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The Altura Dryline 32 panniers are good looking luggage carriers that come with built-in dry bags and work well, though they're a bit heavier than the competition.
Any cycle tourist will tell you the value of knowing that, however awful the weather, there are some guaranteed dry clothes in your luggage at the end of the day. It's not an easy thing to achieve and often involves unwieldy shower-cap type nylon covers or, as a budget alternative, stashing everything in a bin-bag inside the panniers.
For my money, Ortlieb hits on the best solution, with its welded-construction Roller panniers that need no liner or water-repellent treatment to ensure everything stays dry. That rather leaves other brands scrabbling about for next-best solutions. The Altura Drylines actually do an excellent job, with their own take on the bin-bag approach, albeit a beefed-up factory-fitted bin-bag.
Inside the single main compartment of each pannier is the liner, taped internally around the seams to keep out any water that might get past the outer (none did, in my experience). It's sewn in at the front, but the back attaches using a long Velcro strip, presumably to allow access to the back of the pannier should any part of the mounting system need to be replaced.
There's no point in trying to fasten the Velcro before loading the bag, because it just pulls straight off again. Once the bag is filled, and the top of the liner is rolled down, the Velcro's more likely to stay in place, but I felt this part of the design needed a little more attention.
Once the top of the liner has been rolled down, the ends can be clipped together and the resulting 'hoop' squashed down on top of the contents by the lid. Overfilling the pannier causes the lid to sit rather awkwardly on top and look like an over-risen scone; it also exposes the liner to the outside world a bit so maybe isn't the best idea. Ortlieb's can't be over-filled either, as it makes it difficult to roll the top down far enough.
Where I felt the Alturas had the edge was when travelling with a half-load: while the Ortliebs can slump when not filled enough, the Drylines keep their shape well. The lid is fastened with a good quick-release clip and strap.
The '32' label refers to capacity for a pair of bags, that's to say, 16 litres each. It took 17 folded tea towels to fill one of the Alturas and 18 to fill one of my Ortlieb Front Rollers, which are supposedly only 25L per pair; so these might not hold as much as their name suggests (or the Ortliebs hold more than claimed!).
Where the Dryline wins is in having more external capacity. It has two stash pockets on the sides, which will take something the size of a drinks bottle, provided the bag isn't stuffed too tightly or filled with something rigid.
There's also a pocket in the lid. This is waterproof, thanks to a liner. There's a rugged zip fastening on this pocket, and that's also covered by a substantial storm flap. Having gone to all that trouble, it's a pity the pocket is so small, occupying only about half of the lid. It's also not easy to get at once the bags are mounted on the rack, particularly so if you are using them as I did on a rear rack and you have other luggage loaded on top.
The Drylines are equipped with webbing on the side pockets and lid. This is compatible with Altura's own Anywhere dry bags, which come in 1, 2 and 5 litre sizes. You simply attach them by putting their loops through the webbing. Theoretically you could add about 10 litres to the capacity of each bag this way, though it would make more sense to buy the 56 Litre pair in that case! The webbing can also be used to fasten other items, such as lights.
Altura has opted for the Rixen & Kaul Klickfix system for the mounting. This is very robust. The chunky top-hooks sit over the rack, with an adapter inside to allow for different sized rails. Mine worked right out of the box on my 10mm tubed rear rack.
The pack is secured against the underside of the rail with a centrally placed pair of spring-loaded clips or wedges. They snap into place automatically as the bag is lowered onto the rack. Removal is by pressing down on the red button whilst simultaneously pulling up on the grab handle – an operation that took a bit of getting used to.
The hooks can be moved from side to side to find the best match for your particular rack. This took a bit of fiddling on, as the lateral movement is limited inwards by the chunky rubber grab handle; and wasn't helped by the fact that the middle vertical strut on my rack fouled the spring clips, which can't be repositioned. But I did get a good setup in the end, which, once done, doesn't need to be moved unless you use the same bags on different racks.
The lower hook has a good range of sideways movement and can be slid right off and refitted pointing the other way according to what works best for you. Unlike Ortlieb's QL2 system on my old panniers, there's no up-and-down adjustment for this hook, which makes it slightly less versatile.
I also didn't like the screw which is used to squeeze the hook fitting once it's in place. For a start, I had to try four screwdrivers to find one that fitted it properly, and even then the amount of force needed to stop the clip sliding threatened to strip the head.
In use, the system is impressively secure, with barely any discernible movement even over rough ground. There was no swaying or swinging when I rode uphill out of the saddle.
At the end of the test period, the sturdy plastic reinforcer along the bottom edge of the bag showed some marks that suggested it had rubbed a little against the rack, but nothing that would cause any annoyance in use.
Including the (good quality) carry strap, each bag weighs a little under 800g, versus a mere 450g for my Ortlieb Front Roller. Undoubtedly, the Drylines are solidly constructed, with a very stiff reinforcing board and the tough and abrasion-resistant polyester outer, but some of the extra weight must be in the lid and the liner, both of which the Ortlieb lacks.
