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Beat the Elements with Waterproof Panniers

by Melanie Colavito

I know this is a blog dedicated to bike trailers, but of course, we are enthusiasts and users of bike panniers and bike racks, as well. After all, it sure is hard to determine a winner in the battle royale of panniers versus trailers, and the winner for any particular person often comes down to a matter of personal preference. Not to mention, we love the idea of hauling stuff by bike here at Bike Trailer Shop and Bike Bag Shop, so whether you choose trailer or bag/rack, it’s all good to us!

Which brings me to the topic of the day: waterproof panniers. Waterproof panniers need little explanation. Have you elected to use panniers for your next bike tour or utility cycling expedition? Do you live in or plan to travel to a place where heavy rain, sleet, or snow is a possibility? Do you need or want something to keep your gear dry (first and foremost), but also clean and safe? In that case, we definitely recommend waterproof front and waterproof rear panniers over standard panniers, which often utilize a rain cover, but still do not quite compare to the level of water protection afforded by official waterproof bags.

Waterproof panniers may cost slightly more than standard panniers on average, but the cost is worth saving the hassle of having soggy gear. In many cases, the closure of a waterproof pannier is of the roll-top or fold-over variety, in order to prevent leakage through zipper seams. Most waterproof panniers are made from special, durable fabric and coated with water-resistant thermoplastics. The seams on waterproof panniers are also welded and heavy-duty in order to keep that pesky water out!

Fine, fine, I understand you want some proof (no pun intended). We recently had a customer share his experience using the Ortlieb Back Roller Classics and Front Roller Classics. This is what he had to say:

The attached photo was taken near the end of my first trip with the new Ortlieb Roller Classics. I traveled nearly 250 miles from Rochester, NY, to Delta, Ontario Canada. The route took me along the shores of Lake Ontario with a ferry ride from Cape Vincent, NY, to Wolfe Island, Ontario Province, and another ferry ride from Wolfe Island to Kingston, Ontario. I encountered two days of rain with the second day of the trip offering wind gusts of over 60 MPH with the rain. I finally ended the day at 4:30 after 9 hours of walking the bike more than riding due to the wind sheer along Lake Ontario. Long story short, not a drop of moisture entered my bags despite the driving rains. Count me as one very happy user of the Ortlieb Bags.

I must say, I am quite impressed. No, not with the bags, I already knew they would keep his gear dry (though they are impressive, nonetheless). I am impressed with this rider’s fortitude to continue his trip for 9 hours in the driving wind and rain. Wow! Needless to say, waterproof panniers are definitely the way to go for wet weather conditions. After all, who doesn’t want to be able to change into a set of nice warm, clean, dry clothes after a wet ride?

 
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