The best pannier racks and pannier bags for bikes 2024: sturdy and high-volume options put to the test

Bike panniers are a great option to carry luggage if you're going touring or using your bike for commuting

Image shows a person riding a bike with pannier bags attached
(Image credit: Anna Abram)

The best bike panniers will let you carry your luggage in comfort. But the first time you ride a bike with a rack and loaded panniers fitted, the sensation is somewhat alien. When full, panniers can add a substantial amount of weight to the bike and make any side-to-side rocking feel odd. You quickly get used to the added weight, although climbing out of the saddle may feel awkward; that's why the best touring bikes tend to have low gearing for climbs.

If you're carrying a heavy load, then placing the weight on your bike can certainly save your shoulders and back from undue stress – and you won't get the sweaty triangle associated with a backpack. Panniers can place the load lower down and may attach it more securely to your bike than even the best bikepacking bags, making for a more stable ride.

Pannier racks and panniers are popular among commuters, touring cyclists and anyone who needs to carry a substantial volume – they're great for day-to-day tasks like food shopping too.

Panniers are usually fitted to the rear of the bike, but if you've got a lot to carry - maybe on your touring bike - then front panniers are an option too.

Pannier bags need to sit on pannier racks – and thus setting yourself up is a story of two halves. We've tested a wide variety of both and divided the results into our picks of the best pannier racks and best panniers. You can also scroll down to the end of the page for our buyer's guide to how to choose the best bike luggage for you.

The Quick List

Pannier racks

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Pannier bags

Best rear racks

Best overall

Ortlieb Quick Rack

(Image credit: Future)

1. Ortlieb Quick Rack

Best overall

Specifications

Weight: 580g
Maximum load: 20kg

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to set-up
+
Quick to take off, and put back on
+
Well-made
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
20kg weight limit might not be enough for 'big load tourers'

Ortlieb's Quick Rack is a revelation where racks are concerned. Not only is the initial installation exceptionally simple, it can be removed, or remounted, in less than 20 seconds. 

It's suitable for 26” and 28” (limited suitability for 29” wheels – up to max. 2.35” tyre width). Extra accessories include mudguards and adaptors for bikes that don't have eyelets. 

If you only have one bike the Quick Rack enables you to quickly transform it from a road warrior to a tourer, commuter or shopper at the drop of a hat. This makes transportation a breeze too. The hooks that remain on the bike when the rack is removed are hardly noticeable. 

With two hanging levels, it comfortably accommodates panniers and a rack bag at the same time without one interfering with the other. 

The rack looks tidy on the bike and is well-made, encouragingly it comes with Ortlieb's 5 year warranty. While it might be more expensive than the likes of Blackburn and Topeak, our tester deemed its convenience and versatility well-worth the extra expense. 

Read more: Ortlieb Quick Rack review

Best for compatibility

TOPEAK UNI SUPER TOURIST PANNIER RACK (DISC)

(Image credit: Future)
Best for compatibility

Specifications

Weight: 820g
Maximum Load: 26kg

Reasons to buy

+
Lives up to compatibility claims
+
Well-made
+
Easy to mount
+
Compatible with Topeak luggage

Reasons to avoid

-
We genuinely can't find any flaws with this rack

Topeak's Uni Super Tourist is an aluminium bike rack with stainless steel fittings. It's designed to 'fit most 24” to 29” wheel MTB and 700C touring bikes with disc brakes'. Out of the racks we tested, this one came out on top where compatibility was concerned; it fitted all the bikes that we tried it on.

The quality of construction and finishing is impressive. Unlike both LifeLine's and Decathlon's, the finish remained unmarked despite plenty of bike panniers being used on it. 

With an RRP of $68.99 / £44.99, we'd say that this is definitely a value-for-money rack that should stand the test of time. 

The maximum load of 26kg makes the bike rack ideal for anyone reliant on their bike for heavy shopping loads, keen tourers or those wanting a sleek system to carry a trunk bag; it features an MTX QuickTrack® plate which is compatible with any Topeak MTX TrunkBag or MTX rear basket.

Read more: Topeak Uni Super Tourist Rack review

Easy to install

Image shows Blackburn Expedition 1 Disc Rear Rack

(Image credit: Future)
Best solution for a frame without mounts

Specifications

Weight: 535g
Maximum load: 20.5kg

Reasons to buy

+
Can be fixed at drop out, or directly on frame
+
Very quick to mount
+
Fits most quick-release, disc bikes with 700C wheels

Reasons to avoid

-
Faff if you use quick-release attachment and need to remove the rear wheel for any reason
-
Only fits wheels with 9mm QR axle, not compatible with 12mm thru axles

The  Expedition 1 Rear Rack is Blackburn's legacy product. Designed by Jim Blackburn in 1975, it's made from aircraft-grade aluminium, specifically for 700c or 29er wheels, but should suit most bike wheel sizes with 9mm QR axles. As the name suggests, this is a disc brake compatible bike rack, but there is also a standard rim brake version too. 

