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Panniers - waterproof or not?

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Panniers - waterproof or not?

Old 02-23-11, 01:38 PM
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Gotte
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Panniers - waterproof or not?

This may sound stupid, but does anyone choose to use thinner, lighter, non-waterproof panniers for long tours.
The reason I ask is that I've been putting together a new MTB tourer, with the idea of cycle camping. I've packed all my stuff, to see how much it weighs and how well it fits, and I find that I can shed about 1.8kg and get a better fit with my gear by using older, thinner, less waterproof panniers.
I just wonder if anyone else has gone down this route, and maybe regretted it?
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Old 02-23-11, 01:50 PM
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I don't think that waterproof panniers are typically heavier. The heavier panniers are the ones that are made of cordura and with more pockets and zippers, which are typically not waterproof.

The reason the waterproof ones are likely to be lighter is that they usually are one big compartment.

I have been using lighter less expensive panniers (Nashbar or Performance Waterproof) for the last several years and have been quite happy with them. They have held up well for me for the Trans America and a couple other longish tours.

I prefer the one big pocket approach and use ziplocs to organize my gear with the pannier, so the waterproofs work well for me.
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Old 02-23-11, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I don't think that waterproof panniers are typically heavier. The heavier panniers are the ones that are made of cordura and with more pockets and zippers, which are typically not waterproof.

The reason the waterproof ones are likely to be lighter is that they usually are one big compartment.

I have been using lighter less expensive panniers (Nashbar or Performance Waterproof) for the last several years and have been quite happy with them. They have held up well for me for the Trans America and a couple other longish tours.

I prefer the one big pocket approach and use ziplocs to organize my gear with the pannier, so the waterproofs work well for me.
My waterproof panniers are by a company called Haro.g. They are twice the weight of my non-waterproof ones (1kg, each). The material is the sort you see on the Ortliebs - thick and plasticised. They haven;t got any pockets, and are really sturdy, but this means they don't give that much. I find the thinner ones tend to stretch a bit and are more forgiving of awkward loads. The Haro panniers also have really thick plastic in the back which seems to add to the load somewhat.
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Old 02-23-11, 02:01 PM
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Here's an essay on "waterproof or not" by the folks at Arkel:

http://www.arkel-od.com/us/choose-03-waterproof

Neil
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Old 02-23-11, 02:14 PM
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It's easy enough to buy waterproof covers for your panniers, or even line the inside compartment with a garbage bag if you're on a budget.

With that said I paid extra for waterproof panniers (Ortlieb vs Axiom) and I feel happy with the decision. When I'm near the end of a long ride I'm tired enough that I don't want to worry about covers or my stuff getting wet. I just want everything to work with minimum hassle.
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Old 02-23-11, 02:19 PM
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I have managed 40+ years bike touring without using waterproof panniers. Granted, few were available in my earlier years but I have not found myself at a disadvantage by merely using rain covers and dry bag stuffers (more recently). I have survived extended torrential rains in Alaska, Canada, US, Central America and South America including the Divide Ride even while only using down sleeping bags and jackets.

I have to admit that I would not and cannot float my bike across a river using waterproof panniers as depicted in some journals or manufacturer websites.
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Old 02-23-11, 02:47 PM
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My panniers aren't water proof, but I pack clothing in gallon ziplock storage bags and everything stays dry.
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Old 02-23-11, 03:25 PM
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My panniers and my handlebar bag are waterproof and although I paid plenty for them, it was money well spent. I live in a dry climate, but my touring has taken me through many incredibly wet areas. I've had some tours where I've been in the rain six days out of seven.

I'm soon going to get small front panniers. The ones I'm considering are not waterproof, so I'll likely get dry bags to use as liners for them.
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Old 02-23-11, 03:49 PM
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First panniers we used needed covers in the rain. They were fine untill we ended up ridding for a whole week in the rain.
After that ordeal we just put our pennies together and got 2 sets of Ortliebs (picks on our page) and never looked back.
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Old 02-23-11, 05:55 PM
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Waterproof can be light. These are quite sturdy and well designed: http://pacoutdoor.com/bike-gear/view/ltw-rear-pannier
The simplest thing is to use WP panniers plus put all your fabric goods into WP compressions sacks, for instance one for camp wear, one for dirty/wet, one for bike clothes, one for tent, one for sleeping bag. Then everything stays dry because the wet stuff is segregated from the dry.
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Old 02-23-11, 06:43 PM
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I started a thread last year about why I choose non-waterproof panniers. It got some interesting responses and it covers most peoples opinions:
http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/in.../t-648414.html
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Old 02-23-11, 06:52 PM
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When I am sitting inside eating lunch on tour and it starts to rain - I don't have to do anything. I don't have to carry rain covers or stuff all my gear in ziplock bags. My bags are waterproof to start with!

