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REI Co-op Junction Pannier Review

An all-around great option for the everyday commuter who needs a lightweight, user-friendly bag that carries the necessities
REI Co-op Junction Pannier
Photo: REI
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Price:  $90 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  User-friendly mounting system, several storage compartments, lightweight, bluesign-approved materials
Cons:  Not waterproof without rain cover, sold as a single
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Liz Chamberlain ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 29, 2021
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 14
  • Mounting System - 25% 8
  • Storage - 20% 6
  • Durability - 20% 5
  • Weatherproofing - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use & Versatility - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The REI Junction Pannier is a solid choice for commuters interested in a budget-friendly bag that holds the necessities. The pannier performed well in all categories and checked most boxes, proving to be a reliable workhorse for the ride to and from the office. While the pannier is not perfect in its weatherproofing and overall storage capacity, its lightweight and organizational design made for uninterrupted errands, commutes, and gravel rides. Sold as a single pack, the REI pannier can satisfy the average commuter's needs for an affordable and reliable bike bag.

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Pros User-friendly mounting system, several storage compartments, lightweight, bluesign-approved materialsDurable and waterproof, huge storage capacity, easy and secure attachmentLarge volume, waterproof, simple & sleek design, great valueHighly durable, waterproof, inexpensive, sleek and bright designEasy to install, convenient storage design, made from upcycled materials
Cons Not waterproof without rain cover, sold as a singleLimited pockets and organizationMounting system is not as secure as others, no additional compartmentsSmaller total storage volume, limited pocket options, only compatible with 10mm racksNot watertight, mounting system not as secure as others
Bottom Line An all-around great option for the everyday commuter who needs a lightweight, user-friendly bag that carries the necessitiesThis top performer scores well in every category with no apparent weaknessesA high-volume, high-quality touring pannier that comes at a reasonable priceAn impressively durable and waterproof design that is compact and inexpensive, but is not compatible with all rack sizesA simple, affordable, easy to use pannier perfect for cruising around town
Rating Categories REI Co-op Junction... Ortlieb Back Roller... Thule Shield Burley Pannier Set Green Guru Dutchy
Mounting System (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Storage (20%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Durability (20%)
5.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Weatherproofing (20%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Ease Of Use & Versatility (15%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Specs REI Co-op Junction... Ortlieb Back Roller... Thule Shield Burley Pannier Set Green Guru Dutchy
Volume (liters) 22 L 2 x 20 L 2 x 25 L 2 x 11 L 22 L
Dimensions (in.) (H x W x D) 18" x 12" x 7" 16.5" x 12.6" x 6.7" 14.6" x 7.9" x 15.8" 14.5" x 10" x 6" 13" x 13" x 8"
Weight (pounds) 1.1 lbs 4.2 lbs (pair) 4.3 lbs (pair) 2.1 lbs (pair) 2.3 lbs
Material Oxford nylon PS 490 and PD 620 nylon Thermal welded 420D nylon 500D tarpaulin PVC fabric Upcycled Billboard and Banners
Pockets One main compartment with a laptop sleeve, one internal mesh pocket, three external pockets Internal sleeve and zippered mesh pocket Internal sleeve with two smaller mesh sleeves 1 main compartment, one small exerior pocket Internal sleeve
Best Use Urban/Commuting Touring Touring Touring/Commuting Urban

Our Analysis and Test Results

Overall, the REI Junction Pannier is a great no-frills, user-friendly option. The mounting system required no setup and was easy to adjust and remove. The storage compartments held enough good to support a day at the office, though they might not hold much more beyond the daily necessities. We liked the pannier's backpack-style design, though it may be somewhat deceiving to consumers searching for a hybrid bag. We weren't overly impressed with the REI Junction Bag, though its simplistic design got the job done without any complaints.

Performance Comparison


While intended for commuting, the REI Junction Pannier could fit a...
While intended for commuting, the REI Junction Pannier could fit a towel, sandals, and sunscreen - great for lakeside summer days.
Photo: Tucker Adams

Mounting System


The Vertex mounting system on the REI Junction Pannier is surprisingly one of the most simple, user-friendly rack mounting systems of the group, where no additional hardware setup is required, and the attachment and removal process was consistently easy. Two strong and sturdy mounting clips fit most (8 to 12 millimeter) bike racks and can be easily adjusted by sliding along the single mounting rail. A quick-release handle allows the user to remove the bag from the rack simply by pulling up on the handle. Most of the test bags have quick-release handles, but the Junction Pannier did not require extra fidgeting or adjustments like other product competitors. A T-clip at the bottom of the bag slides along an adjustment rail to offer an additional point of contact to solidify the hold on the rack.

The two hefty hooks on an adjustable mounting rail are supported by...
The two hefty hooks on an adjustable mounting rail are supported by a lower Vertex t-clip to secure the bag to the rack.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

While many bags jiggled around on rougher terrain, the Junction Pannier seemed to hold steady throughout the ride. This may be because the pack is fairly taught and compact while larger volume bags drop lower on the bike frame, allowing for more play when packed full. Mounting is a key stressor for commuters who are in a rush on their way to work or to class, so we were very pleased with the lack of stress brought on by this pack. There is no revolutionary technology involved, making the Junction Pannier a no-frills, straight-to-business option for those who do not have the patience for fidgety mounting systems.

