Pannier Packing

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by hgwilliam, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. hgwilliam

    hgwilliam Been here awhile

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    Hello,

    I've searched for a bit but cannot find anything on how people pack their panniers. I understand it's a weight game, but do people have specific methods they use?

    I backpacked Southeast Asia and packing cubes were amazing, but do people organize their panniers? Example clothes on bottom, tools on tops? I was just looking for how you guys pack for long trips. I plan on going to Europe for 12 months, and have shakedown trips this spring, summer, fall to learn, but was curious as to what you guys do to get a better idea.

    Pictures would also help if you have them, I am using top box, panniers, 60L dry bag for camping stuff, and attaching my tent to the top of my pannier for when I travel.

    Thanks in Advance
    #1
  2. bikerfish

    bikerfish flyfishandride

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    heavy stuff on the bottom and towards the front, some use packing cube like things, others use ziplocks, others just throw stuff in.
    #2
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  3. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

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    As has been said heavy stuff to the bottom and front, I like to pack some stuff such as spares in plastic boxes which keeps it together, you will find it takes a couple of weeks of travel before a final arrangement is arrived at with frequently used stuff on the top and the rest under it.
    #3
  4. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    I use a two tier tank bag, spares and tools in the bottom layer which is made of hard leather. Top layer has the camp kitchen, Trangia stove, coffee/tea + a litre of water, mugs and plates. Also air pump and the water proofs not needed right now
    This keeps the potentially messy and heavy stuff forward, yet easy to knock up a cuppa at a moments notice.

    The boxes - we have one each - if you can't get it in, it don't go. That includes the air mattresses, we are too old for anything less than comfort.
    The mattresses are heavy and are always at the bottom, then down sleeping bag in a compression sack/harness. toiletries wedged at the side and clothes at the top, this tends to allow more than 10 minutes before they look like they were pulled out of the dumpster.
    The logic of having things needed first looses out to the requirement to pack heavy stuff low. The mattress on top would probably work its way down to the bottom over a few miles anyway.
    It could be on a more modern bike, with quicker steering, having weight low is not so crucial. The old guzzi needs all the help it can get when blatting trough the twisties.

    The (lightweight) tent is strapped to the top box. Arranging the pegs and poles against the box means the passenger can lean against it while having a snooze.
    The box itself if nominally empty. A place to store the days score of vittals, which tends to build with the left overs.
    #4
  5. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    I'm not going to tell you what to pack or where to put it vis a vis motorcycle panniers. But I will give you what I think you'll come to appreciate some advice that you'll come to really appreciate:

    (1) Always use lists
    (2) Pack modular when you can

    The details:

    If you don't use lists, you'll end up leaving on an adventure invariably without some things you need and definitely with things you'd never bring again. The beauty of these lists is that they already exist all over ADV and elsewhere in many threads, and of course YOU tailor them to fit YOUR needs and then because you took the time to make YOUR list you can add to and scratch off for the next time.

    Hint: Make separate lists for tools, electronics (because you made a list you won't forget your power cords!), clothes, peperwork, food/camping, etc.

    You will be forever reading ride reports and "how to" threads and having those "aha!" moments with regards to some new essential item. Most importantly, you will forever be out there actually riding and miss some essential piece of kit, kick yourself, but you'll write it down on the list for the next time. I have on my list to carry an extra wall adapter for USB cords - my one and only one that I had with me in Mexico crapped out in the spring, so now I carry two down there. The adapter in this case was to my Delorme inReach GPS and when the factory wall piece went south I had to come up with another way to power it.

    Modularity: If you pack like items together in separate bags, it is much easier to organize, and, keep track of, all your stuff. Added bonus is your ability to leave things you don't need in your hotel room or in your tent on the bike. Further bonus is the ability to leave certain modules at home (example: first aid module because a riding buddy has a better kit and you're bringing the tire pump).

    Having separate smaller packs means also that you'll be able to move things around on the bike for weight and balance. You'll typically want to place the heaviest module, which is usually tools, on the left side of the bike because that's where your sidestand is.

