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gsdgsd Posts: 114
edited December 2007 in Tour & expedition
My (recently married) wife and I are about to embark on 6 months of cycling fun round New Zealand and are just kitting out our bikes. Can anyone recommend any panniers that are good value and 100% waterproof please? We've seen the following brands locally: Vaude, Topeak, Philips and Ortlieb so far - but there seem to be wild deviations in price...
Any help or other kit suggestions would be much appreciated!
Scott & Claire


  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    I think Ortlieb's Roller Classic is the classic touring pannier. They are very waterproof and durable and have a great reputation for lasting on multi-year expeditions. You can pick them up for £67 at Cyclestore. They do "plus" versions that are made of non shiny fabric, with a better fitting system that takes an accessory cable for locking to the bike, and have an external mesh pocket and an internal pocket that could be useful. I use Ortleib Bike Packer Plus - the Bike Packer models have a lid rather than a roll top - theoretically slightly less waterproof, but mine have never let in a drop.

    Carradice now do a fully waterproof pannier - the Carradry, they are made of tough shiny fabric like the Ortleib Classic, but are larger (54L c/w 40L) and have an external mesh pocket (albeit a flimsy looking one). Carradice are a British company with a great reputation for after sales / repairs. They are rrp of £69.95, but Spa Cycles are doing a combi offer with a front and rear set and a bar bag for £132 (£33 off). Seperately from Spa they are £63 for the back and £45 for the front and bar bag £40.

    Vaude's top of the range waterproof panniers got a good review in C+, they are a bit more sophisticated than the above, and they look good, though I prefer the simplicity of the Ortleib's and Carradice models.

    Atlura do "Dryline" panniers which seem pretty good (I have a laptop/briefcase type one for commuting and I trust my Sony Vaio to it in all weathers). They have a waterproof inner lining rather than the outer being waterproof (and they are a bit heavier as a result), and the fitting system (Riken and Kaul) whilst reliable, is a two handed job and less ergonomic than the Ortleib and Carradice.. They are cheaper than all the above and a good value option, but I don't think they have the record of durability for expedition tours (not heard bad things, just I don't think they are often chosen for that use).

    I think if you are very price-sensitive I would go for Ortleib Roller Classics (spending less could be false economy if they break or leak on tour), and if you want a larger pannier, the Carradry. Maybe one set of each would be an interesting option!

    I believe Ortleib and Carradice do a repair kit (about £7) which would be worth taking on tour in case you manage to rip or puncture them (unlikely, but...). One kit would do for either brand I reckon.
  • xiliosxilios Posts: 170
    I just came back from a shop that has Ortlieb bags, my wife and I have been using some very cheap AGU's bags till now and are looking for new bags for next springs tour, (most likely Ireland).
    After reading many journals and forums we have decided on the Ortlieb Roller Classic. We first looked at the Arkel bags (because of all the seperate pockets) but they still need rain covers, and after our last tour (with the last 5 days in the rain) we changed our minds.
    The Ortliebs are very simple, secure well to the racks and are waterproof. They have been proven many times all over the world. As for being just large bags (where things can get mixed up) we will continue to use very large zip-loc bags to keep our clothes seperate.
  • I have a pair of Ortlieb panniers and don't really like the inserts that fix into the top clips to suit narrow-dia racks. It seems these are bound to fall out and get lost while travelling around. I could be wrong... but one came off when I tried them out at home.

    Consequently I haven't used them and have continued with my trusty Karrimor panniers. Unfortunately you can't get these new anymore. However, I have managed to get some on eBay along with the Disclock fittings.

    I have had Carradice ones in the past; I love the quality but found the top clips with the 'lock' a bit fiddly to use: Karrimors are a cinch to get off
    It's an uphill climb to the bottom
  • pneumaticpneumatic Posts: 1,989
    I've never had a problem with my ortlieb roller classics (front and back). They are simple, effective, flexible and durable and I've taken them over thousands of miles of touring. Some days, it has rained so hard, you could hardly see; yet all the gear inside them was kept as dry as when it went in.

    The roll top is very useful for when your loads vary over the day/week. For example, you can close them up neatly in the morning but then add things like shopping, shed layers etc. during the day and still close them up neatly without any need to fiddle with adjuster straps.

