With the wonderful weather that we enjoyed over summer and winter looming on the horizon these waterproof panniers from Agu will be just the ticket for keeping your kit nice and dry, whether you are commuting or on tour.
At five pence short of £120 these are pretty serious panniers, comparable with the best that Ortlieb has to offer. You do get what you pay for though as these are impressively waterproof. The fabric is completely impermeable, with fully watertight seams, and the roll-top closure means that no moisture will get into the main compartment. I used these in a hefty downpour and the only weak spot I managed to find was the zip on the outside pocket.
As my bike didn't have a rear mudguard I flipped the top flap over the rack to act as a spray shield. After eight miles of soaking wet commute the water being flicked off my rear tyre had penetrated the waterproof zip and settled in the pocket. That's probably not a fair test though and in normal use the waterproofing of the zip should withstand everything but the most torrential deluge.
Organisation is pleasingly simple, with a single main compartment and two pockets, one on either side of the top flap. The outer pocket is a little tight but large enough for small essentials like keys and a wallet. The inner pocket is much larger but made of mesh, so it's best used for stuff that can withstand a little road spray. You also get a natty little removable pouch which attaches inside the main compartment on poppers, so you can use it as a handy stash for documents, money and other nick-nacks. Total capacity of the pair is 45 litres which should be enough for most uses although the roll-top gives a bit more flexibility if you've got stuff that bulges upwards.
The one slight niggle was the absence of the 'reflective strip' that the manufacturer's blurb promises. I couldn't see it in any of the pictures and the only reflective bits I could find were a postage stamp sized logo on one edge and a slightly larger CWT patch at the bottom of the wide surface, so it's either a marketing bod's error or a fib. It's not the end of the world though because the rubberised fabric would easily take some reflective stickers and there is a light loop.
They've been a dependable and easy to use companion for commuting and with our dodgy weather it's been reassuring to know that when I get to work I'm guaranteed to have dry pants.
Tough and watertight panniers for overseas adventuring or just commuting through the glorious British weather
road.cc test report
Make and model: Agu X-Rain 850 panniers
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The website of distributors Madison doesn't say but they are very versatile. We used them for commuting and shopping trips but they would be ideal for touring, especially if you're not sure about the weather.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Roll-top panniers made from fully waterproof fabric with Controlled Waterproof Technology to ensure that the seams are also watertight. The outer pocket has a waterproof zip. They attach with sturdy and familiar Klickfix fittings.
They look rugged and purposeful. The velcro strip that keeps the outer flap closed feels a bit cheap, although not having a stitched-in buckle eliminates the risk of a potential weak point in the waterproofing.
They really are absolutely watertight and the roll-top closure keeps any stray drops from creeping in.
Should last for ages. The bottom corners have plastic reinforcement for added protection.
At 2380g per pair they feel pretty light considering their robust construction.
A shoulder strap would have been welcome but the handle is reasonably comfortable.
They certainly aren't cheap although I've seen them discounted to under £100. They are excellent quality though.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Waterproof and tough with pimpy good looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The velcro closure isn't very secure if you don't fill the pannier. The manufacturer's blurb promises a 'reflective strip' but there isn't one.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Dry underwear is a dead cert if you commute with these cheeky chappies.
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 5\' 8 Weight: er....86kg
I usually ride: GT Rave - singlespeed conversion My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,