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The Best Pannier Bags For Commuters

Buying Guides
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Wearing a rucksack or messenger bag might seem like the obvious way to carry your gear to and from work when commuting by bike, but there’s an alternative that can take the load off – pannier bags.

You may have seen them used in cycling touring, slung either side of the back wheel and attached via a pannier rack (which you can pick up from around £20). It frees your shoulders from the strain of a heavy rucksack and avoids the inevitable sweat patch on your back.

A good pannier bag is durable, water-resistant or waterproof, and able to stand up to winter conditions. Extra features to look out for include reflective detailing, internal pockets and pouches so that you can keep essentials accessible and a foldaway strap to make it easier to carry when off the bike.

We’ve picked our favourite current models below; prices are for a single bag unless stated otherwise. All have universal mounting hardware, so you won’t need to splash out on a specific pannier rack.


Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic

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It’s well worth considering a waterproof pannier if you commute by bike in the UK. Even if you avoid cycling on rainy days you will get caught out every once in a while and no-one wants to have to sit in soggy work clothes all day. This 20-litre bag has a waterproof roll enclosure, keeping its contents bone dry, and its durable polyester construction will withstand years of use. A shoulder strap guarantees comfort when carrying the pannier from bike to office, and its mounting system ensures it stays securely fixed to your bike’s pannier rack.

Buy from Evans Cycles (opens in new tab) | £130 for two


Blackburn Wayside Backpack And Pannier

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Want something that can double up as a backpack and a pannier? You’re in luck. The 19-litre Wayside has backpack straps that can be folded into a zipped pouch, revealing Velcro straps that attach to a pannier rack. The waxed canvas finish is both water- and rip-resistant, while storage includes an internal pocket for a laptop and two compartments on the front of the bag that are ideal for items you want easy access to like keys, a multi-tool and some spare inner tubes in case you’re unlucky enough to get a puncture. Other welcome features include a loop at the top for affixing a light and a chest strap to help spread the load when using the bag as a rucksack.

Buy from Sigma Sports (opens in new tab) | £49


Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier

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Another 20-litre pannier, the Thunderstorm City is made for year-round commuting. It’s waterproof to level IPX6, meaning it can withstand high-pressure and heavy sprays of water, and its welded seams and rolltop closure allow you to carry all your essentials to work without having to worry about the weather. A dedicated 13in laptop sleeve and protective kickplate will keep your more expensive cargo safe from any pothole-related bumps.

One of its most eye-catching features is its ability to act as a safety beacon. The hi-vis polyester fabric reflects light coming from any angle, helping you to be seen by drivers at night.

Buy from Halfords (opens in new tab) | £49


Thule Shield Pannier 17L

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This 17-litre option might look like an expensive alternative to the Altura above, but the extra features earn its price. The bag has an IPX4 rating, so it’s resistant to water splashes from all directions, which in practice provides enough protection for your belongings during wet commutes. But the Shield really stands out for its storage compartments. An internal padded pocket is large enough for a 15in laptop, while there’s an additional one for a tablet. There’s an exterior pocket that is perfect for your phone, keys or bank cards. It also has light attachment loops and reflective panels.

Buy from Thule (opens in new tab) | £105


Elops Waterproof Pannier Rack Bike Bag 500 20L

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Decathlon’s in-house brand Elops offers a budget-friendly introduction to riding with a pannier – but don’t let the low price worry you. The bag boasts waterproof fabric and seams, and has the same IPX4 rating as the Thule pannier above. While it lacks padded pockets or a strap for carrying off the bike, it’s a good option for those who want a cheap, easy and rucksack-free way of getting a spare set of clothes to the office.

Buy from Decathlon (opens in new tab) | £24.99

Charlie Allenby is a journalist with a passion for pedalling. He contributes features and buying advice about cycling, and is participating in RideLondon in 2022 as well as covering it for Coach. 


As Charlie is also training for a triathlon, he has become Coach’s chief whey and casein protein powder tester, trying as many brands as possible.


Charlie’s first book, Bike London (opens in new tab), is out now. He has written for The Guardian (opens in new tab), The Independent (opens in new tab), BikeRadar (opens in new tab) and others.