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Spend a lot on panniers compared to bike and tent?

Old 02-18-16, 10:10 AM
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Sam Leach
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Spend a lot on panniers compared to bike and tent?

Hi,

I am pricing up gear for a bicycle tour around the perimeter of the UK or Spain & Portugal. I think it makes sense to spend the most on the bike (get a good bike) and second most on the tent and sleeping bag (to sleep comfortably). I have budgeted 1500 for the bike and 300 - 400 for a light one man tent. I am now looking at panniers. I was surprised at how a full set including handlebar bag can be as much as 500. My question is, is it worth spending 500 on panniers or is it a logical place to save a few hundred euros and use that money to extend the trip for another week or two? I figure they need to be waterproof but 500 seems too much. What are your thoughts?

My budget will be 9k total. I want to tour for 6 months on 1k per month so I have 3k left for gear. I need to buy everything with that including a good lock and alarm.

I am paranoid about theft. I figure that flashy panniers would also attract more unwanted attention compared to simpler looking ones (I plan to buy a bike that looks deceptively cheap for the same reason).

In summary, are a good set of panniers worth it?

Thanks.
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Old 02-18-16, 10:16 AM
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I think you can save money both on the tent and panniers. I don't have a good handle on European prices but certainly you could do much, much better in the States. I suspect you can do better in Europe as well.
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Old 02-18-16, 10:18 AM
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I use my Ortlieb panniers daily year around for a decade+ , and the tent only when I'm camping..

get a Hostel membership card. IYHA .
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Old 02-18-16, 10:22 AM
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The only justification for spending that kind of money on panniers is if you have a lot of disposable income and really are going for a certain look. Otherwise look for some Ortliebs on sale and be done with it. They are rugged, reliable, and totally waterproof. On sale here in the US, 4 bags and a handlebar bag should be a few hundred less than what you list. Buy them used and save even more.
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Old 02-18-16, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I think you can save money both on the tent and panniers. I don't have a good handle on European prices but certainly you could do much, much better in the States. I suspect you can do better in Europe as well.
European prices are more than in the US from what I understand. I want a good tent as I'll be camping for the majority of the trip and don't want to be wet or carry a heavy tent.

Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I use my Ortlieb panniers daily year around for a decade+ , and the tent only when I'm camping..

get a Hostel membership card. IYHA .
Thanks, I'll look into a Hostel membership but the plan is to camp for the majority of nights.

Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
The only justification for spending that kind of money on panniers is if you have a lot of disposable income and really are going for a certain look. Otherwise look for some Ortliebs on sale and be done with it. They are rugged, reliable, and totally waterproof. On sale here in the US, 4 bags and a handlebar bag should be a few hundred less than what you list. Buy them used and save even more.
I will look out for second hand.
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Old 02-18-16, 10:33 AM
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Most of the people on this forum are in USA. We do not have the same variety of camping and bike touring gear that you have in Europe, so any recommendations we make might not be as complete as you might like. For example, probably 90 percent of the people on this forum have never seen Carradice bags. You might consider their Carradry panniers. I got mine from Evans Cycle, shipped to USA. I have used Ortlieb in the past, but I got the Carradry for a specific trip that I am planning, the rear panniers are bigger than the ones I have.

For a short trip of a week or less, I like a solo tent. But for longer trips I like a two person tent, it is a bit roomier for me and my gear. There is a greater chance that I will be packing up my gear on a rainy morning on a longer trip, and I would rather do that in a tent bigger than a one person tent.

Have you looked at any used equipment? I used a tent on the Pacific Coast for a month and a half, I got it used for a fifth of the cost of new. It just needed some touch ups on the waterproofing.

I keep all my valuables in a handlebar bag that I can quickly disconnect from the bike. When I go in a store or restaurant, the handlebar bag comes with me. I have heard of people that even use a drybag to carry their valuables into the shower with them at campgrounds or hostels, I have not done that but if I was nervous about the people around me I would do that.

