Three Budget-Friendly Panniers For Your First Bike Trek

Often, the one thing coming between you and your first bike trek is having the gear itself. But waiting to have the top-of-the-line gear isn’t ideal when you’re eager to hit the open road on two-wheels. Panniers (or saddlebags) are an essential component for self-supported bike travel and can make a big difference in comfortability and joy out on the road. While there are many important things to look for in in a pair of panniers, there is no need to break the bank for the right saddlebags to carry bike-touring essentials like sleeping gear, tools, clothing and cooking equipment.

From many years of guiding bike trips, to countless personal tours including the Blue Ridge Parkway, coastal Spain, the Netherlands and across eastern United States, I’ve experimented with many different kinds of panniers, and often with little money to splurge. My bike travels have also given me many interactions with other bicycle tourists who have shared their personal preferences and dislikes when it comes to panniers. These personal and anecdotal experiences, as well as individual research, has given me an understanding of the essential features to look for in purchasing saddlebags for your first bike trek.

I’ve put together a list of the three of the best budget-friendly sets of panniers my experience and research has brought me to. While considering this list, I’ve made sure to not compromise value in the selection of budget-friendly saddlebags. First, I will list the most-essential features to look for in a set of panniers for your first bike trek, then I will share the three best budget-friendly panniers.

What to Look for in Panniers

  • A Set of 2 Rear Panniers
  • Waterproof, or an Added Waterproof Cover
  • 25L, 27L, 30L, 40L (per bag)- Reasonable amount of space for carrying bike touring essentials like clothes, tools, sleeping gear and cooking equipment.
  • Bright Colors for Visibility
  • Reflectors for Visibility
  • Separated Panniers (not connected)
  • BONUS:
    • Roll Top Cover (great for keeping water out)
    • Three-point Secure Connection
    • Quick Release System
    • Removable Shoulder Strap (great for traveling through airport/train station)

Three Best Budget-Friendly Panniers

MSX Mainstream: Between $64-$84 (with frequent discounts)

Why I Like This Pannier:

  • 100 % Waterproof
  • Roll closure that allows you to adjust packing volume
  • Large interior pocket for compartmentalized storage
  • Additional lid-flap to help keep out moisture, dirt and dust.
  • Three-point fastening system for direct locking and quick attachment in three places, making it stable and twist-proof on rough roads and vibration.
  • Side reflective logo

Rockbros Rear Rack Pannier: Between $49- $91

Why I Like This Pannier:

  • Fully Waterproof
  • Roll-top closure to keep out moisture, dirt and dust.
  • Quick-release mounting system with a three-point attachment for extra security
  • Adjustable clip to accommodate different rear bike racks, with moveable clips
  • Roll closure that allows you to adjust packing volume
  • Internal pocket for compartmentalized storage
  • Side reflective logo

Ibera PakRak: Between $89-$154

Why I Like This Pannier:

  • Water-resistant Nylon material with all-weather rain cover included with each pannier
  • Smart Quick-Release clip-on system
  • Multiple compartments and pockets
  • Secure three-point connection
  • Drawstring closure with outer buckle-cover for extra protection from moisture, dirt and dust

Other Ways to Find Budget-Friendly Panniers

  • Non-Profit or Community Bike Shop: Visit your local non-profit bike shop, otherwise known as a “community bike shop” or “bike co-op.” Most non-profit bike shops have used bicycles, bike parts and supportive gear that participants can purchase for a donated price. This could be a great place to find good quality, used panniers for a low price and also a good way to support a local non-profit while reusing valuable gear.
  • Used Gear Shops: Call or visit a local used gear shop to see if they have pre-used panniers at discounted prices.
  • Craigslist & Facebook Marketplace: Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are great places to find used panniers directly from the seller.

*Use the checklist listed above to help guide your search when looking for used panniers

At last, I want to thank you for checking out my list of Top Three Budget-Friendly Panniers. I hope this guide has been helpful in your search for panniers for your first bike trek and given you a useful guide to your search for both budget-friendly and good-quality panniers. If you are looking for more information about bike touring panniers, or bike touring bikes, then check out the Teen Treks Gear Guide for more detailed advice.

-Katie Hennessey

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