It's hard not to love the simple mounting that the supplied quick-release skewer offers. It means that you can fit the rack to a bike that doesn't have mounting eyelets. Two different sizes of P-clips are also included for attaching the arms to the frame. If you swap bikes and have mounting points, it can be directly mounted to the frame too. 

This is certainly a bike rack to invest in if you have a disc-brake bike and are reluctant to fettle with a rack that claims to 'fit-all'. The Expedition 1 will likely fit the vast majority of QR, disc-brake bikes with 700C wheels. 

In addition to its simple mounting and reliability, it's well-made and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Read more: Blackburn Expedition 1 bike rack review

Best value

LIFELINE ALLOY REAR PANNIER RACK

(Image credit: Future)
Best affordable option with decent capacity

Specifications

Weight: 862g
Maximum load: 25kg

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Easy to mount in comparison to some
+
Sturdy, spring loaded-luggage bar

Reasons to avoid

-
Bolts deteriorate quickly 
-
Short arms mean that it doesn't 'fit all wheel sizes from 26" to 700c'

LifeLine's Alloy Rear Pannier Rack is an aluminium option with a maximum load of 25kg for those looking to keep their costs down. 

Affordability doesn't guarantee quality though. When moving the bike rack from bike to bike while testing, we noted deterioration of the bolts. This is perhaps a rack you'll want to fit once and leave on the bike to avoid rounding the bolt heads, or maybe source better quality bolts. 

LifeLine claim that the rack fits 'all wheel sizes from 26" to 700c'. We didn't agree; the arms lacked length to achieve a horizontal position on a few of our bikes. 

There are eyelets for mounting reflectors and lights, though compatibility may pose issues here; we couldn't find anything to fit. The spring-loaded luggage bar is a nice addition and works well.

Overall, the Lifeline bike rack is an affordable, functional option if you know that you won't be moving it from bike to bike. If you think that it'll be swapped at some point, it might be worth investing in some better quality fixings. 

Read more: LifeLine Alloy Rear Pannier Rack review

Best budget

Image shows Decathlon ELOPS 100 Bike Pannier Rack

(Image credit: Emma Silverside)
Best budget option

Specifications

Weight: 1120g
Maximum load: 10kg

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap as chips

Reasons to avoid

-
Challenging to fit
-
Won't 'fit all'
-
Quite low max load

The Decathlon ELOPS 100 bike rack is probably the cheapest option on the market. But just like LifeLine's bike rack, affordability doesn't always deliver compatibility, or quality. 

The rack is a combination of aluminium and steel with a rather delicate finish. It would be advisable to use some insulating tape at pannier contact points if you want to prolong the aesthetical appearance of the rack. 

The biggest drawback of this bike rack is its flatpack status. You'll need to be a little patient and happy to fettle if you are going to mount it yourself. On the plus side, all the tools you need are supplied.

We found compatibility to be on a par with the LifeLine Alloy Rack; it certainly doesn't fit 'all 24" to 28" bikes with frames equipped with inserts'.

The 10kg weight limit makes this a good choice for anyone wanting to carry light loads.

Read more: Decathlon ELOPS 100 Bike Pannier Rack review

Best rear pannier bags

Once you've got your rack sorted, it's time to choose a pannier, or two, to attach to it.

When comparing prices, be sure to check whether you are getting a pair or a single pannier; many manufacturers sell single panniers, while others only sell pairs. 

Best overall bag

Image shows Ortlieb Back Roller Free rear bike panniers

(Image credit: Emma Silversides)
Best overall

Specifications

Capacity: 20l per pannier
IP rating: 64
Weight: 925g per pannier

Reasons to buy

+
Roomy
+
Built to last
+
Easy to mount and carry 
+
PVC-free
+
100% waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Might not be as resistant to abrasions as the Back Roller Classic (with PVC)

Ortlieb's Back Roller panniers are the choice of tourers worldwide for good reasons. The Back Roller Free boasts every feature that the long-standing Classic features: the Quick-Lock2.1 system that attaches to any pannier, tool-free adjustment, interior pouches, shoulder straps and an IP64 rating. So what's different? The latest Back Roller comes from Ortlieb's PVC-free line of products and is made of a polyurethane-coated polyester fabric.

Our tester felt that the fabric was slightly more malleable than that used on the Classic, and perhaps more vulnerable to abrasions. However, the overall performance was impressive and certainly wasn't affected by any scuffs. Indeed, the more malleable material made packing out the pannier easier. 

LIke many of Ortlieb's products, these are built to last and also come with a 5 year warranty. This makes the initial $210 / £140 for a pair investment perfectly palatable. 