In USA our retail costs are lower than in Europe, we do not have a national VAT. Instead we have higher income taxes.
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Old 02-18-16, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam Leach View Post
.....is it worth spending 500 on panniers or is it a logical place to save a few hundred euros and use that money to extend the trip for another week or two? I figure they need to be waterproof but 500 seems too much. ...
no, they don't have to be waterproof. water resistant is fine.

basic panniers, plastic bags and zip-locs, and cheap rain covers
should cost less than half your proposed budget.
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Old 02-18-16, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
no, they don't have to be waterproof. water resistant is fine.

basic panniers, plastic bags and zip-locs, and cheap rain covers
should cost less than half your proposed budget.
+ 1. Sturdy panniers and plastic bags to organize and keep your stuff dry will do the job.
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Old 02-18-16, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Most of the people on this forum are in USA. We do not have the same variety of camping and bike touring gear that you have in Europe, so any recommendations we make might not be as complete as you might like. For example, probably 90 percent of the people on this forum have never seen Carradice bags. You might consider their Carradry panniers. I got mine from Evans Cycle, shipped to USA. I have used Ortlieb in the past, but I got the Carradry for a specific trip that I am planning, the rear panniers are bigger than the ones I have.

For a short trip of a week or less, I like a solo tent. But for longer trips I like a two person tent, it is a bit roomier for me and my gear. There is a greater chance that I will be packing up my gear on a rainy morning on a longer trip, and I would rather do that in a tent bigger than a one person tent.

Have you looked at any used equipment? I used a tent on the Pacific Coast for a month and a half, I got it used for a fifth of the cost of new. It just needed some touch ups on the waterproofing.

I keep all my valuables in a handlebar bag that I can quickly disconnect from the bike. When I go in a store or restaurant, the handlebar bag comes with me. I have heard of people that even use a drybag to carry their valuables into the shower with them at campgrounds or hostels, I have not done that but if I was nervous about the people around me I would do that.

In USA our retail costs are lower than in Europe, we do not have a national VAT. Instead we have higher income taxes.
Ok. Do you know of a European or UK based bike touring forum by any chance?

I have considered a two man tents for the same reasons. We will see.

Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
no, they don't have to be waterproof. water resistant is fine.

basic panniers, plastic bags and zip-locs, and cheap rain covers
should cost less than half your proposed budget.
The rain in the UK is pretty hardcore. It's nice to be able to keep dry.
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Old 02-18-16, 10:51 AM
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Old 02-18-16, 11:31 AM
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First you should figure out how much you need to carry. Buying a complete set of panniers + handlebar bag all at once might cost a lot, but you might not need a complete set. I feel like the Ortleib Backroller panniers that I bought were well worth the money, but they are all that I needed. I frequently carry other odds and ends that don't fit the panniers, but they get strapped down in other ways. So maybe look at your needs before you decide to spend too much on a full set, or to get a low quality set. I like having a dry place for my tent, bedding, clothing, and a couple of electronic items. Two panniers are sufficient for that. If I'm carrying more than two panniers of gear, the excess gets carried using cheaper bags or other methods.

I would also say that the biggest factor in how much space I need is my sleeping set up. If you spend money on lightweight stuff that packs small, you will not need as much space to carry stuff.

So I suggest a compromise. Do get some good panniers, but just get one set. If you need more room, go cheaper on the other bags. This trip will give you some insight as to whether you need more, quality panniers and bags, or if you just need to carry less or more compact gear.
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Old 02-18-16, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam Leach View Post
Ok. Do you know of a European or UK based bike touring forum by any chance?

I have considered a two man tents for the same reasons. We will see.



The rain in the UK is pretty hardcore. It's nice to be able to keep dry.
I've toured extensively in the UK and throughout Europe and I dealt with rain on a daily basis. You don't need waterproof bags. You do need sturdy bags. Plastic bags will organize your stuff and keep it dry.
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Old 02-18-16, 11:59 AM
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I would spend a lot less on the bike and tent, you would then have plenty of money for panniers. You can buy a perfectly good touring bike for a lot less than 1500 euros.
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Old 02-18-16, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
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Thanks

Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
First you should figure out how much you need to carry. Buying a complete set of panniers + handlebar bag all at once might cost a lot, but you might not need a complete set. I feel like the Ortleib Backroller panniers that I bought were well worth the money, but they are all that I needed. I frequently carry other odds and ends that don't fit the panniers, but they get strapped down in other ways. So maybe look at your needs before you decide to spend too much on a full set, or to get a low quality set. I like having a dry place for my tent, bedding, clothing, and a couple of electronic items. Two panniers are sufficient for that. If I'm carrying more than two panniers of gear, the excess gets carried using cheaper bags or other methods.

I would also say that the biggest factor in how much space I need is my sleeping set up. If you spend money on lightweight stuff that packs small, you will not need as much space to carry stuff.

