Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier review

Well made and durable, with functionality for a demanding commuter

On bike
(Image credit: Emma Silversides)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

Altura has taken the robustness and durability of a classic touring pannier and added functionality and practicality for commuters, or anyone relying a bike over a car for transport. Any contents are well protected while remaining quick and easy to access. The rack attachments are simple, sturdy and secure. The only thing missing is a shoulder strap, but there are eyelets for you to attach your own if you really want one. The Altura Thunderstorm City 20 is pricey at its RRP - you are only getting one pannier for £100 - but if you only need one pannier it's a good investment.

For
  • +

    Durable

  • +

    Well made

  • +

    Practical

Against
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    No shoulder strap included

The Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier has fast become my favourite pannier (opens in new tab)for shopping, errands and commuting. In terms of opening and closing, it's the simplest and quickest pannier I have come across. The roll-top is secured with a hook attached a single, V-form strap. The hook slides into one of 6 daisy-chain loops, to adapt to the panniers load. It's never once slid out of a loop. I’d say it’s less likely to fail in the long term than any kind of buckle. You can have the pannier opened, accessed and closed again in no time whatsoever - a priority in foul weather. 

Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier: construction

The main body of the Thunderstorm City 20 is a polyester, two-tone material with TPU coating. All seams are welded. It has an IPX6 waterproof rating and I’ve had absolutely no issues with ingress. I’ve felt confident riding round in the foulest of weathers with valuable items stowed inside; contents are 100% protected from the elements.

Inside, Altura has provided two ‘open’ pouches and a zipped one, plus a key loop. There’s light padding to protect anything in the pouches. The largest easily accommodates a 13in device. My 14in laptop just poked out of the top. The reinforced back gives extra protection - I was 100% confident that my laptop was safe and secure. I was never concerned about placing the pannier on the floor either; there’s a lower kickplate directly under the pouches.

The 20-litre capacity, with a 10kg limit, will satisfy the vast majority of commuters. Access is not difficult, even though the opening is slightly narrower than some other panniers. Altura has folded in the top edge to enhance water-tightness of the roll-top closure. It's likely to help accommodate the single strap closure too and this, in my opinion, is totally worth a smaller opening.

Reflective detailing all round the pannier, plus loops for lights, make it practical for dark commutes and those valuing visibility.

The Thunderstorm City 20 tips the scales at just over 850g, about average for a pannier with this construction, internal pockets and a functional carry handle. It’s available in Black and Hi-Viz Yellow/Black.

Mounting and carrying

The Altura Thunderstorm City 20 pannier attaches with a robust Klickfix system, designed to fit any rail. I’m currently testing a range of racks and have my own too -  it’s attached to all of them without issue. 

The mechanism securing it to the rack is central, so the pannier's  position is more flexible than some; the two hooks can rest over a rack’s down-tubing, they don’t need to clasp the entirety of the rail. The security of the pannier on the rack isn’t compromised, providing the arm is correctly positioned. The arm and hooks are easily adjusted with a Phillips screwdriver. I’ve not experienced any movement since tightening them.

Altura doesn’t include a shoulder strap with the Thunderstorm City. There are some loops on the top which can easily accommodation one though. The carry handle is well-shaped and feels comfortable in the hand. It’s possible that people with large hands might want it a little wider; it was just wide enough for me.

Value and conclusion

I wouldn’t pigeonhole the Altura Thunderstorm City 20 into a ‘commuter’ category; I’d happily use it for touring. For this reason, I’d say it’s comparable to Vaude’s Rear Panniers, which are £130 for a pair, or Thule’s Shield Panniers, which are £136 for a set. The Thunderstorm City 20 is pricey at its RRP; you are only getting one pannier for £100. However, I’m personally won over by its quality and considered functionality. If you only need one pannier, this is a decent investment that will unlikely disappoint, and why buy two if you only need one?

Specifications

  • Fully waterproof to level IPX6 with welded seam construction
  • Roll-top closure
  • 360° reflective details
  • KLICKfix™ Universal rail fittings
  • Protective inner 13” laptop sleeve
  • Internal zip pocket and key loop
  • Lower kickplate
  • LED attachment points
  • 10kg weight limit inc. pack and contents (each pannier)

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Emma’s first encounters with a bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling. 


With a couple of half decent UK road seasons under her belt, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there, spending two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, working primarily as a domestique for Emma Johansson. When Redsun folded, Emma was offered the opportunity to ride with a newly formed Belgian team and home to the first year senior and budding rider Anna Van Der Breggen.

After retiring, Emma returned to teaching, setting up her own tutoring business. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. While the road bike remains her true passion, she has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been sightings of Emma off-road, on mountain and gravel bikes… As if all of this isn't enough, she's been working as a freelancer since 2005, testing and reviewing the latest kit and sharing her insight into the sport.