Currently I use a touring bike with rear rack and a single panier on my 15km commute. In my panier I carry a full set of clothes including shoes, a small coat and a towel. I want to start using my road bike on my commute because it is a better bike in almost all ways except for the cargo situation. The panier I use is an ortlieb back-roller classic. It is huge, it is completely waterproof, and I fix it to my bike in one quick motion. I'm looking for something that matches or improves on most of those characteristics but fits on a road bike. More specifically, I'd like to find a cargo solution for my road bike that:

  1. is at least 15-20 litres.
  2. is waterproof in standard setup (no rain-covers).
  3. does not interfere with my biking.
  4. attaches and detaches with minimal effort.
  5. (bonus points) is aerodynamic.
  6. (bonus points) looks good

I've tried a backpack, but that violates point 3 and (somewhat) 5. Also, it is sweaty and bad for my back. I've been looking into the various bags that attach on top of a rear-rack such as the ortlieb trunk bag and the topeak trunk drybag but they are too small. Topeak has bigger models but those have a strange compartmentalisation, and they are not waterproof (since you can buy separate rain covers). I'd like to avoid the asymmetry of a single panier, and I'd also like to avoid attaching a full rear-rack to my roadbike. Seatpost-mounted rack is fine though.

Edit (2014-12-01): In the end I decided to go for a backpack, the ortlieb packman pro 2 to be exact. Reasons:

  • 100% waterproof
  • some bike-friendly features (notably, some ventilation on the back)
  • Exactly the size I need.
  • Quicker and better ease of use than all rack-mounted or seatpost-mounted solutions I could find.
  • 5
    The shoes are most bulk and weight. Can you leave a pair of shoes at the destination? That would really open up your options. Frame bag takes a while to attach but a handlebar bag may work. Would need to see your bars and cable routing.
    – paparazzo
    Nov 14, 2014 at 14:31
  • 1
    I would suggest a lightweight rack and two smaller panniers vs one large one. Nov 14, 2014 at 17:00
  • 1
    Would you consider rethinking the rack?
    – Kennah
    Nov 14, 2014 at 23:58
  • 1
    Another way to get the size/weight down is a smaller coat and towel— do you have a camping towel & some sort of stuffable coat already? e.g. uniqlo.com/us/men/outerwear/ultra-light-down.html & rei.com/product/832935/… Nov 17, 2014 at 20:24
  • @AlanGerber gear-wise I am already pretty minimal. I have a camping towel as you suggest and a pretty light and packable soft-shell. Nov 19, 2014 at 9:37

3 Answers 3


I would really recommend re-looking at a backpack. There are a large variety of packs out there and the drybag styles ones seem to get better every year. I have found that a backpack is a more dynamic way to carry weight. You might look for one with better airflow built into the padding section. I find that if I dress just a little more lightly and have a pack with good airflow, "sweaty back" is a bit less of a problem.

If you can't find a drybag style pack that works for you, you could always look for a base pack that fits all your requirements and then just stuff a uber-light drybag in it.

Along those lines, you might also look at Revelate Designs new holster bag. Essentially it sits under your seat and provides a secure place to stuff a drysack with ease of on/off for the drysack. Your personal opinion will dictate whether it meets requirement 6 or not.

  • My problem with backpacks is that they always either have good airflow at the back (I have such a backpack which is great in summer) or they are waterproof. Never both. I like the Revelate Designs option but it does look like you need to fiddle with some straps to fix the drybag in the holster. At that point the holster just becomes a very expensive and impractical seatpost mounted rack. Nov 19, 2014 at 10:10
  • 1
    @jiles de wit If you don't have the time/money to find such a pack, the second option I listed may be for you. Adding a drybag to your existing pack that you consider to have adequate airflow may be a good option. As to the holster design, it has only 4 straps. 3 or them are to affix the holster to the seat and post. Meaning it requires only one strap to secure. It's by far the best bike mounted, moderate size commuter cargo option I've come across. Nov 19, 2014 at 16:55
  • My issue is neither time nor money (within limits anyway) I'm just not aware of any backpacks that have good airflow and are waterproof. Adding a drybag to an existing backpack is an option, but I prefer (and am willing to spend for) an all-in-one solution. Nov 20, 2014 at 8:52
  • 1
    You may check out Arc'teryx website. They are high end and their stuff is expensive. They have been pushing toward waterproof packs from the hiking pack side (rather than the many dry bag manufacturers who often simply stick a strap on their existing products). I had a watertight daypack from them several years back that I really enjoyed until it was stolen in a vehicle breakin. Nov 20, 2014 at 17:49

You might be able to get away with a handlebar bag (Ortlieb has a waterproof one that claims to hold 7l) plus a messenger bag or light backpack, or the underseat stuff sack mentioned by Chris in AK. I agree with commenter Blam that leaving the shoes at work will drastically reduce the needed volume.

A porteur rack in front might do the job too, and perhaps be a bit easier to remove than a rear rack. (Much depends on your brake setup; it's easy to get a front rack off my bike because its disc brakes don't get in the way.) Linus and Velo Orange have nice porteurs.


Very large old-fashioned saddlebags might be a go. They exist. Brooks stock ones up to 10L in canvas. Revelate has a more modern underseat "holster" that can take a 14L drybag. Carradice make up to 24L traditional saddlebags in "100%" waterproofed duck.

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