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Currently I am cycling a lot with a backpack (specifically a chrome citizen), whilst the bag is brilliant it's just not big enough for everything I'm carrying, and with a lot of weight in it it hurts.

I've just bought this rack, and I'm looking to invest in a new set of panniers or some form of rack bag for my bike.

On a day to day basis I'm carrying at least one camera body (at the moment a big heavy Canon 1D body), a large telephoto lens, a wider lens and a flash. On top of this I have other items, such as my bike lock, a pad of paper and a small ThinkPad laptop (~12 inch), it would be nice to also have a change of shoes if possible.

I'm looking for some panniers which will:

  • Fit in all of my camera gear

    • Keeping it relatively safe, and dry within reason (i.e. no monsoon)
  • Fit in my other day to day items.

  • Ideally I would like to be able to take a pannier full of my camera gear straight off the bike and use it while shooting, then pop it back on and set off with minimal fuss.

What would best suit the above? I should probably add I'm in the UK.

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Maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but with nice photos and instructions: lovelybike.blogspot.com/2013/04/… –  WTHarper Oct 2 '13 at 23:12
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Have you considered a basket? They're a bit dorky looking, but you could use an actual camera bag with it. –  jimirings Oct 2 '13 at 23:21
    
Plain old panniers should do fine. There are many variations in terms of size, pockets, mounting, water proofness, etc. Most can be removed and reinstalled quite quickly, but check that your choice will suit you in this regard. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 3 '13 at 0:40
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Path Less Pedaled goes biking with video equipment, might have some useful suggestions: pathlesspedaled.com/category/gear –  dsalo Oct 3 '13 at 23:42
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

moz's camera panniercamera pannier on bike I found a picture of how I did this! You can see the firmer, black foam with foil that I used on the outside, and the bits of softer foam that I used to pack everything in. The flap poking up covers the top when the pannier is closed. This photo is from when I was putting it together, so the contents is not well arranged. I make a simple frame so I could use the pannier as a handlebar bag so it got the benefit of the suspension fork.

I started out with an Ortlieb front roller, which is a smallish squareish pannier. I had a 300D + 70-300/5.6mm at that stage, so it was also fairly small. I got a sheet of foam about 30mm thick and carefully cut and folded it to make a box that just fit into the pannier. I added an extra layer at the bottom, since that's where most of the shocks come from. Then I cut more bits of foam to nest the camera and lenses. Basically set it up the way you'd set up any other camera bag, and arranged so that opening the pannier let me lift the camera out eaasily. Obviously this filled the whole pannier, so on tour I ended up with two full size rear panniers plus that front one. But the camera survived 10,000km or so of riding over several years.

With a larger camera you will need a larger pannier to start with, or sacrifice some of the padding. I suggest getting a large pannier, and making a padded camera bag out of foam to occupy the top half of the pannier, then making a cloth bag to hold that so you can lift the whole camera out easily to access the rest of your stuff. I'd probably keep my d lock on top of the camera round town so it's easy to get to.

The foam I used was house insulation foam with foil on one side. That worked well to stiffen it and make it more wear resilient - otherwise getting the foam box out of the pannier would have inevitably worn away the foam (I used the pannier for other things too). So a cloth cover would do the same thing, and should be easy enough to make as it doesn't need to exactly match the shape of the foam.

If you're looking for a commercial solution I doubt you'll have much luck - I've never seen anything. The best would be a small-ish camera backpack to hold most of the camera gear, then a pannier with everything else in it. That gets most of the weight off your back, but the expensive bits still benefit from the suspension effect of your body.

What I use now is a Crumpler camera side-bag that looks a lot like their bike courier bags but has a fuzzy interior that catches velcro, so I can use padded camera bag dividers to slot camera gear into it. It was easier to add the courier strap to a camera bag than convert a couier bag to camera gear (but it's not a great courier bag if you're on and off the bike all day).

For touring I have a custom recumbent bike with a special bin behind the seat to hold my camera backpack. I have a Desley bag that holds a laptop or a 1D body, but it's not quite high enough to hold both easily. It does, however, max out the cabin luggage size on most airlines. For getting onto the plane I usually put the camera around my neck, often with a big lens on it to bring the bag under the weight limit).

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Interesting, I think I will look into some custom foam option as described above. –  Ben Oct 6 '13 at 23:19
    
It should be pointed out that you can obtain "foam rubber" in various thicknesses and densities at a fabric store. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 9 '13 at 11:42
    
There is a special camera insert for the ortlieb handlebar bag and it isn't that much smaller than the front roller really. However, I can't unreservedly recommend it as I've had a lot of problems with the button fastenings. –  z7sg Oct 9 '13 at 13:17
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Edit - an alternative

After reading something over the weekend, how about a trailer. This has the advantage that when you stop you can have all the gear in whatever bags you would like, as well as keeping the weight low and stable, and having room for tripods etc.

Original

I haven't been able to find anything suitable, though with the added requirement of comfortable carry off the bike (ride then hike). However I don't tend to ride far or fast with the camera gear, so ride with it in a rucksack (a Lowepro that doesn't seem to be made any more, but is max cabin bag size and slightly teardrop shaped so I can look over my shoulder, it also keep the main weight low and steady). I only have a 40D but tend to have my Sigma 120-400 lens if I'm riding, which is a bit of a beast.

If I'm not carrying the big lens I can put the camera (+flash etc.) in a small case in my pannier as well as a netbook (the pannier takes big laptops). The camera with long lens would fit in the pannier, but without much room for anything else.

I have carried a DSLR in a front basket, but really wouldn't recommend it - it's a lot of weight to carry upfront even with a light rig, and a lot of torque on the bars, plus, it's a long way for it to fall (as is a rucksack, of course, but that's more stable).

If I had the time and the need I would consider modding something - basically pop-rivetting pannier hardware onto a suitable camera bag (as all panniers appear to be top-opening), reinforced with stiff plastic sheet inside. But I would give it a hard test ride with bricks or something in before putting anything valuable in there.

You may want to check your insurance would cover breakage - I would if I had a 1D.

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UK also btw, but I don't think it makes much difference. –  Chris H Oct 3 '13 at 10:01
    
A 1D is worth under $1000 these days, and it's likely to be uninsurable due to age. But the 1-series cameras in general are pretty robust. I had a 1DIII for a while and it coped with much the same abuse as my waterproof happysnapper (that turned out not to be waterproof after all). –  Mσᶎ Oct 3 '13 at 22:53
    
I hadn't kept up with the price of the original 1D - but I would also assume the lenses were worth quite a bit. –  Chris H Oct 4 '13 at 8:30
    
It's not an original 1D, it's worth quite a bit more than that! And yes I carry some expensive lenses around too. –  Ben Oct 4 '13 at 9:43
    
So my assumption that you want to look after it holds, similarly insurance may be a consideration. –  Chris H Oct 4 '13 at 9:59
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I carry a 5D to and from work in a pannier reasonably regularly. I always take the lens off, an put it in a hard case with good foam inserts, and then it's usually packed in with my clothes etc. I wouldn't go mountain biking like this, but for road commuting I haven't had any problems with it.

When I take larger camera gear with me - video cameras and lights and mics I put them in the trailer that I got when I was carting my young kids around. I have a piece of foam that I put on the floor to take some of the bumps, but as long as you're not thrashing it I'd say it's no worse than putting it in a car. My kids seemed to have survived being lugged to kindy a few times a week in it.

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