I’m not one to rush into new purchases. In the past, I’ve used Nashbar Townie panniers for bicycle touring. The reason? They were what I had, and I didn’t see a compelling reason to buy something else. But while the Townies are fine for bringing groceries home—even such heavy items as sacks of potatoes and 5-liter boxes of plonk—they’re far from ideal for carrying camping kit. And because I plan on spending a lot more time riding over the hills and far away in the near future, I figured it was time I bought “proper” touring panniers for my Long Haul Trucker. So after only a token amount of dithering, I decided on Axiom’s Champlain panniers, and (as I’ve come to expect) JensonUSA delivered, on budget and ahead of schedule.
They look good. And—at just under USD100—the price was right. Not cheap, mind you. Right. The Champlains tick all the boxes, too. Metal hardware, a well-designed mounting system, reinforcing where it’s needed most, compression straps, enough pockets to keep essentials handy (but not so many that I need a packing list to know what’s where), and sturdy rain covers. Plus a roomy main compartment that should swallow anything that any sane cyclist would be tempted to carry along.
But the acid test is yet to come. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be taking my Champlains on the road. And fittingly enough, the rugged hills overlooking Lake Champlain are a likely destination. So stay tuned. My new panniers and I are going places, and you’re welcome to ride along.