When my buddy dumped his bike on a dirt road decent [with my spare Ortliebs on it!!] the damage was limited to a couple scrapes...the bags remain waterproof.
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Old 02-23-11, 07:05 PM
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The idea of waterproof panniers is great, but none of the panniers I have purchased over the years have been. Water resistant, yes, but not waterproof.

But I tend to avoid the rain, preferring to hang out in coffee shops and greasy spoons, or seek shelter under a porch.

I have ridden in the rain, sometimes for hours, but for some reason, my water resistant panniers have kept my stuff mostly dry. Maybe not perfectly dry, but my things have never gotten completely soaked.

I would probably switch to waterproof if I were carrying a down jacket, or an expensive camera, or some item that would be seriously damaged by water.
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Old 02-23-11, 07:49 PM
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There seems to be this implied assumption sometimes that there are only two possibilities: Either you have waterproof panniers, or your stuff gets wet when it rains. But there is another possibility: Non-waterproof panniers, with dry bags inside the panniers for all the stuff that you care about keeping dry. The Arkel GT series bags have an removable inner drybag built into the main compartment. I think this might be a more flexible method, since it doesn't depend on the outer shell maintaining a 100% perfect waterproof integrity. So you can have more accessible panniers, with pockets and whatever else, and the outer shell can be made of something tough like cordura, which can get scuffed up and worn in and this won't matter as much. With waterproof panniers, you always have to be careful not to puncture that outer skin. And then there's "swamp bag" syndrome, mildew and smells caused by moisture in the waterproof bag not being able to escape. To be honest, though, either method can be made to work.

Rain covers aren't just an added hassle: They also have the added benefit of protecting the panniers from road muck, and they can be high visibility when you need that, and they can serve to protect your pannier pockets from prying hands in some crowd situations. You need to make sure the covers have grommets in the bottom to let water out, otherwise it can pool inside and soak the pannier. Arkel pannier covers have a hole in the bottom for this purpose.

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Old 02-23-11, 08:10 PM
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With bags like Arkel's too, just because it starts to rain doesn't mean the contents become immediately soaked. They are "water resistant". It can rain for some amount of time before you need to put the covers on anyway.
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Old 02-23-11, 08:42 PM
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I've gone the non-waterproof, garbage-bag liner route, and did fine. But on the last tour (Central America) I had waterproof Ortliebs. Although not really necessary, I sure did appreciate not having to mess with covers or liners. If they weigh a little more than the non waterproof bags I used to have, so be it. It's worth it to me.
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Old 02-23-11, 09:10 PM
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Sewn bags won't be waterproof, but can be compartmentalized.
then You get rain covers..

Ortlieb's Plus fabric is lighter than their Classic versions.
the mounting hardware is the, tool free, easily adjustable version..

I use My Roll closed Classic Ortliebs all the time , for grocery shopping ,
Doing Laundry Etc.

OTOH I haven't used my compartmentalized Beckman Bags
since I came back from the last tour.
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Old 02-23-11, 09:38 PM
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Gotee,
try this:

Use your original non-waterproof panniers, seam seal zippers (if needed).
Inside, sepatate clothing and other items you want to stay dry into plastic bags like the ones you get from Target, Sears, etc.

Example: In the Sears bag hold 2 under wear and 2 pair sox (you're wearing the 3rd pair). Wrap these items into a 2nd Sears bag (double bag). Do this for other items like bike tites and sweats (double Target bags), Walmart bags for non riding cloths (doubled), see wear I am headed?

Use another brand of plastic bags for dirty cloths, paper products, electronics, etc. I carry a plastc trash bag to cover my sleeping bag when it rains (it will).

You will come to a system that works best for you. I have been touring since 1980 and am still exploring options to stay as dry as situationally appropriate!

