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  1. #1
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    Water proof panniers

    Hello all,

    I am planning to go and buy some panniers, but I'm not sure if I should buy 46 L panniers for 100$, or "water proof" panniers with the same volume, but twice as expensive. I was thinking of getting the Serratus aqua-nots. I know that you end up putting most of your clothing and stuff in bags anyways, so is it really worth it to pay the extra 100 $ ?

    Thank you for all of your imput.
    -Yoyoma

  2. #2
    Senior Member keayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoyoma
    Hello all,

    I am planning to go and buy some panniers, but I'm not sure if I should buy 46 L panniers for 100$, or "water proof" panniers with the same volume, but twice as expensive. I was thinking of getting the Serratus aqua-nots. I know that you end up putting most of your clothing and stuff in bags anyways, so is it really worth it to pay the extra 100 $ ?

    Thank you for all of your imput.
    Hi Yoyoma,

    I suggest using the search to find numerous and extensive threads to your question. Personally, I didnt get the water proof, I went with the Serratus 46 L, (see my post) a couple buddies told me the waterproof they had maintained whatever humidity you place in them, eg clothes. On the other hand, he said any food in the summer was like an oven. Some love them however, I live on the west coast, commute in whatever, and plastic inside mine never let me down.

  3. #3
    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    Waterproof baggage is great as long as you also carry a mesh bag on top for wet or smelly cloths and tent. With a mesh bag on top they have a chance to dry out during the day. If it is raining, put this mesh bag into a garbage bag to keep it from getting wetter and heavier. Non-waterproof baggage not only requires you to put everything into it's own waterproof bag, but also absorbs the rain and makes your load much heavier. This goes for panniers and trailer bags. Only put dry / clean things into the waterproofs and all else into the mesh top bag. Works great.

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    What about simple covers for the panniers? I bet with an old dropcloth and a little duct tape and ingenuity, you could come up with a quite servicable set of covers. They probably wouldn't weigh more than wet cloth would and you could easily remove them and lash 'em under your tent etc, in good weather.
    I'm too young to be this old!

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    I don't know the argument for waterproof panniers but household garbage bags never served me wrong, and plus, they were usefull for all sorts of things, and if something broke inside my panniers didn't get messy.

    Go for the cheapest, because that one hundred dollars could keep you fed on the road for a week or even more.

    It seems like, to me, and in my opinion, that waterproof panniers are about as usefull as the skin tight shirts that the racers use. Except, maybe less usefull, because at least the skin tight shirts serve as advertising-sponser space for the pro-racers.

    Buy the non-waterproof ones, and if you have some free time on your hands, I would recommend checking out the thread on making your own. That not only looks fun, but very convient on touring, and I plan to do it myself sometime (now that I've made my own stove =D)

    Dio Rallen
    www.thisendlessroad.com

  6. #6
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoyoma
    Hello all,

    I am planning to go and buy some panniers, but I'm not sure if I should buy 46 L panniers for 100$, or "water proof" panniers with the same volume, but twice as expensive. I was thinking of getting the Serratus aqua-nots. I know that you end up putting most of your clothing and stuff in bags anyways, so is it really worth it to pay the extra 100 $ ?

    Thank you for all of your imput.
    You do NOT WANT waterproof panniers. You want BREATHABLE ones, so that the clothing (And food, as well) which you put into them doesn't rot with mildew after a day or so in the sun.

    Ortlieb and their ilk have always claimed that their bags mean you won't have to carry plastic bags; and the retort always should be...OH YES YOU DO! How are ya gonna prevent the wet/dirty clothing you wore yesterday and have to store in the pannier from getting what you have that is dry, from getting wet and smelly from it? Answer: (drum roll please): you have to segregate it in a plastic bag.

    I have a huge page about Ortliebs, which I used and tested during a two year world tour. They are heavy, awkward, one single compartment (recent editions have 'discovered!' the joys of separate compartments!!! cutting edge, eh???), ridiculously expensive, and ineffective during severe prolonged rainfalls, as I suffered under hurricane Mitch in 1998.

    I discuss all of this at:

    http://www.cyclingscholar.com/ortlieb.html


    enjoy.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  7. #7
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    Personnaly, I do find waterproof panniers very useful... especially for commuting. For touring, a combination of two waterproof panniers at the back (yes the Serratus you are looking for) and two lowrider cordura pannier in front plus a handlebar bag and a few things strapped on the top of my rear rack works wonder! I feel I get the best of both world this way. But what people are saying here about waterproof panniers is true and I would advise you to keep the top slightly open when its nice outside so that your stuff have a chance to breath a bit.

  8. #8
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    I never thought I would see a thread dominated by people suggesting other than waterproof panniers! Just shows the collective experience here, I suppose (sorry Magictofu, that's not a sleight against you...)

