In today's edition of Banjo Brothers Bag School, we answer the age-old question: "Do you really need a waterproof bicycle bag?" While Banjo Brothers does make a full range of waterproof bicycle bags, about 70% of our bags are not advertised as waterproof. You might be wondering why?
The basic summary is this: there are times where nothing but 100% fool-proof, waterproof bicycle bags are a requirement. But you should know, all Banjo Brothers bags are built with materials and construction techniques which walk the fine line between protecting your stuff from the elements and providing features (and sometimes prices) which will maximize your riding enjoyment.
ARE ALL BANJO BROTHERS BAGS 100% WATERPROOF?
Some Banjo Brothers bags are advertised as fully waterproof. For these bags, we have used for years, a two-layer system with a tough nylon or canvas exterior and a welded-seam internal liner. Our rationale is this – the outside of the bag takes the abuse. The liner, which is fully replaceable, does the hard work of keeping the contents dry. Your bag will not be rendered useless by a fall and a tear in the bag. In the rare case, you damage the liner, bam! Replace the waterproof liner and you are back in business.
Examples of Banjo Brothers Bags which are 100% waterproof: Waterproof Backpack Pannier, Waterproof Pannier, Waterproof Canvas Pannier, Waterproof Handlebar Bag, Waterproof Saddle Trunks , Waterproof Canvas Backpack, Waterproof Commuter Backpacks.
WHAT ABOUT BAGS NOT ADVERTISED AS WATERPROOF?
All Banjo Brothers synthetic bags use fabrics/materials that are 100% waterproof. Despite this fact, they are not advertised as waterproof. Why? To make a bag fully waterproof, all exterior seams must also be sealed. Without sealed seams, water can seep between pieces of fabric or through stitching holes.
In almost two decades of designing and selling bags, we have come to realize, most riders overestimate the amount of foul weather riding they exposed to. That doesn’t mean there aren’t times when nothing but a fully waterproof bag is needed. But, you should not sweat the use of any of our non-waterproof bags in virtually any riding condition.
SHOULD YOU CARE THAT YOUR BAGS ARE NOT WATERPROOF?
For most riders and uses, this is not a problem. Tricks of the trade like covered zippers, water-resistant zippers, building “hanging liners” which is essentially like sewing a bag inside of a bag, and other bag construction techniques, in addition to the fabric’s base waterproof characteristics, make our bags water resistant enough for every kind of riding, including getting caught in a downpour.
The benefits of not creating every single bag as 100% waterproof are numerous. In addition to keeping costs down, the designer has the flexibility to design bags with more utility – pockets, internal organization, etc. which are ultimately more useful than bags that are water-tight.
Examples of Banjo Brothers Bags which are not advertised as 100% waterproof but which are highly water resistant (the vast majority of our products): Under The Seat Bags In Standard And Deluxe, Bar-Top Bags, Bar-Top Phone Pouches, Rack Trunk Bags, Standard And Quick-Release Handlebar Bags, Barrel Bags, Frame Packs, t Phone Wallets, Grocery Pannier, Market Pannier, Utility Pannier, Canvas Barrel Bag, Canvases Seat Bags, Rack Trunk Bags, Metro Backpacks, Canvas Rucksack, Messenger Bags In Large And Medium
WHAT ABOUT YOUR WAXED CANVAS BAGS?
Our canvas is 100% natural cotton, unlike our synthetic bags. Cotton fibers (even untreated) provide a certain level of water resistance by swelling initially on exposure to water and reducing space for water to seep through. Banjo Brothers cotton bags take the natural water repellency of canvas and add a dry-wax treatment to the fabric. This adds a great deal of repellency but is not as effective as a fully waterproof synthetic barrier. Like our synthetic bags, they also have seams to allow water seepage. The only fully waterproof canvas bags are the Waterproof Canvas Pannier and Waterproof Commuter Backpack.
THE HACKS THAT MATTER MOST
In almost two decades of designing and selling bags, we have come to realize, most riders overestimate the amount of foul weather riding they exposed to. That doesn’t mean there aren’t times when nothing but a fully waterproof bag is needed. But, you should not sweat the use of any of our non-waterproof bags in virtually any riding condition. As mentioned previously, most Banjo Brothers bags offer enough basic water resistance to get you through a soggy patch.
Quick, inexpensive hacks such as keeping a couple large Ziploc bags stashed in a pannier, using a standard kitchen garbage bag as a lightweight re-usable liner in a canvas pannier, or even investing in a couple of small waterproof gear pouches will make you standard bags more useful and offer the peace of mind you needed when protecting sensitive electronics or items which simply cannot get wet.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Whatever floats your boat, so-to-speak. We suggest breaking things down. Take an honest inventory of how and when you ride. Take an inventory of why you are considering a specific bag, what the bag’s main job will be and what is the most practical and affordable way to achieve your cycling goals. Most of our bags, even if not advertised as "waterproof" will be fine for the vast majority of cyclists, and for the vast majority of cycling conditions. You might still want fully waterproof bags or decide a simpler water-resistant bag is enough.