Take a look at this short clip that shows you how to convert your Pannier Backpack from backpack mode to a full set of front and rear panniers. To save your time, we’ve sped up the clip to just under a minute. Normal user conversion time would still be sub-5 minutes!
My first bike tours were accomplished without the benefit of front panniers. In fact, my first prototype Convertible did not include front panniers. There – I have demonstrated that it is possible to tour without them. Then I made myself a pair, and what a difference! Especially when pulling up a hill, the front pannier gave the front wheel some inertia, so I could pull on the handlebar without weaving all over the road. There is a big difference in stability, compared to weight on a handlebar bag! Please remember that your rack must be for an over-the-wheel pannier, not Low Riders.
I recommend packing your “high density” items in the front panniers, things like tools, anything metal, extra water, and perhaps rain gear. The Convertible Elite front pannier gives you 4 lower compartments and 2 (smaller) upper compartments. With a little practice, it is easy to distinguish them, so you can pack consistently and always know where to find a particular item (left-right, front-back, top-bottom). Even though there is lower volume in the front, your load will be well-balanced with the more massive items in the front.
I’ve never considered riding without the rear pannier, so I don’t consider the question “either or”. The rear pannier carries the bulky items that wouldn’t fit up front. Then it carries more – the things you hadn’t planned on. Dinner. Something too cool to leave it behind. Looking at fully packed touring bikes, 1) there’s too much stuff, and 2) it gets packed in back. So start with the heavy stuff up front – the back will take care of itself!
“As you can see from the picture, your compression straps made a remarkable difference. I attached my day pack to the top and there placed my hydration bladder. Two Outdoor Research Nalgene bottle sleeves were added near the bottom of the chest straps. The green bag below is my son’s Osprey internal frame pack that became too much for him. Were it not for your compression straps I’m not certain what we would have done, as attaching a complete second pack would be a challenge with many a bag. So, thank you for such a rugged and well designed product!” — Louis Rothschild, April, 2016
Conversion between modes is the Convertible Pannier-Backpack’s “time to shine.” Here we go through the nuts and bolts of conversion. Enjoy!