Best Bike Panniers

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
340 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best bike panniers

Last Updated October 2019

A bike pannier is a pair of bags that can be affixed to a cargo rack mounted on the front or rear of your bike, offering a convenient way to carry extra gear with you as you ride. Panniers are generally designed for long tours or short commutes, so they allow you to balance easily without having to carry anything on your back, no matter where you’re going.

Touring panniers are designed to be fully weatherproof and have plenty of space for long hauls. Commuting panniers vary in size and may be designed to bring your gear to and from work or tote your groceries. Many models are designed to be carried on your person after you’ve removed them from your bike. Choosing the right pannier for you means considering your needs, where you will bike, and what you need to carry on your bike.

Though the goal of most panniers is the same—to comfortably carry as much as possible on your bike—they vary in their design and features. To learn more about the types of panniers available, continue reading our shopping guide.

Bike panniers are far more secure than baskets and help to protect your belongings from the elements.

Key considerations

Before you make a purchase, it’s important to decide what type of cycling you will do most and how long you plan to ride with your pannier. The two primary types of panniers are touring and commuting panniers. Any pannier must be attached to a cargo rack, which may be installed on either the front or rear of your bike. While some panniers are sold with a rack, most are not, so you will need to purchase them separately.

Touring panniers

A touring pannier is the original pannier design and the most common option. These bags are designed to be weatherproof and spacious for long bike tours in any conditions.

Touring panniers use lightweight materials to allow you to easily carry your gear. Many touring models have roll-top designs to prevent rain and moisture from entering the bag. Touring panniers are attached to cargo racks that are usually mounted on the rear chain stays.

Commuting panniers

Size may be less of a concern with commuting panniers since you don’t need to carry lots of essentials such as food and clothing.

Commuting panniers may be attached to bike cargo racks that are installed on the front fork eyelets, the handlebars or the rear chain stays and are often designed with several compartments for securing items such as laptops, notepads, and writing utensils. While some models are waterproof, commuting panniers are not always designed to withstand the elements, since they are not traditionally used for longer distances.

The size and design of commuter panniers can vary, but most are made to be easily carried off of the bike, either by hand or as a backpack. Unless you plan to ride your bike right into the office or grocery store, this is a crucial feature. Also consider how easily you can remove and reattach the bags.

Capacity

The storage capacity of bike panniers varies greatly, and while more is generally better, it may be more space than you need. The volume of bike panniers is measured in liters, with the volume typically ranging from 15 to 35 liters. To find out how much space you will need, gather all of the gear you plan to bring along and stack it in a rough cube shape. Then, measure the approximate volume.

EXPERT TIP

Whether you have a five-minute commute or are setting out on a lengthy tour, a pannier can be an essential tool in keeping your belongings safe and dry.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Beyond their overall design, bike panniers vary in their materials, placement, and included accessories.

Materials

Bike panniers are made from a variety of natural and synthetic materials that are designed to be lightweight, water-resistant (or waterproof), and durable.

Polyester is a water-resistant material that works well for commuter panniers. Similarly, cotton and nylon may be treated with waterproof coatings for bags that can hold up under a little rain.

For fully waterproof panniers, consider models that use tarpaulin, Cordura, or vinyl. These materials are often more expensive and are commonly found on touring panniers. Many waterproof designs have welded seams to eliminate points of entry for moisture. Rain covers may be included with touring panniers for extra security.

While the overall weight of your panniers is important to consider, the contents of your pannier will have a much bigger impact on the handling of your bike.

Pannier placement

Panniers may be placed on the front or the rear of the bike. In either case, they attach to racks made specifically for the job.

Rear panniers are the most common and are often larger in size. They rest level with the rear wheel hub. Some people prefer the weight of their gear to rest over the back tire to aid with balance and handling.

Front panniers may rest on a cargo rack near the top of the tire or level with the front wheel hub. These are often smaller in size and allow the rider to easily access their gear while stopped without having to get off of the bike.
 

Closure

Panniers may close with zippers or roll-top designs. Zippers are usually found in less expensive models as they can become clogged with dust and dirt and become difficult to use over time. Roll-top designs close with straps and buckles and do a superior job of keeping dust and moisture out. In addition, they are more durable in the long term.

Pannier racks

A bike pannier must be affixed to your bike with a cargo rack, usually made of steel or aluminum. In some instances, the rack may be included with the pannier, which alleviates hunting for a compatible rack. However, most panniers are sold without racks, so you’ll need to purchase one separately. Many panniers are compatible with any rack, but some require custom designs.

The term pannier comes from the old French word panier, meaning bread basket.

Bike pannier prices

Inexpensive: Bike panniers for $12 to $25 are basic in design and are typically intended for commuter use. They are rarely waterproof, but they may be easy to carry by hand.

Mid-range: Bike panniers for $25 to $75 come in a variety of styles and may be suited to commuting or touring. Commuter panniers in this range often have handles or straps for easy use off the bike, and touring models are often waterproof.

Expensive: For $75 to $150, high-quality touring panniers are designed to withstand heavy rain and other inclement conditions, and the price can be well worth it for durable touring panniers that will last for years.

How to pack panniers

Packing panniers properly is essential to protecting your gear and keeping your bike balanced while you ride.

  • Distribute weight as evenly as possible between the left and right sides of your bike. If balancing isn’t possible, put more weight on the right side to help you lean away from auto traffic.
  • Take your bike out for a brief test run after loading your pannier and make any necessary load adjustments, especially if you are about to set out on a long ride.
  • When you are touring, make sure that you have a specific place for every item in your bags. This will make packing easier and will prevent you from having to balance your panniers before every ride.
  • Put frequently needed items at the top of your bags for easy access.
  • The lower your center of gravity, the better. Put heavy items on the bottom of the bags.
EXPERT TIP

Bike panniers may be situated adjacent to the front or rear tire of your bike.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

Though we stand by our top recommendations for the best bike panniers available, there are a few other models worth pointing out. For a high-end set of touring panniers, the Ibera Bike Pannier Bag Pair is made for longer tours. The clip system is convenient and secure, and many customers reported that these bags withstood long trips with no issues. A pair of bags with similar quality designed for commuting is the Ortlieb Back-Roller City Rear Pannier, which comes in three bold color options and is fully waterproof. We love this pannier for its tough design that makes it equipped for any commute. If you are looking for something more affordable, the BV Bike Bag Bicycle Pannier is a good option for shorter commutes. The structure of the bags is rigid, making them easy to load and unload, and the 26 liter capacity is generous. For an extra-large capacity bag, the luckybuy11 Bike Pannier Bag is a good water-resistant option that includes a rain cover. Customers have few issues with the design and functionality of this mid-range pannier.

While a backpack can disrupt your balance and cause unpleasant sweating and chafing, panniers keep your body completely free to bike smoothly and safely.

FAQ

Q. Are bike panniers sold in pairs?
A.
Typically, yes. Even when a manufacturer calls their product a singular “pannier,” they are usually referring to two bags joined as one unit.

Q. Are panniers compatible with all bikes?
A.
This depends on what rack you plan to affix to your bike. Not all bikes can accommodate racks, and not all racks work with all panniers. Ideally, you should purchase your rack and panniers at the same time to avoid any issues.

Q. Is there a weight limit to panniers?
A.
Yes, though it may not always be listed. The straps between the bags can only withstand so much weight, and heavy panniers can make your bike unstable. However, most panniers should have no issues with carrying heavy laptops or books.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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