All of a sudden summer is upon us and temperatures have reached into the mid 90's here in Missoula - while in other parts of the country its been well over 100. With temperatures getting up there bicycle commuters face the choice of riding in their work clothes and showing up potentially drenched in sweat and smelling of the open road, a pair of gym shorts, and car exhaust or spending a few extra minutes of planning and packing each day so as to ride in more comfortable clothing.
This is when panniers come in handy. I have a set that strap onto the side of my rear rack that within the last week I have been using to carry some food and my work clothes. This allows me to ride in bicycle shorts and a t-shirt and have a much more enjoyable ride to and from work.
Panniers are extremely useful in other situations as well. Most are the perfect size to allow a grocery bag to fit, making for an easy trip to the local grocery store or the farmers market on a bike and still allowing for a substantial payload.
A reasonably priced set of panniers shouldn't cost more than $50 or so. But, like anything else, the price goes up the more features there are. And, if you are looking for something that is guaranteed to be water-proof in the wettest of environments, its going to cost a lot more than $50.
Here I am using my set of panniers to carry supplies to Missoula's People's Market where I am a vendor selling prints of my photographic work. They come in hand for those little items that are too small to strap down on my flatbed trailer.
38 minutes ago