When we set out to design panniers in the 1980's, we focussed on a few key elements:
The elastic on the lid edge provides a secure closure to keep road grit out of the bag and acts as a compression system for the top portion of the bag.
All straps feature webbing keepers to keep loose webbing ends to a minimum, whilst still providing the adjustability of the webbing.
High visibilty 3M reflective provides an extra element of safety in low light conditions.
The strap running horizontally below the reflective is a lateral compression system that improves the lateral stability of the pannier.
At the heart of Summit Gear panniers is our Static State 3D attachment system. This system, utilised correctly will not bounce off or work its way loose.
We start with Ronstan stainless steel cleats, rivetted directly into 5mm marine plywood internal stiffening. The cleats fit most common rack diameter tubing without alteration, whilst the marine plywood will not flex, distort or crack. Why do we rivet the hooks to the plywood? We have experimented with nut and bolt combinations and rivets. We have never seen a broken stainless steel cleat (even on panniers that have travelled in excess of 18,000 km - in fact, they are still in excellent condition!), so we feel that these hooks may never need replacing. Thus a permanent rivet is a better option than a nut and bolt that may work its way loose.
The lower tension system provides vertical tension between the two cleats and the stainless steel tension hook that attaches to the bottom of the rack. Unlike some other pannier manufacturers, we do not attach the bottom hook to the tension system with shockcord, or another stretch material, because this would only increase the likelihood of the top cleats "bouncing off" the rack. A totally static, adjustable system works extremely well to hold the pannier in the correct position. Hence the name 'Static State' attachment system.
Lateral stability is an often overlooked issue in pannier design. Whilst an excellent vertical tension system will limit the abililty of the pannier to swing away from the rack, this can be improved through a compression / lateral stability strap that will limit this movement. Through clever design and use of pre-existing fittings, we have added a compression / lateral stability system that enhaces the security of the pannier. The use of the lateral compression system is what we call the '3D' component.
In the uncommon event that the pannier exits the rack, two straps that run across the top of the rack and join the two bags will provide an added measure of security.
Our panniers are expedition proven. In our museum we are fortunate enough to have a pair that have travelled over 18,000 km in North and South America. Although showing signs of wear, the seams are still strong, the fabric (although faded) has maintained its integrity, and the rack attachment system and plywood is still in excellent condition. In fact, the reason that these panniers are in the museum is that the owners bought fresh sets for a new trip!
We strongly advocate Cordura as the main fabric for panniers. It is substantially more durable than canvas - especially important in high wear areas such as the contact areas between the rack and the pannier. It will survive a crash better than canvas. The one obvious benefit of canvas is its improved waterproofness. However, the forces of water flicking off a bicycle wheel are strong enough to penetrate even the most waterproof canvas. Our advice is : stick with Cordura and use dry bags inside the panniers.
All prices are in AUD.