Review: Detours Ballard Market Pannier/Backpack

A while back, I previewed a new commuter pack/pannier that I would be putting to the test – the Detours Ballard Market bag.

Detours Ballard Market Bag/Pannier

Now that I’ve commuted (almost daily) with this bag for 2 months, I must say that I really like this bag/pannier! Though not as voluminous as my Market Pannier from Banjo Brothers, this bag proved large enough and has been wonderfully convenient for a daily go-to bag regardless of my bike choice/option for the day.
On one day when I needed extra toting capacity, I used both the Detours and Banjo Brothers bags and they balanced me out well.

Hauling capacity to the max with two panniers

Per the Detours site, this bag’s specs are:

Best uses: Around Town, Commuting
Volume: 920 cubic inches
Dimensions: 11 x 5.5 x 15 inches
Average Weight: 1.8 lbs

On my debut ride with this pack a few months ago, I was impressed and this bag has continued to impress me in this summer of riding.

One of the greatest attributes of this bag is its versatility and ability to go with me for any commute – regardless of the rack set-up or lack thereof. As stated in the name of the bag, this bag pulls triple duty as a pannier, as an over-the-shoulder market bag and as a backpack! How convenient for someone who has found herself toting this bag nearly everywhere these past couple months and never feeling out of place with it…. as it does not “scream” bike commuter bag and can be a nice fashion accessory (girlie plus from someone who tends to value practicality over fashion).
When I borrowed Dottie’s bike Coco (after Toro’s theft), the rack tubing was too thick for the clips on this bag – but I was still able to use the backpack feature!

Detours Ballard – as a backpack

Another day (while test riding a bike from Heritage Bicycles) – I simply strapped the bag to the front rack and went – both with and without the rain cover.

Finally a bag that can do all the heavy lifting of the bags designed to be for guys or gender neutral but with some flare.

On more than one occasion I managed to STUFF this bag full of well…”stuff” – groceries or bike to work week goodie bags or just the build-up of daily commuting stuff.

Stuffed with stuff!

The Detours Ballard bag held it all. More importantly, it offered enough pockets – one internal zip pouch and multiple exterior pockets – to conveniently store small items that might otherwise get lost in a large open bag. It also offered a hi-vis waterproof cover (that packs down and fits easily in a pocket and did keep the water out) for the few times I had to commute in the rain. One nice upgrade would be to have a built-in pouch to hold the cover with a tether to hold it in place and from getting lost/separated from the bag.

Hi-Vis Waterproof Cover

Hi-Vis Waterproof Cover on the Bag

When the waterproof cover is on the pack, it leaves the clips accessible for use as a pannier.

Waterproof cover fits to provide access to use as pannier or backpack

When not full, this bag does flop over (but not in a bad way). I tend to not travel that lightly, so it was never an issue for me. The drawstring cord to cinch the top closed always was sufficient to keep things in the bag. The lack of a zipper or flap initially concerned me, but the drawstring was fine, with the waterproof cover doing its job when the rain fell. It’s just too bad there wasn’t an easier way to shield the bag contents from lighter rainfalls … without having to put the cover over the entire bag.

The bag’s rack attachment is a clip system that kept the bag securely fastened to most racks I encountered:

Rack attachment via plastic cllps

This clip system is similar to those I’ve seen on other panniers. To detach the bag, it is a bit cumbersome at first – since you have to undo each clip separately. I learned to put the shoulder straps on my shoulder and that freed my hands to get the clips free. It would be much more convenient to have a strap attached to the clips that would release their grip when pulled up. But – props to Detours for making a zippered flap that covers the clips when off the bike, so they don’t snag you or your clothes when just carrying the bag over the shoulder; very practical feature!

Detours also sent me one of their small waterproof Coffee Bags to review. I’ll be posting separately about the versatility of this clever little bag…

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.


  1. Matt August 7, 2012 12:26 pm 

    Nice review E!

    I like the cover over the clips. I’m not so big a fan of the rain cover – it looks a lot like the one for my Topeak trunk bag, and my experience with that one is that water can kick up from the ground and get in the bottom portions of the rain cover. It works OK for a short commute, but I wouldn’t want to use it for much more than half an hour.

  2. Ghost Rider August 7, 2012 1:13 pm 

    Run a short length of paracord between the clips and you will have your release strap.

    Nice review! Personally, I’d rock that flower…it looks good to me, not “girlie” but more whimsical.

  3. Tana August 9, 2012 5:35 pm 


    I’m new to bicycle commuting, and starting back to school in a few weeks. I’ve been looking for a water-resistant or water-proof backpack/pannier, and my husband found this one (and your review). May I ask, just how much of a pain in the butt is the clipping part? I’m spoiled by borrowing my husband’s quick-release ones, I think…anyway, I have carpal tunnel syndrome and was just concerned about how much finagling I might have to do to get those clips off…

    Thanks! And thank you for the detailed review…it is helping my purchasing decisions.

  4. Elizabeth August 10, 2012 8:28 am 

    Honestly, the clips aren’t much of a hassle for me at all. I just make sure I have the shoulder straps slung over my shoulder so I have both hands free… Unclip one, then the other…. just an extra few seconds of my time.

  5. Karen August 12, 2012 1:16 pm 

    I own a couple of Detours bags and have been very pleased with the mounting systems in terms of the secure hold and ease in mounting and removing from my rack. And they are just such good looking products.

  6. Tana August 16, 2012 5:59 am 

    Thank you for the response! (And the review – I purchased one of these bags because of it)

  7. Maggie August 18, 2012 11:53 am 

    I got this bag a couple of months ago and it performed pretty well for a while. The capacity was plenty for commuting and a small amount of groceries, the clipping and unclipping was easy, and it was nice to have the backpack option.

    However, the clips came off after just two months of use– far from daily use. If you need a sturdy, reliable pannier, I think you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

  8. Elizabeth August 18, 2012 7:45 pm 

    @Maggie – I just recently had the clip issue… literally 2 days ago happen to me. The company is aware.

    I contacted the company and they responded IMMEDIATELY, as I certainly was concerned about other having the same issue. Detours has even made a short video discussing the issue and how to resolve it:

    FYI – it is an assembly issue only on the clip system. They sent a notice out to their retailers notifying them of issue – letting them know that Detours has gone through all of its existing inventory at the warehouse and tightened any bolts necessary, but there may be some on shelves that need a little tightening. “The issue stems from the bolts not being tightened into the nuts far enough to keep them from coming unscrewed. There is a rubber gasket inside the nut, and the bolt needs to make full contact with this to keep from untwisting after repetitive vibration from riding.”

    Please watch the video – it fully explains the issue and shows what they are talking about.

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