I’ve been looking around for a new set of panniers to replace my current beat-up pair. (For the uninitiated, panniers or “saddlebags” are bags that strap to the rack on the back of a bike.) Since I bike everywhere, having good bags is critical – I need to move around groceries, papers, and my computer from A to B, and I need to do it during typical Vancouver drizzles and downpours. I was a backpack man for a long time, but I needed to carry more goods, and panniers were fantastic for avoiding that sweaty back.
My biggest problem has been the computer, which is too big for my current panniers, and really needs a waterproof container. I have a Targus computer backpack that keeps the rain out, but it’s heavy and sweaty on my back. Enter Ortlieb – beautiful German-designed panniers for typical commuter purposes, although at steep prices. I finally bit the bullet, though, and picked up a $170 office-bag for the computer. It’s a real marvel of design: a roll-up top like kayaking bags for some serious waterproofing; a nice shoulder strap for carrying off-bike; and not too much of that bike-geek look. They’ve got some other good bags too, including one designed for shopping and two backpack designs.
I do own a lot of bags now. I guess it’s part of being car-free – I don’t take my own 3300L storage space around with me everywhere, so I need a few 50L bags for different purposes. (That figure is for a Saturn, with 2850L passenger volume and 450L trunk volume.)