If you’ve ever been on a bike touring trip (or bikepacking) you know how important it is to keep your gear dry. There’s nothing worse than crawling into a damp sleeping bag after spending all day out in the elements. So, before heading out on the trip of a lifetime, be sure to invest in the best waterproof panniers to keep you dry no matter what.
The Best Pannier Brands
Over the years there have some brands that have stood above the rest when it comes to pannier design and quality. Preparing for a bike tour is exciting, but can also be overwhelming with the amount of gear available. Going with one of the trusted names will ensure you don’t arrive at your campsite with soggy gear, can keep everything organized with a streamlined design, and will keep you gear from spilling all over the road without you noticing (yes, that has happened).
Some of the best pannier brands are as follows: Ortlieb, Vaude, Arkel, Carradice, Altura, Hyalite, Axium, Overboard, Thule, and Brooks.
Features To Look For
Panniers are the core of your touring setup as they will hold everything you need to survive days, weeks, or months on your bike. You will want a bag that can easily fit all of your camping gear, clothes, food, and bike tools for any technical bike issues that may come up.
If you’re looking for a quality pannier for a weekend trip or for commuting to and from work, then you’ll want up to a 20 liter set of waterproof panniers (10L each). If you’re planning on setting out on a multi-day or week tour, then you may want up to 40 liters (20L each) of space.
Waterproof panniers are usually one large compartment with a roll top, making them relatively light. Bags designed from canvas or leather tend to be heavier due to more pockets and a fold over top.
For bicycling touring, you will want to make sure the attachment system is simple enough to easily remove, but will also remain secure over hours of riding and bumpy roads. Most panniers have a universal mount, but some require a brand specific rack.
The Top 5 Waterproof Panniers
Price: $260 (for pair)
Size: 20 liters each
At the top of the list is the classic Ortlieb Back-Roller waterproof panniers. These bags are popular for both commuting and touring thanks to their capacity, durability, and completely waterproof design. Made from polyester with a double coated construction and a thermoplastic waterproof coating, these bags have earned their 5-star rating.
The price may seem daunting, but this includes a set of two bags, and they will last you a lifetime. The only downside is that the one large compartment design can be tough to organize, but there is now an inner pouch for a laptop or tablet. Most people use plastic bags or stuff sacks within the bag to keep their gear organized.
Price: $149 (for pair)
Size: 14 + 24 liters each
The Pack ‘n Pedal series from Thule is known for its budget friendly waterproof options for both commuting and epic bike tours. The price includes both rear bags, and includes a detachable shoulder strap for removing and carrying the bag if necessary. For cycling into the night, the Thule Shield is highly reflective, with attachments for further bike lights. There is a lower magnetic clip connection for a secure fit, but it can come lose on really bumpy dirt roads or trails, so this bag is better for smoother roads. There are 14 and 24 liter options available.
Price: $179 (for pair)
Size: 17 liters each
OverBoard is known for being virtually ‘bombproof,’ and these bags live up to the reputation. Their classic pannier is 100% waterproof (feel free to ride through all the puddles) while remaining cost effective. The universal rack attachment will secure to any rack, and the inner lining gives shape to the bag, so you know just how much room you’re working with when you go to pack. There is also an outside compartment that is great for storing a phone or notebook.
Size: 14.5 liters each
If you’re looking for a lightweight waterproof solution, this is it. Dry-Lites Waterproof Panniers are featherlight and perfect for lite touring. If more room is needed for gear, these bags are compatible with a trunk bag for a little extra room and accessibility.
Size: 13.5 liters each
Modern features without sacrificing a waterproof seal, the Axiom Tempest Hydracore P35 brings you the best of both worlds. Used by commuters and touring cyclists alike, these bags offer the pockets that the other bags don’t. However, these can actually make packing a little tougher on longer trips, so you’ll want to make sure all your gear fits in the space adequately. The bags can removed easily from the rack, and there is even a removable laptop sleeve included.