Friday, 12 November 2010

Kit review

I obtained a set of panniers from Lidl some time ago, and I've been using it virtually daily. Commuting to work means I carry a change of clothes, my lunch, bike lock, battery for my bike's headlight, toolkit and whatever else I may need, all in the panniers.

The panniers are made by Crivit, and the design is quite simple: two panniers connected by a centre piece of canvas (or whatever material it's made from) so affixing it to the rack is almost only a case of sliding it in place. There are velcro fasteners either side, to hold the panniers to the rack and prevent them swinging out, but I don't bother with those. Instead, I have a cam-lock strap that I secure the panniers to the rack with, as this is quicker to do.

The panniers have another component - a laptop-case style bag that clips securely on top, across the panniers. All in all I think it is a simple but rather good design that works very well, and offers a total of 65 litres storage.

Initially I left the panniers on the bike, in the back garden, through wind and rain. Every time I checked the only hint of moisture inside the panniers was down to condensation, so I was well impressed. Certainly commuting to work and back I haven't had anything get wet inside the panniers, so a big thumbs-up there!

And then I went cycling today - just over 12 miles while it was bucketing down. Now to be honest I quite enjoy cycling in the rain, and as expected I got quite soaked. So much so that water was sloshing around in my shoes.

When I got back home I noticed that water had entered the bottom of one of the panniers. It would seem the water entered either on a seam, or perhaps through the fabric itself. The panniers come with a rain cover, which wouldn't have helped a bit as the water seems to be entering from underneath, obviously from wheel spray.

This isn't a disaster per se, and in a way I'm glad it happened. What it means is that I now know that the panniers are good for staying completely dry inside for at least 30 minutes of hard rain, but that prolonged rain  may enter. That's something I'd rather find out now than half-way on the Devon Coast-to-coast trail.

Overall I still think the panniers are excellent value for money and I'd recommend them without hesitation, but I'll probably be looking at sealing the inside with some water-proofing treatment.

I also got a pair of Crane Sports winter cycling gloves from Aldi, a month or so ago. I quite like these, even though they're not the warmest gloves I've ever worn in my life. Again, on my commute these were more than up to keeping my hands dry and warm (although I must say we haven't had serious cold yet).

Today was the first time I've worn these during heavy rain over an extended period, and in the end they simply weren't up to the job. My hands were sopping wet by the time I got home. So much so that when I got home I poured water out of the gloves.

My verdict: these are fine for a short commute of 5 miles or less in the sort of weather Plymouth typically gets, but if you're planning any serious touring I'd avoid these gloves and rather splash out on something far better.