    There are all kinds of packing solutions as far as brands and types of bags are concerned, but I recommend avoiding costly commercial options and instead look for cheaper options and designs that will work for you.

    Good luck!
    #5
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  6. Stowaway

    Stowaway Adventurer

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    Hello william,

    Youtube is full of short (or longer) videos, of people's opinions on how to pack your panniers, or what to take with you on a journey!
    Maybe you should check some of them, get some ideas and apply them according to your needs!
    Let me know if you need any channel suggestions..
    #6
  7. hgwilliam

    hgwilliam Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the information guys,

    Did not even think of checking Youtube, I am going to check it out tonight. Guess I really do need a shakedown trip, all that stuff in a tank bag amazes me.
    #7
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  8. dutchjohn

    dutchjohn Adventure Touring

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    here is how I do my food and kitchen stuff
    cooking on your trip
    <hr style="color:#000000; background-color:#000000" size="1"> Reading thru many post here and on other site's I have always enjoyed seeing what others do for meals, coffee, cooking gear, and packing. All of it really. I know the hard core will take a bottle of whiskey, smokes,and not eat[​IMG] but hay each to their own. I on the other hand try to eat something that is filling and not to unhealthy, and enjoy a shoot of what ever, wine, beer or water. But it needs to be easy to fix, quick and good. I know we all don't like the same things but here is a dinner that I do, and enjoy.
    Ok here is my pannier, not on the beast of burden, but sitting on the living room floor (glad the wife is not home)[​IMG] this is the one that is my kitchen, I can carry like 5 days of meals and my cooking gear.
    [​IMG]
    open the lid and let's look in
    [​IMG]
    1st 3 boxes out
    [​IMG]
    and look in again
    [​IMG]
    the next 3 boxes taken out
    [​IMG]
    so now lets look in the little boxes and see what we have 1st box is breakfast
    Instant oatmeal taken out of the it's package and have added some dry fruit
    nuts and things to make it better, this box only has 2 in it now, but i can get
    6-7 days of breakfast in it. with 2 bags of oatmeal in each baggie a good filling meal
    [​IMG]
    next 2 box's have dinner stuff
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    now the cooking gear that is in the black bag
    [​IMG]
    I have the Trangia storm kitchen, it's a alcohol burner but I upgraded the burner to a gas canister type, lot's faster then the alcohol, but I still carry the alcohol burner with me just incase I run out of gas. yet to happen.
    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. hgwilliam

    hgwilliam Been here awhile

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    That was extremely helpful dutchjohn. That was kind of the stuff I was looking to find out, how people organize, what they carry, etc. I am looking for the same type of meals and organization tactics. The only difference is I am aiming to purchase a MSR Dragonfly or Whisperlite, so I don't know about the pots and pan storage being as easy. Again, that is just my opinion and thought, I haven't tried it yet, could be easier.

    Again, thanks for the input, I will most likely save those photos, and keep them for my record when trying to organize my panniers. As far as I thought was "Packing Cubes" but was concerned about feed/ingredients spilling over each other, things being smashed/squashed/ripped. The plastic containers help give an idea.
    #9
  10. Anywhereness

    Anywhereness Been here awhile

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    In my Ortlieb panniers I use Granite Gear compression packing cubes (they make noticeably more space) for my clothes, sleeping bag, tent. The panniers also have heavy things bottom and forward, like tools, fluids, books, etc and spread out to even the weight. The tent/sleeping bag and camp kit are on one side, shoes/clothes on another.

    The tail bag is a 42L hiking backpack with lighter and commonly swapped out on the side of the road things. Jackets, sleeping pad, spare shield, toiletries, etc. Cold weather gear is in a Sea to Summit eVent compression bag. Also, smack in the middle of the tail are the things that don't take a crash well like aerosol cans and electronics.

    Just in front of the tail backpack is a kayaking dry bag that has cookware and food. It's mostly out of the way but sometimes pats my butt on a steep downhill. It's a much softer pat than a kick-you-off-the-pegs hard case though, believe me.

