The Thule Adventure Touring Pannier is a no-frills, bombproof bike bag that lives up to it's name: offering great construction, storage, and reliability for your next bike-accessed wilderness outing. Known for their bike racks and ski-boxes, Thule brings the same high-end Swedish engineering to their bike-touring lineup. Fancy attachment hardware and durable materials lead us to believe this bag will impress even the most experienced cycle tourists. Offering a large, singular bag, cyclists who need more room for storage may be happier with the Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic. Though, we were pleased by the storage abilities of this durable model.
Thule Adventure Touring Review
Cons: Initial learning curve, pricy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Thule Adventure Touring Pannier has one large storage compartment with two very small pockets on either side. Sporting a roll-top closure and two compression straps to secure the load, it had all the features we would look for in a hardcore touring pannier. Additionally, its mounting hardware has a cool Houdini feature that allows you to hide the hooks while off the rack.
This bag had the most unique mounting hardware in the entire lineup. The innovative design uses locking hooks that rotate as you pull on the release tab located in the center of the bag. As you pull up, a cable connected to the hooks will spin them just enough to allow the hardware to rest onto the rack. Once in place, you release the pull tab and the hooks spin back into place, effectively locking the pannier in position. Additionally, there is a small magnet that must be attached separately to the bottom of your rack. This is to keep the bag from bouncing around on rough terrain.
There is no doubt in our minds that this pannier will stay securely mounted to your rack in even the gnarliest ruts. Not once in our testing did we the mechanically-assisted mounting hardware fail. Once locked and loaded, this bag is ready for the long haul. However, the new-fangled rotating hardware isn't as easy to use as, say, the hook-and-clip style mounts found on the Banjo Brothers Market Pannier. Though, we liked how the hooks could be hidden in order to comfortably wear this pannier on your back.
At 1648 cubic inches in a single pannier, this model had one of the greatest volumes in the lineup. It is noticeably larger when placed next to the other touring panniers. By comparison, the Axiom Monsoon Hydracore panniers have only 964 cubic inches in a singular bag. Despite it's large capacity, this pannier also handles smaller loads exceptionally well due to the handy compression straps that hug around the bag.
The large overall capacity makes the Thule Adventure Touring Pannier a great choice for cyclists looking to take extended tours. However, the vertical walls and deep dimensions of this bag make it difficult to reach any of the gear at the bottom. The additional pockets found on the outside aren't large enough to fit anything other than a wallet or a few empties. Also, the opening is awkwardly placed right where the compression straps run across the bag.
In our experience, Thule products are built to last. This bag is no exception. The fabric comprising most of the bag feels like a durable synthetic canvas; almost similar to cordura. Additionally, the bottom of the bag has reinforced fabric, allowing you to rest easy when placing the bag down on rough terrain. The nylon straps, plastic buckles, and metal fasteners are evidently constructed from quality materials and all of the stitching seems to be bomber.
Our only concern for long-term use is how well the magnet stands up against the elements. It appears to be a rare-earth magnet that has very serious hold, even when wet or muddy. But these super-duper strong magnets also attract trace amounts of metal and ore that could potentially abrade the rear of the pannier when in use. Long-term durability of this feature remains to be seen.
Because of the roll-top closure, the this pannier is virtually impervious to external moisture. Even after 15 seconds of full submersion, the contents of the Thule Adventure Touring Pannier remained superbly dry. The outside pockets will be subject to the elements, however, they've been designed with two holes at the bottom to allow water to drain out in wet conditions.
The ripstop-like fabric of this pannier beads water exceptionally well which is very handy whilst biking in the rain. However, the texture of the fabric allows dirt and mud to cling rather well. The same micro-ridges that allow water to bead off also seem to harbor grime, which may necessitate more frequent cleaning if you like your gear looking bright and shiny.
Ease of Use
This pannier had a distinct learning curve out of the box. Upon first inspection, we weren't sure exactly how it was to be attached to our racks. In addition to a lengthy user manual, the Adventure Touring Pannier has a bunch of extra hardware to sort through before it's ready for use. Though, once we were familiarized with all the fancy mechanisms, the design is fairly easy to use.
Despite its large size, we never heel clipped while biking with this model. It has very low rattle while moving and is easy to grab both on and off the rack. We liked that the shoulder strap of this pannier was adjustable, allowing you to find the most comfortable position for your build. We would've liked some more reflective material, but the bright yellow fabric really aids in on-road visibility.
It's very clear that this pannier was built with the long-distance bicycle tourist in mind. Because of it's large capacity, supreme weatherproofing, and evident durability, we believe that this bag is best used on multi-day bike touring trips. The Adventure Touring Pannier no doubt lives up to it's name.
This was one of the most expensive panniers in our review. Normally, we would scoff at such a price tag. But, this is one of the rare cases that we actually believe that you get what you pay for. The quality and unique engineering found in this model lead us to believe that it's a good value for the price.
While there are cheaper options out there, the Thule Adventure Touring Pannier is an excellent option for bike-touring enthusiasts who are looking to get after it time and time again. From the get-go, we were convinced that this pannier would be solid both on and off the bike. We weren't wrong. Though if you're looking for a dual-bag setup, we may suggest looking at the similarly burly Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic.
— Rob Woodworth