So I suggest a compromise. Do get some good panniers, but just get one set. If you need more room, go cheaper on the other bags. This trip will give you some insight as to whether you need more, quality panniers and bags, or if you just need to carry less or more compact gear.
That makes a lot of sense. I will be packing minimalist and I don't see myself having to carry a lot of food in the UK as there are a lot of shops. In Spain there are less shops but still enough. Still undecided if to take a laptop/tablet or not. Definitely going to take an Android phone, GoPro and Kindle.

Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I've toured extensively in the UK and throughout Europe and I dealt with rain on a daily basis. You don't need waterproof bags. You do need sturdy bags. Plastic bags will organize your stuff and keep it dry.
Ok. Thanks. If I drop a pannier in a puddle will they keep dry?

Originally Posted by gerryl View Post
I would spend a lot less on the bike and tent, you would then have plenty of money for panniers. You can buy a perfectly good touring bike for a lot less than 1500 euros.
So you think high quality panniers are more important than a good bike or tent? Surely, the bike is the most important item on most tours?
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Old 02-18-16, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam Leach View Post
Surely, the bike is the most important item on most tours?
Actually, the fit of your bike is the most important thing. A good fitting Fuji touring will give you much more pleasure than a poor fitting Koga Miyata.
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Old 02-18-16, 12:23 PM
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I'd spend more on the bike, less on the panniers and have no idea about tents in europe.

You can get a good touring bike for 1500e. A full set of ortlieb standard roller panniers costs 300e in europe and those are arguably the best panniers for sale today.

Our tent cost about 200e and it's so waterproof you could probably turn it into a raft. The brand is Hannah. Ours is a 3 man tent for comfort reasons and is pretty heavy. But I think they make lighter tents as well.
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Old 02-18-16, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam Leach View Post
So you think high quality panniers are more important than a good bike or tent? Surely, the bike is the most important item on most tours?
My point is that you can get an excellent touring bike for a lot less than 1500 euros.
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Old 02-18-16, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
no, they don't have to be waterproof. water resistant is fine.

basic panniers, plastic bags and zip-locs, and cheap rain covers
should cost less than half your proposed budget.
+1

Part of the route we took a few years ago took us across Portugal and across southern Spain. We would have been grateful to see a little rain, instead of 43C temperatures However, we had 35 days of rain in northern Europe, and were thankful for "waterproof".

I tend to agree that you can get a good tent and panniers for less than you have in your budget. I also agree that the bike and bike fit are the most important items.

I'd still go for the Ortlieb panniers if you can afford them, and plan on more touring in the future.

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Old 02-18-16, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by mantelclock View Post
Actually, the fit of your bike is the most important thing. A good fitting Fuji touring will give you much more pleasure than a poor fitting Koga Miyata.
Makes sense.

Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
I'd spend more on the bike, less on the panniers and have no idea about tents in europe.

You can get a good touring bike for 1500e. A full set of ortlieb standard roller panniers costs 300e in europe and those are arguably the best panniers for sale today.

Our tent cost about 200e and it's so waterproof you could probably turn it into a raft. The brand is Hannah. Ours is a 3 man tent for comfort reasons and is pretty heavy. But I think they make lighter tents as well.
I am still researching tents but I assume you pay a premium for lightweightedness

Originally Posted by gerryl View Post
My point is that you can get an excellent touring bike for a lot less than 1500 euros.
Sounds good. Can you recommend some?

Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
+1

Part of the route we took a few years ago took us across Portugal and across southern Spain. We would have been grateful to see a little rain, instead of 43C temperatures However, we had 35 days of rain in northern Europe, and were thankful for "waterproof".

I tend to agree that you can get a good tent and panniers for less than you have in your budget. I also agree that the bike and bike fit are the most important items.

I'd still go for the Ortlieb panniers if you can afford them, and plan on more touring in the future.
I am not sure what time of year I will have saved the money but plan to save €1k per month. I would do UK in Summer or Spain & Portugal in Spring or Autumn.
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Old 02-18-16, 01:03 PM
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As others have said, plastic bags inside regular panniers will keep your stuff just as dry as fully waterproof panniers. OTOH, the waterproof ones can be more convenient. I tended to only be careful about sealing everything in plastic bags on days where I knew I'd be riding in the rain. So if an unexpected shower came I'd have to scramble to check how well my stuff was packed. With the waterproof panniers I use now that's not an issue. OTOH, there's no need for them to be all that expensive. My current waterproof ones have held up fine for many tours (and far more grocery shopping trips) over the last 10 years and cost $35 (~ 30 euros) - they're Nashbar's house brand.