    Tank bag has the pretty picture making kit, Kindle and electronics charging devices all nestled around a custom made foam insert. I usually bring that with me everywhere, especially lunch time.
    #10
  11. SCLead

    SCLead Adventurer

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    So I've got an MSR Whisperlite (old old one, long before the "international" existed), an MSR Dragonfly, and a Jetboil group system that I don't think they make anymore (same basic stove, just a bigger pot). Here's my take on each for packability and utility, based on experience on the bike and backpacking.

    Jetboil: If you get one as a gift, sell it. They're awesome for boiling water if you only plan to play the freeze dried food game, but they're essentially useless if you actually want to COOK anything. Fantastic for burning things rapidly. They also perform pretty terribly at any elevation and in cold weather. I've relegated mine to a duffle bag in the garage, with intent to sell it, if I ever get motivated enough to do so.

    MSR Whisperlite: This is my go-to stove. My dad bought it for backpacking ages ago, I think the stove is actually 25 years old, if not more. He got sick of it a handful of years ago, opted for a mixed gas stove, and abandoned it. I adopted it years later, it was borderline useless. Rebuilt it with the kit MSR sells, and it's been a workhorse for me again. You can find reviews everywhere of these things, but the main points for me: It packs small and light. I believe it's a 1.5L pot that it packs into easily. By far my smallest stove. It also simmers relatively well (especially if you play around with fewer pumps on your gas bottle, etc.), can roar near-freezing water to a boil in just a couple minutes, and is absolutely bombproof. If I was going to buy only one stove, and had none to begin with, it would be the Whisperlite International (or is the the Universal?), so I could opt for mixed gas bottles if trip logistics supported it. My only gripe about packing this one is that my 1.5L pot is part of a nested set, so the lid is designed around the 2L pot, and is therefore too big for the smaller one, which makes it somewhat awkward to pack. I also can't fold up my windscreen/heat shield foil to fit inside the pot, but that's minor.

    MSR Dragonfly: This thing is incredible. Gets HOT, simmers LOW, and is sturdy as an oak tree. If I've got a little more room to pack, or plan to do real cooking, especially fish, I'll bring this one out. It has almost all the perks of the Whisperlite, plus a lower simmer. The big differences: Folds up into a 2L pot, rather than a 1.5L. Minor difference, but I tend to pack small, fitting everything into 30-40L, so that .5L of space is pretty substantial to me. It's also 2-3 decibels louder than a 747 during takeoff if you've got it cranked up. I don't really care about the noise too much, but some people hate it. I figure it's gone in a few minutes, and I get tasty food to replace it.

    Between the MSR stoves, the Whisperlite wins for me most of the time simply because I try to pack tiny. If I had surplus space, I'd probably grab the Dragonfly every time. They're both bomber stoves. The Dragonfly will simmer a *little bit* lower (easily), but it also packs larger. Mixed gas isn't an option on the Dragonfly, which may or may not matter to you at all. It kind of bums me out that the Dragonfly and Whisperlite use different style fuel pumps, so I have to pay attention to which bottle I grab for a trip.
    #11
  12. hgwilliam

    hgwilliam Been here awhile

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    SClead that was the type of information I was looking for! Regarding the Jetboil I already dismissed it as an option, as I will be doing more than dried foods.

    For me, 0.5L is not that big of a deal, but the one issue I do have is the noise. I want a simmer as I plan to cook multiple different foods and the simmer would help, I don't need it though. However, I do plan on wild camping, and since I myself haven't heard the noise, I have only read what other people have written. That being said, wild camping and turning that thing on would make for a stressful 10+ minutes, also I would hate to just about be finished my meal and someone (police) force me to pack up and leave, I can get very hangry at times.

