A complete list of the best commuting and bicycle touring pannier bags, from the cheapest to the fanciest
Despite being dominated mostly by Ortlieb, the bike panniers market is very lively, also for bicycle touring, with dozens of brands making very good alternatives to Ortlieb, most of the time for a fraction of the price.
We compiled this list of the best bike panniers in 2021 hoping to help you figure out which pannier to buy.
How to choose the right bike pannier
When making the decision on which bicycle pannier to buy there are a few factors to keep in mind. The first is for sure the use we intend to make of these panniers.
Daily groceries, commuting, and occasional short touring? You can stay cheap, maybe buying water-resistant (not 100% waterproof) low-cost panniers and use a rain cover when touring. Some prefer to use a commuter’s backpack.
Long-term bicycle expeditions? You’ll want something sturdy and 100% waterproof. You also might want to consider getting a dry bag.
Then there are the different type of closure systems, which can give quicker or slower access to the gear inside the pannier (I personally prefer roll-top), the mounting system and compatibility with your bike rack, which should be checked before purchasing a pannier.
Some like smaller compartments and pockets, some prefer one single big chamber to carry also the bulkier items. Then there’s the price factor.
In the end, is up to you and your personal tastes. What we’ve done here is put together some of the most interesting bike panniers on the market, creating a table of comparison which can help you find the similarities and differences between expensive and cheap bike panniers on a glance.
We decided not to include prices since these vary a lot, you can click on the “check the latest price button. However, you can sort from the cheapest to the most expansive by using the price tag column, as a rule of thumb, for each $ symbol there you should add about 10$ ($$$$$ = 50USD).
The Best Bike Panniers in 2021 in Detail
Ready? Here our selection of the best bike panniers available with all their technical characteristics, find the model that best meets your needs and check the price. If you have other models to suggest, contribute to the comments section at the end of this article!
- Blackburn Barrier
- MSX Mainstream
- Arkel Orca 35L
- Crosso Dry
- Topeak DryBag DX
- Ibera PakRak
- Vaude Aqua Back Plus
- Green Guru High Roller
- Thule Pack’n Pedal Tote
- Lone Peak Millcreek Pannier
- Axiom Seymour
- Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic
- Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus
- RockBros Waterproof
Welded-seam waterproof construction and roll-top, zipped openings provide ultimate weather protection while our compression and load system offers another level of safety for your cargo.
For our African bicycle expedition, we wanted to have the sturdier and most reliable panniers available, road conditions vary from terrible to worst here and we don’t want to worry about bags jumping off or being torn apart by the ubiquitous thorn trees.
Early this year (2019) MSX Mainstream launched its new line of panniers and bikepacking bags. It consists of:
- The SLR 55 MX – Front Controller Bags: 26 liters capacity bike pannier with roll-up magnetic closure
- SL 55 ZX luggage carrier bags: 26 liters capacity pannier with roll-up closure, top flap cover, internal pockets, and front zipper
- Aqualung saddlebag: 18 liters reducible to 9 liters
- The CLS 55 MX handlebar bag: 8.8 liters, rigid frame
They also manufacture a bikepacking-style handlebar bag and a waterproof backpack which we won’t treat in this article. All of these products, including the saddlebag and the handlebar bag, are 100% waterproof.
|DIN 60529 Conical Toploader|
|QuickLock system with one-hand operation. Three-point mounting OTS-V 8 pipe Ø 8mm to Ø 16.5mm|
|100% water and dustproof|
|Reflective security elements: PLUS-MINUS symbol elements|
Arkel Orca 35L
Arkel front or rear waterproof bike panniers ORCA 35 come equipped with Arkel’s patented Cam-Lock® mounting system. Welded-seam technology ensures that the bag will stay dry, patented Cam-Lock® mounting system will keep the bags on the rack, regardless of the load or road conditions.
Many smaller details make this bag unique, an internal organizer for easy access to documents, maps, tablet, wallet, etc. This means you won’t have to empty half the bag to reach these.
