The Pro’s and Con’s Cycling with Panniers

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


  • Numerous
  • Bulky
  • Limiting
  • Can only roll all your bulky stuff
  • Too heavy to pick everything up
  • Costly
  • Tank-ish
  • Repacking is annoying
  • Low drag coefficient
  • Hard to maneuver
  • Wider base = less clearance
  • Hard to do repairs
  • It sucks

A pros and cons list of using pannier bags when biking with a bikepacker struggling up a hill

Check out the benefits of the Backbone for yourself:

By Adam W. Keen

Hey, my name is Adam. I’m a small guy surrounded by big people and a quiet observer in a complicated world, and I am trying to figure things out. I have limited time, resources, health, and capabilities, like us all, but I’m trying to do my best to maximize what I have. Born into a loving middle-class Christian family in Derby, Kansas, USA, I’ve had what people across the world can only dream about, loving and financially well-off parents and over 18 years of exceptional education. I do not earn these things based on my own merits (i.e. birth-parents, birthplace, nationality, race, etc.) and for that I am lucky. Now, it is my responsibility to make something of myself, to take all that I’ve been given and excel.