Waterproofing and materials
Two closely related issues! The most common is to take waterproof bags: it avoids worrying about your stuff if it rains, if you put your panniers in the wet grass, if there is dew, if you cycle in puddles … There are basically two waterproof materials, the type “truck tarpaulin” kind, which is PVC coated fabric for waterproofing, and Cordura , a material that looks like textile, lighter, greener than PVC , and of course more expensive.
Taking non-waterproof bags also has advantages: it is often cheaper, lighter, and you can find more practical bags, with compartments and pockets, because it is easier to make pockets if you do not do not worry about waterproofing. They are usually sold with rain covers, so you will not be deprived in any case 😉
There, everything depends on the level of comfort aimed! The most common is to take 2×20 liters at the rear, and 2×15 liters at the front, often with a rack-pack in addition. That’s enough for the basic material, including tent, stove, food … Of course it varies enormously from one cyclist to another, whether you are alone or not, with minimal comfort or not, with big calves or not…
Pay attention, however, to the maximum load that can support your bike, your luggage rack, and your panniers! The more you are loaded, the faster the bike wears out, and you will end up with split rims, spokes that break easily, tires to change more regularly …
There are a lot of brands that offer bike bags. We chose to represent the two best known, Ortlieb and Vaude , and two alternatives, Crosso and Decathlon .
Ortlieb and Vaude are the most common, and have advantages like a good service and 5 years warranty on their products. Our heart goes to Ortlieb more than to Vaude, having heard of several problems at Vaude at bindings, and Vaude does not offer a range of travel bags for less than 100 €. But it’s a very personal opinion, and there are many Vaude inveterate 🙂
Crosso is a Polish brand that offers simple, durable and cheap bags, which we tested and approved 🙂 Decathlon also offers bike bags, under the brand Btwin, cheaper than any other brand. We have not really tested them, so we are not sure of the impermeability of the so-called waterproof bags (how waterproof are they?), their quality and the stability of the hangers on the rack. But for low budget cyclists, it will certainly do the trick! All feedback is welcome 🙂 The bags are guaranteed 2 years for Crosso and Decathlon.
At the back, we tested, during the trip, the models Ortlieb Back roller city , as well as the Ortlieb Back roller more , in Cordura. The “ City ” range is Ortlieb’s simplest: no inside pocket or shoulder strap, and it is not compatible with the rack-pack. It is completely waterproof, made of material “truck tarpaulin” coated with PVC. It’s also the lighter and the less expensive : 40 liters, 1.52 kilo, 85 € both. The range “Plus” is in Cordura. These bags are also very light, although a little heavier than the City because of accessories (removable shoulder strap, inside pocket): 40 liters, 1.68 kg, 115 € both. Presented as the high-end Ortlieb, this material is supposed to be stronger than the “truck tarpaulin”. On a daily basis, the “Plus” panniers have caused more problems than the “City”: small holes in the fabric allowing the water to pass (clogged with special patches), and screws that unscrew regularly and also let the water in.
At the front we tested the Crosso Dry 30L and the Front roller plus , smaller version of the Back roller plus 🙂 Crosso have given complete satisfaction: like the “City” range from Ortlieb, they are very simple, with the additional advantage of a very simple fastening system made of metal, which is not likely to break, and an even lower price (30 liters , 1.1kg, 57 €). The Ortlieb Front Roller Plus , like the Backs, have caused some inconvenience with a seal sometimes questionable.
My heart leans over for Crosso Dry bags: the best compromise in my opinion of weight, tightness, robustness, and price!
Comparison table: Ortlieb, Crosso, Vaude, Btwin
To help you in your choice, here is a table summarizing the bags offered by these four brands. All figures (weight, volume, price …) are indicated for a pair of bags, although some bags are sold individually. The type of bag (front or rear) is indicative: often the bags can go both at the back and front. However, it depends on the rack you have, especially in the front where there are very different models. Make sure that bags and luggage racks are compatible, to avoid unpleasant surprises! See the bag-rack compatibility chart
The volume / weight ratio presented in the table is a kind of efficiency indicator: the higher the number, the better;) This means that the weight is not so important compared to the capacity of the bag.
Click a column heading to sort the table in ascending or descending order.
