Too bad this doesn't fit into Grab Bag...
May 25, 2010 10:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm going off to college this fall and need some great panniers...

Obviously there are some requirements:

Able to carry weight:
I'll be carrying everything in these panniers: textbooks, groceries, etc.

Reasonably large:
See above.

Quick Release:
I currently have a set of panniers that have served me well, except that I hardly use them because they take forever to put on and take off. I don't want to leave my panniers outside because stuff can quite easily be stolen from them. It'd be nice if they were pretty easy to carry when off the rack. I currently have a Cannondale rack on the back of my bike. Because of this, I can't use the fancy-schmancy Topeak MTX quick release system.

I'll be riding in every kind of weather South Dakota can throw at me, so they will need to be waterproof or waterproofable via a cover.

I'm a poor, starving college student, so I can only spend $100 or so on these panniers. If they are really good I could probably scrape together $150. If you've had the same panniers for the past forever and know that they'll last, that'd be worth spending the extra money on.

They (it) could be either side panniers or a top-of-the-rack trunk bag as long as they (it) follows the aforementioned parameters.

Thank you for all suggestions!
posted by 47triple2 to Shopping (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Why don't you take the $100, spend $30 on the Topeak rack and get some Topeak panniers? Amazon has good prices/selection. My bike shop guys always use and recommend Topeak because of their usability.

I was just browsing Topeak panniers this weekend, and there are some great drop down ones that have rain covers included.
posted by kidelo at 10:44 AM on May 25, 2010

REI has the Ortlieb Backroller classics on sale for $119 (not including shipping, which may bring cost closer to The Touring Store's $137 shipped). Proven brand, waterproof, quick release (by grabbing the upper handle), can fit any kind of rack with the appropriately dimensioned hook. You may find a cheaper pair on ebay/cl, but this is a hard deal to beat.
posted by stachemaster at 10:46 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

My partner & I are fond of Arkel panniers. Durable, reliable, okay-looking, etc. She currently has the Commuter and loves the ability to switch to "backpack" mode, and it seems to carry a fairly large amount of groceries, books, etc.

I noticed they just put out a slightly cheaper pannier-to-backpack option called the Switchback. Not waterproof themselves, but there are covers available.

I have also had good experiences with above-mentioned Ortlieb panniers as well!
posted by atlatl at 10:54 AM on May 25, 2010

Response by poster: Kidelo, if I bought a Topeak Rack, bag, and raincover (In the frequently bought together section), would I be able to use another brand of panniers with the Topeak Rack?
posted by 47triple2 at 10:59 AM on May 25, 2010

Jandd makes a "hurricane" grocery pannier for under $100. I haven't used this model, but I own two of their mesh grocery bags that I've used and been happy with for about three years now. It's not fancy, but there's lots of space.

I'd also recommend a bike bungee net like this one. It's one of the cheapest and most useful things I've bought for my bike.
posted by chrisulonic at 11:05 AM on May 25, 2010

I have motorcycle panniers from Ortleib--they're top notch! I'd recommend anything the company makes.

(Never once do you mention that this is for a bicycle. FWIW.)
posted by mollymayhem at 11:08 AM on May 25, 2010

Ortlieb. Seriously. I've tried 5 brands of panniers now and the only ones I'd ever recommend are the Ortlieb.
posted by handee at 11:08 AM on May 25, 2010

I love my Arkel Commuter, but it's expensive and also you'd want to get a second pannier for balance, especially if you're carrying heavy stuff, which would add to the final cost. Still, otherwise it fits all your requirements and it's super sturdy yet easy to mount/dismount. The Commuter is useful if you carry a laptop frequently, as I do. Otherwise I would maybe get the T-42s.
posted by chinston at 11:13 AM on May 25, 2010

nthing Ortliebs. I've used mine for several years through nasty Oregon winters and they've never so much as blinked at whatever the weather has thrown at them. Bonus: clever design makes them incredibly easy to put on/get off. Well worth the money.
posted by hollisimo at 11:22 AM on May 25, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah, these panniers will be for a bicycle. I tagged the post as bicycle/cycling but forget to mention it in the actual post. Oh well, you've all given great reccomendations so far!
posted by 47triple2 at 11:25 AM on May 25, 2010

Chiming in with Ortlieb as well. I had limited funds so went for a single Back Roller Classic. Can't say enough good things about it. I did a 100km ride with it in endless rain, kept everything bone dry. Plus extremely sturdy and efficient quick release system.
posted by Captain Najork at 11:42 AM on May 25, 2010

I have always been a fan of using milk crates attached to a rack. You can buy water proof bags to put in them and quickly take them out and go inside. They are not the prettiest but they can hold a lot (including a 30 pack on each side).
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:43 AM on May 25, 2010

i bought a set of ortlieb backrollers based largely on these folks' reviews, and i'm loving them. it's easy to wear one on your back as a satchel, and they're large enough to get a week's worth of groceries into too. apparently the older ones were just one big compartment, but the new models have a couple small interior pockets, if that matters.
posted by bilgepump at 11:58 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you go with ortliebs, you may consider getting a model that is compatible with their backpack conversion kit. Arkel has some with built in backpack straps (The Bug, Switchback, GT-18 BP). Check the Arkels for interior waterproof bags. The outside of the bag will get wet, but the interior will stay dry with the interior dry bag. They also have exterior rain covers if you really want to use them. I have Arkels and love them for the extra pockets (useful for keeping things organized for college) and great design; my partner has Ortliebs for their waterproofing and loves them.

BUT for another option, you could go with homemade Bike Buckets you could leave on the bike and use any backpack on the inside so you could just grab it out of the bucket and go. It's not the most elegant solution, but the guy who wrote that article uses them to commute in Canada year-round. Plus, they're nicer than milk crates for keeping things dry.
posted by BlooPen at 12:34 PM on May 25, 2010

Ortliebs are nice but really expensive. I would recommend Jannd panniers. You can get two Jannds for the price of one Ortlieb. My Jannd panniers take a lot of abuse, have lasted (so far) several years and are trivial to remove: just a bungie clip holds them on the rear rack arms. They have handles and so are easy to pick up and carry goods with. They also fold up nicely when not in use.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 PM on May 25, 2010

Wow, those "bike buckets" don't look too shabby. Certainly, more attractive than milk crates.
posted by _paegan_ at 12:49 PM on May 25, 2010

Response by poster: In answer to my own question, yes, you can attach normal panniers to a Topeak bike rack. (I called my LBS to make sure.)
posted by 47triple2 at 1:04 PM on May 25, 2010

To answer -- I'm not sure if Topeak is compatible. That being said, when I searched for panniers + Topeak on Amazon, some other brands came up.
posted by kidelo at 2:09 PM on May 25, 2010

REI has the Ortlieb Backroller Classics on sale for $120 for the pair (free shipping if you're an REI member). They're well worth that price.
posted by BlooPen at 3:08 PM on May 25, 2010

If you're not a member of REI, but have a store near you, shipping to the store is also free. Regardless of what panniers you choose, REI's full guarantee makes even the non-sale prices worth it.
posted by bwanabetty at 7:54 PM on May 25, 2010

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