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The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions, and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world. My Plan

My 3 Books
I write, self publish and sell books about touring

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Travel Plan

My Books
About Me
Media/Press Room


Photo Use Info

Read Sample Letter
Continue My Travels

Places I have been
How can I afford this?)

India and Neighbors
May 2010 to present

Alaska / Canada / USA
May 2008 to April 2010

New Zealand
Sept 2007 to May 2008

Sept 2006 to Sept 2007

SE Asia / China
Nov 2004 to Sept 2006

South America
June 2003 to June 2004

AZ, Mexico, and Central America
March 2002 to April 2003

How I started
The 5 years before I left

*Help Support this Web Site and Continue My Travels.

Equipment Pages Index

How Much to Bring and Weight
Some Advice About Advice
A Note to Perspective Sponsors and Gear Suppliers
(See more about Sponsorship)

START HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
Bicycle Touring Frames 
The Steel Repair Myth.
Steel and Aluminum Derailleur Hanger Repair.
Bicycle Touring Wheels
Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs

Panniers / Bike Bags
Cargo Trailers Vs Panniers
Tires for Bike Tours..
Bicycle Touring Saddles.
Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
Bike Computer
Touring Handlebars, Bar Ends, Adjustable Stems, and Padded Grips.
Sealed Cartridge Headsets

How to prevent flat tires
Bike Route Trails and Maps

Buying Camping Equipment
Tent and Ground Cloth
Sleeping Bag
Sleeping Pad
Camp Stove
Pots and Pans
Water Filter
First Aide Kits
Solar Power for Camp

Bike Touring Shorts

Short-wave Radio
Bicycle touring lights

Packing list
Pictures of Equipment Failures

See My Videos Here

(see all 3 book)

Bicycle Touring Panniers and Waterproof Bike Tour Bags.  The Place to Buy the Best New and Used Handlebar Bags with Map Case, Front and Rear Panniers and Saddle Bags with Watertight Roller Closure.

see also  Front and Rear Bike Touring Racks and Ortlieb Waterproof Bicycle Touring Panniers

Bicycle touring panniers are some of the most important pieces of gear we own.  These saddle bags need to remain securely on our bikes while keeping our expensive gear safe and dry on the roughest of roads and in the most extreme weather conditions.  If a pannier fails it endangers all of the contents in the bag and can even cause a dangerous crash.  In addition to the average camping gear, personal items, and clothing most other bike tourists carry with them but we also have additional delicate electronic equipment required to produce our web site and write our series of books.  This high tech gear includes a notebook computer and digital video and still camera.  This fragile gear requires exceptional performance from our panniers to keep it dry and off the pavement.  If our panniers fail our equipment can be damaged and our trip would end.

During our fist two years of our trip we used three different brands of bicycle panniers including Ortlieb.  They all seemed like top of the line bike panniers and are all well recognized in at the professional international bicycle touring circles.  At first all three brands of bicycle touring bags looked to be of equal quality and clever design but time, sun, dust, rain, accidental drops, and tragic crashes exposed the differences in the bags and produced a clear superior product line.  Please remember that the pannier failures described below are personal experiences and we understand that readers may have different experiences.  Failures that we experienced with our bicycle panniers came in several areas which are described below:

Bicycle Pannier Failures We Experienced

Mounting System:

When I originally started shopping for bike panniers I concentrated on the bag design and overlooked the attachment system.  Now, with more than two years of experience with three manufacturesI found out that while the bag design is important the mounting system is critical.

Cindie's set of Vaude bags had a poor mounting system.  From reading industry news publications I believe that Vaude tried to copy Ortlieb's excellent mounting system but were prevented because of international patent laws and were forced to come up with their own design.  Cindie used this brand of bags and mounting system and they slowly but consistently developed several major problems on the road. 

The first problem she had with her Vaude panniers was before we left.  One of her bags mounting systems cracked and broke in cold weather.  Vaude did warrantee this defective part but we were forced to carry bulky spare mounting hardware for when this problem would reoccurred.  It is very frustrating to haul spare parts in the bottom of bags for equipment that should not require this precaution.  The other brands of bags that we carried did not require us to carry spare parts.

