Bags vs. Trailer for touring?

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by ThisProgression, May 18, 2014.

  1. ThisProgression

    ThisProgression New Member

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    I'm preparing for a long term exploration of America on a bike, beginning January 2015. What would you guys recommend, the bags that go next to the front and back wheels, or a tow trailer? I'll be totally self contained. I have experience backpacking around the country carrying everything in my backpack, but no experience hauling it on a bicycle. I was curious as to the pros and cons of each, just looking to discuss a few different opinions on the subject with people that have experience. Thanks guys!

    **As a side note, I'm assuming the trailer has more room than the bags. All my items would definitely fit in the 4 bags, possibly even just 2 on the back. If I used the trailer, it would be very light.
     
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  2. doss

    doss New Member

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    I was just talking to a guy in zion np I met who has been doing similar and he swore by the trailer for stability and ease of packing etc Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
  3. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    It's all just a personal opinion. I ran into people who used both and swear by bags, but it swings both ways, I use bags currently. I think a trailer takes up to much length room and it's a bit difficult to park in most places or back the bike up. I also like the idea of having my stuff compartmentalized and a trailer doesn't allow for that. With panniers I can pick up two at the same time and sling them over my shoulder. No odd ball size tire and tube to fool with and to carry around for spares on top of the spares you need for the bike itself, nor different size spokes to worry about, nor any mechanical problems like a hub going poof. Though I haven't done this yet it is far easier and cheaper to take a bike on a bus, plane or train with panniers.

    Stuff to think about that's all.

    There is an interesting trailer on the market though I wouldn't buy it myself for the reasons I mentioned above but it is more compact than a standard trailer made by Burley called the Travoy, see: http://www.burley.com/page_12208/travoy.html These are great for bikes that don't have eyelets to install racks, or all carbon fiber bikes (they are not designed to carry panniers at all).
     
  4. chopsticksavage

    chopsticksavage New Member

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    I met two different people who rode around Australia. One of them swore by his trailer due to the wind. If he was ever in heavy winds across the desert, he didn't like how he could be pushed around on his bike by it. But the other travelled quite light, and never thought twice about using panniers; a trailer was a bit overkill for him, he said to me.

    At the end of the day, it seems to be personal preference.
     
  5. Connie858

    Connie858 New Member

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    From personal experience having made the transition from backpacking to cycle touring, I often look at the issue in volume. When I was backpacking, carrying a tent, sleeping bag and stove, etc on a long distance route, with most of my food having to be carried in dried format, I always tried to restrict myself to a 70L rucksack with an extra 5L in the pockets.

    On my bike I can easily carry the following (and this is what I took to go off around the world)

    My front panniers can take 25L (12.L each)
    My rear panniers can take 40L (20 L each).
    My rack pack* can take 31L
    And finally my barbag carried 5L.

    Add that all up and you will see that is 101L. I often had space in the front panniers for a couple of loaves of some nice wholemeal (substantial) bread without having to faff around trying to find space for it elsewhere. My rack pack had plenty of room for me to add clothing or the shopping to. Nothing was every full to capacity and that included carrying a lot of medication and 2 spare tyres (because of where we were cycling at the time).

    Why do I need any more on a trailer? If I really wanted to I could put the larger (traditionally called rear) panniers on the front as well... and in some areas of the world that may be necessary but I certainly didn't find I needed to be carrying anymore and when I go off on 2-3 week tours, I only carry the rear panniers, rack pack and barbag.

    * Ortlieb do an item of luggage called a rack pack that clips into the rear roller panniers they do and is an exceptionally useful bit of kit. It is a long thin bag bag, the width of 2 rear panniers and a pannier rack and rather handy to be honest!
     
  6. ZXD22

    ZXD22 Member

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    It's actually not that bad carrying a backpack while your biking. It kind of depends on the person though as you may have some sweat on your backpack, but I hardly and notice it. As I try to transition to a road bike, I'd probably ditch the backpack for some panniers. Never try a trailer unless you are going downhill mostly and if there is no wind. The wind will kill you if you bring a trailer. I'd say try riding with a backpack and get used to it, it's not as hard as you think!
     
  7. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I did see a new type of trailer that I really like called the Extra Wheel, I could make a big spew here but instead just read their website: http://www.extrawheel.com/en/3/bicycle_trailer/ I haven't tried this yet but here is a person who reviewed both the Extra Wheel and the BoB trailer: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2008/12/bob-vs-extrawheel-%E2%80%93-a-bike-trailer-comparison/

    I kind of like the idea of the Extra Wheel because it's minimal in design and inexpensive, I would always have a spare wheel or even a tire if needed, it takes panniers off the front which will improve the handling of the bike. So am I leaning towards this Extra Wheel vs having front panniers on the bike? I might be, not quite sure yet. Right now all I do is short tours and only use rear panniers, but maybe next year I might do a week long tour and will need front panniers, or forget those and get the Extra Wheel.
     
  8. Connie858

    Connie858 New Member

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    Tbh, we don't carry much extra kit on a week long or even 2 week long tour than we do on an overnight tour. We camp and cater ourselves on both, it is only clothing that counts and if we are away for a week or more, than we plan to wash things along the way. That way the only extra thing we carry is a small container with a couple of washes of washing powder (or tablets). If you are needing front and rear panniers for a week long tour, I think personally you are carrying way too much, but it is always up to you what you carry.
     
  9. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Todays modern camping equipment is substantially lighter and takes a lot less space than they did 25 or more years ago, so I agree that for the most part a week long tour should only require a set of rear panniers, I go on weekend tours with just rear pannier and they're maybe half full. But for someone wanting to travel across country and will be gone for months at a time then more space is needed and that can either be done by adding front panniers or do the trailer thing. There are very few people who are minimalists, and that's fine, they can get away with going for months with just rear panniers, but like you said, everyone has their comfort level.
     
  10. kana_marie

    kana_marie Member

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    I would feel more comfortable with the trailor. Especially if I have the luxury of traveling at my own pace.'id rather pull the weight than carry it.
     
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