    I've never had them and never saw the reasons for the expense. Divvying up your stuff into plastic bags, or different sizes and colours of drybags helps in management of the gear. Yellow for sleep gear (big bag) or green for small down bag, blue for bike clothes, red for off-bike gear, small black for tools and tubes, small red for first aid kit...

    The rest of the stuff is not so wet sensitive (cooking stuff). I know that sweaty or damp clothing can wreak nasal havoc in a short time. I use ziplocs for other small indiviudal iteams such as gloves, wind jacket and shower jacket, as well as camera and wallet.

    Of course, with the waterproof panniers, if you DO puncture one and water does get in, it can't get out again.

    A friend of mine has Ortleibs. His complaint from day one was the everything ended up a jumble because it wasn't segregated, and what he wanted ALWAYS ended up at the bottom. He also was a little disappointed in the amount of bag space required for the fold-down closure, and the lack of external pockets unless you bought add-ons (at Orleib's premium price).

    As a by-the-by, I find the bottom clip system on Ortleibs not something I would want. I know my friend broke one of the clips, and another unscrewed shortly after he got the panniers. The hook-and-strap system works quite well for me.

    My large rear Torpeako panniers don't have raincoats, but the smaller ones for the front or commuting do. As velogirl suggests, I have used orange garbage bags wrapped over the large panniers as very effective covers.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I opted to NOT go with waterproof panniers. I have Axiom panniers that came with a semi-water proof cover (if the panniers aren't too full, the cover works quite well, but if they are full, the cover doesn't really cover it all). Because of the inadequacies of the cover, I lined my panniers with black garbage bags, and also used grocery bags inside the black garbage bags to divide up and contain my stuff. That worked very well.

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    Talking about panniers... what would you consider the ULTIMATE touring pannier?

    As for myself, it would be a simple top loading pannier with a top pocket and a longer rear pocket, a waterproof back and bottom so that the water coming from the street and wheels stay away from my stuff. A few efficient compressing straps and some elastics on top to attach my towel and dirty underwear. I also think a nice roll-out rain cover would be a nice addition...

    Front panniers: even more simple top loading panniers... again waterprof back and bottom and roll-out rain covers... maybe an extra pocket on the top.

    A few reflective bands here and there would probably help too...

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magictofu
    Talking about panniers... what would you consider the ULTIMATE touring pannier?
    I hunted high and low for the exact configuration of my current panniers. So many didn't have the features I wanted, but the Axioms I bought do.

    They're top loading, with an inner top pocket, and with a front pocket (I especially wanted that). They've also got a mesh pocket which can be used to carry extra bottles if necesary, although I use them for my rear blinkie lights - tuck them in there and they can still be seen without falling out. The backs are solid and fairly waterproof, and as I mentioned above, the panniers came with waterproof covers. The bottoms aren't waterproof, and that might be the one feature I miss, but those garbage bags solve that problem.

    They've also got compression straps which allow me to tighten up the bags so they don't catch the wind so much, and I have used them as laundry racks too.

    I've covered a lot of miles with those bags, and I have no complaints.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magictofu
    Talking about panniers... what would you consider the ULTIMATE touring pannier?

    As for myself, it would be a simple top loading pannier with a top pocket and a longer rear pocket, a waterproof back and bottom so that the water coming from the street and wheels stay away from my stuff. A few efficient compressing straps and some elastics on top to attach my towel and dirty underwear. I also think a nice roll-out rain cover would be a nice addition...

    Front panniers: even more simple top loading panniers... again waterprof back and bottom and roll-out rain covers... maybe an extra pocket on the top.

    A few reflective bands here and there would probably help too...
    This is an interesting question. Those backpack panniers in my post on another thread I rather liked,, simply because the flap unzipped in a semi-circular sort of way to half way down the pannier. Stuff could be stacked on the bottom, and further stuff slid in up top. I had pretty good access to just about everything in the panniers without having to "dumpster dive" to get it.

    The outside pocket was handy for wet weather gear and other small stuff. A pocket on the back for fuel bottle, first aid kit and so on, would have been handy.

    The makeshift panniers didn't have a solid backing on them -- not even a stiffener between the top clips for the rack. Some may argue that the zipper is a weakness, but I didn't find it so -- the fabric would wear out before the zipper, which was made of metal rather than plastic. Waterproofness is not such an issue.

    I've often thought about the design for more permanent panniers made of cordura of somesuch, and with a back stiffener, plus roll-out rain covers.

  13. #13
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    I got the 46L Serratus panniers from MEC (non-waterproof) simply because I'm an absolute beginner to touring and more importantly, I'm cheap. However, after reading this thread, I feel justified in my choice. I'm used to packing things separately in plastic bags for hiking anyway so it didn't seem a big deal to do it for cycling too.

    PS - I believe Serratus is closing down their factory but MEC will continue a similar product. I have no idea how that will effect the quality of the product range from MEC though.

