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I've been looking around at waterproof panniers lately, and there are a lot of options and a pretty wide price range for seemingly similar stuff.  I really just need one to fit a laptop, some shoes and extra clothes in so I can ride to work on rainy days, but as the title says, it has to be absolutely 100% waterproof and not overly expensive.  I have a Banjo Brothers pannier right now but it's nowhere near as waterproof as I'd like it to be for carrying a company-provided laptop.  I've been looking at lots of different brands (Ortlieb, Blackburn, Timbuk2, Banjo Brothers, etc.)  but I'd like to get a better feeling of your actual subjective experiences with them.

So, what does everyone use and how do you like it?  Would you have spent more money for nicer gear or would a lower-priced pannier have worked just as well?

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I ordered Ortlieb Back Rollers about two months ago. I've been extremely happy with my purchase.

I looked at a few other brands, and talked to a few other people, but it seemed to always come back to the Ortlieb. After some research, I almost purchased the city rollers, but as it turns out those are made as a less expensive/lower quality pannier. The warranty that comes with them is five years. I know timbuk2 has a lifetime warranty, but I've also had every timbuk2 bag fail within the first year.

If you already have a pannier, you could wrap your items in white kitchen bags - they come in a variety of sizes - and then load them into your pannier. If they wear out, just pop a new one. Extras can be put in the bottom of your current pannier for emergencies. Pretty cheap option.

Gene's suggestion definitely works. I've owned a Ortlieb/Civia pannier -Back Rollers - which I consider to be the de facto touring/commuting water-proof pannier. It's essentially a water proof sack that rolls up on top, so if you need compartments, look elsewhere. They do, however, sell a laptop sleeve. 

I have never seen anyone else mention these, but I have this Transit

I have used it in heavy downpours and nothing inside has gotten wet.  It is big--in fact sometimes it seems like a bottomless pit and I have to dump it to find what I am looking for.  I have carried my pretty big lap top in it on more than one occasion and still had room for other stuff.  It is not lightweight, however.

Ortlieb Back Roller Classics are what I use and I love them.  They come as a pair so I sometimes use two depending on the load or go solo.  They are waterproof, hold a lot off stuff and seem to be pretty durable through two years of all weather use.  

I actually like them so much that I stopped using my old REI backpack for bike commuting when I didn't ride a bike with a rack and bought their roll top backpack.  It also kicks ass.

I have some ortlieb back panniers (can't remember which model) and also bought the single ortlieb shopper bag when I saw it on sale. The shopper bag would fit all that you talk about and I like that it has the ziplock type top closure, rather than a fold-over. It's got a long strap so you can carry it around like a tote bag, although I have to admit that's more functional than stylish or comfortable. Also it's kind of weird how the strap just hangs there when it's on your bike. Still, I really recommend this bag and it's nice that it's a single rather than a pair. Here are some photos and there are also a bunch of reviews for it on the REI website:

Had banjo bros. for two years. NOT WATERPROOF.

Just got the Ortlieb classic back roller bag two months ago.  This is the most perfectly engineered piece of equipment I have ever owned. Not only waterproof but it effortlessly goes on and off the bike rack. It is a marvel how they thought everything through.  And if sealed at the top completely waterproof.

You have to buy them in sets of two but I was able to sell the other one here on CL.

Ortlieb for me. Yes, they are expensive, but they're good value. I have a Shopper that I've been using more or less daily for 5-6 years - I've definitely gotten my money's worth out of it. It's a little beat-looking and it's always ugly but it always keeps everything dry no matter what. I suppose I wish I could get stickers to stick to it, so I could make it ugly in a personalized way.

Ortlieb all the way. Yes, it is a Mercedes. And that is a damn fine thing. German made quality that is truly waterproof and lasts a long time. I've had an office bag for nearly 5 years and it has always been served me well. Also the service is great. The closures wore out after 3 years or so and they send me a new pair for free.

The only downside is that, like a Mercedes, they are kind of ugly.

Ortlieb is the best "for the money." I too have the backroller classics. I have ridden in all sorts of rain, they are the most waterproof thing I have ever owned.

I did have some durability issues with the inner pocket (did not affect the waterproofness) though. I contacted Ortlieb (via Twitter of all places) and they had a replacement pocket in the mail for me the next day at no cost to me.

Good product + good customer service 

I use Ortlieb Back and Front Roller Classics. I've never had anything get wet and they are holding up well after many trips over the past 2 years. Sometimes I will use one of the Front Rollers on the rear rack if I'm just carrying my camera and a u-lock. They're easy to attach/detach and worth the price paid.

Has anyone used the Ortleib Velo-Shoppers? They seem a bit more convenient to use (magnetic closure instead of roll-top), but are more expensive.


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