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trailers vs. panniers: what is your experience?

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WS Member Аватар пользователя WS Member
trailers vs. panniers: what is your experience?


So far, we are travelling with panniers - 2 on the back-rack; each is about 5 kg. Plus a backpack for water and snacks. We do asphalt and xcountry 50-50

I do not like the way the bike behaves with this load: it is wobbly at low speed, it likes to rear in steep places.

Now I do consider to use a trailer instead.

what are your experiences? Do you prefer panniers or a trailer and why?


I am considering a topeak journey tx because it does seem to offer a good price/quality ratio for our shopping. Anybody else using that trailer? any optinions regarding this one?

I have thru-axles , 27.5" tyres and the trailer must cater to that without me fiddling too much.

All opinions welcome. 

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WS Member Аватар пользователя WS Member

I've toured with both and I'm back to panniers.  My recommendation is to place a rack on the front and a couple more panniers.  This balances the weight and I have never had a wobble.  A trailer on a hill is like throwing out an anchor.

WS Member Аватар пользователя WS Member
re: trailers vs panniers

what the other fellow said about panniers on the front -- I agree with completely.  

I have toured with a trailer on a tandem.  the entire rig was Very Long!  (we were called "the train" by other cyclists ;-)  it worked.  

WS Member Аватар пользователя WS Member

Thanks for the insights! 'the train' make me laugh! Must have been quite a sight.

the issue with front-carrier is, that on a fully that is a bit complicated (and costly) to implement. (as is the trailer, I know)

WS Member Аватар пользователя WS Member
If you plan to get a trailer

If you plan to get a trailer because the bags affect the handling of the bike, you should definitely go for a two wheeled one. We toured with a Bob Yak which is a very nice trailer and I still like it for out weekly shopping. Nevertheless, if you put a lot of load on a single wheeled trailer ( >20kg) it affects the handling of the bike a lot. Additionally it ads 5 - 10 kg to the total weight, so I'd definitely second what has been said about it being an anchor. That's why I went back to panniers after one tour. 


Unregistered Аватар пользователя anon_user
In france trailer is forbiden

In france trailer is forbiden in train you have to desassemble it  so panniers is easier for me ... 


my tubus rack is  630 g (standard) + visserie 148 g and 2 ortielb panniers are  1680 g  and a seato summit hydrolic bag 437 g

less than 5kg and less than a bob yak 6.1 kg plus 1.20 bag for exemple 


WS Member Аватар пользователя WS Member
Thru axle?

We really appreciate our Burley 2 kid trailer, a dog version also available, have not tried yet. B.o.b. yak trailer is great, except for a scary wobble that kept occurring nearing 45 m.p.h. ,cargo area enough for 2 days H2o and food. Can no longer go over red MTN. Pass, can only do that route safely w panniers.

WS Member Аватар пользователя WS Member
panniers vs trailers

 I use  trailer only to carry large ungainly items.  One factor not yet mentioned  is that racing style bikes with short chainstays tend to wobble at speed with heavily loaded panniers. You can minimize this by using smaller panniers mounted as close to the seat as possible as long as heel strike on the bags is not a problem.  A low rider stye front rack modestly loaded < 25lbs} makes the bike very stable, though steering feels ungainly until 5mph., but get a stiff rack.  The early Blackburns flexed too much.


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Panniers offer more flexibility

I've travelled both with panniers (both front and back) and with trailers (both a Burley 2-wheel and a Bob single).  I pulled the trailers with my TREK with no problem.  Hardly knew the trailers were back there. Advantage is it takes a lot of the weight and strain off of the bike's rear wheel which makes it last longer.  But panniers are my favorite way to travel because I "free camp" (or guerilla camp) a lot more than I ever did, and pulling the bike up over a fence or guard rail is much easier when you do not have that trailer to contend with!  ---Andy

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What Bike do you have?

What bike do you have?  This can effect the handling ALOT as we make recommendations.  by "Fully"  does this mean you have a suspension fork?  if so you can get some Anything cages and get some of the weight more evenly distributed.  you can also get a frame bag to carry some heavy items as well, that way you will have options to redistribute weight as you go.

WS Member Аватар пользователя WS Member
Panniers vs. trailer

Okay so this thread began almost two years ago and I'll assume the OP has long since made their choice.  But I recently went through the same calculus (and I've done it both ways), so here are my thoughts:

  • Trailers are easier to load: toss stuff in and close the lid (or dry bag). 
    • But that makes it potentially harder to keep your gear organized in the long haul, and you may find yourself rooting around in the corners and other places looking for that small item that invariably settles to the least convenient spot.  Panniers- especially those with several pockets- reduce this issue but give you more places to stash items, only to forget where you absent-mindedly tucked them later, when you want them.
    • With panniers you're well-advised to develop and then FASTIDIOUSLY AND RIGOROUSLY stick to a system of what belongs where.  The instant you put something in a place it doesn't "belong", you've lost it- at least temporarily.
    • Using a trailer does mean you may have more capacity for larger / bulkier items than you would with panniers.
  • You can't jackknife panniers. Jackknifing a trailer, especially on a high speed descent, may be disastrous.
  • Trailers add complexity:
    • They introduce additional wheel sizes so you need to be prepared with the proper size tires and tubes; in an emergency you may get by with what can be gotten from the kid's bike section of a big box department store.
    • They lengthen your bike, making it more challenging to negotiate tight turns
    • If you're using a two-wheeled trailer you now have three separate wheel tracks to deal with- on unpaved (or poorly-paved) surfaces that may be a liability
  • Trailers, even the lightest of them, generally weigh more than panniers so you are starting with a greater tare weight and reducing the payload weight accordingly.  In the end, this was the deciding factor for me, in favor of panniers. 
    • My trailer weighs 20 pounds empty, my panniers weigh eight pounds. 
    • That's 12 pounds of dead weight that I can eliminate without any reduction in available gear, or I can "spend" some or all those eight pounds to carry a few non-essential extras that add creature comfort.
  • Trailers MAY be more weather-resistant than panniers.
  • Both trailers and panniers add width to your rig; exercise caution when negotiating partial barriers or getting close to curbs, guardrails, and the like.