Cycling with pannier bags is the tried and true way to bike tour. You can carry a lot of stuff and it’s mounted on your bike so it’s easy and convenient, right? Well, maybe there is a better way, like with a backpack! I know what you are thinking, “That sounds painful, tiering, and just horrible.” It sounds like a lot more work, right? Well, yes… It is hard and I’m not just saying that, I speak from personal experience (you can read about my tour from the Chicago area to Colombia here). I biked with my 44L hiking backpack and I’m aware of the butt and wrist pain that goes along with it.
That is why while on my tour in Guatemala I made the first Backbone, a pole-like thing that attached to the rear of my road bike and supported the weight of my backpack. I just wish I made it before I cycled through the US and Mexico; nonetheless, it helped me as I went further south through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia.
So, I would say using panniers is better than using a backpack but that was before I invented and patented the Backbone which solves the weight problem and the discomfort of riding with a heavy backpack. So without further or do, here is a list of pros and cons of using panniers.
Bikepacking with Panniers
- Socially acceptable
- Fit in
- Everyone does it
- Carry more unnecessary stuff
- Look bigger and increase visibility on the road
- Can only roll all your bulky stuff
- Too heavy to pick everything up
- Repacking is annoying
- Low drag coefficient
- Hard to maneuver
- Wider base = less clearance
- Hard to do repairs
- It sucks
Check out the benefits of the Backbone for yourself: