Panniers Vs Saddlebags: What’s the Difference?

Either panniers bags or saddlebags, both are of immense importance for bike commuters. Carrying luggage along you is now a necessity as traveling on a bike is a requirement. Due to many reasons, more and more peoples are using bikes which increase the need for luggage carrying resources. Earlier when there was a limited variety of luggage carrying options, carrying luggage on a bike was an issue but not anymore. Because different varieties of pannier bags and saddlebags are now in the market. Both of them are designed for the same purpose which is to take off the luggage from the riders back. Selecting between the two, pannier bags or saddlebags thoroughly depends on one’s taste, requirement, and budget. However, you should know about the differences that these two have before you plan to buy them.

To give you a better understanding of the differences between panniers Vs saddlebags we have discussed a few main factors which are:


The weight difference between the two comes from the materials. Saddlebags may weigh more than panniers bags as usually saddlebags are made from cowhide which is thick and heavy. Panniers bags are also available in leather that may weigh as like the saddlebags. But usually, panniers bags are made from other synthetic materials which weigh way less than leather made saddlebags. Synthetic materials made panniers bags weigh around 600 to 900g whereas the leather made saddlebags weigh around 8 to 10 pounds.


Like the weight of the bags, the difference in the cost of these bags depends on the used material. Leather made bags costs higher. So the saddlebags cost higher than panniers bags as pannier bags are made of synthetic materials which are cheaper than leather.


Leather made bags are hard to wrap up and stored as the leather bags are rigid and stiff. Whereas wrapping up bags made from Cordura fabric or polyester are a lot easier as they can be flat-packed and stored.


Throw-over saddlebags are a lot easier to get your stuff from. As these are placed comfortably without any boxes and you don’t have to stop for accessing your stuff or gears. Whereas panniers bags are placed in panniers (hard cases) so for getting your stuff you have to stop.


Saddlebags are compatible with almost all types of bikes, as they are placed outside the hard box. The majority of the bikes have the same width. So just make sure the saddlebag is not touching the exhaust and you are good to go. Whereas panniers bags compatibility is an issue as you have to buy as per your bike model because the panniers sizes vary and every pannier bag won’t adjust perfectly in every pannier.


More secure among the two are the pannier bags as these bags are placed in the panniers (hard cases) and can be locked. While the saddlebags are just placed over the bike without any lock and security just leather fastener is used which are not secure though.


Panniers bags are handier then saddlebags. As these bags are lighter, they can be easily removed from panniers and also panniers bags have carry handles and shoulder straps. So you can easily carry it along yourself wherever you want. Whereas the saddlebags are heavier and hard and also they are not designed for carrying it along yourself. It will need to be separated first after that you need to see if there are any carry handles as usually there are no carry handles on saddlebags.


Pannier bags are more water-resistant as compared to saddlebags for two reasons. Firstly, synthetic materials such as Cordura fabric and polyester, etc. are highly water-resistant. Secondly, they are placed inside the panniers (hard cases) which prevent them from exposing to water. While the saddlebags are not that much water-resistant as they are placed openly on the bike and also leather provides resistance to a certain level.


Panniers bags require almost no maintenance as their material is not prone to water and dust and also they don’t stretch with use. Just cleaning will be good to go for another use. Whereas the leather saddlebags need greater maintenance in case if it is affected by rain. You have to use moisturizers to keep the bag in order. You cannot let the bag to just simply dry as it will be then vulnerable to cracks and will be stretched too.


In terms of looks, the saddlebags are on top of the list as leather made products always look classy and elegant. Although pannier bags are also good looking as they use different color combinations, reflective color piping, and contrasting color stripes. However, the leather factors give the saddlebags an upper hand. It thoroughly depends on people’s choice which looks they prefer but generally leather made saddlebags are obviously on top in terms of looks.


Pannier bags can hold up to 50 pounds whereas saddlebags can hold up to 30-40 pounds. It can carry more than that but ideally, you should not exceed the given capacity, to prolong the bags’ life.


The use of a motorcycle is increasing day by day and the riders need to carry luggage with them. Pannier bags and saddlebags are the two most used means of carrying luggage. Both the pannier bags and saddlebags are equally important for motorcycle users. However, buying a pannier bag or saddlebag thoroughly depends on the riders’ needs and likings. Although they both seem to be the same and designed for the same purpose but still they have some differences. in this particular guide, we have shed some light on panniers Vs saddlebags to give you a better understanding of the two. The discussed differences are:
  • Weight
  • Cost
  • Wrapping up
  • Access
  • Compatibility
  • Security
  • Handiness
  • Water-resistance
  • Looks
  • Holding capacity

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