Principal rule: The centre of gravity has to be as low a possible and symmetrically aligned to the axis of the bicycle. Load the heaviest stuff low and close to the inner side of the pannier (close to the wheels).
For longer journeys use front panniers as well! This will make your bike better balanced and more stable. Approx. 70% of the load should be on the rear rack. If you put too much weight on the front, the inertia of the panniers will make steering difficult. A lot depends on your bicycle geometry so you have to find your optimal front/rear balance.
Left and right side panniers should weigh the same, especially in front! Unbalanced panniers may make steering difficult and unpredictable.
After you find the optimum weight distribution, remember or write down what’s in each pannier so you won’t have to repeat the whole process the next day :-)
Try theme packing so you don’t have to open all panniers to prepare your lunch or brush your teeth :-) It is convenient to keep the stuff used every evening in one pannier, to avoid unwanted mess in a small tent.
Cans and other things with sharp edges should be wrapped in clothes so they could not wear through the pannier.
Make sure that all the bottles and containers (with oil, shampoo or sunbloc) are tight. For safety, always put them to the separate plastic bags!
Camping gas cartridges should be stored away from the external side of the pannier so they will not be crushed if the panniers hit the ground. The same rule applies to sensitive equipment such as notebooks, cameras, camcorders, etc. The closer to the wheel side- the better…
Never store your stove and fuel together with food which is not packed in sealed containers. (e.g., bread), otherwise you can expect unpleasant taste experiences or even health problems!
Separate clean and soiled clothes by putting them into separate panniers or plastic bags. Avoid putting wet things into panniers, even in plastic bags. You can always store them under the lid.
In very wet or humid conditions store your sleeping bag in a separate plastic bag. Even when you have waterproof panniers, over time the sleeping bag insulation will absorb humidity from the air and making it dry will be probably very difficult!
Don’t forget to put the most necessary stuff (e.g., rain coat, lunch) on the top so you would not have to reach deep into your panniers in search for something really important.
Keep your tools, medicines, torch and other emergency items close at hand, for example in a separate outer pocket.
Keep your valuables sensibly! Never store all the money in one place, make a Xerox copy of crucial documents (e.g., passport) and keep them away from the originals. You can consider the purchase of a small bag mounted on the handlebars for your camera, wallet, etc.
Tent, carrimat and other larger equipment should be carried in the transport bag mounted on the top of the rear rack. We recommend using our transport bags! They will make your life easier.
Example: Expedition around New Zealand
Rear panniers: stove, fuel, pots, other metallic items, food containers, tools and spare parts, notebook, clothes. Together with the transport bag approx. 70% of the total equipment by weight
Transport bag: tent, carrimat, sleeping bag, tripod, ropes. Water container on the top of the bag.
Front panniers: clothes, light food (bread, noodles, sweets, etc.), camera films, medicines. Rain jacket under the lid. Approx. 30% of the equipment weight
Handlebar bag: maps, documents, small change, cards, telephone.
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