Read more: Ortlieb Back Roller Free pannier review

Best for wet weather

Image shows Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier

(Image credit: Emma Silversides)
Best for wet weather

Specifications

Capacity: 20l per pannier
IPX rating: 6
Weight: Not specified

Reasons to buy

+
Durable
+
100% waterproof
+
Easy to open and close
+
Decent reflective detailing

Reasons to avoid

-
No included shoulder strap
-
Expensive for a single pannier

Altura is known for making practical kit that stands out at night; the Thunderstorm City Pannier is no exception. Its quality impressed hugely, rivalling other manufacturers for construction and waterproofing. 

The roll-top closure with a single clasp is really easy to use, making the pannier ideal for anyone wanting regular, quick access to the pannier. 

Reflective detailing is very good; those undertaking dark commutes will stand out in traffic. 

Inside, there are two ‘open’ pouches and a zipped one, plus a key loop, while light padding protects anything in the pouches.

There's a single carry handle that is comfortable enough, though quite small. There's no supplied shoulder strap.  

Given its durable, robust nature, the Thunderstorm City 20 shouldn't be confined to commuting duties; it would make for a decent touring pannier too, providing you are not trying to be too stealth.

Read more: Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier review

Best for versatility

Image shows Brooks Scape Panniers.

(Image credit: Emma Silversides)
Best for the commuter who likes to venture further afield on a weekend

Specifications

Capacity (large/small): 18-22l / 10-13l per pannier
IPX rating: IPX4
Weight: 630g / 760g per pannier

Reasons to buy

+
Ideal for commuting as well as adventure riding
+
Well-made
+
Durable
+
External pocket

Reasons to avoid

-
No internal pockets
-
No shoulder strap 
-
Cord carrry handle

Brooks' Scape range features a small and a large pannier. They tick the usual boxes that you would expect from Brooks: well-made, stylish and durable.

While the range is primarily targeted at adventure riders, the Scape Panniers won't be out of place on a commuting bike, or on the rack of someone simply doing errands. 

There are no interior pockets but a sizeable, watertight exterior one goes some way to make up for this; it's a functional addition that many 100% waterproof panniers don't boast. 

The carry handle is not designed for comfort; it's not much more than a piece of cord. There's no supplied shoulder strap, something to bear in mind if you considering investing. 

The aesthetics are certainly subtle and stylish, with just a very small amount of reflective detailing on the sides. 

These may be versatile but some commuters might consider the lack of carrying options and minimal reflectives a sticking point.

Read more: Brooks Scape pannier review

Best value

Image shows Cube Travel Pannier.

(Image credit: Emma Silversides)
Best value for money, commuter friendly panniers

Specifications

Capacity: 20l per pannier
IPX rating: Not specified
Weight: 800g per pannier

Reasons to buy

+
Functional and practical
+
Decent shoulder straps included 
+
Sold as a pair
+
Plenty of pouches and pockets
+
Rain cover is high-vis

Reasons to avoid

-
Not 100% waterproof
-
External zip pocket impractically small

The Cube Travel Panniers are the only ones we tested that are sold as a pair. They are certainly best suited to commuters and those relying on a bike more than a car. 

We wouldn't recommend them for touring any distance in uncertain weather conditions. While they are well made, they don't offer the waterproofing of Altura's or Brooks's. A water resistant shell comes with each pannier. It does a good job of fending off light rain, while increasing visibility. Anything heavier penetrates it. 

We loved the pockets and pouches, both inside and out, though would have liked the outer zipped pocket to be a little larger. 

Shoulder straps are included for both panniers and chunky buckles make these easy to use with gloved and/or cold hands. 

They are roomy and well-shaped for anyone carrying bulky kit to the gym, workplace or back from the shops.

Read more: Cube Travel panniers review

Best for urban riding

Image shows Chrome Urban Ex Pannier

(Image credit: Emma Silversides)
Best for the style conscious, urban rider with money to spend

Specifications

Capacity: 17-21l per pannier
IPX rating: 6 (not officially tested)
Weight: 890g per pannier

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish
+
Robust, backed up with life-time warranty
+
Interior pockets are well-padded

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey
-
Limited capacity
-
Limited reflective detailing

Chrome prides itself on made-to-last kit for urban cyclists; the Urban Ex 2 Pannier is typical of the quality, robustness and style that it offers. 

It's not as spacious as some, so be sure it offers the room you want before investing. Interior pockets and pouches offer excellent protection for electronic devices; a compact office is possible there. On the outside, there is daisy chain webbing to attach a D-lock to.

While we didn't find an official IPX rating on the website, we can confirm that it didn't let a droplet of water get to contents while we were testing; waterproofing is as good as the best. 

Carrying options impressed hugely; two different options for carrying by hand, plus a robust, detachable shoulder strap. It's designed to be carried just as comfortably and conveniently off the bike as it is on it. These practical options, in our opinion, make the pannier one of the best for urban, office-based commuters.

The price is eye-watering, but with a lifetime warranty this is a buy-once-buy-to-last option for any discerning urban rider.

Read more: Chrome Industries Urban Ex Pannier 2.0 review

Best for bulky cargo