Carrying a jacket or a water bottle on your bike is pretty much a no-brainer. You put the water bottle in the bottle cage, and when you get warm you probably tie the jacket to your waist or stuff it in a jersey pocket.
But what do you do when your cargo moves beyond these basic items?
Fortunately, you have many options: Front basket, rear basket, front rack, rear rack, back pack, handlbar bag, saddle bag, frame bag, front panniers, panniers, back pack, purse (seriously) or messenger bag. And those are just the basics.
Why use a Pannier
Carrying cargo is a matter of personal preference, and there is no one correct solution. It’s a good idea to try a few methods and find what works for you.
For most applications of everyday cycling, a pannier is a practical, comfortable solution to your cargo carrying needs.
- Keeps the weight off your shoulders.
- Keeps your back from getting sweaty.
- Distributes the weight to the rear, which makes it easy to carry heavy loads.
- An easy to remove storage solution you can bring into a store with you.
- Comes in 100% waterproof varieties.
- Most have a mount for a light and reflective points for extra visibility.
- Most panniers are nicely set up to accommodate a grocery bag – makes loading your bounty a snap.
What to Look For When Buying a Pannier
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, a 100% waterproof pannier is a must, or at least one that comes with an extremely durable (though dorky looking) waterproof cover that tucks conveniently inside the bag so you never have to look for it.
Here are other aspects you’ll want to take into consideration:
- How durable is the bag? Delicate, pretty bags will serve you well as a going-out bag, but not a daily commuter or grocery hauler.
- How will you carry the bag when it’s not on a bike? A comfortable handle system or shoulder strap is a good idea. Some bags convert to back packs, a feature we think is the way to go.
- Do you like internal pockets? Some fantastic bags (like Ortlieb’s basic bags) have none, they’re just a big waterproof cave – perfect for those of you who prefer to organize your supplies with a series of smaller sealed bags you add in yourself.
- Do you like the way it attaches to your bike? Does that attachment seem secure? Easy to release? There are several common systems out there, and some of them aren’t for everyone. Maybe a test ride is in order…
Invest in Good Gear
We believe in buying a solid bag that will last you for many years to come. Buying local is a good idea whenever possible, and all of the local bag makers we know offer a well-made product. Plus, if there’s something you don’t like about the bag or need adjusted, local makers are much more likely to be open to your feedback.