On two different steep dangerous descents in Ecuador and Peru Cindie's rear Vaude panniers repeatedly fell completely off.  This caused all of the gear strapped to her rear rack to detach and skid across the road.   This created a very dangerous situation.  Cindie was in front of me during one episode.  She was cornering and one of her rear bags and gear suddenly slide across the road and the sudden weight change on her bike caused her to loose control of her bike.  I locked up my brakes and skid around her expensive Vaude pannier and our sleeping bags on the road.  When everything finally came to a stop we would had to search through the ditches for the gear that came off her rack.  Next we had to dig through my load for tools that are required to fix her faulty mounting bracket.  After the attachment mechanism was pushed back into place we remounted everything to her bike, swore a lot, and tried to salvage the rest of the days enjoyment.  This irritated me to no end because it happened several times for almost an entire year while we toured in some of the more remote parts of South America.

We tried everything to prevent her panniers from falling off.  We replaced the mounting system with a new one that we had been carrying for months.  This did not solve the problem.  Even the new mounting system could not hold the bag on.  I think it is simply a bad design.  We vowed to replace this line of bags as soon as we could.

A close up of the attachment system that opened too much which caused her bag to fall of on fast descents.  This required a lengthy stop to remove everything on her rear rack and an agonizing effort to push it back into place.


Tim's rear cloth Cordura bags were not waterproof, but in their defense, they never claimed to be.  I initially thought that this was not important but several days of wet weather in Honduras, Ecuador, and later in Chile caused several key pieces of gear, including our shortwave radio to get wet.  Fortunately our notebook computer is always kept in a rubber dry bag but I think that this caused our shortwave radio to quit working.  I will never tour with anything but water proof cycling bags again!

Material Durability:

Time and continuous use cause the workmanship and material selection flaws to surface.  I was surprised at how durable these bags seemed when we bought them and how quickly things went wrong.  When someone tells you that their panniers are "bulletproof" ask them if they would still think that after we borrowed them for a couple years.

All of Cindie's Vaude bags did the strangest thing.  They bowed around the mounting system which grew worse as the months rolled by.  We warrantee it but the new one did the same.  This may have cause them to detach during descents.

Cindie's rear Vaude bags developed rips in the seams of the external pockets.  This required constant gluing and re-gluing when they fell apart again.  We originally warranted her Vaude bags but the new ones had the same flaw.  We forced to carry the messy glue along which added to our load.  This battle with the pockets continued for months in South America until we ran out of glue and left the pockets in a trash can.  What a sad development for an expensive and important piece of equipment.

My cloth Cordura Panniers developed several rips and loose stitching.  This required  frequent repairs and Cindie had to use our emergency sewing kit to piece back the failing seams.  If we would have continued using these bags I believe they would have completely fell apart.

Tim's cloth Cordura rear pannier developed faulty stitching that required constant field repairs.

Cindie sewing the many broken and separated stitches on Tim's rear cloth Cordura Panniers

Tim's rear cloth Cordura bags hung too close to the ground and made frequent contact with the pavement which cause rips and holes to develop.

Cindie's Vaude pannier in the bottom of this picture (left hand side of bike) is bowing out and had to be warrantee during a visit to the USA

Convenient of use, service, and access to gear Customer Service:

Most companies in the business of selling high end sports equipment are very competitive and have similar customer service.  Cindie warrantee her Vaude bags with no problem and cloth Cordura was always pleasant to deal with.  We never experienced any problems with our Ortlieb bags so we never needed to request service.  To me, building a quality product that does not require service is the best service of all.

One irritating occurrence in customer service was with my DeTour (formally Vaude) handle bar bag map case.  During our first two years, from Arizona to Argentina, my map case developed several rips.  I called and tried to buy a new map case.  They told me that I would have to buy an entire new US$100 handlebar bag to receive a new map case.  It does not seem right that a handlebar bag only lasts as long as the fragile map case.

Bike Bags that had Superior Performance

Cleaning up and looking our best for Chinese immigration officials.  With waterproof Ortlieb Panniers there is no need to remove them during a bike wash. - Vietnam/China border

Only one brand of bags exceeded our needs and performed beyond our expectations:.  I am much harder on equipment than Cindie.  I am larger and just less delicate or careful then her.  Usually my equipment suffers more from damage than hers but the opposite was true with our panniers.  My Ortlieb panniers were the only set of bags that did not fail at some point.  I am still using them years later and believe that they may last for many more years to come. Thank You Ortlieb for making something that I never have to worry about as we bike around the world.

