting. We aslo live in the Pacific Northwest and find that really being waterproof is a necessity. I like the fact that they ae tough, reliable, and you don't have to worry about them on tour. We've used several other brands of panniers over the years, and these are the best one's I have used. Having said that, I did use a pair of Nashbar waterproof front panniers and found them satisfactory. However, I had some issues with them, and replaced them with Ortlieb's when I could afford them. My 2 cents-- I'd recommend buying the best that you can afford. Good equipment that does not fail or become a chronic irritation on a tour is worth the price. There are numerous threads on this topic, and like almost everything you will get a diverse array of opinions.
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  16. #16
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    Another vote for Nashbar's house brand. I bought a pair of rear panniers from them around 1975 when they were still called 'Bicycle Warehouse' instead of Nashbar and their panniers were a copy of the Cannondale design but using thinner material. After over 30 years of use they were starting to need repairs more frequently and the water-resistant coating all peeled off so I got a pair of their 'Waterproof' model a couple years ago when it was included in one of their frequent sales. Having the old set as a spare has come in handy a few times when someone expressed an interest in joining a trip but didn't have any panniers of their own.

    Are they just as sturdy and secure-mounting as the Ortlieb and Arkel models? No, but I've found them to be more than adequate, especially if you're willing use a little ingenuity. E.g. the original pair used rather weak springs to hold them down on the rack. No problem if you carried anything such as a tent and/or sleeping bag/pad on top of the rack, but not completely secure if the rack top was left empty. But putting a bungee cord over the pannier hooks made them secure and was useful to have on the rack anyway.

    And if you're getting your first set of panniers they have the advantage of not costing so much that you'll feel bad about it later if you decide you would rather have bought another style (for example one with many pockets like Arkel vs. one big compartment like Ortlieb).

  17. #17
    Senior Member cyclotoine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Nault View Post
    I found this stuff not long ago, http://www.pacoutdoor.com/splash_pdfs/POE_4.pdf but I've never seen any discussion on it. It seems like pretty nice looking stuff, anyway, it's worth a look.
    that is really nice stuff, I'm going to look into it a bit. I work in a shop and have some sway in what product lines we carry, I like the looks of this stuff but need to get up close and personal with the attachment system.
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