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Denim or Canvas Pannier? Which material works better?

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Denim or Canvas Pannier? Which material works better?

Old 02-04-10, 10:14 PM
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Denim or Canvas Pannier? Which material works better?

Hi folks..as many of you may know, I am on the hunt for a pannier that can fit my 17" laptop and fit on oversized racks. A few people have offered suggestions of company's that have bags..but most are out of stock...so i've decided to built a bag myself. I was at the fabric store the other day and they had off white canvas and many different shades of denim...black denim, blue denim..etc..

Im just trying to decide if a denim bag would work well....as a pannier? Or, if I go with the canvas, should I dye the canvas at all? Give it some colour, or is canvas usually used in its original cover?

And..if I do dye the canvas... how do you do it? Wash it first? Are there specific canvas dye's used?


Any help would be appreciated.

thanks
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Old 02-04-10, 10:38 PM
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Canvas tends to be more wear resistant then denim and canvas is more water resistant then denim which is why tents use to be made of canvas.

But even with canvas you need to waterproof it better with Silicone spray found at camping stores for 3 to 5 bucks. Make sure to do the edges well and even flip the edges up to cover the under edge. After allowing plenty of drying time about 48 hours then re-treat the canvas for extra protection against rain damage. Then if you really want to give it the old school look just buy a block of wax and rub into the fabric till you have a thick coat...but silicone works better then wax, the wax will just give it the old school look.

I'm not sure I would dye it, but it would hurt to do so, I would prefer the natural look which will darken anyway after treatments of silicone and wax.
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Old 02-04-10, 11:32 PM
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Don't use any dye if you expect Silicone to waterproof your material, because dye will ruin the effectiveness of the waterproofing agent you use.
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Old 02-04-10, 11:35 PM
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If it were me I'd be shopping at the outdoor fabric store for coated cordura and buying the stuff needed to water proof the seams.
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Old 02-05-10, 05:28 AM
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Hmm....so it seems that Canvas wins out when it comes to effectiveness....I was just thinking black denim would look really cool as a pannier...with some leather straps.... then again, within a years time, im sure the black will wear out...denim tends to have that problem..especially black colours
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Old 02-05-10, 06:02 AM
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I'm thinking that denim would suck when it rains and you discover your bike just got 20 pounds heavier in back. I'd go with canvas.
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Old 02-05-10, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
If it were me I'd be shopping at the outdoor fabric store for coated cordura and buying the stuff needed to water proof the seams.

+1. Cordura is what a lot of the better messenger bags are made from.
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Old 02-05-10, 08:49 AM
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I found 4 canvas bags for 25.00 $ at the army navy surplus store. Buckles and snaps and heavy duty, They work great. Three zipp ties per bag, all set to go.
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Old 02-05-10, 09:01 AM
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Do you have pics of these? And did you waterproof them? How much heavier are these then standard panniers? What did you do, just zip tie the straps to the pannier racks? So then you have to cut the ties to remove if that's what you did to attach-right or wrong? I like to see pics of these on the bike if possible.
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Old 02-05-10, 10:45 AM
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There's pro and cons to canvas vs cordura, some say cordura will outlast canvas some say it won't; I know I have an old canvas tent from the 50's still in the attic, I had a friend who had canvas panniers for about 20 years and they were still good...but they did need occasional waterproofing applied. But cordura is not waterproof, any membrane applied to the cordura to make it waterproof peels off after a few years.

By the way, a lot us here say "waterproof" including me...nothing is waterproof. If getting things in the bag wet concerns you then you need to pack those things in a zip lock bag to insure they won't get wet. All you can do is apply waterproofing silicone spray to the fabric to enhance canvas's natural ability to repel water.
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Old 02-05-10, 11:06 AM
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Can you really fabricate a bag that would be stronger than one you buy ready-made?

I'd look into finding a good sturdy bag from a Goodwill that matches what you need, and then buy pannier hardware and make it into a pannier.
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Old 02-05-10, 11:11 AM
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If fashion really must win out over common sense, I have a suggestion.
My Carradice Barley has a paper thin plastic sheet in the flap. Because the
flap is nearly half the bag, it keeps most of the rain out.

Even so, I'd get a waterproof stuff sack in a camping store, and put
your laptop in that. Leave the sack in the bike so it will be there when
you need it.
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Old 02-05-10, 11:52 AM
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Even with a waterproofing treatment, canvas or cordura may not be waterproof enough to keep your laptop dry. I'd suggest using cordura since it will be a bit easier to sew when you get to multiple layers, and it's pretty durable. Buy basic dry bag for your laptop (they're pretty cheap...) and you're ready for the deluge!


edit -- late beat me to it...
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Old 02-05-10, 05:54 PM
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Hi All,

Thanks for the tips. I have looked for a basic bag with the look that I want and I can't find it. I have never heard of CORDURA, ...im curious if the people at the fabric store know of it. I will look into it before I make any fabric purchases.

thanks for the tips.

P.S...not sure if I can make it as durable as one found in the store...but I can sure as hell try.
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Old 02-06-10, 10:32 AM
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A good canvas is not really any heavier and will outlast cordura.
You can make the bag light and strong with the correct stiffener. Cardboard, hardboard, metal, wood are all too heavy. Correx/corrugated plastic is the stuff to use. Stiffen the back and the base. Rivet the mounting system directly through the canvas to the stiffening board. Rivet four plastic feet through the base stiffener.
I strongly recommend a locking, quick-release mounting system, rather than hook and elastic.
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Old 02-06-10, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
A good canvas is not really any heavier and will outlast cordura.
You can make the bag light and strong with the correct stiffener. Cardboard, hardboard, metal, wood are all too heavy. Correx/corrugated plastic is the stuff to use. Stiffen the back and the base. Rivet the mounting system directly through the canvas to the stiffening board. Rivet four plastic feet through the base stiffener.
I strongly recommend a locking, quick-release mounting system, rather than hook and elastic.
Hi Michael,

The fabric store had different kinds of canvas. They also do sell a stifner that I would have to iron on, and it really makes a big different. She said once ironed on, it'll never come off as it fuses to the canvas. So I am thinking of heading towards that route.

