Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bucket panniers

On the surface, bucket panniers are easy to laugh at. They look low-brow. They're very non-aero.

But there's greatness to bucket panniers that are obvious after you use them. They are waterproof. Submersible? Maybe not, but they float, so you've got a chance to save them if they find their way into water.

They're cheap. Especially if you make them. But they're not as cheap as they look. To make them well costs more than you probably would guess.

They're just a bucket. I'm not a pocket person. I like Ortlieb bags because they're just a big sack. I prefer to organize with stuff sacks/bags.

They are a platform. When built correctly, they provide a huge platform to load stuff onto.

Alex Wetmore photo. More pics and tour report here.

But here's the big one. To anyone who does a lot of bike camping or touring, some times you just want a place to sit. And often there isn't a bench or a log or anything but the dirt. These buckets make great camp stools. And tables.

The bucket on the left is an old one that I made back when Arkel sold their hook kit for $16. Can you imagine a day when that fine piece of machined goodness only cost $16? It's $48 now. But that's still a bargain if you make the buckets yourself.

The bucket on the right is a v1 try from Ryan and John at Pedals2People. They're trying to figure out a way to build a bucket for under $10 and have it work well. If they can do it with easy-to-buy hardware store parts then P2P will sell the buckets and will do bucket-building classes. I'm trying out the bucket for a few days. There are a couple changes we need to make, but it's getting close.

Btw: when we talk about bucket panniers we must always remember to give credit where it's due. The best of the best and the original bucket panniers are the brainchild of Mike Cobb. I'm not sure if he's still selling these, but he's got a page.

Bike hang tomorrow (Weds) night at Huckleberries. 5:30 PM



Anonymous said...

It would be nice to have a little mechanism that locks the two buckets together with the mounting hardware facing.

That way, you could carry the buckets with one hand, and the hooks don't snag on stuff.

I use a long bungee to keep my Cobb buckets together, but hardware would be better. I've carried-on the two buckets bungeed together as one piece of baggage when taking the train.

The Cam-lock bottom hook looks like a better idea than Cobb's bungee loop--more tension and more versatile. The buckets can rattle loudly against the rack if they're not tight. May not seem like a big deal until you've rattled over fifty miles of rough road.

While buckets may not be for people who like stuffing pockets, it might be useful to rivet small easy-access nylon or mesh pockets, (or loops), to the front or rear sides. The buckets are already plenty wide enough sideways though.

The biggest drawback is that the stuff I need once a day (tent, sleeping bag) are likely on the top of the lids, while the stuff I may need throughout the day can be buried in the buckets. You can end up unpacking everything at lunch if you cook.

With ultralight equipment, it would seem possible to pack everything into the waterproof buckets. (My style has been more like ultra-heavy.) At the least, try packing bag and tent into a bucket (where they are protected from rain too), and keep other crap on top. This may seem counter-intuitive, that nice wide platform just begs to carry something enormous.

Another plus for the buckets--when you want to haul water to your camp. They work just like...buckets. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd throw this link out there.


Mike Sirott said...

Hmm, another application for used kitty litter containers. I'm on it!

Dan O said...

Your low tech buckets are not all that different from the big bucks aluminum panniers people put on BMW and other adventure type motorcycles.