Urban Velo

Banjo Brothers Waterproof Pannier

banjo1.jpg Last summer I fell in love with overnight camping trips on the local rail-trail system and decided it was time to purchase some waterproof panniers for the travels. Not as easy as it seems, there aren’t terribly many economical choices for simple, waterproof bags suitable for light touring and commuting duties. Banjo Brothers markets their Waterproof Pannier as a commuting and grocery getting bag, and warned me that it may not be the best at touring duties and to expect what you will from a $40 bag.

The bags are simple – waterproof inner, nylon outer. Roll top closure makes a watertight seal when buckled down. I don’t really need pockets on panniers, just a big waterproof bucket and thats exactly what this is. Simple, with reflective piping to keep things safe. Want to roll with some brews on ice? The sealed seams of the waterproof liner work both ways.

Banjo Brothers is dead wrong about not being up to touring duty. These are bombproof, albeit with a few flaws that I’ve been able to work around. But first, the bombproof. Panniers are bound to brush the ground, as loaded bikes are likely to topple over when standing still. Much like the loaded person, loaded bikes just want to lay down when they’ve stopped moving. The denier nylon outer shell looks good as new after kissing the ground plenty of times. Nary a snag. And beyond my use, these bags went on loan for a few weeks of touring in South America under Erok, friend and Urban Velo contributor, and show no signs of wear from the trip.

banjo2.jpgThe simplicity of these bags is their overall strength, but also highlights their few flaws. The mounting system of a pair of hooks up top and an elastic band to the bottom hook works well for easy on, easy off duty around town, and would be easy to hack together mid-tour if need be, but I’ve experienced them popping off over rough terrain when loaded with supplies. I’ve found that wrapping the buckle around the rack keeps it securely attached, but wish the strap on the buckle was longer to facilitate this easier and also to make it easier to overload the bags when needed. It’s easy to overload these bags to the point of the roll-top not sealing perfectly, as shown. It would be nice if the roll top was just a bit longer, but that could be a never ending exercise. Unfortunately, the hooks on the top of the bag are incompatible with some of the fatter tubed racks on the market. Maybe with some pliers they’d fit, but I have not tried. For total commuter use, it would be killer if the bags snapped together for easier carrying, but this is a review not a list for Santa.

After significant use, these bags are going strong where others have shown wear. Money well spent, as I think I’ll get many more overnight trips out of these before they give up the ghost. Now to purchase another pair for multiple day tours…

6 Comments

  1. icon o'classtApril 22, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Glad to hear they’re working out for you. I have the Commuter Backpack and had similar good things to say about it…at first. Now, barely six months later, the inner drybag has one hole in it and is splitting at the seams and cracking near the top. One of the shoulder straps is fraying where it usually meets the cinching buckle.

    I must confess that I use the bag 5 days a week to commute with, but I don’t put sharp objects in it, and it’s rare that I load it with a lot of weight. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a pretty good design on paper, but I think the $ savings is in the quality of the subpar liner (drybag).

    I emailed BB twice 2 weeks ago about my warranty options, and have yet to hear back from them. Disappointing. Just my experience. Hope yours holds up better.

  2. MarrockApril 22, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Try calling them direct, I found their number listed here: http://www.hotfrog.com/Companies/BANJO-BROTHERS-INTERNATIONAL

  3. Mike VanderscheurenApril 30, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Icon o’classt – please give me a call six one two, three one zero, seven, seven, nine , five. or send an e-mail direct to mvander at banjobrothers dot com.

  4. bradOctober 5, 2009 at 9:23 pmAuthor

    Note: Well over a year later and having been used for a few more trips myself and having been loaned to at least two friends for their own bike camping excursions, these bags are still holding up as per the above review.

  5. icon o'classtMay 27, 2010 at 10:12 am

    BTW, Banjo Brothers stepped up and made good on my original issues. Just wanted to put that out there to balance my original post. Thanks.

  6. Product Review: #01110 Banjo Brothers Waterproof PannierSeptember 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    [...] Review: #01110 Banjo Brothers Waterproof Pannier September 12, 2010 by admin This review of the Banjo Brothers #01110 Waterproof Pannier originally appeared on the UrbanVelo.or blog in April of 2008. The panniers are sold in single [...]

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