As for the locking system though.where would I find one that can fit 16mm tubing?
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Old 02-06-10, 04:26 PM
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no fabric will last forever, but from my experience, cordura lasts much longer than canvas

of course that is because when my canvas handlebar bag got soaked, it took 3 days to dry, ruined my maps, and smelled like cheese for weeks afterwards. I got rid of it shortly after.
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Old 02-07-10, 07:27 AM
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Rixen and Kaul are the standard supplier of pannier mounting systems. Some pannier manufacturers use their own systems (Ortleib, Vaude, Arkel) .
The R&K system slides onto an aluminium rail that your rivet to the bag.
I dont know where you will find them in the USA.
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Old 02-07-10, 07:59 AM
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I am a little confused with what your doing & I have no idea what your skills are. I also have a 17 portable computer that I never take on my bike. My first concern would be moisture damaging my PC & neither of your material choices would make me feel comfortable. Then there is the risk of impact damage from several possible circumstances. There are several manufactured products specifically for transporting devices for what you want to do. Everything is usually available on line & usually within 5 days of purchase. I do not want to discourage you in what you are doing as I have seen incredible things people have created. When it comes to my computer aside from the cost of the original purchase that was over a grand pales in comparison to the value of what is contained within the PC itself. My only point I want to make is that you consider what a total loss of your PC would be in comparison to what you do to protect it. Just some food for thought.
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Old 02-07-10, 10:04 AM
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since the OP has never heard of cordura i wonder if the OP is up for the challenge of manufacturing bags. A robust sewing machine and understanding of the world of sewing and outdoor gear construction seems a prerequisite.

Don't let the laptop go into the spokes!

but, soldier on thru, macteacher. good luck.
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Old 02-07-10, 08:21 PM
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Change of direction

Hi folks,

i do not know how to quote multiple people, so im just going to address some of the comments in this thread.

My sewing experience is VERY limited, but I am a quick learner and to be honest, it doesn't seem to be a project that is out of my reach. I am pretty handy am always building things. I also do some leather work so I have multiple tools and a bit of experience in that area.

I do not really intend to transport my laptop in the rain, so the moisture is a non-issue. And if I did, I would use a waterproof pannier cover. The mac is extremely resilient and since I am out for only 30 minutes, its not enough time for the moisture to really be an issue.

My biggest issue right now is the sewing machine. The machine my mother has is broken, so I can't really do anything until that is fixed.

In the mean time, I have taken a different course of action. I purchased off of Craigslist a mohagony leather briefcase that I intend to mount on to the Pashley. Much like SIXTYFIVER had described.

As for safety of the mac...I find the bags once they have some clothing inside or a book, offer adequate protection.

So, that's it for now.
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Old 02-08-10, 07:34 AM
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At this price you can't afford to sew.

https://www.restorationhardware.com/r...navAction=jump
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Old 02-08-10, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by bmwstbill View Post
At this price you can't afford to sew.

https://www.restorationhardware.com/r...navAction=jump
WOW..that looks like a nice bag...and the price is right too. They actually have a store in Toronto so I am in luck. I might even go tonight to check it out. It is unfortunate it does not have a better latching mechanism though. Simple hooks are not good enough as bumps can cause bags to jump off the rack.

Actually what looks really nice is this: Vintage Bike Speedometer

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Old 02-08-10, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
WOW..that looks like a nice bag...and the price is right too. They actually have a store in Toronto so I am in luck. I might even go tonight to check it out. It is unfortunate it does not have a better latching mechanism though. Simple hooks are not good enough as bumps can cause bags to jump off the rack.
I mean yeah, it's possible, but as long as you securely attach the cord underneath you should have no problems in use. I've taken my painniers with the simple hook and strap attachment on some pretty gnarly rides, and had no problem with them coming undone.

If they can stay put when I'm bombing down singletrack at breakneck speeds on my touring bike ( my front brake cable broke), they should be fine for your commute.
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Old 02-08-10, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
since the OP has never heard of cordura i wonder if the OP is up for the challenge of manufacturing bags. A robust sewing machine and understanding of the world of sewing and outdoor gear construction seems a prerequisite.

Don't let the laptop go into the spokes!

but, soldier on thru, macteacher. good luck.
You imply a couple of things that are well worth delving into. I've read many good internet articles on building your own panniers and while I would never attempt to dissuade anyone from a good DIY project, I'd mention a few design considerations. A great durable design for a pannier is to have as few zippers as possible... I've built up several pairs of panniers from backpacks and they all eventually fail because the zippers fail. I have a pair of Axiom panniers with a draw string... which to my mind is a great design feature... easy to repair and less prone to breakage.

The shape of the pannier is also very important. Many panniers built from Army surplus bags tend to be a little wide... so you get a lovely bag, but eventually wear out one end of it from scraping it off your heel. Tall and narrow beats out short and wide to my mind. For the laptop, think about storing it with the narrowest side pointing up.

Finally, all that sewing really scared me. I opted to build up simple panniers from daypacks. I found I have to really look around for a good candidate (many have too many side pockets or other appendages that don't work well.) . But there are a lot of old daypacks sitting around second hand shops just waiting to be re-purposed. Cheap too!
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