    The only frustration I had with them was as commuter luggage, because of the lack of external pockets for keys, phone, lock etc., but I solved that with a seat wedge and a jersey with back pockets.

    Fast and Bulbous
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    cycladelic wrote:
    I have a pair of Ortlieb panniers and don't really like the inserts that fix into the top clips to suit narrow-dia racks. It seems these are bound to fall out and get lost while travelling around. I could be wrong... but one came off when I tried them out at home.
    I found the inserts a bit fiddly at first but they eventually went in with a positive fit and have remained totally secure to date.
  • xiliosxilios Posts: 170
    cycladelic wrote:
    I have a pair of Ortlieb panniers and don't really like the inserts that fix into the top clips to suit narrow-dia racks. It seems these are bound to fall out and get lost while travelling around. I could be wrong... but one came off when I tried them out at home.

    The sales person I talked to earlyer said he had glued them on, but beter yet I have read a journal sometime ago that this couple found a rubber tube (split down the length) that fitted over the rack tube (snug) which in turn made it (the diameter) much bigger, removing the need for the inserts.
    Maybe that would help you some.
  • I have used Ortlieb panniers for several years here in Iceland, where it rains 5 days out of 4, and I give them top marks. No water gets inside them, no matter if it's raining upside down!
    My front panniers have the insert to reduce the diameter of the hooks and I haven't had any trouble with them. And I use the front panniers as commute panniers.

    My panners have survived some fairly nasty tracks and gravel roads here and frankly I am quite surprised at the lack of visible wear on them.

    Magnus Thor
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Ortleib Classics are undoubtedly very waterproof and durable (though the Vaude copies are probably just as waterproof etc). But there is a weight penalty to pay for the extra waterproofness and durability (IIRC to the tune of a kilo for a pair of rear panniers).

    Both Vaude and Ortleib have bought out lighter, but still waterproof (allegedly), panniers. Possibly not as durable.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    The Ortleib Back Roller Classic is 1630g per pair

    The Back Roller Plus is 1550g per pair

    Vaude World Cycle II (most like the Roller) are 1670g/pair

    So there is some small saving with the new fabric on the Ortleib Plus version. It seems like it will be almost as durable, whilst the outside is like cordura, the inside appears to be the same as the Classic fabric, but overall it must be slightly lighter weight.

    In either case I think the weights are pretty reasonable
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    There is a useful comparison of some Ortleib and Vaude bags here:
  • CPeacheyCPeachey Posts: 1,057
    It rains in NZ so don't be tempted to buy anything of less quality than Vaude or Ortleb!
    Get similar bar bags as well.

    Also...get some bombproof tyres as well to keep the P*** Fairy happy.
  • CunobelinCunobelin Posts: 11,792
    Slightly "off - topic", but as someone mentioned locking panniers to bikes.....

    I use an item called a "Pacsafe"


    This is large enough to enclose the whole of the rear of a bile with panniers on board and then "cinches in" to the bottom bracket and the rack fitting where it can be secured. It will also fit a front wheel and panniers.

    Whilst it would not stand against a determined thief it does deter opportunists and also prevents "slashing" of panniers to gain the contents.
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  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856

    Thanks for the comparison link. It was the Vaude Discover Pro and Discover that I had in mind. I think Ortlieb have something similar. I don't know how they compare in terms of durability - no doubt the choice does come down to the trade-off between weight and durability
  • PHcpPHcp Posts: 2,748
    After ten years of almost daily use I've replaced my Ortlieb front rollers with Vaude Discover front. I was more than satisfied with the service I got from my Ortliebs, but fancied something different and liked the look of the Vaudes. They are certainly as waterproof, I left them submerged in the bath overnight without them letting any in. The solid back offers better protection than the Ortliebs and I prefer the handles and fittings. They have a small separator inside, useful for papers or small bits, they also protect your hands from the inside of the fitting, on my Ortliebs I often caught my hand on the plastic nuts. It'd be unfair to compare the lightweight material of the Discovers with that of the Ortlieb Classics, fairer comparison would be Classics Vs World Tours or Discovers Vs Pluses. After a year they still look like new, only time will tell how well they last.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Andy, the Discover Pro look very nice, probably ahead of Ortleib in terms of design. I would really like to see them in the flesh. Against this is Ortleib's reputation and guarantee.
  • gsdgsd Posts: 114
    Thanks for all the advice! I'm going to spend some time looking up what's available in Auckland - I'll let you know what we decide to go for.
  • The ortlieb hooks / inserts that always droped out in long grass just as it was getting dark... were changed years ago. The fix, carry some spare ortlieb inserts or... a new set of hooks that don't drop the insert.

