Best bike panniers and pannier racks 2022

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

Best bike panniers

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.

Touring cyclists with bike panniers looking for a pitch for the night

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. Here are our picks of the best pannier racks and best panniers, both front and rear.  Scroll down to the end of the page for our buyer's guide to how to choose the best bike luggage.

Best rear racks for bike panniers

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 (opens in new tab) is an aluminium option for those looking to keep their costs down. With an RRP of just £22.99 and a maximum load of 25kg, it's one of the more affordable options.

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 for luggage 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 £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

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

Blackburn Expedition 1 Disc pannier rack

(Image credit: Blackburn)
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

Also consider

Our testing hasn't stretched to the following bike racks, so we can't comment on compatibility, ease of fitting, quality of construction or durability. However, they are certainly worth looking at if you are hoping to invest...

Tubus Logo Classic Stainless Steel Rear Pannier Rack

(Image credit: Tubus)

Tubus Logo Classic Stainless Steel Rear Pannier Rack

Best for smaller frames

Specifications

Weight: 828g
Max capacity: 26kg

Reasons to buy

+
Low position suits smaller frames

Reasons to avoid

-
Reduced pannier ground clearance

Tubus is a market leader and the brand produces high-quality bike racks for serious touring cyclists. This stainless steel rack is designed with a narrow top and lowered rails. Designed for 26" to 28" wheels, Tubus says that it's also a particularly good fit for smaller/ shorter frames. Pannier bags can sit on the lower rails, keeping weight closer to the ground while releasing space on top for strapping on a tent, roll matt or other kit.

Tortec Ultralight rack

(Image credit: Tortec)

Tortec Tour Ultralite Rear Rack

Best for low weight

Specifications

Weight: 560g
Max capacity: 25kg

Reasons to buy

+
Light weight

Reasons to avoid

-
Not compatible with disc brakes

Made from aluminium tubing and weighing just 560g, the Tortec Tour Ultralite is one of the lightest bike racks on the market. The small rack is best for short tours, or commuters who would prefer panniers over rucksacks, although it can still take a claimed 25kg max weight. It's not disc compatible, but will work with most mudguard setups on 700c wheels.

Best front racks for bike panniers

Giant Rack It Front Rack

(Image credit: Giant)

Giant Rack It Front Rack

Best for multiple positioning options

Specifications

Weight: Not specified
Max capacity: 15kg

Reasons to buy

+
Can be mounted in different positions
+
Decent load limit

Reasons to avoid

-
No frills

The simple front bike rack system allows for multi positioning on, according to Giant, all forks that are fitted with mounts, via a two bolt fixing (per side). Capable of taking a total load of 15kg, the 13mm aluminium tubing creates additional space for up to two side panniers.

PELAGO FRONT RASKET BIKE RACK BASKET

(Image credit: Pelago)

Pelago Front Rasket Bike Rack Basket

Best for built-in extra load capacity

Specifications

Weight: 1600g
Max capacity: 15kg

Reasons to buy

+
Basket adds load carrying capacity without needing to purchase panniers
+
But it is pannier compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
No protection for load

Pelago says the Rasket offers the strength of a rack in the convenience of a basket. The multiple fixing points mean that you can use the front rack on almost any bike with wheel sizes from 26" to 29", with or without mount fixings, with rim or disc brakes (although compatibility with thru axles TBC). Compatible with side panniers too, the stainless steel Racket combines a rack and basket for a total load offering of 15kg (5kg each load point).

Best rear bike panniers

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 for reflective detailing

Specifications

Capacity: 20 litre 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. It's not surprising that this has an RRP of £100 for a single pannier. 

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 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. They have RRPs of £115 and £110 per pannier. 

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 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 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 protection for bulky cargo

Specifications

Capacity: 25l per pannier
IPX rating: Not specified
Weight: 1400g per pannier

Reasons to buy

+
Roomy
+
Well-made
+
100% waterproof
+
Two colour options

Reasons to avoid

-
No shoulder strap
-
Depth may cause issues with heel strike
-
No interior pockets or pouches

The Topeak Drybag DX is undoubtedly a pannier for anyone with a bulky load; its stated 25l capacity belies its seemingly bottomless form. 

While reinforced side panels offer great protection for contents, they are removeable should you want a more pliable bag. It's 100% waterproof and seriously well-made. 

We missed internal pockets and a shoulder strap but found the carry handle much more comfortable than something like Brooks'. 

You may need to place the Drybag DX further back on your rack than other panniers; its depth could cause heel-striking. 

Two colour options should satiate everyone; bright yellow for those wanting to stand out and black for those happy to blend in. 

This is a single pannier purchase and we'd say be careful; fully loading it may make you feel a little unbalanced if you opt for just the one.

Read more: Topeak Pannier Drybag DX review

Also consider

vaude pannier bag

(Image credit: Vaude)

Vaude Aqua Back Rear Pannier

Specifications

Capacity: 24l per pannier
IPX rating: Not specified
Weight: 970g per pannier

Reasons to buy

+
Climate neutral manufacturing
+
Good capacity

Reasons to avoid

-
On the expensive side

Like Ortlieb, Vaude is another gold standard brand of bike bags. The Aqua Backs, purchased as a pair, have a combined 48 litre capacity. According to Vaude they are climate neutrally manufactured, using durable, PVC-free tarpaulin. The roll closure allows for size customisation and a watertight closure, while a removable shoulder strap makes it easy to transport off the bike. The panniers weigh just shy of 2kg (for the pair) and should be compatible with most pannier racks.

Ortlieb Back Roller Classic QL2.1 Pannier Pair

Ortlieb Back Roller Classic QL2.1 Pannier Pair

Best for lightweight weatherproofing

Specifications

Capcity: 20l per pannier
IPX rating: IP64
Weight: 950g per pannier

Reasons to buy

+
Light
+
Very weatherproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

The Back Roller Classic panniers are lightweight, durable and waterproof. These are created with rugged, challenging touring in mind. Capacity is 20 litres each and these feature shoulder straps for carrying off the bike, with an array of pockets plus reflective features. They fit to the racks with sliding hooks which can be adjusted without tool, and they weigh 950g each.

Best front bike panniers and bags

Vaude Aqua Front Light Pannier Bag

(Image credit: Vaude)

Vaude Aqua Front Light panniers (pair)

Best for simplicity and robustness

Specifications

Capacity: 11l per pannier
IPX rating: Not specified
Weight: 500g per pannier

Reasons to buy

+
Simple design
+
Decent capacity

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited internal organisation

Vaude says the Ultralight set of two panniers is perfect for the adventurous rider thanks to its simplicity and robustness. With a 20 litre carrying capacity, the Aqua Front Light panniers are perfect for keeping goods safe and dry, with one main pocket and a smaller internal one for riding essentials. Water-repellent for all-weather use and a choice of lime green or black, both come with reflective logos and the QMR2.0 attachment system and a handy shoulder strap.