The REI junction pannier had an one of the least complicated and...
The REI junction pannier had an one of the least complicated and most reliable mounting systems of the bunch.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

Storage


The REI Junction Pannier stands out as a top commuter option in the lineup as it offers 22 liters of storage space with a variety of pockets that allow for a higher level of organization. Several storage compartments are a welcomed change to the stuff-sack designs of the test group. The large compartment was able to hold a laptop, jacket, lunch, and a water bottle, while the three additional external pockets can hold onto multiple smaller items like electronics chargers, snacks, or a wallet.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The pack can hold your daily needs for a work commute but falls a bit short on the total storage volume. The Junction Pannier is a 22-liter pack, but compared to its pocketless competitors, it does not hold quite as many goods. The utility of the exterior pockets, however, remains useful as they protrude away from the pack allowing for items to fit regardless of how full the main compartment is. While it may not hold as much as competitors' bags, this pannier proved to satisfy our daily commuter needs.

Our REI pack supported a post-work lakeside dip by carrying our...
Our REI pack supported a post-work lakeside dip by carrying our laptop, sandals, sunscreen, and towel.
Photo: Tucker Adams

Durability


The Junction Pannier is constructed of a 200-denier oxford nylon cloth with a DWR coating to enhance water resistance. The nylon is lightweight, ringing in at 1 pound, 14 ounces per bag, over a pound lighter than most models in the test group. These materials are perfectly acceptable for commuter backpacks but don't necessarily make for the best use off-road or in wet climates.

The 200-denier fabric has average durability compared to the rest of...
The 200-denier fabric has average durability compared to the rest of our test lineup.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

While oxford nylon is stronger and heavier than standard nylon, its overall durability rating is lower than panniers made with tarpaulin, ripstop, or ballistic nylon. If the bag is used for commuting purposes, the polyurethane coating will likely be enough protection from standard commuter wear and tear. If used under more rugged conditions, this bag may be more susceptible to rips and abrasions, especially if loaded with heavy-weight materials. Luckily, it passed our toss-tests and kept our belongings safe and sound, though it suffered some obvious scratches from pavement and gravel mishaps. We put the bag through the wringer and did not notice any zippers or straps ripping or fraying. However, the materials used for these items are less durable than the competition, so it's possible these may deteriorate with heavy usage.

The trusty REI pannier remained secure on both the roads and the...
The trusty REI pannier remained secure on both the roads and the trails.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

Weatherproofing


The Junction Pannier fell short on weatherproofing compared to the rest of the test group during the waterproofing soak tests. The oxford nylon is undoubtedly water-resistant and handled well in the spray test but did not succeed in the bucket soak test. An orange rain cover is included with the pannier and proved to keep the bag dry once covered. We felt that the rain cover would denote a slightly lower score for weatherproofing sheerly for the inconvenience but also for the lack of 360-degree coverage. Unfortunately, the cinched rainfly design does not cover the entire bag, allowing the bike-facing panel of the pannier to collect mud and muck on rainy rides. Luckily, the DWR treatment on the nylon worked well enough to keep the interior dry enough in light rain conditions.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Ease of Use & Versatility


The REI Junction Pannier is incredibly user-friendly and easy to use. It looks and feels very much like a commuter bag and has a variety of pocket options to be used as such. The adjustable latches on the mounting rail hook on with ease, and the D-rings on each side of the bag offer a shoulder-strap option for those who want to use the pannier as a messenger bag. We liked how lightweight and surprisingly durable the oxford nylon is, making the attachment transition quick and easy. We felt this pack required the least amount of preparation and thought in terms of assembly and usage. While the bag could be used for multiple riding scenarios, it appears to be a commuter bag. Had the pack come with backpack straps or had a more touring-friendly design, we would bump up the versatility score, and it would have further impressed our testers.

The front exterior compartment was able to fit a laptop charging...
The front exterior compartment was able to fit a laptop charging cord, a wallet, and two granola bars comfortably.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

Value


The Junction proved to be a high quality and reliable pannier throughout the testing phase. If the bag was sold as a set, had unique features, or scored a bit higher in the durability and weatherproofing categories, we feel the price would be better justified. For those interested in buying responsibly sourced gear, the Junction Pannier is your best option in the lineup, though you pay a slightly steeper price for Bluesign-approved materials. Regardless of price, we were very happy with the Junction and felt that it delivered on its commuting purpose.

Conclusion


The REI Junction Pannier is a great option for commuters in need of a functional bag with organized storage spaces and a user-friendly mounting system. While the style of the bag is nothing to write home about, we were very pleased with the bag's performance. It checks most boxes and will get the job done for the road warriors who need a reliable pannier to get their necessities to and from the office. REI has also expanded its bike bag line, offering a variety of bags that can accompany your pannier to add more storage space to your setup.

We were happy with the REI's durability, waterproofing, storage and...
We were happy with the REI's durability, waterproofing, storage and organizational capabilities, and all around ease of use.
Photo: Tucker Adams

Liz Chamberlain