The dhb Waterproof Pannier 22L is aimed at the daily commuter who wants a waterproof yet stylish rear pannier that doesn't cost a fortune, and it ticks all those boxes.
Pros: Waterproof, capacious, secure mounting, easy to adjust fit
Cons: Long, flimsy backplate
Like many waterproof panniers, it features welded seams and a roll-top closure system. The outer has a matt fabric finish with a waterproof coating on the inside, except for the sides which are smooth PVC-style material. It still wipes clean fairly easily though. The material is pretty robust but noticeably thinner than that of the Altura Sonic 25L pannier I've also been testing (review to come), although this is designed for touring rather than commuting. I did have an Avenir pannier made from similar material to the dhb and it endured a good two years of regular use before it wore thin at the top corners.
The first thing that strikes you about the dhb pannier is its capacious size – its 22 litres swallows shoes, coats, laptops, clothes and more with ease. It's over 10cm taller than the Altura Sonic 25L, for instance, and fits just as much. I like the adjustable webbing side straps with reflective stitching and Velcro strap tidy. Another neat feature is an extra strap that fastens over the top of the bag – I often used it instead of the side straps in dry weather. When securely fastened, the pannier kept the contents bone dry through rain and a hose test.
It's crucial that a pannier has a secure mounting mechanism to prevent it jumping off when going over bumps in the road. The dhb's system is pretty good, and allows you to lift the pannier off the rack one-handed using the grab handle that opens the hooks. These clips are designed to fit rack tubing from 8-16mm diameter – because my rack has fairly thin tubes the top clips don't clasp it that securely (I could use a rubber shim maybe) and rattle a bit, but they never threatened to come free.
The lower clip is a simple 'slide and lock' T-bar which, over time, can loosen as you remove the pannier (I had the same system on my Avenir), meaning you need to reposition and lock it when you put the pannier back on. However, this doesn't affect it in use. The fact that both upper and lower mounts are quick-release makes them quick and easy to adjust as no screwdrivers or tools are needed.
Because the pannier is very long at 45cm, be sure to check it will fit your rack without fouling your rear mech. The inner plastic backplate is flimsier than the Altura's and bends a bit, which means the pannier doesn't sit as proud, so check it won't touch your wheel. Also, the bag isn't tapered to be narrower at the base, so I found my heel scuffed it at times.
> Buyer's Guide: Racks and panniers
Plastic corner reinforcements at the base protect it when you stand it on the ground, it has a comfy plastic carry handle, reflectives on the side and front, slits to attach a light on the sides, and it will fit on either side of your rack. So, lots of features, but a key omission for me is there's no pocket for storing keys and the like with easy access. Plus, for a commuter pannier it's not particularly visible, being grey – some bright colour options would be good. One more niggle is that the internal metal nuts (which secure the mounting mechanisms) can scratch or snag on items inside the pannier.
Overall, though, it's a decent quality pannier at a good price, and should last several years.
A budget commuter pannier that does the job perfectly well
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Make and model: dhb Waterproof Pannier 22L
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
dhb says: "Your perfect commuting companion. The dhb Waterproof Pannier is a high quality, feature packed, uncomplicated pannier designed to withstand the toughest of commutes and protect its contents even in wet weather"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Welded seam construction with a secure roll-top closure
Depth – 17cm
Width – 30cm
Top Open/Unrolled Height - 64cm
Roll-Top Closed height (as small as possible) – 45cm
Weight limit: 10kg
Waterproof fabrics are high quality and durable
Adjustable quick-release rack mounting system designed to work with any rack-tube size (from 8mm to 16mm)
High-viz reflective printed logos and reflective webbing detail
Adjustable straps at side and on top
Light attachment loops on side panels
Plastic handle cover for comfortable carrying off the bike
Hook and loop-fastened strap tidy on all straps
Reinforced bottom corners
Can be mounted on either side of rack
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rack clips don't feel overly strong and lower clip can move; material is thinner than some panniers from Altura, Vaude and Ortlieb, backplate is a bit flimsy, and internal metal bolt heads aren't covered. It's also very long so might not fit all racks (it almost fouls my rear mech).
Rate the product for performance:
Easy to fit and remove, fits absolutely loads and is waterproof, but the clips move around a little on my rack and I've caught my heel on it occasionally as it's not tapered at the bottom.
Rate the product for durability:
Plastic corner reinforcements help protect the bottom of the pannier but the material isn't as tough as that on more expensive panniers, though it's still perfectly adequate for commuting. Some users reported on Wiggle they had issues with the clips breaking.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:
Although it obviously isn't quite the same quality as top-notch panniers, it does cost considerably less – just over half the RRP of the Altura Sonic 25L and Ortlieb Back-Roller Urban, for example – so it's pretty good value. Just check it'll fit your rack because of its length.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well: it's waterproof, fits a ton of gear and is easy to use, but lack of pockets is a minus. Also, as a commuter pannier some bigger reflectives and a high-vis option would be good, although dhb describes it as "stylish" so that's probably why it's only available in grey.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Its voluminous capacity, the adjustable side straps and extra top strap.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Didn't attach to my rack all that securely, heel strike issues, lack of pocket for keys, phone etc.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if it fitted their rack well.
Use this box to explain your score
This is a perfectly good pannier for its price. More stable rack clips, a pocket or two, shaping to prevent heel rub and more commuter-friendly colours would have raised the score.
Age: 45 Height: 170cm Weight: 62kg
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Whyte T-130 RS
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax
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