Banjo Brothers Waterproof Backpack Review
Cons: Not totally waterproof, a little bulky/heavy
Manufacturer: Banjo Brothers
Our Analysis and Test Results
This pannier is a great choice for any die-hard cyclist who needs a bike bag that will make their commute easier when off the bike. If you switch roles between biker and pedestrian while getting from A to B, this bag might be the perfect compromise for you.
If you're in the market for an affordable yet durable bike bag that you can wear on your back, you'll find a friend in the Waterproof Backpack Pannier.
Designed and built by cyclists, the Backpack Pannier from Banjo Brothers has a no-frills approach to securement. Utilizing two rubber-coated hooks and a triangular ring attached with elastic cord, this mounting system is quick and easy to use. And while it may not offer the same type of security as a locking bag, we never experienced any issues while riding this pannier through rough trails that jostled the bag in a serious way.
Other than possibly adjusting the elastic loop holding the bottom ring, this bag requires no tweaking or installation before it is ready to use. Right out of the box, we were able to get a secure fit that was also easy to remove. The hook-and-loop design is very popular for this type of simplicity. Though, a potential drawback is that the bottom of the pannier has a tendency to sway a little bit with a heavy load. While it never became detached, it did create a little bit of extra noise and could potentially wear on your rack after a long time.
One final detail that is worth mentioning: there are two buckle straps on the side of the pannier that attaches to your rack. This straps are meant to be used when in backpack mode, and not pannier mode. This means that you have to be extra careful to tuck these straps away before mounting the bag to your rack to avoid them getting caught in your spokes. With elastic loops to hold them, this is a simple task. However, it's one extra thing for you to think about when loading up.
According to Banjo Brothers, the Waterproof Backpack Pannier has a total holding capacity of 1100 cubic inches. By no means is that a huge amount of storage, but we found it to be totally adequate for the type of riding you'd typically do with a convertible pannier/backpack hybrid. We could hold all the essentials like a 15-inch laptop, reading materials, lunch, extra water, and some rain layers.
We were impressed by the thoughtful design in this bike bag. The wide, shallow shape allows you to quickly access all the contents inside without having to dig to the bottom. Furthermore, there are an assortment of pockets, including a zippered top flap, that provide quick and easy storage of smaller items that you might need to grab on-the-go. Beyond additional pockets, there is also a gear loop that provides a visible mounting spot for bike lights.
If you wanted to really max out the storage of this bag, you could also take out the bulky waterproof liner that is included. This will render the bag non-waterproof, but it will save you a bit on weight and allow for marginally more contents to fit in the bag.
As we've come to expect from Banjo Brothers, the Waterproof Backpack Pannier is built with longevity in mind. The exterior is made of a ballistic nylon material that is fully capable of brushing off road rash and run-ins with trees. The seams, zippers, and stitching exhibit a type of integrity that lead us to believe this bag should last for a long time to come. Additionally, the interior liner adds an extra layer of protection from the inside while also keeping the contents dry.
Banjo Brothers is a domestic company that is fully transparent in sharing that their products are made in China with a manufacturer that they've built a lasting relationship with for over 20 years. For some, this might be a deal-breaker, and we get that. However, the quality and durability of this bag are undeniable—both at first glance as well as after many miles on the road/trail. Even though this bag is built overseas, you'll clearly see that is was built with an unparalleled attention to detail and excellent construction.
So confident are the Banjo Brothers that this pannier is waterproof that they chose to include it in the title. Though, our testing showed a few weaknesses that disprove that it is truly waterproof. The interior liner is undoubtedly built from a material that is impervious to water. It's also got welded seams that keep water out extremely well. However, the roll-top closure isn't as watertight as some others. This leaves your contents partly vulnerable to water entering from the top of the bag.
We found that road spray and rain was effectively kept out of the bag's interior when we carefully and tightly rolled down the top of the bag. Though the submersion test proved that water is, in fact, capable of entering this closure—which makes us want to suggest calling it the "Weatherproof Backpack Pannier". While it's entirely sufficient for keeping your stuff dry in the occasional commuting downpour, we don't think that this pannier offers the same weatherproofing as some of the other designs.
Ease of Use
It took a very long time for Banjo Brothers to release a hybrid backpack-pannier and they claim it was because they wanted it to be 100% perfect. We think they hit very close to the mark. This pannier is highly functional and converts very quickly into a backpack. It is quick to attach and is comfortable when worn.
There are a few design nuances that take some getting used to, but overall the design is incredibly easy to use. So easy, in fact, that it received the highest score in this category. Added features like reflective piping and strips, zippered pockets, and loops to attach bike lights help to corroborate this rating.
This is a very competitively priced pannier, especially considering that it also doubles as a backpack. While it wasn't our favorite backpack style pannier design, it is a great bag for less than half the price of the award-winning Ortlieb Vario. No doubt a tremendous value.
If you've seen or used a Banjo Brothers bag before, you know that they have a quality you can feel. This bag is rugged, durable, and built to get used. With ample storage, quick securement, and a comfortable design, it just might be the best value in our backpack pannier lineup. So if you're looking for an affordable bike bag that can handle your daily carry both on and off your bike, this is the pannier for you.
— Rob Woodworth