Unless your bike’s handlebar bag and panniers are really, truly waterproof — and maybe even if they are — rain covers are worth the added weight and bulk, especially on grocery runs. Here’s why.
by Tamia Nelson | May 23, 2015
While some bike panniers and handlebar bags come with rain covers, others do not, and that’s too bad. Rain covers do more than keep your gear dry. They also…
Keep your load light. Unless your bags are made from truly waterproof fabric, with sealed seams and bombproof closures (mine aren’t), a hard shower can add pounds of water weight to your load.
Keep your stuff clean. A surprising amount of road dust finds its way into unprotected panniers and handlebar bags, even when you’re riding on asphalt.
Help keep your stuff cool. Light, bright colors reflect sunlight. Dark colors absorb it, turning your bags into mini-ovens. Light is right. On tours, your electronics and chocolate bars will thank you for caring. And if you’re making a grocery run, the food won’t be cooked by the time you return home.
Help motorists see you. If the covers are made from brightly colored, high-viz material, that is. (They should be.) And retroreflective accents are invaluable after dark. Every bit of brightness helps.
OK. Rain covers are good. But no rain cover is completely impervious, and a downpour can usually breach your defenses. So it’s best to pack vulnerable items in zipper-lock plastic bags, double-bagging them if necessary. What kind of items? Maps, elctronics, spare clothing, and foods that would be adversely affected by the wet. I also line both my small Delta Compact panniers and my larger Axiom Champlain bags with large, heavy duty zipper-lock bags. The extra protection is worth the negligible weight and bulk.