Remodeled small east german backpack as bike pannier

Since i started to reduce my cycling camping kit a few years ago, i need less and less space to put my gear onto my bicycle. On our last trip, i had a pair of 38 liters panniers in front, a small frame bag and a 20L drybag on the back. The 20L drybag was for 2 sleeping bags (and they are not down until now). I do not really go on solo tour and i usually carry our 2 bags (mine and Chantal’s).

Guy Bouchard bicycle touring Eastern Township and Vermont

The 38 liters bags were too big (they seem full but lots of space was left) and weighted too much. I know, no panniers (a dry bag) weight less but on several weeks tours with my loved one, on the road, some comfort is alright. Panniers are more convenient than drybag too.  I will show our smaller off-road setup in another post.

When getting back home, i stopped at a military outlet (it seem they are the best one in Canada). I live 450km from there so i try to stop every time i am in the area. I would probably be in their shop once a week if it was in my town. I bought 2 small east german backpack. They are about 11L each. Rugged material and pretty light. I modified them as bike panniers.

East german backpack converted as bike panniersI replaced the metal clip with Fastex 3/4 incher. The strap will be thinner and black. The grey military one are too thick to cinch properly.

I have sewn a silnylon collar (a la stuff sack) on one. I am not perfectly happy with the result. I will try it before rejecting though. It may be alright.

A 1/8 inch polyethylene plate stiffen the back. It may be too thin. Time will tell. Duck tape protect against the bolt head.

East german backpack converted as bike panniersMEC (Canada Eh!) replacement pannier hooks and bungee connect them to my front rack.

I usually put my 3 pounds Bilgy tarptent and cooking kit-stove on the left side pannier (19 liters one) with a few more small items added. Right now (on the right side for the picture), i can put everything i was carrying in the bigger bag into the smaller one and i added my DIY hammock-net-strap. The package is tighter and will handle better.

I will try them in a few weeks. I have big hope!! In fact, i hope to use a small setup like this for a year long Europe tour in 2013.

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