To the side: After riding for 3 days in steady rain (staying dry w/Gore-tex suit and the above listed method to keep cloths etc dry as well), it began to over-power my spirit. My gloves were soaked, hands wrinkled, etc. I remember when the sun finally came out, I tasted the smell/feel of drying warmth. It made me have keen awareness to embrace the really simple things in life. When I get into trying times now, I sometimes try to remember the feeling of the sun's warmth on that day, knowing change will happen.

Bottom line: Enjoy your tours. You'll find what works best for you with the "never do that again" mistakes. Invite the rain, it will be there too!
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Old 02-23-11, 09:47 PM
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Waterproof! And these are waterproof.

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Old 02-23-11, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by vik View Post


When I am sitting inside eating lunch on tour and it starts to rain - I don't have to do anything. I don't have to carry rain covers or stuff all my gear in ziplock bags. My bags are waterproof to start with!

When my buddy dumped his bike on a dirt road decent [with my spare Ortliebs on it!!] the damage was limited to a couple scrapes...the bags remain waterproof.
Vik...is that fender flap made from a milk carton? Just curious as I need to come up with a larger flap on my front fender.
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Old 02-23-11, 11:28 PM
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Off topic, I made a great mudflap (or flexible fender extension tm ) out of a 4" wide piece of rubber baseboard material, the hardware store sold it by the foot (1$/foot), or even better if you know someone in the business you can likely get mudflaps for free. The nice thing is that the material has the perfect amount of flex to it and comes in a few colours, even. I found that a dollar's worth was the perfect fit for mine, but longer fenders will use less I guess. It's very similar to rubber stair tread pad, but you don't have to buy a heap of it. here's the link to the crap I bought that works really well... easy to cut into any shape with a sharp knife and you can attach it with a stainless bolt if you want. I love it, the width is perfect to keep all the gunk out of my chain.
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Old 02-24-11, 01:04 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Sewn bags won't be waterproof, but can be compartmentalized.
then You get rain covers..

Ortlieb's Plus fabric is lighter than their Classic versions.
the mounting hardware is the, tool free, easily adjustable version..

I use My Roll closed Classic Ortliebs all the time , for grocery shopping ,
Doing Laundry Etc.

OTOH I haven't used my compartmentalized Beckman Bags
since I came back from the last tour.
My Carradice Super Cs are sewn, can be compartmentalized, has pockets, and is waterproof. Also, they are lighter than ortliebs!
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Old 02-24-11, 05:18 AM
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I use Carradice Super C at the back and Ortleibs at the front. I use drybags inside the carradice because they are a bit old and worn in places but they are good for storing damp clothing without getting mildew.
Ortleibs are good for food. Ive had a (pesto) oil leakage inside one pannier and could wash the material clean and dry it easily. I can leave the Ortleibs outside my tent during the heaviest rain without worrying.

The weight of a pannier is mostly due to the stiffening material. Heavy board or metal is no better than the lightweight corrugated plastic of the Carradice.
I'm not a fan of zippers, compartments or pannier covers.
Heavier grade fabric is more durable and flaps around less.
Ive tried cheap, thin, heavy panniers and prefer the better ones.
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Old 02-24-11, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by vik View Post
When I am sitting inside eating lunch on tour and it starts to rain - I don't have to do anything. I don't have to carry rain covers or stuff all my gear in ziplock bags. My bags are waterproof to start with!
Mine are too, but I still use ziploc bags. For me they are more to organize and separate various types of gear and clothing. They separate clothes that are clean, from those that are lightly soiled but can be worn again, and from those that are dirty and are not to be worn again without laundering. They also allow air to be squeezed out of the individual ziplocs to save space. They make it much easier to find stuff without digging through a pannier to find an item on the bottom. They make it quick and easy to grab the toiletries and food to put them in the bear box.

I really find that panniers that are one big pocket with stuff split up into ziplocs to work much better for me than using panniers with multiple compartments. I felt the same way when backpacking and the practice carried over nicely to touring for me. The pannier's waterproof-ness is a nice plus.
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Old 02-24-11, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by clasher View Post
Off topic, I made a great mudflap (or flexible fender extension tm ) out of a 4" wide piece of rubber baseboard material, the hardware store sold it by the foot (1$/foot), or even better if you know someone in the business you can likely get mudflaps for free.
Another source for mudflap material - cheap plastic pots in which potted plants are sold. Just cut to fit and bolt on the fender. Use the upper edge of the pot as the bottom of the mudflap and it will keep its curved shape even in fairly strong wind.
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