Having previously installed the Highway Dirtbagz pannier rails, I needed a decent set of panniers to go with them. The Highway Dirtbagz ones were out, they’re just too small and featureless, and I’m not convinced of their durability. The Adventure Spec Magadan bags are probably close to the ultimate adventure travel panniers at the moment, but at well over £300 they’re far too pricey for my liking.

Other options include the Wolfman Expedition Dry bags at £200, but these only hold 19 litres each. Then there’s the Kriega Overlander 60 (now discontinued) which is a modular system comprised of four 30 litre bags, or a mount to carry Rotopax fuel/water cans. This is probably the most versatile system. I like the look of it, but it costs more than the Magadan bags, so was a no go.

Browsing the KTM 690 Wunderfest thread on ADV forums, I came across a post by a member called ‘fluff34567’ who had just taken delivery of a 60 litre set of panniers from a Polish company called 21 Brothers. The pictures he posted were mobile phone quality, but I could see enough to know that these would fit the bill. Best of all, they cost just £150 a set (including delivery and the optional extras I added), making them much more affordable than the alternatives above.

The bags arrived just in time for me to take them out on my regular Christmas day ride. Delivery took a couple of weeks since they were made to order. The guy shipping them must have been having a laugh as they turned up at my work in a box branded ‘Seni Active,’ a quick Google revealed this to be a brand of adult nappies. You can imagine the jokes in the office.

21 Brothers panniers

The bags themselves appear to be well made and sturdy (even if they do lack a bit of polish around the finishings). They’re water proof, and provide a multitude of mounting options. I coughed up the extra for two 1.5 bottle pockets. With the limited fuel capacity of the county, these will come in handy. There’s a lack information about these bags, so I braved the 0°c weather and ventured out to take a few photos.

Update 2015

I’ve now used the panniers extensively around Spain, and used one of them across the back of the bike in Morocco. The fact that they don’t include any form of strap tidy really annoys me, though it’s not difficult to buy/make your own. The other annoyance is that they have no structure of any kind, the Magadans are similar in that respect. This is good in keeping them light, but it also means that off the bike they can’t stand up on their own unless full. They want to fall over or collapse. Not really much of an issue when one tour, but worth mentioning. I’d also like to be able to cinch down the straps that hold the roll shut a bit tighter when the bags aren’t full.

So far they’ve held up well, and survived torrential rain without letting in a drop. They seem very strong but I have put a small hole in one which I’ll repair with spinnaker tape. This was when using it as roll back on the back of the bike in Morocco. The rough Dakar-like pistes meant the bag rubbed on the rack, so my fault really.

South America update

The bags were also used on my recent 6 month trip around South America. Again they held up well despite being overloaded. In Peru some over exuberant cornering meant that I wore holes in them. A combination of leaning too far, and having the bags sit low for better balance.

On Ruta 40 in Argentina, I took a jump at speed. On landing one of the two cross seat straps tore off. I was able to use the four plastic loops at each corner to keep the bag fastened to the bike. In fact I ran it like that until Mendoza where I finally decided to stitch it up.

I sold the bags with the bike. After over 10,000 miles they were tired and tatty, but they did the job. If I was doing it all again I think I’d go for the Kriega Overlander 60 platform instead. It’s heavier at 4kg (most bags are 2-3kg), but is robust, and ultimately more flexible. For ultra lightweight, I’d go for Kriega’s rackless overland 30 system.