|Crosso Dry 60L||‹ Back||1,75 kg||60 liters||34,3 liters/kg||60€||Yes|
|Crosso Dry 30L||Front ›||1,1 kg||30 liters||27,3 liters/kg||50€||Yes|
|Crosso Twist 50L||‹ Back||1,48 kg||50 liters||33,8 liters/kg||94€||Yes||In Cordura|
|Crosso Twist 30L||Front ›||1,05 kg||30 liters||28,6 liters/kg||74€||Yes||In Cordura|
|Crosso Expert 56L||‹ Back||2,3 kg||56 liters (50 + 6)||24,3 liters/kg||144€||Yes||In Cordura. Based on the Twist model, those panniers have straps to put on accessories : bottle cage, 3 liters waterproof bag, flaps with inner pocket, shoulder strap. All accessories are included. Without any accessory, the pannier weights 1.51 kg|
|Crosso Dry 30L Click system||Front ›||1,1 kg||30 liters||27,3 liters/kg||84€||Yes||Similar to Crosso Dry but with a fastening system similar to the one of Ortlieb and Vaude|
|Crosso Dry 30L Click system||‹ Back||1,8 kg||50 liters||27,7 liters/kg||94€||Yes||Similar to Crosso Dry but with a fastening system similar to the one of Ortlieb and Vaude|
|Sacoche vélo 500 20L imperméable||‹ Back||1,14 kg||40 liters||35,1 liters/kg||52€||Yes||Sold individually|
|Sacoche vélo 900 25L imperméable||‹ Back||1,5 kg||50 liters||33,3 liters/kg||72€||Yes||Sold individually|
|Sacoche double 100 2x15L Btwin||‹ Back||0,93 kg||30 liters||32,3 liters/kg||20€||No|
|Sacoche vélo ville 100 15L||Front ›||0,96 kg||30 liters||31,3 liters/kg||26€||No||Sold individually|
|Sacoche double 500 2x15L Btwin||‹ Back||1,6 kg||40 liters||25 liters/kg||30€||No|
|Back roller pro plus||‹ Back||2 kg||70 liters + 8 liters||39 liters/kg||180€||Yes (except the frontal pocket)||Mesh frontal pocket (+2×4 liters, 78 liters total), Inner pocket, removable shoulder strap|
|Back roller pro classic||‹ Back||2,37 kg||70 liters + 8 liters||32,9 liters/kg||170€||Yes||Mesh frontal pocket (+2×4 liters, 78 liters total), Inner pocket, removable shoulder strap|
|Back roller city||‹ Back||1,52 kg||40 liters||26,3 liters/kg||85€||Yes|
|Back roller plus||‹ Back||1,68 kg||40 liters||23,8 liters/kg||130€||Yes||In Cordura, Inner pocket, Removable shoulder strap, compatible with the Rack-pack|
|Back roller free||‹ Back||1,85 kg||40 liters||21,6 liters/kg||135€||Yes||New material “tarpaulin truck” like, but without PVC, with Removable shoulder strap and Inner pocket, compatible with the Rack-pack|
|Back roller classic||‹ Back||1,9 kg||40 liters||21,1 liters/kg||115€||Yes||Removable shoulder strap, compatible with the Rack-pack|
|Sport roller city (or Front roller city)||Front ›||1,21 kg||25 liters||20,7 liters/kg||70€||Yes|
|Bike packer classic||‹ Back||2,08 kg||40 liters||19,2 liters/kg||130€||Yes||Removable shoulder strap, inner pocket|
|Bike-packer plus||‹ Back||2,2 kg||42 liters||19,1 liters/kg||160€||Yes||In Cordura, with a removable shoulder strap, external pocket|
|Sport packer plus (or Front packer plus)||Front ›||1,68 kg||30 liters||17,9 liters/kg||140€||Yes||In Cordura, Inner pocket, Removable shoulder strap|
|Sport roller plus (or Front roller plus)||Front ›||1,44 kg||25 liters||17,4 liters/kg||105€||Yes||In Cordura, with Removable shoulder strap, Inner pocket, compatible with the Rack-pack|
|Sport packer classic (or Front packer classic)||Front ›||1,75 kg||30 liters||17,1 liters/kg||125€||Yes||Removable shoulder strap, inner pocket|
|Sport roller free (or Front roller free)||Front ›||1,55 kg||25 liters||16,1 liters/kg||115€||Yes||New material “tarpaulin truck” like, but without PVC, with Removable shoulder strap and Inner pocket, compatible with the Rack-pack|
|Sport roller classic (or Front roller classic)||Front ›||1,59 kg||25 liters||15,7 liters/kg||95€||Yes||Inner pocket, Removable shoulder strap, compatible with the Rack-pack|
|Bike tourer||‹ Back||2,57 kg||38 liters||14,8 liters/kg||220€||Yes||External pocket|
|Karakorum||‹ Back||2,1 kg||68 liters||32,4 liters/kg||150€||No||Zipped external pockets, top usable as a backpack, raincover|
|Road master back||‹ Back||1,58 kg||50 liters||31,6 liters/kg||120€||No||Raincover, two zipped external pockets (frontal pocket and on the flap)|
|Aqua back||‹ Back||1,94 kg||48 liters||24,7 liters/kg||130€||Yes||Inner pocket, Removable shoulder strap, material “tarpaulin-truck” like withou PVC, compatible with the Vaude Top Case|
|Aqua back color||‹ Back||1,94 kg||48 liters||24,7 liters/kg||140€||Yes||Removable shoulder strap, withou PVC, compatible with the Vaude Top Case|
|Aqua back deluxe||‹ Back||1,94 kg||48 liters||24,7 liters/kg||150€||Yes||Removable shoulder strap, without PVC, compatible with the Vaude Top Case|
|Road master front||Front ›||1,5 kg||36 liters||24 liters/kg||115€||No||Raincover, two zipped external pockets (frontal pocket and on the flap)|
|Aqua back plus||‹ Back||2,21 kg||51 liters||23,1 liters/kg||160€||Yes||Inner pocket, Removable shoulder strap, frontal pocket, material “tarpaulin-truck” like withou PVC, compatible with the Vaude Top Case|
|Aqua front||Front ›||1,58 kg||28 liters||17,7 liters/kg||120€||Yes||Inner pocket, Removable shoulder strap|
Feel free to report any errors in the page, or ask any question 🙂