Panniers are the answer if your backpack or courier bag makes you ache or sweat. You'll need a frame fixing rear rack. (Beam racks that attach to the seatpost are meant for smaller rack-top bags.) Racks fi t to most bikes with normal-sized wheels, apart from some road and mountain bikes. Most racks are sturdy enough for two big rear bags, with a combined volume of 40-50 litres and a weight of 20kg. That's useful for touring or shopping, but for commuting 10-20 litres is ample. You can get that through one medium bag or two small ones, which is better for bike handling. All good panniers have hooks with security fittings, so they won't leap off the rack if you hit a bump. Internal or external pockets enable you to divide the load, so your laptop doesn't have to share space with your sandwiches. If the pannier isn't waterproof, get a rain-cover or plastic-bag the contents.
Altura Arc 20 Roll Top Pannier
You can cycle to work in a downpour and any stuff you've packed in this Arc pannier will still be dry. It's made from waterproof fabric, with seams that are welded rather than stitched, and a top that rolls over and buckles down. The Rixen Kaul Pressure Fit hooks are simple but secure, the only noticeable economy being that they're fixed in position. It's available in red or grey, both with reflective details to increase night time visibility. This version holds 20 litres; the smaller Arc 15 (same price) is arguably a better size for commuting. altura.co.uk
RRP £39.99 | Cyclescheme price £29.99
Outeredge Medium Waterproof Pannier
Made from heavy duty polyester with a PVC coating, this Outer Edge bag is a more traditional waterproof pannier. Seams are welded and the roll-top closure is supplemented with a large buckle-down fl ap. This has a pocket in it, with a waterproof zip, giving easier access to items you need at hand, such as clip-on lights or a compact lock. It measures 25x30x13cm, so has about 10-litres capacity; a larger version is available. There's a mount for an LED light and a large reflective strip. Rixen Kaul Twist hooks fasten manually and solidly. todayscyclist.co.uk
RRP £55.99 | Cyclescheme price £41.99
XLC Single Waterproof Pannier
This is one of the smallest panniers you buy, with a capacity of just 9 litres. That will still be big enough for many commuters, and the small size means it's more manageable if you prefer to ride with a single pannier. It's completely waterproof, thanks to its roll-top, welded-seam, polyester-and-PVC construction. The small outer pocket is also waterproof. Reflective triangles add visibility from the rear and (when not obscured by your leg) the front. It's a well made bag, with hooks again by Rixen Kaul, but it's relatively expensive. raleigh.co.uk
RRP £99.99 | Cyclescheme price £74.99
Ortlieb City Biker QL3 Pannier
While it's only a 10-litre bag, Ortlieb's City Biker is the right shape for A4 fi les or a laptop (up to 13.3in). As the bag's material and construction are waterproof, any contents should stay dry; it's plausible but unlikely that sideways rain could get blown under the flap. It doubles as a shoulder bag. (The strap is secured internally when it's on the bike.) There's no problem with protruding hooks when you're carrying the bag, as Ortlieb's QL3 hooks are recessed. There's some reflectivity and a choice of bright colours. ortlieb.de
RRP £109.99 | Cyclescheme price £82.49
Basil Mirte Shopping Bag
It's a 16-litre pannier designed to look like, and function as, a ladies' shopping bag. There are proper handles, and the pannier hooks are in a zipped pocket on the side; they can be concealed when you're on foot. It's not completely waterproof, as heavy rain could get in that the top, but the coated polyester fabric will shrug off showers and spray. There's a zipped purse pocket inside the bag, and reflectives front and rear. An optional mount allows it to be fixed to the handlebar instead. fisheroutdoor.co.uk
RRP£54.99 | Cycleshceme price £41.24
Carradice CarraDry Universal/Front Panniers
Great value at just £55 for two, these waterproof panniers are a good size for commuting, either individually or as pair. Each holds 10 litres. Small panniers like these are especially useful for bikes with shorter chain stays, such as road and cyclocross bikes, as they offer good heel clearance. They're made from welded-seam polyester and PVC. There are no pockets, just one big compartment, although there are reflectives front and rear. Carradice's Quick-clip hooks attach to racks up to 13mm in diameter. carradice.co.uk
RRP £55/pair | Cyclescheme price £41.25
Cordo Zuidkaap Blue Laptopbag
Like Ortlieb's City Biker, this is a pannier that doubles as a shoulder bag. There are hooks but they can be covered when the bag isn't on the bike. As the name says, this 12-litre bag is specifically designed to carry a laptop, having a well-padded pocket that will accommodate a machine up to 15in. There are other pockets inside, plus an external pocket in the lid and a side pocket for tucking the shoulder strap into. There's a loop for an LED light. Cordo Vario hooks will fi t racks from 6-15mm in diameter. i-ride.co.uk
RRP £49.99 | Cyclescheme price £37.49
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