Hard Side Aluminum Top Loading Panniers are the only way to go. I tried the plastic ones and they are too heavy, too weak, and clamshell designs spill more than they pack. The resiliency of Aluminum and its ability to be beaten back into shape has made me a convert and Aluminum is the only way to go. Don’t let the O-Ring or seals on a panier fool you they are not water proof. Allow me to expand on this point the paniers may start out as being water tight but after a few falls they are not – so always add dry bags for inside them (this is something I learned the hard way).
Packing Right Side
Most Panniers have a large size and a small size (except for things like Buells). On my Water Boxer the small panier is on the right side and here is what is typically packed in it.
- Straps (ROK Straps)
- Straps (Pronghorn Straps)
- BestRest Products – Cycle Pump
- 90 degree air hose attachment
- Stop&Go – Pocket Tire Plugger
- Air Gauge
- Star Tron Fuel Treatment
- Rain Gear (liners for BMW GS Rallye Suit)
- Hot or Cold gear
Packed in bags
I pack things in small synch sacks with large labels so that I can figure things out in the rain or the dark as well as swap out Winter gear and summer gear. This is case you see Cold Gear (KLIM Balaclava, Firstgear 37.5 Leg Warmers, heavy gloves, etc.)
The Left Side
In the larger (left) panier I always keep a hoodie or two, the anonymous book, registration and insurance. I also typically pack my Surface Pro 3 computer and backpack, however I am thinking about taking the drone (Mavic Pro) on trips and it most likely would go on this side as well.
Remember Don’t pack it full
leave space, save weight, you don’t need to pack everything you own.