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The Altura Heritage 16L Pannier is excellent. It's very well made, very weatherproof, and very versatile – you can use it up front on a lowrider rack or fit it at the back, in any weather, or even heft it as a shoulder bag.
Like the Heritage Bar Bag I've also been testing, the pannier is very good quality – just one end of the piping is left raw and slightly scruffy looking, but I'd say that's deliberate. I really like the old school look.
It's made from the same 12oz waxed canvas as the bar bag, and although Altura only describes it as water resistant – perhaps because the zip on the 'lid' isn't waterproof – but it's being quite modest. The fabric is very good at repelling rain; like, all-day rain.
Where the bar bag is aimed at commuting and shopping rather than touring, the pannier is a good size for the ride to work (stopping you taking too much unnecessary stuff) and for front racks when touring.
It fits easily and securely to rack tubing of varying dimensions – you can adjust the Rixen & Kaul Vario clips to suit. You can't move the clips horizontally, though; ideally I'd have moved them slightly for the bespoke rack on my Paulus Quiros, but the small size meant it didn't interfere with my pedal stroke despite being slightly further forward than I wanted.
You can adjust the lower bracket – slide it along, or slide it all the way off and turn it around. I was expecting it to be a bit rattly – there's a fair amount of space here, on my rack – but it wasn't, at all, even on some quite rough tracks.
There's also a little clip to make doubly sure the pannier won't bounce off and can't be swiped if you leave it unattended for a moment – or at least, not without some fiddling.
With a capacity of 16 litres, it's just the right size for my 13in laptop, some clothing and sarnies. (A 15in laptop will also fit.) I'm very bad at paring back what I carry in a pannier, so I really like that the Heritage forces me to. Particularly when I'm halfway up Hinton Hill...
It's padded at the bottom but not at the sides, so you'll want to add protection of your own for a laptop.
A slim open pocket hanging from the top seam is the only internal organising, while externally there's a zipped pocket within the 'lid', complete with a detachable keyring, just like you get with the bar bag.
What the pannier has over the bar bag is somewhere to mount a light, which pleases me – in fact it has six places, three at either end. This means you can use the pannier on either side and still attach a light.
All good on the bike, then – and you can carry it off the bike fairly comfortably, using the grab handle or by attaching the included shoulder strap.
It's not the cheapest option – you can buy 'standard' (and fully waterproof) panniers for less. In fact you can buy a pair of Oxford panniers of the same size for the same price, but you can't use them singly.
But against similar options it's pretty good value: the Carradice Super C A4 Pannier is a similar design, made from waxed cotton duck, and also costs £55 (up a fiver since Iwein tested it); it's 18 litres but also weighs 990g, according to Carradice. And it doesn't have anywhere to mount a light.
The Ortlieb Vario pannier doubles up as a rucksack and Lara loved it when she tested it a few years ago. It's bigger than the Altura at 23L and is fully waterproof, but it costs £135 and weighs 1.16kg.
Overall, I think the Altura Heritage is excellent. I really like the look, and the fact you can use it as a shoulder bag. The fabric is tough and weatherproof, it's a great size, and it includes light-mounting loops – a bugbear of mine with the bar bag.
You can buy cheaper 'I'm a pannier' panniers, but if you like the heritage looks and shoulderable versatility, it's well worth the money.
Excellent, very weatherproof pannier that's a great size for commuting or for use up front on long hauls
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Heritage 16L Pannier
Size tested: 16L
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, 'A stylish compact size pannier which is great for the daily commute or paired with the larger pair for weekend adventures.
'This is a smaller version of our larger Heritage Pannier crafted from the same 12oz waxed canvas and high quality Rixen Kaul Vario fittings. It also has the same blend of classic style with a modern design with a wide range of features as the larger pannier but is great mounted on a rear rack for commuting or moved to a front rack with the larger pair at the rear when the thrill of adventure calls.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Altura lists these features:
12oz water resistant waxed canvas
Rixen Kaul Vario pannier fittings
16 litre capacity
Lid closure with Woojin two tone buckle
Internal draw cord closure
Large zippered lid pocket with key clip and internal pocket
Supplied with adjustable shoulder strap
Light loops at each side
Very nicely made – like the Heritage bar bag, one end of the piping is left raw and slightly scruffy looking, but it looks deliberate.
It's great! Really waterproof, a good size for stopping you taking too much stuff, and you can use it off the bike with the included shoulder strap.
Too early to tell, really, but all looking good so far.
Not the lightest pannier out there, but compares well with the 990g of the 18-litre Carradice Super C A4 and 1.16kg of the Ortlieb Vario. I didn't find its weight particularly noticeable on my 12kg steel bike.
It's not as comfortable for carrying as the bar bag, partly because of the size but also because the rack attachments protrude more here.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. It's not the biggest – which is great for preventing you from carrying lots of unnecessary stuff. It also means it's suitable for using on a front rack, if you want to load up on a big tour. The fabric is really weatherproof, it's well made, the Rixen & Kaul fittings are easy to adjust for different rack tubing diameters, you can hook a light on either end (use the pannier on left or right), and you can attach the shoulder strap (included) and carry it easily off the bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The look of the fabric – it goes very nicely with my bike... And the size, and the ability to use it as a shoulder bag.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
You can't move the rack fixings horizontally (though that would probably add weight and discomfort when carrying) and it has a drawcord that, like the one on the bar bag, doesn't really want to move.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
You can buy a pair of Oxford panniers of the same size for the same price, but you can't use them singly. It's on a par with the £55 Carradice Super C A4 Pannier, which is a similar design, also made from waxed cotton duck; it's 18 litres but also weighs 990g, according to Carradice. The Ortlieb Vario pannier, which doubles as a rucksack, costs £135 and weighs 1.16kg, though it is bigger (23l).
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
It's excellent – the fabric is tough and weatherproof, it's a great size, it's versatile, it has light-mounting loops and you get a couple of smaller pockets for organising stuff. You can buy cheaper 'I'm a pannier' panniers, but if you like the heritage looks and shoulder-bag versatility, it's worth the money.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
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: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined road.cc in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.