Complete Guide To Bike Panniers

When it comes to bikepacking, there are so many different ways you can approach it.

With advancements in how people travel via bike, there are tons of different bags and storage racks to implement on your bike.

When storing stuff on your bike, you have the options of keeping bags on the handlebars, under the seat, mounted to the frame, or draped over the frame on the sides of the bike. 

This need is where panniers come in. 

Bicycle panniers are a trusted method of storing stuff during trips and backpacking, and in this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know about pannier bags.

What Are Panniers for Bikes?

Pannier bags are similar to any other kind of storage bag on your bike.

The only thing that separates them from the rest is their location. Typically, storage is kept on a bike rack or underneath the seat of the bike.

In this situation, the bags are mounted to the frame and typically hang over the sides of the bike draping over the wheels. This reason is why they often get referred to as saddlebags.


Bike Panniers are designed to last for the entire lifecycle of a bike, so they are built to be sturdy and tough in any terrain. Because of their design and typically larger size, they are often more expensive than the other smaller bags. They usually get sold in sets of two.

If you are planning a distance trip and you’re struggling to figure out how you can fit everything you plan on bringing on your bike, pannier bags may be the solution you are looking for.

Why Should You Buy One For Your Bike?

Whether or not a pannier is necessary for you is dependent on why you ride your bike.

Panniers have their purpose and advantages over the other storage solutions, but they are not ideal for every situation.

If you regularly commute with your bike and need to carry a lot of sensitive materials such as paperwork, computers, and folders than a pannier is ideal for you.

Pannier bags can get made of waterproof material that protects everything inside.

If you are going on an extended distance trip than a pannier bag is going to make sense for you. You can store a lot more things inside a pannier bag, and the weight will not slow you down. If you were using a backpack, it would eventually get tiresome and put a strain on your back and shoulders.


It’s important to remember though, traveling with primary panniers is meant for people who are not traveling very far on foot. You do not want to be in a situation where you have to take a bunch of your things out of the pannier bag and carry them in your hands because you do not have another storage method.

Panniers also require a bike rack to secure your bag to the frame.

The extra weight has a chance of slowing you down, but in comparison to a backpack with the same load, you would not be affected that much.

In the end, the usefulness of a pannier is dependent on each.

Why Are Bike Panniers Great For Road And Hybrid Bikes?

Bicycle panniers work great on almost any type of bike.

They work exceptionally well on road and hybrid bikes due to the lighter frame. This design allows the bike to remain light still even when carrying a more massive load in the pannier. Bikes with panniers tend to be a little sluggish, so a light frame and ergonomic design are essential.

Hybrid bikes give you a little more of a rugged design which allows you to travel on rough terrain, but the design is still light enough to keep you moving.

Types of Bike Panniers

There are two different types of bike panniers, and each of them serves its purpose.

Rear Rack

You have the option of keeping your pannier on the rear of the bicycle. The rear rack is often the best place for panniers because the back wheel can handle more weight. Heavy-duty touring bikes can handle upwards of eighty pounds on the rear of the frame.

Front Rack

Back and Front Panniers

Using the front rack is only necessary if you cannot fit everything on the back and you need extra space. Over packing your bicycle will slow you down and make steering difficult.

In addition to bicycle panniers, you have the option of using baskets, saddle packs, handlebar bags, and trunks. Each of these types of containers has its pro’s and con’s, but panniers are the go-to choice for large bulk items. For long-distance trips, panniers can store as much as all those other methods combined.

Bike Panniers vs. Bike Trailers

Choosing between bikes with panniers or ones with trailers is a challenging but essential decision. 

They each have their pros and cons, so you should weigh your options when making this decision.

Pannier Pros:

  • Panniers are lighter
  • Smaller
  • More Affordable
  • You can access them while cycling
  • Simpler to use and install
  • Less maintenance
  • Good for rough terrain

Pannier Cons:

  • Need bike racks
  • Wear down tires faster
  • Effects overall balance
  • Makes bike heavier
  • Need to be removed when maintenance your bike

Trailer Pros:

  • Great for bulk items
  • Works with most styles
  • Easy to pack
  • Fold up
  • Less pressure on tires
  • Easier to ride with

Trailer Cons:

  • Longer learning curve
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Adds weight and momentum to the bike
  • Can be challenging to maneuver through tight areas
  • Not good on rough terrain


It’s entirely up to you to decide on what works best for you.

Most experts recommend bicycle panniers and say they are an excellent choice for long distance. They work well on most bike frames and do not weigh down the bike too much unless they get over packed.

Choosing a storage solution for your cycling is crucial because it can impact the quality of your entire trip so use the suggestions above and do your research before committing to anything.

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