It's not surprising that these bags are made in Germany.  The Germans are at the forefront of international travel and the bicycle touring equipment industry.  It must be a very popular sport among it's citizens.  More than half of all the international traveling cyclists we meet are from Germany.  Below are the bags that Cindie and I own, use, and depend on for the remainder of our tour which includes some of the more rugged places on earth.

waterproof, rugged, light weight, and durable bicycle touring panniers.

Cindie's front Panniers: Ortlieb Front Roller

Waterproof panniers with a unique roll-top closure. Symmetrical shape allows more leg room. Not only ideal for use on long cycle tours; they are also suitable for everyday use as a shopping bag or shoulder bag. Can be used with the carrying system as a daypack.
Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers

Absolutely waterproof, special 3D welding constructed bicycle panniers--for front rack mounting, small bag rear rack mounting or children's bikes

  • 3D welding is a special overlapping technique that uses no thread or adhesives

  • Roll-over style closures keep water out and are able to expand with your load

  • Attaches with the Ortlieb QLR-System: a strong, fast, quick-releasing system that locks tightly into place; easy unlocked by lifting up on the handle

  • QLR-hooks are replaceable and adjustable; will fit racks with tube diameter of up to 10 mm; 14 mm hooks available separately; will fit low-rider racks

  • Made of heavy-duty, double polyurethane coated polyester

Made of heavy-duty, double polyurethane coated polyester.. Imported.

Click Below to Purchase
Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers

Tim's Rear Panniers:  Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus

High specification design rear pannier made of Cordura fabric with spacious lid closure and QL2 mounting system. Even fully loaded; the pannier can be closed and is therefore particularly suited for extended tours. Outer mesh pocket with zipper (not waterproof) increases packing volume.

Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus Pannier

Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus Panniers

These spacious bags are some of the largest around for extended trips.

  • Polyurethane-coated Cordura® nylon makes panniers durable and waterproof

  • Zippered outside mesh pockets hold wet gear or allow easy-access to essential gear

  • Large reflectors make you visible to motorists in poor light

  • Contents are held secure with two buckle closures and compression straps

  • Convenient handle on top for easy carrying

  • QL2 mounting system makes mounting and un-mounting panniers a snap

Click Below to Purchase
Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus Pannier

Tim's front and Cindie's rear Panniers:  Ortlieb Backroller

(we have two sets with different colors)

Waterproof panniers with a unique roll-top closure and constructed of an exclusive Cordura material that is completely watertight and welded. Utilizes Ortlieb's QL 2 Mounting System. Its symmetrical shape allows more leg room. Not only ideal for use on long cycle tours; they are also suitable for everyday use as a shopping bag or shoulder bag. Can be used with the carrying system as a daypack.

Ortlieb Backroller Panniers
Ortlieb Backroller Panniers

Made of durable Cordura(R) nylon with polyester; coated with PVC for water resistance

With 3D welded seams, these panniers will keep your gear dry on rainy rides. Constructed with welded seams for strength. Designed with an easy access, roll-top closure. Replaceable, adjustable, quick-release security catches mount panniers quickly and easily on racks--also removed easily. Lifting on pannier carrying strap automatically releases the QL1 system security catches, while releasing the strap causes latches to lock in place. Please note: This item is sold as a pair.

  • Constructed with welded seams for strength

  • Designed with an easy access, roll-top closure

  • Replaceable, adjustable, quick-release security catches mount panniers quickly and easily on racks--also removed easily

  • Lifting on pannier carrying strap automatically releases the QLR-system security catches, while releasing the strap causes latches to lock in place

Click Below to Purchase
Ortlieb Backroller Panniers

Ortlieb Seat-Bag Micro

 Ortlieb Saddle-Bag Micro Saddle Bag

The Saddle-Bag Micro from Ortleib is an ultra lightweight, waterproof seat bag with a roll-up closure. This size is an excellent fit for road or mountain racing applications.

