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The Altura Arran 36 Panniers, as the name suggests, can carry 36 litres of cargo between them. The only problem is, if the roads are rough, they might not carry it the whole way.
For more options, check out our guide to the best bike pannier bags and pannier racks.
The main compartments have a flap-top closure and, underneath that, an extendable section that cinches with a drawstring. That's useful because the bags are not massive when you don't need them to be, but if you want to carry a lot of stuff you can pack them tall.
There is a zipped pocket inside each bag and another zipped compartment on the top flap, too, and I was very pleased to find you also get shoulder straps. They make getting from the tills to the bike, or from your house to the bike shed, a lot easier.
Although the main P-Tec 600 fabric is not fully waterproof, it does take some substantial spray before water starts to seep in.
There's reflective print on the side panels, and attachment points for lights too.
Altura says the Rixen & Kaul Vario Hook fittings are compatible with most racks, and they're adjustable – though I found the system a little cumbersome. Instead of using shims, as many panniers do, they're adjusted with a screw. Unfortunately, it's not very easy to do this while they're mounted. If you don't have space for a screwdriver then you need to put the pannier on, check the tightness, then take it off to adjust it, repeating the process until it's right.
Even once adjusted these were not nearly as secure as the fittings on other panniers I've used, as the hooks don't fully lock around the rack. Even with the central safety latch in place, the bags just kept bouncing during my test rides. Also, that central latch wouldn't stay put, which meant the bags could sometimes jump off their rails over bumps – and once I had one fall off altogether.
I was less than pleased for this to happen on a busy road, and I didn't hit the bump any faster than I normally would. Afterwards I adjusted the hooks a little tighter and readjusted the straps, but it was all still rattly and still jumped up on most bumps. It's like the hooks won't wrap around the rail securely enough no matter what I do.
Perhaps they would work better with other tube sizes – Tass had no problems with the same Vario hooks when testing Altura's Heritage pannier a couple of years ago, but the rack on her Paulus Quiros is a custom job, whereas the 10mm tubing on my test rack is pretty much the standard.
To check it wasn't just my rack I tried the panniers on a friend's bike, and they were marginally better, and quite rattle free, but only if the bags weren't particularly full. It seemed that if we packed them full, the attachment started to loosen on bumps.
The hook-and-loop straps near the bottom of each bag aren't great either, as they're quite short and not all that grippy.
And tightening them around the rack is a task in itself, as it basically requires you to slot your hand between the spokes and your rack, and once everything's wet and gritty (rapidly, as it sits next to the wheel), they seem to hold on even less securely.
The Arrans are available singly for £45 (currently £22.50), but at £80 a pair (currently reduced to £40) they are reasonably priced for the spec, though you can find cheaper sets fairly easily: the Oxford Aqua V32 Double Pannier Bag, for instance, is up a tenner since Lara tested 'it' (it's a joined pair) in 2021, but is still only £64.99.
The Brae Yonder 50L Pannier Bags are more expensive at £110, but then they also have a superior attachment system.
As good as the Altura Arran 36s look and feel, they are not the most secure option for all racks, which hugely diminishes their practical value. If you cannot trust that they'll stay attached on your rack, they aren't really fit for purpose.
Reasonably priced and spacious, but the unreliable attachment system can be an issue on rough roads
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altura Arran 36 Panniers
Size tested: 36L (pair)
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?
Altura says: "The ever popular Altura Arran 36 Panniers have received welcome updates whilst retaining key features. They have a new contemporary look with our signature reflective print to the side panels and light attachment points to help you stay visible to other road users when the light fades. We have kept the reliable Rixen Kaul Vario Hook pannier fittings which are compatible with most rack diameters and also retained the secure zipped lid pocket which helps to keep your valuables safe. The bivi closure allows for volume expansion making this a versatile and feature packed pannier pair at an accessible price point."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Rixen Kaul Vario Hook adapts to fit most rack diameters
- Side reflective print
- Light attachment points
- Single buckle closure
- Zipped Lid pocket
- Bivi closure for volume expansion
Dimensions (cm): 41 x 26.5 x 13.5
Capacity: 36L APPROX (PER PAIR)
At 1,230g these are relatively light.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They weren't good at staying attached to my pannier rack...
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The looks, shoulder straps and space inside.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The attachment system.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £80 these are reasonably affordable in the broader pannier bag market, though you can get cheaper. The Oxford Aqua V32 Double Pannier Bag is £54.99, for instance. Something like the Brae Yonder 50L Pannier Bags are more expensive at £110, but they have a far superior attachment system.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes and no.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
These panniers are well made and well designed everywhere... except for the attachment system. The extendable volume is great and the stitching, internal and external pockets are great, but if the bags don't stay securely on the rack, they are just not that good overall.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Tarmac Sl6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb, Ultra-distances
Suvi joined F-At in 2022, first writing for off-road.cc. She's since joined the tech hub, and contributes to all of the sites covering tech news, features, reviews and women's cycling content. Lover of long-distance cycling, Suvi is easily convinced to join any rides and events that cover over 100km, and ideally, plenty of cake and coffee stops.