Your chances of a wet commute have increased significantly now it is autumn, as is evidenced by the weather forecast for this week. With this in mind we decided to offer you three waterproof pannier options to get your bits to work in a suitable condition.
Panniers are great in the winter because it they stop you getting excessively soggy rucksack straps that you then have to wait hours for them to dry, or get a soggy suit. They are also great as they generally are empty cavities (one option below aside) so you can put a smart bag inside as well as clothes.
Ortlieb Commuter Bag 20l – £110.80
The Commuter bag from Ortlieb is somewhat of a splurge, but it will function quite well as a briefcase in most office environments.It has a padded laptop sleeve, organisation pockets for the little things like USB sticks, pens etc. There is a shoulder strap which can be tucked into the bag whilst it is on the bike.
The bag has reflective patches on the side to help visibility on the way home. As part of the ‘Urban line’ the Commuter bag is made of a softer fabric than the standard Ortlieb line, but is still waterproof, adding to its ability to fit in in an office. It might not replace the smartest non-bike briefcases around, but it is certainly one of the smartest waterproof panniers out there.
Available from Wiggle.
Vaude Cycle 28 – £76.49
The Cycle 28 is a convertible backpack/pannier. It has all the benefits of a rucksack, such as a laptop sleeve, external organisation pockets and helmet carrying capabilities. It also has full mounts to attach it to a rack, along with a rear cover to contain and protect the shoulder straps from the elements.
If you have to travel around during the day without your bike then this bag probably provides the best off bike comfort. The Cycle will happily fit a 15″ laptop in a padded sleeve. At 28 liters there should be enough room for your office things, lunch and a waterproof/change of top. It is a slim bag, which is nice when traveling through traffic, but it might limit your ability to carry bulky clothing items or shoes.
The outside of the bag has some reflective areas which would increase side visibility when used as a pannier, or rear when on your back. It is water repellent on its own, but it does come with a rain cover for heavier rain.
Available at Evans Cycles
Ortlieb city back roller, single – £37.50
This is a traditional looking, if somewhat pared down, Ortlieb roll top pannier. The up shot of it being a little simpler than the classic style is its cost. At under £40 for a single 20 liter pannier, often all you need for commuting, this is a real bargain.
The bag is completely waterproof once rolled down and is simple enough that you can fit a sizable quantity of items inside. However, there is no internal organisation so you would need a bag inside if you want to keep your laptop and documents tidy.
The bag has reflective patches on the sides for extra visibility from the rear. Whilst it is not supplied with a shoulder strap, there are o-rings on the sides should you wish to add one. As a traditional pannier, it is not the easiest bag to carry around off the bike, so it is probably best suited for short carries to an office.
Available as a single pannier from Condor Cycles.
Panniers are great if you have a long commute and don’t like things on your back. They work well in the summer to stop you getting sweaty, and they work well in the winter to stop waterproofs wetting out. There are many different types of panniers out there, so like purchasing any bag, it helps to make a list of the features you want and work from there.
If you are not used to a pannier then there are things to consider – for example, you will not fit through quite such small gaps in traffic and you might feel a little unbalanced at first. Your bike will also be heavier so if you have to carry it into buildings and up stairs, you might want to pick a bag that is easy to remove and carry separately.
Are you a big pannier fan, or a pannier detractor? What is your on-bike carrying weapon of choice and how did you pick it?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.