* Roll-up closure with elastic bands lets you cinch down the bag, and offers a tight hold * Polyurethane-coated nylon waterproof fabric * Simple click mount attaches with 2 screws to seat rails; mount remains on bike and allows 1-handed removal of saddle bag * Reflective highlight improves nighttime profile * Protects against dust penetration and water splash from all directions

Click Below to Purchase
Ortlieb Seat-Bag Micro

Cindie's Handlebar bag

Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Handlebar Bag
Ortlieb Ultimate 4 Compact Handlebar Bag

Highly water-resistant, with durable welded seams. Lid has inner stiffener and is easy to open and close with one hand. Lockable mounting fits up to 31.8mm handlebars. Reflective logo. This versatile handlebar bag features a rigid lid, a removable shoulder strap, and a lockable mounting.

Click Below to Purchase
Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Handlebar Bag

Tim's Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Plus
extra large waterproof Handlebar bag

Ortlieb Bicycle touring handlebar bags and Panniers

 A deluxe Handle Bar Bag : the Ultimate3 made of completely waterproof Cordura; removable map case; outer mesh pocket; 2 removable keyrings and removable inner pockets with zipper.

Currently unavailable

Additional bike bags and panniers for sale: Ortlieb of Germany

Sport Packer Plus Bike Plus Bike

 Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus Panniers

Features 3M Scotchlite™ reflectors to increase your visibility in poor light. Made to mount on low-rider front racks or rear racks, these feature snug-fitting lids that allow for higher load capacity. Outer mesh pockets are spacious and feature zippers to hold contents secure. QL2 suspension system holds bags secure and is easy to load and unload. Surrounding compression straps allow size of panniers to be altered. These panniers are the perfect size for your daily commute, or to strap on to children's bikes.

Click Below to Purchase
Sport Packer Plus Bike Plus Bike

Ortlieb Office Bag - Large

 Ortlieb Office Bag

Finally a waterproof briefcase that mounts on your bike--and looks smart at the office and on campus! Polyurethane-coated, heavy-duty Cordura® nylon and Roll'n'Snap closure system keep contents of bag completely dry. Features Ortlieb's QLR2 diagonal mounting system that gives more legroom while cycling. Padded handle and detachable, anatomically curved shoulder strap give you plenty of comfortable carrying options off the bike. Studded feet protect bottom of bag from wear and tear when you put it on the ground. May be mounted on either the left or right side of the rack, thanks to the reversible mounting rail. Two sub-divided inner compartments help keep contents organized. Two 3M® Scotchlite™ reflectors increase your visibility to others

Click Below to Purchase
Ortlieb Office Bag - Large

Ortlieb Bike Shopper yellow

 Ortlieb Bike Shopper

Comes with a combination adjustable shoulder strap/carry handle made of strong nylon webbing; just take the bag off the rack and start shopping. Includes fore and aft reflector patches and a tube of lubricant to keep the quick-seal closure working smoothly. Large-volume bag goes on and off your rack quickly, freeing you of the need to dangle your grocery bags precariously off the handlebars. Or let it work as a commuter bag, carrying your change of clothes for work, including shoes. Pack closes tight and secure with a locking slider--think of it as an industrial-size and -strength food baggie. Removable, zippered, interior pocket keeps small items handy. Sells as a single bag. The waterproof Ortlieb Bike Shopper bag mounts to your rear rack like a single pannier yet comes off for your shopping convenience! Welded seams and coated fabric further ensure your valuables stay dry in a rainfall.

Click Below to Purchase
Ortlieb Bike Shopper yellow

Ortlieb Velocity Messenger Pack

 Ortlieb Velocity Messenger Pack

This messenger-style daypack features a roll-closure top for complete waterproofness. Tough, polyurethane-coated Cordura® nylon is windproof and waterproof. Features a zippered removable inner pocket, padded foam back anatomically shaped shoulder straps with sternum strap and a waist strap. Makes a great school backpack.

Click Below to Purchase
Ortlieb Velocity Messenger Pack


See More Ortlieb Bicycle Products!!!



Bicycle Touring
Tips & Advice

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Touring Bicycles

Tools and Spares

Sleeping Bags
Camping Mattress
Camp Stove
Water Filter
Pots and Pans
First Aide Kits
Solar Power
Bike Maps
Preventing Flat Tires

Bike Computer
Cargo Trailers
Kick Stands
Commuting Bikes

Camp Shower/Toiletry Bag


Bike Shoes
Bike Touring Shorts

Stealth/Free Camp

What I Have Learned On The Road

Dreaming of Endless Travel

Injustice of Poverty

Much MORE Gear Here!

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Cycle Touring Racks

Tents and ground cloths
Sleeping Bags
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