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Top-Load vs. Panel-Load Panniers

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Top-Load vs. Panel-Load Panniers

Old 01-05-10, 12:30 AM
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I think Neil summarized it very well. A comment about durability-- I've had 4 sets of panniers, with Ortliebs being the last set. I have about 6000 miles on my classic back rollers and about half that on the front rollers. I've had several minor crashes and a couple of pretty good ones. They have been loaded in trucks, buses, boats, trains and planes; plus all the normal wear and tear. They also double as dry bags in our canoe. I came to the conclusion that they are indestructable! I always carry a small roll of Gorilla tape, which should work if I suffer the same fate as your partner. Your riding partner must have really landed hard on them to do damage.

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Old 01-05-10, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by zeppinger
Thanks everyone for all the good info so far.

I had not really considered the possibility of zipper failure but I will take that into consideration. Although, I have yet to ever have any zipper, on panniers or cloths, fail on me. I have had a number of plastic buckles like the ones on the top loaders break though.

As far as keeping things dry goes, I have noticed that almost everyone with Ortliebs need some sort of system of plastic garbage bags, grocery bags, or dry bags to organize their huge main compartments. If you are going to cover all of your stuff with plastic anyways then why pay the weight, price, and in my opinion, ugliness factors of Ortliebs?

So far I am still really liking the idea of the P-400 panel loaders unless anyone has any other disadvantages that I have yet to take into account? I really like the idea of being able to get at my gear in the pannier without having to remove everything that is on top of my rear rack, a major pain in the neck with my current top-loaders!

To the poster who owns the p-99's, do they have enough capacity? Since I am going with the smaller p-400 instead of the larger p-500 I was thinking that I would compensate with larger front panniers. Thoughts?

Thanks again!
Perhaps you don't like the look of Ortliebs but they cost and weigh about the same as the Lone Peaks.

I've had panniers like the Lone Peak and I found the outer pockets to be mostly useless. They are generally not the right shape to carry much that you really need. A single pocket, like the Ortlieb is much more useful because it can fit a wider range of shapes and sizes. Getting into them may be a problem with stuff on the rear deck but any items I might really need while riding...tools, rain coat, camera, food etc... are loaded in elsewhere like my front bags, Camelbak or handlebar bag.

One big draw back with the Lone Peaks is the mounting system. You have to hook the lower bungee onto the rack then stretch it up so that the hooks can engage on the rack. The hooks are manually toggled to lock them so removal with a loaded rear deck is more difficult. The lower bungee can also bounce around on rough surfaces. The waterproofness of the Ortlieb may be why people initially use them but the mounting system is why we stay with them

As for organizing the bags, you'll need something too. Yours will also have to serve as your line of protection against getting stuff wet. I've used ziplocks for ages as waterproofing but they have their own drawbacks. All that bouncing around inside the bag will eventually cause wear on them. They will get holes in them and leak. I now use them just for organization...a task at which they excel.
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Old 01-05-10, 09:55 AM
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Good points all around. However, it may be important to prioritize features and your own riding habits.
From my view:
1. Panniers cannot fall off the bike while I'm riding. - Mounting system is most critical.
2. Panniers cannot spill contents or be difficult to repair in case of failure. - Minimize zippers.
3. Panniers should hold all the stuff I want. - Few big pockets are better than many little pockets
4. All panniers will leak, but some will leak so badly to ruin a day or week.
5. All can be somewhat repaired, but with some when they are repaired they will still be deficient.
Ortlieb and other top loaders with good waterproofing, and top loading would be my choice. I've seen them in action. Tom
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