Pannier bags are no longer the reserve of old fashioned tourers. Instead, they’re now seen as the useful tools that they are. They can save your back from the load of carrying heavy rucksacks, and on e-bikes, are barely noticeable whether they’re on a single side or two.
Like with many things these days, there’s no single standard of fitment when it comes to pannier bags, so we’ve tried out a few and put the following six pannier bags to the test over several months and several bikes to determine the best of the best.
Altura Thunderstorm City Waterproof Cycling Pannier - £100
Featuring 20 litres of storage capacity and reflective patterning, the Altura Thunderstorm Pannier is a great choice for commuting or touring. There’s a choice of two colours: Hi-viz yellow, or black. It uses the KLICKfix™ universal rail fitting system, which we tested on a few different racks without any issues, and it was easy enough to attach and detach.
It’s waterproof (rated to IPX6), and we can confirm it kept our 15.6in chunky gaming laptop snug and dry inside the sleeve. The bag comes with a roll top closure with different loops for the hook to slide through to fasten it shut, and a 10kg weight limit. Overall, a solid choice with light fixing options and subtle style.
Deuter Mainhattan 17+10 - £180
The most expensive on this list, but for good reason, the Deuter Mainhatten 17+10 is an excellent bag for use on and off the bike. You may have seen it in the pictures of our recent e-bike versus public transport journey, as the shoulder strap means it can quite comfortably be used as a shoulder bag as well as a pannier.
It fit the 15.6in gaming laptop easily, and comes with plenty of pockets to put your belongings. There’s a 17 litre capacity, but the +10 comes from leaving the flap at the top open at the top so you can pile some more in like a shopping bag. It’s attached using a BagFix quick-release system and is waterproof. It might be on the costly side of things, but the build quality is excellent and hasn’t seen any fraying or tearing in the months of testing.
Ortlieb E-Mate - £125
The Ortlieb E-Mate is unique in that it’s actually designed for electric bikes. Why? Because it contains a battery pouch inside so you can take more than one with you on your travels. This makes it ideal for tourers or long-distance riders who rely on swapping batteries to make their travels easier. It uses the Quick-Lock 2.1 system so it’s compatible with most bike racks with a tube diameter up to 16mm, and it comes with spacers for different tube diameters for the best fit.
We also like that it comes with a detachable padded shoulder strap, so it’s easy to use off-the-bike as well. There’s 16 litres of storage so it’s not the biggest bag, but you’d only need one of these for the battery storage, then if you want a second pannier bag, you could choose something bigger for the other side.
Specialized Tailwind - £85
Aerodynamics perhaps aren’t the biggest concern when riding an e-bike – until Specialized optimized their Tailwind pannier bags. Each side is specifically designed and is claimed to “reduce drag and battery consumption by up to 6% when tested against competitors.”
Whether that’s a concern for you or not, it’s still a very decent bag, with a laptop storage sleeve that can fit our chunky gaming laptop with ease. It’s also waterproof so you can use it throughout the year, and is available in a choice of two colours: black or fluorescent yellow. Both of which have reflective stripes to increase visibility in the dark.
Deuter Weybridge - £115
The Weybridge is available in two sizes, and we tested the 25+5. Why is it called 25+5? Essentially there is 25 litres of space with the roll-top closed, but if you’re feeling optimistic about the weather and need more space, you can leave it open and voila, there’s an extra 5 litres.
Like other Deuter products, we loved the quality of the construction. It’s waterproof, and yes, we did test this in typical Yorkshire weather. It’s a pretty basic bag inside, with less pockets and more space for larger items or shopping. A removable shoulder strap means you can take it in-store, and the quick-release fitting means you won’t have to spend ages fiddling with it on the rack to remove it.
Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic - £140 for a pair
If you ask any cyclist for recommendations for a pannier bag, the Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic is likely to come up. The brand’s reputation for hard-wearing, waterproof and durable cycling luggage precedes it, and in the case of the Back-Roller Classic, it’s hard to fault.
With a 20-litre capacity and roll-top closure, there’s not a lot you won’t fit in these bags. They’re also available in many different colours, so you can mix and match as you see fit. It’s one bag that we’d really trust to keep our electronics and important luggage safe and dry in winter, and the Quick-Lock 2.1 attachment system makes life easy when mounting and removing the bag from the pannier racks.