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Review: Detours all-weather bags for your bike

Detour Bags_Stallion2

I almost felt bad testing out these bags in San Francisco. Detours bags are made to handle the constant drizzle, mud and muck of a Pacific Northwest commute—which makes sense, since the company hails from delightfully drizzly Seattle, WA—the misty fog of the Bay just doesn’t seem like enough of a challenge for the tough, all-weather gear. I said “almost,” because the truth is, these bags are awesome regardless of the weather.

Detour Bags_labeled

Fair warning, there are going to be a lot of photos in this post. The Detours gear is just too stylie to not show off. I had a chance to try a small selection of bags of various styles, sizes and uses. I’ll start from smallest bag and work my way up to the magical three-in-one pannier bag.

Roadie Stem Bag

iphone holder collage 2

I have been on the hunt for a contraption to hold my phone so I don’t have to dig into my backpack to consult the route before getting hopelessly lost. The Roadie definitely does the trick. A simple ratcheted attachment allows you to securely affix the bag to the stem of your bike (my bike, Stallion, who finally gets to be featured in a post, does not have room for Roadie on the stem, but plenty of other spots work great as well).

The clear, water-repellant phone pocket is touchscreen friendly making it easy to access information or refer to your phone as needed. The phone pocket is really more of a flap with a magnetized closure to the main utility pocket. The zip pocket has plenty of room for minor necessities. I fit my patch kit, allen wrench, levers, keys, and ID in there, no problem. The Roadie also comes in gray with a bright green interior (pictured here) and in red with a grey interior. The Roadie retails for $32.

Coffee Dry Bag

coffee bean bag

Yes, you can definitely put your coffee grounds in here and keep them safe and dry. But that’s not the only use for the super versatile Coffee dry bag. Throw in your mid-ride snacks, any electronics you want to keep safe (besides your phone since it’ll be in the Roadie), or maybe protect your other belongings from damp, sweaty bike spandex? The adjustable straps make it easy to secure the Coffee dry bag wherever needed. However, while the top strap is a quick release buckle, the bottom strap must be undone completely, which can be a bit of a hassle.

Detours offers the Coffee dry bag in several different state designs:

• The Evergreen Blend: ride through the forests and around Mount Rainier in our home state of Washington.
• The Mile High Blend: ride through the alpine wonderland of Colorado.
• The Highway 1 Blend: ride down the Pacific Coast Highway in California (pictured here).
• The 10,000 Lakes Blend: ride through the 10,000 lakes and Twin Cities in Minnesota.
• The Lighthouse Blend: ride along the rocky coast in Maine.

The Coffee Bag retails for $20. Or $80 for the set of five. 

Rainier Handlebar Duffel

Rainier Handlebar Duffel Collage

The Rainier Duffel has two adjustable straps to secure the bag to your handlebars and, when you reach your destination, it can transition seamlessly into a cross-body bag thanks to a built in shoulder strap. Plus, the clever folks at Detours designed the duffel with a little side pocket just to hold the shoulder strap so it doesn’t flop around when attached to the handlebars. Attention to detail—I love that. Speaking of detail, the flap of the duffel, which like the Roadie has a magnetic closure, features a sparkly banana design (you can see a better photo here). I think this is a great touch. The zipped interior compartment also contains a smaller zip pouch and two slip-in pockets. The Rainier Handlebar Duffel also comes in black and “Golden Gardens,” a cheery floral pattern. Retail price is $50.

The Ballard Market Pannier

Stallion Kitted Out

Ok, I might have saved the best for last. The Ballard Market Pannier is the most versatile bag of the bunch with three different carrying options (Elizabeth reviewed and loved this pannier back in 2012). First and foremost, it is a pannier bag, which attaches with two simple, yet secure rack clips. The bottom is a heavy-duty waterproof material to reduce wear-and-tear and keep belongings safe. The interior space has a small zip pocket, key hook, and a laptop compartment, making it an ideal commuter bag.

Ballard Panier

As promised, the Ballard Market Pannier is not just a pannier! The bag also has padded straps to carry as a shoulder tote. And the tote straps convert into backpack straps for heavy loads! So clever.

bag to backpack

Overall, the Ballard Market Pannier is a large enough (11”W x 15”H x 5.5”D) to easily accommodate commuter gear—for me, that includes my 15″ laptop, running shoes & clothes, notebook, wallet, and a few other essentials. Plus, this nifty 3-in-1 setup comes in black (pictured here) and two colorful patterns. The Ballard Market Pannier retails for $80.

The bags I review here are only a small portion of the overall variety that Detours offers—from ultra-tough touring rack trunks to playful, more petite seat post bags. I’m confident that riders will find a bag to suit his or her need whether for trips to the farmer’s market, daily commute or more rigorous rides.

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

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.