    I believe the two I'm looking into are the Whisperlite international, or universal, the more fuel options the more my mind is at rest, no need to worry about getting fuel than.
    #12
  13. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad World's Foremost Authority

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    SWMBO & I have spent just over 10 weeks living out of panniers in the last 2 years. Group like stuff together in ziploc bags. The plastic boxes shown above take up waaaay too much room with every fraction of an inch wasted inside a box not full could be used for something else. I use the Coleman dual fuel stove so I can use fuel from the bike and not have to carry special fuel in additional containers/bottles. All food & cooking gear go in the same pannier so it can be taken off the bike and hung in trees for bears.

    [​IMG]

    The little folding cooler in the pic was a waste of time and effort. Put everything together and use it at least a couple of times before a big trip allowing you to fine tune your system and your food.
    #13
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  14. Little Faus

    Little Faus Little Faus

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    I have a question...are the butane canisters available in Mexico? I have a MSR pocket rocket that I am happy with. Why buy a new stove?
    #14
  15. Nickhob

    Nickhob Armchair adventurer

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    +1 on the ziploc bags, you can save an absolute shit load of space this way.

    I use them for food / toiletries / inner tubes / tools / electronics / clothes.

    Just expel as much air as possible and you are good to go :clap
    #15
  16. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Truffle

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    Tools and heavy things I hope I won't need go in the bottom, biased toward the front if possible. Lighter things that won't compress, like the JetBoil for instance, go in the rear of the pannier. Things I'll need to access often and/or easily go in the tank bag or top case. Small/medium bags sure help organization. I am inclined to overpack, but I'm getting better about it with every trip. At some point I'll stop packing extra clothes.

    John
    #16
  17. BikerBill

    BikerBill Motorcycle Addict

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    Not all panniers are top loading. Mine are Micatech Pilots and open on the side. Huge cases and everything can fit inside. However I pack the sleeping bag and small clothes bag in a dry bag and strap it across passenger seat. It's my backrest. I use pannier liners for clothing, camp stove & food, still room for loose items on top or to rear of liners. Use a list and pack everything you think you would want. Then go out on the road for a night or two. The list will evolve quickly and your routine will sort itself quickly. I take the same stuff every time no matter if the trip is a week or a month. Tank bag holds snacks, camera, LED flashlight, LED headlamp, maps, pen/pencil, coins, small first aid kit, and I'll put my passport and license in the bag just prior to crossing the border. The bike purchase included two top cases(that I never use). One is matching Micatech Large case, and the other is a Pelican case that is much smaller.

    Have fun with it,

    Bill
    #17
  18. AdventureDave82

    AdventureDave82 Infinite Curiosity

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    A new solution to this problem is now available. The Kit Kubes are Adventure-duty packing cubes designed for motorcycle and overland travelers to organize gear. More heavy duty than ordinary packing cubes (Eagle Creek) and less bulky and costly than Moose or Kriega. Check out the Kit Kube system https://overland-adventurer.com/products/kit-kube-system FYI
    #18
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  19. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    I don't have anything pre-packed or cubed. I throw my cooking food stuffs in one hard pannier and my clothes in a mesh bag in the other. My rain suit, heated vest and bike cover go in a bag on top of top box. Top box holds the pants and footwear I was wearing before I got dressed to ride, plus map iPhone, various crap. After the first night or two everything finds its natural place. I carry mattress, tent, two chairs in my waterproof over seat bag. The Mrs carries her stuff, some food and the bedding on her bike. I generally pack on the morning of departure and forget things like toiletries and underwear. I set off from Los Angeles to Ushuaia with only the underwear I was wearing!
    #19
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  20. kiwigazza

    kiwigazza Loose on the Juise

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    Don't think too much get out there and involved! but yeah heavy at the bottom and a couple of ziplock bags. Suprised haven't seen mentioned some tools and spares/tubes etc can be zip tied onto the bike wrap some gaffa/duct tape around a pencil (use it to clean up your key if ever lock/igniton is sticky) never know when you might need it. Frame/forks/under some easy to remove covers hopefully wont have to use them but will be there if need be.

    Keep it simple and Light makes travel much more enjoyable.. In my opinion anyway
    #20