    In my opinion Tubus racks work best as they use a larger diameter rail over many other racks and the ortliebs fit them better. They are stiffer & wobble / whip a lot less. Like ortlieb they have a stunning record and backup. cost quite a bit but in the long term offer value for money / peace of mind.

    Ortlieb classic fabric v plus fabric.
    Its a myth that the classic fabric is heavier & therefore stronger.
    The plus fabric is... stronger - greater tear resistance, abrasion resistance and yet lighter... it only has 2 downsides. 1. the more expensive price 2. in extreme UV exposure (think large hole in ozone needed and 24/7 unshaded exposure for a couple of years) the plus fabric can fail where the bag is rolled. The good news its very rare & ortliebs service is very good.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    I agree with the above comments regarding Tubus - they have a 10 year warranty, and for the first three years they undertake to courrier parts/replacements to anywhere in the world! My Tubus Cosmo is brill, stainless steel, and very sturdy yet reasonably light.

  • mazzamazza Posts: 52
    i have the carradice super c front and back and i fine them to be very good there made of tough fabric ive seen peaple who have had them for years and years so i expect to get many many years use out of them they are made out coton duck fabric which i find nicerer fabric than plastic which the ortileb bags are made from there also made in nelson in england the hook fastner is a little tricky at first but you soon get used to and i believe are less nickable than the ortleb bag which come off far to easy
  • daviddddaviddd Posts: 637
    The POrtlieb Back / Front Roller PLus are completely waterproof, and very secure fixings. I've used them, and left them outside the tent, in a complete downpour and nothing got wet. They're also one of the lighter panniers. You xcan get lots of attachment including little 3 / 5 litre bags that screw on the back without compromising waterproofness. I bnought mine from Wiggle quite cheaply.
    Oct 2007 to Sep 2008 - anticlockwise lap of Australia...
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  • graemetherunner - thanks for those links and info. However, I can't see a 'new' clip on that site - one without inserts.

    I have the Tubus Cosmo rear rack - the one alfablue has posted above - and think it's FAB.

    My front rack is an ali' Jandd low-rider, which is also a nice piece of kit. My Ortliebs are front ones.
    It's an uphill climb to the bottom
  • cyladelic - the new one still uses the insert, but it is modified so it doesn't drop them.
  • In popularity the two most that spring to mind are Ortlieb and Carradice, followed by Altura.

    The modern 'Roll Top' closure designs are the most popular in the Ortlieb range as in theory they are more waterproof than the more traditional 'lid type' closure. All the Ortlieb panniers that have that design have the word 'Roller' in the description, where as the normal are called names like Bike Packer.

    I am not saying that roll top closures in reality are indeed better, it is simply that in the Ortlieb range they out sell the lid closure with us by 8/1. The traditional styled lid type closure does in practice also make ideal weather resistant panniers, we have found that most who want the more traditional styling will often go for more traditionaly made panniers like Carradice Super C, if you want to know what I use then it is Carradice, they are 20 years old and still going strong. They are made of the tried and tested material 'Cotton Duck', the material itself is waterproof but the seams are not taped, so technically they can not advertise it as a waterproof pannier, 'Cotton Duck' is also about as durable as I have seen.

    In practice however the material expands when wet closing the seams, I recall touring in the Picos De Europa one summer and carrying four litres of water in 2x 2ltr plastic bottles, one of which split emptying the entire 2lts into the pannier, which held the water like a bucket. I am not saying they are better than Ortlieb, both companies make a superb product, they are just different that's all, I doubt we will see many who have anything negative to say about either and rightly so.

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