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Does anyone have experience with either waterproofing panniers with a waterproof spray or using waterproof covers for panniers? Which one was best?

I don't want to invest in waterproof panniers as I will be using dry bags anyway but it would be nice to see some repellent action going on.

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I think it's reasonable to ask about what works and what doesn't in this department, but for the record, if you're using dry bags anyway, waterproofing sounds like overkill to me. –  Jefromi Apr 2 '13 at 17:19
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Waterproofing spray is really only to keep the fabric from getting damp in a brief, light rain, and will not provide significant protection in a downpour. My current panniers have attached waterproof covers (they stow in a zippered compartment at the bottom) and have worked quite well in several prolonged rain exposures, even though they do not cover the back well. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 10 '13 at 12:30

2 Answers 2

I've personally never seen or heard of a waterproof spray that will protect against soaking. Water hitting the material might run off fairly well, but a continuous rain soaks it so much that water will just seep through. That might not be a problem for commuting, but I'm assuming that if you're going through the extra step of double water-proofing, you're probably touring. If you're touring, you're almost certainly going to be stuck riding in the rain for an extended period of time at some point.

Waterproof covers are ok. The problem is that they don't completely cover the pannier since they can't wrap around the mounting hardware. The back of the pannier will get wet. If there's enough rain, it'll get wet enough to soak through to what's inside. Another problem with covers, and this is the part that I like the least about them, is that it's just one more thing that you have to carry around. I'm not necessarily a weight-weenie, but I am a space-weenie and covers take up a fair amount of it.

Personally, I'd recommend skipping the dry bags (again, they just take up extra space) and getting fully waterproof roll-top panniers like the ones made by Ortlieb, Axiom, or Vaude. These bags will stand up to a freaking monsoon without any worry of water getting inside. The only real water related problem that you're likely to run into is that humidity can build up and condense inside the bags. But you're not talking about a huge amount of water there, certainly less than you would if you were caught in a downpour with a bag that wasn't waterproof to begin with.

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Yeah, the "waterproof" spray just makes the fabric "water resistant" -- so that light rain will "roll off". And most panniers should already be made from a synthetic fabric that has this feature "built in". Re the covers, I have some bags with pull-out covers that work pretty well -- not enough to take them swimming, but they worked pretty well on my "rain ride" about 3 years back. (Certainly others may not work as well.) –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 2 '13 at 21:32
    
I use this (nikwax.com/en-gb/products/productdetail.php?productid=16) on my canoeing dry top. Does the job. The top is made from heavy gauge nylon, much like a lot of panniers. –  alex Apr 3 '13 at 6:16
    
The dry bags are actually also compression sacks so they take up less space than the things they contain. Also bagging is useful for compartmentalising. I'd be using them anyway. –  user1170304 Apr 3 '13 at 9:19
    
@user1170304 That is certainly true, but compression sacks that were just flimsy fabric would take up even less space and serve the same purposes. That's actually how I load my Ortliebs. (I wasn't kidding when I said I'm a space-weenie.) –  jimirings Apr 3 '13 at 14:57
    
@alex that will work nicely, but the dry top was waterproof to start with - by definition. –  Chris H Oct 10 '13 at 13:57

For my commuter pannier, I use both wash-in waterproofing and a cove.

In light rain or if it starts to rain when I'm almost at the office, the spray-on waterproofing keeps things dry enough. But in a heavy rain, water is going to seep in, so I stop and pull out the cover -- the waterproof cover stays in a special pocket so it's always easy to find and only takes a few seconds to put on. Plus the cover keeps the road grime off the bag - I have fenders, but cars seem to kick up a lot of dirt.

I don't usually dry-bag things inside the pannier so if water seeps in, things are going to get wet.

My commuter pannier has a hard plastic back, so even though the cover doesn't cover the back, I've never had water get inside and make my clothes wet, though the longest I ever spend in the rain on the commute is about 75 minutes, maybe if I was touring and was in the rain all day it would be more of a problem.

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