I was in the process of upgrading my GF’s MTB into something that fit her better, was more comfortable and had some useful cargo capacity when I started looking for panniers. My initial thought was get some grocery panniers since they’d be simpler and really all she needed at this point since she doesn’t bike tour. After poking around a bit I found that some decent Jandd grocery panniers cost as much as the MEC panniers shown above. Being the eternal optimist I am I figured why not get these real touring bags? They’d carry loads of groceries and if she wanted to tour she had some bags to start with. Seemed like a cunning plan at the time.
I bought them [$95CDN] and installed them on her bike. They were a struggle to mount on the Filzer rack [also bought at MEC], but I got them on. What was really unfortunate was I almost couldn’t get them back off the rack. After battling the mounting hooks off I realized how stupid it was to buy touring panniers that didn’t work well and weren’t really designed for the task at hand. So I returned them and bought some Jandd grocery panniers – they are simple, easy to use and go on and off in a snap. If she is interested in trying bike touring at some point I’ll just get her a set of Ortliebs and life will be good!
For what it’s worth the MEC World Tour Panniers seemed well made and are a great deal at $95CDN a set for rears. Maybe if you don’t remove your panniers from your bike often the challenging mounting system wouldn’t be a problem. You could even rationalize that it makes them a bit theft resistant! Personally I’m going listen to the advice I’ve given loads of people – “buy Ortlieb”.
I generally like MEC products, but they need to redesign the way these bags mount. The problem is that when you try and mount them seating the lower hook is finicky and it’s very hard to get the top hooks on securely. The bigger problem is that once you get the top hooks on securely it is extremely tough to get them to disengage. Compare that to the easy one handed mounting/dismounting of an Ortlieb pannier and you can appreciate my frustration. This may be an issue with the combination of this specific rack and these bags, but the rack was purchased from MEC as well and seems pretty vanilla as racks go. The mounting system of the Jandd panniers is not as slick as that used by Ortlieb, but it works well and is easy to use.