A plastic protector at the bottom backside of the pannier adds protection between the bag and the rack and will avoid any premature wear caused by friction against the rack. Arkel also added D-rings for an optional shoulder strap.
Our pick, the best fusion of quality, customer service, and price. The fully waterproof tarpaulin is ready to fight against fearsome enemies: mud, water, and dust.
Armed with welded panels, seals, and rolling closure will keep your stuff dry even in rainstorms and stream crossings.
Other advantages of Dry series are low price and weight and impressive capacity. When your ride ends you will appreciate how easy it is to clean them.
It’s just enough to spray them with water. Made in Poland. We used Crosso Panniers for several years, here’s our personal review.
Topeak DryBag DX
The Topeak Pannier DryBag DX is a large capacity, waterproof pannier featuring a sonically welded and fully seam-sealed 420 denier and 840 denier exterior.
A watertight roll-top closure provides maximum protection from road spray and wet weather. Its quick-release Hook and Lock system attaches the pannier securely to the rack and makes installation and removal quick and easy.
It is perfect for touring in wet conditions or for daily commuting.
The Chinese brand Ibera was established in 2004. Like is lately happening a lot in China, Massload, the firm behind the brand has been in business manufacturing bicycle parts under contract for major American and European companies for many years, has decided to establish his own brand.
The PakRak bicycle panniers feature 2 large reinforced compartments, 2 side pockets, Hand-carry strap, Reflective trim. They are among the cheapest but not fully waterproof.
Vaude Aqua Back Plus
The waterproof rear panniers Aqua Back Plus are manufactured at the German VAUDE company headquarters near Lake Constance with durable, PVC-free tarpaulin material.
With a roll closure that allows you to customize the size of the bag and seal it so that it’s watertight. An extra inside pocket and outer welded pocket makes it easy to store things separately.
The bags are securely attached to the right and left sides of the back gear rack with the QMR 2.0 system, which also allows for easy adjustment and quick on-and-off.
With a bike lock, they can be directly locked onto the QMR hook. Reflective elements ensure high visibility in traffic and low light conditions.
Green Guru High Roller
The High Roller is a super durable and sleek bike pannier, made from upcycled bicycle inner tubes and recycled fabric, that serves as a backpack off the bike.
With its stormproof construction and striking good looks, it keeps the elements at bay while you ride. The quick-mount system secures to virtually any rack system.
Another great feature if this pannier bag is that it comes with backpack straps! The price tag though is pretty high, and it is also among the heaviest bicycle panniers on this list.
Thule Pack’n Pedal Tote
Urban-style bike bag that easily transforms into a carry bag with comfortable handles or shoulder strap. It features a very cool locking system that hides behind a panel for more comfortable portability.
Lone Peak Millcreek Pannier
This bike pannier by Lone Peak has the interesting feature of opening up completely, like a suitcase. Very handy when it comes to organizing and fetching gear.
Every bag in the Seymour series uses a new fabric which they call Oceanweave, that contributes to reducing the amount of plastic in our oceans.
These bags are the world’s only cycling bags to be made out of recycled fishing nets. They hope this product will inspire others to become a part of a solution to this environmental crisis.
Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic
Ortlieb doesn’t need any introduction. These German bike panniers are leading the market for decades, at least when it comes to bicycle touring.
The Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic is probably the most sold bike pannier in the world. They have been tested by thousands of tourers all around the world, in the most extreme conditions.
The price though is not super friendly, and there have been some complaints about quality not being the same as before.
Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus
Basically the same as the Back-Roller Classic, but using Cordura instead of polyester as the main material. Cordura makes these full waterproof bicycle panniers even sturdier.
Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus
Another Ortleb update, these sturdy waterproof pannier feature also a front pocket. The closure system is a rucksack style underneath a flap.
Like the Back-Roller Plus, these panniers are also made of Cordura. They are though among the most expansive panniers out there, priced around 250USD for the pair.
All Ortlieb bags can be turned into a backpack using the Ortlieb carrying system for panniers
A good alternative to Crosso Dry, this waterproof panniers feature a useful drawstring bag for storing wet cloth. Priced around 50USD each.