Good tents also don't have to be all that expensive. My favorite bike-camping tent is a Eureka Spitfire which was on sale for $70 (~63 euros) and I have no complaints about it at all. It's kept me dry through various thunderstorms, has plenty of headroom to sit up for reading or changing clothes, and weighs just under 3 lbs. (1.4 kg).

I'd cut way down on your proposed budget for gear and have that money available for the trip itself to enjoy the local cuisine and attractions. Another bonus with less expensive gear is that you won't be as paranoid about the possibility of theft.
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Old 02-18-16, 01:22 PM
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Carradice classic Heavy Canvas Panniers and Bar Bags are a good Long Term Investment too.

There are International Brands of tents and those of European importer's brands

Most- All go where the Labor is cheaper to sew them together .. China.

I'd avoid a tent less than 1M tall inside or you have to get Out to sit up and Put your shoes On.

Aluminum rather than fibreglass Poles

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Old 02-18-16, 01:41 PM
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Sam, where do you live?

A pair of Ortlieb Backroller Classics are priced at about 75 Euros in the Netherlands. I'd assume the prices would not vary too much in many other European countries.

The nice thing about waterproof is that we were able to store our netbook in one of our rear panniers with no additional weather protection. Also a waterproof bar bag is very useful for carrying camera, phone, wallet, passport, sunglasses(hopefully, you'll need them), and other important items. It keeps them dry, provides easy access, and allows you to remove them easily from the bike when you have to leave the bike unattended. IMO, if I was only going to buy one waterproof bag, it would be the bar bag.

Keeping important things dry. My camera is carried in the orange case in the middle.

Last edited by Doug64; 02-18-16 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 02-18-16, 01:49 PM
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If you are packing light as you mentioned above two rear panniers and a dry bag on the back will be enough space. That will bring your pannier costs down.

Note the the Plus (cordura) Ortliebs are 7-ish ounces lighter than the classics (PVC). (The former will fade more quickly in the sun). If you want to save more weight you can remove the inside pockets to save another 5 ounces. No front rack, front panniers, choosing the Plus model, and removing the pockets saves about 5.5 lbs. You could save yet another pound or more by getting a different handlebar bag.

Also, you said you were considering a two man tent. I think this is a good idea if you spend any time at all in the tent doing anything other than sleeping.
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Old 02-18-16, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam Leach View Post
Originally Posted by gerrylMy point is that you can get an excellent touring bike for a lot less than 1500 euros.



Sounds good. Can you recommend some?

https://www.evanscycles.com/bikes/to...iceIncMax=1592


No idea if you want drop bar, flat bar, or trekking/butterfly.

The Dawes Galaxy Plus 520 looks like a decent mix of components and quality.
The Dawes Galaxy Cromo 2015 is similar to the above, but cheaper cost and canti brakes instead of disc.
Ridgeback Voyage 2016 is under $1000 euro and comes with a rack and fenders. And if you fit the remaining size, the 2015 version is dirt cheap.


There are a ton of other bikes, i just used Evans since I know its Euro based and has a good number of touring bikes. There are more on the site that I didnt mention too.
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Old 02-18-16, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam Leach View Post
Ok. Do you know of a European or UK based bike touring forum by any chance?
....
The only UK forum I am familiar with is specific to one brand of bike, so not bothering to list it here.

If you have not checked out crazy guy on a bike (website), you should. There are a lot of trip logs there where others that have already been somewhere documented their trip with lots of photos. A lot of their trip logs include foreign countries.
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/

Originally Posted by Sam Leach View Post
.... Still undecided if to take a laptop/tablet or not. Definitely going to take an Android phone, GoPro and Kindle.
...
I brought a netbook on the first few tours. After that either brought a 7 inch Android tablet or a 4.7 inch Android phone. Big advantage of a tablet is that it takes less power to charge it up, often when I walk into a restaurant I tried to find a seat near a power outlet to plug into while I was there. The tablets that I used had the same apps that my phone had, so I did not carry both. The advantage of the tablet was I could see the big screen better with my older eyes. But my next trip, I am bringing the phone instead since I might buy a SIM card when I get to my destination, my tablet can't use a SIM card.
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