It's a pity these didn't turn up in time for my tour of the Netherlands in June as they would have got a proper weather testing on the two days it tippled down. In droughty July and August I resorted to testing with the garden hose (no ban in place here); I was surprised to see the water run off with a soapy residue in it. I hope this is just a bit of excess water-repelling treatment and not the whole lot washing off. The water beaded quite well, for a few minutes at least; and I found no hint of damp inside the bags.
The classic looks really appealed to me and these bags look great on a steel tourer. They're also available in an olive green. I thought a little reflective material on the sides wouldn't go amiss.
Altura recommends these as front panniers. My bike doesn't take a front rack and these worked perfectly well on the rear. For heavier loads, the Dryline 56 Litre panniers would definitely be worth considering, plus of course, you'd match front and back (very important).
Price-wise, they compare well with a pair of Ortlieb's updated Sport-Roller Plus at £130.
Here at road.cc Towers there's been a bit of a dearth of out-and-out touring panniers across our desk of late (we blame those pesky bikepackers!), but the Oxford Aqua 14 Lara tested back in 2016 is a similarly compact and water-tight unit, albeit with a rather less-than-brilliant fixing system. They're not on Oxford's website anymore, but still available if you shop around (a pair will set you back less than £80 on Amazon). Oxford's Aqua V20 is still current and £39.99, so also less than £80 a pair (especially if you shop around), though not really suitable for use up front.
Overall, while Altura's approach isn't the simplest or most elegant, I thought the whole package was good, designed and built for real touring, and worked very reliably on the bike, which is the main thing. Worth considering, especially if you value solid performance over light weight.
Proper touring panniers with a built-in liner to keep everything dry, but heavier than the Ortlieb equivalent
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Dryline 32 Panniers - Pair
Size tested: 32 L
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?
Altura says: "Our popular Dryline range has been brought up to date with a fresh new look and the introduction of 100% polyester with recyled content. Yet it still retains its tough water-resistant features, high quality Rixen & Kaul fittings and patented Dryline taped lining to help keep your belongings dry. Ready for adventuring the Altura Dryline 32 Waterproof Cycling Panniers are a compact 32L pannier set perfect for adventures with a water-resistant finish, zipped lid pocket, two side stash pockets and Molle webbing compatible with Altura Anywhere Drybags. A smart Rixen & Kaul KLICKfix fitting allows for a quick attachment and removal for use off the bike as a shoulder bag thanks to an adjustable, removable shoulder strap and can be used with most racks. Complete with a reinforced lower kickplate to avoid damage to the base of the bag."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- 100% Polyester with recycled content
- Waterproof inner drybag
- Rixen Kaul Klickfix Pannier fitting
- Lower kickplate
- Zipped lid pocket with key clip
- Adjustable, removable shoulder strap
- Dual SR buckle closure
- Three side stash pockets (according to Altura, though we only found 2)
- Internal patented Dryline taped lining
- Molle webbing compatible with Altura Anywhere Drybags
- Light loops
- Available in black or olive.
The bags show every sign of being robust, quality products, from the scuff-resistant fabric to the sturdy mounting system.
Almost as good as my Ortliebs, although the approach is neither as simple nor as elegant; but the water stays out, they carry a similar quantity of gear and the mounting system is very stable.
As above, the bags seem made for proper touring duties and I'm thinking it will be many years before they need replacing. The taped seams in the inner liner may have a limited life but they won't suffer serious abuse under normal use and can be repaired.
The fixing system is accessible for repairs and spares are available.
Much heavier than a comparable Ortlieb front pannier; probably because of the separate liner, lid and generally chunky build (which is no bad thing).
A good carry strap is provided; the bag is reasonably comfortable to use off the bike, provided you turn the back outwards.
Comparable with Ortlieb; given the good quality and consequently long predicted life you should only need to invest once.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Packing is reasonably straightforward. The mounting system needs some careful setting up but once done performed extremely well. The side pockets are useful, the lid pocket is waterproof but small. The bags are claimed to be waterproof and I found that to be the case. The 35 litre claimed capacity (per pair) was odd as I couldn't get any more in than into an Ortlieb 25L/pair bag.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The built-in waterproof liner, solid mounting system, additional luggage capacity using the webbing and good looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The internal liner attached with a Velcro strip at the back which pulled away too easily. The waterproof lid pocket is small. The Klickfix mounting system is not quite as versatile as Ortlieb's QL, and they're quite heavy.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Price-wise, they compare well with a pair of Ortlieb Sport-Roller Plus at £130.
The Oxford Aqua 14 is a similarly compact and water-tight unit, without the excellent Klickfix mounts – still available on Amazon for less than £80 a pair. Oxford's Aqua 20 is £39.99, so also less than £80 a pair.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Basically, Altura's approach to keeping the water out of the panniers is a built-in (and well-made) bin-liner. It takes something from Ortlieb's roll-down top system without the simplicity or light weight. However, it does work very well, the bags are very well made, proper touring panniers and the Klickfix mounting system is very secure and strong, although a bit of a pranny-on to set up. Their classic looks are ideal for "proper" touring bikes but don't come at the expense of modern performance materials. You can "expand" them using any loop-fastening accessory or Altura's own Anywhere dry bags. They didn't seem to hold any more than my Ortlieb front rollers, which only claim to be 25L per pair, but overall I'd say they're a good option.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,