  14. #14
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    Went through all this last month, which to buy, when I re-searched this on this site, there was plenty of solid arguments for both types, in the end I settled for the Ortlibe Bike packer plus, yes I got ripped off @ 107.00 from wiggles, not ripped off by wiggles but Ortilbe, so I thought. What convinced me was a guy and his wife had both been touring the planet for the last 7 years, so he has crossed , well more borders & climates than me and stated, all the other panniers his wife had never lasted, but his Ortilbe which he had from the last ten years was still good and would not dream of getting rid of them. As this was now going to be my 3 rd or 4 th pannier I thought well if I bought the Ortilbe first time round then I would have saved my self buying 3 or 4 sets over the years. I go camping & riding every friday no mater what the wheather. The Ortilbes are realy exclent, never got anything wet, and ok if your clothes get wet then you have to stick them in a I use web tex bags, to seperate the two, and as for food you dont seal up the panniers, with the bike packer you can place the lid over the opening off the panniers, but dont thighten the draw string, food is always right on top of the panniers anyway and this way the moisture gets sucked out as you are cycling and the panniers will still keep dry. The other good thing with it was I came off at 27.5 mph as the idiot in front in a car slammed his brakes for no reason, I just mannaged to avoid a full impact, but clipped him and rolled with the bike for 12 -15 odd feet, tumbling with the bike. I finally rested with the bike on top, feet still strapped to the pedal and wheels spinning. The panniers were sill attached to the bike , I did not have to adjust anything, just gave the driver a thick lip and went on my way.

  15. #15
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    I think the one major advantage of waterproof panniers would be floatability. I bring this up because some might be considering rather extreme touring such as off-road and the like, and fording rivers with your bags tied behind you and your bike above your head is a very real possibility in certain situation (monsoon season in S. Asia comes to mind). On the other hand, one could easily take their non-waterproofs and put them in a plastic bag to achieve the same.
    Many non-waterproof bag makers still add a plasticized coating inside to make them "water-resistant" so while I am not disputing the advice of others, I question the breathe-ability of such bags in general.
    I have never had much of a problem with either version. I have toured with water resistants on the front and Ortleib rollers on the back, and never had mildew problems. Admittedly, it was a pretty dry Summer tour...
    I would go with Ortleibs or Arkels simply for durability, their water resistance not withstanding.
    Go big.

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    Machka,

    I was intrigued by the description you made of your panniers since it closely match my own description of a well thought pannier. I looked on the axiom website and found the 'Champlain' model quite interesting (at least on paper)... is it the model you currently own? Do you have any complains about them?

    My partner is looking for panniers in order to follow me this summer and I was wondering if these could be a good bet.

    Cheers

  17. #17
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    Thank you,

    I think I'll go for the cheaper pair...
    I have one more question though.... I would realy like to find a handlebar bag which is completely waterproof. I plan on putting my camera and other items I do not wish to get wet. The only ones i seem to be able to find are really expensive (100 $ +). Is there a way of making sure a bag stays perfectly dry even in the worst downpours ?

    once again... thank you
    -Yoyoma

  18. #18
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    Trash compactor bag as a liner on the inside of the h.b. bag, "disposable" plastic bag (from grocery store) on the outside.

    Trash compactor bags are way better than regular grocery bags, they are really tough. Get white ones, it makes it easier to find stuff.
    ...

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magictofu
    Machka,

    I was intrigued by the description you made of your panniers since it closely match my own description of a well thought pannier. I looked on the axiom website and found the 'Champlain' model quite interesting (at least on paper)... is it the model you currently own? Do you have any complains about them?

    My partner is looking for panniers in order to follow me this summer and I was wondering if these could be a good bet.

    Cheers
    I had to do a bit of digging, but I discovered that I have the Axiom Lasalle Panniers. Evidently they have a lifetime guarantee (I hadn't realized that before), and they say:

    - May be used in either front or rear configurations (true - I've used them on both)

    - Durable 600D + 1000D Polyester construction (they seem durable enough after touring with them for 3 months straight, plus some before that)

    - Reliable DURAFIX fastening system (again it seems reliable enough)

    - Adjustable Crossover Compression Straps (yep!)

    - Rain Cover and Replacement Parts Included (I know the rain cover was there, but not sure about the replacement parts - they probably vanished into the bottom of my toolbox)

    - Easy access Outer pocket (yep!)

    - 3M Reflective Trim (yep!)

    - Water Resistant ("resistant" being the key word there, they are not waterproof, but they aren't bad)

    They are 40L (1355 oz) capacity which is an ideal size for me.

  20. #20
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeLonghair
    Went through all this last month..., and ok if your clothes get wet then you have to stick them in a I use web tex bags, to seperate the two
    Hehe...its funny how the Ortliebies just end up admitting ya have to use plastic bags after all. Its 99% of the reason why they are overpriced (they claim to be so superior because they are waterproof). No problem with the durability claim, my Ortlieb's held up well in the years I used them. So did my Kirtlands.


    roughstuff
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