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Pacific Outdoor Equipment getting big UK push

We love a bit of cycle touring, us, and we're never happier checking out panniers.

Not a new company but it's new to the UK; from Montana, USA offering genuine technical innovations for cyclists and some nice bags for when bike riding crosses over into your other outdoor pursuits.

We first saw the Pacific Outdoor Equipment range at the last IceBike show back in February and showed off the pics in our gallery from the visit. We held back from getting too excited, though, because importer Madison said at the time that it was an early preview for what wouldn't really amount to much stock until later in the year. Well, here we are and the first products are starting to filter to the shops so it seemed a good time for us to to pay attention.

The mainstream fully waterproof panniers will doubtless be what hardcore load luggers zoom in on first and at £179.99 and £129.99 for a pair of the 'Super' 66 litre or 44 litre panniers, they will be looking for quality and something extra to compare with that other well-known maker of waterproof panniers. The Rixen & Kaul KLIKfix attachments will be a big first tick as will the general feel'n'finish. Pacific claim the component panels in their waterproof bags are welded using a unique process that employs both heat and high-frequency sound. The waterproofness and durability remains to be seen but we can certainly see very tidy seams.

Over and above the one big waterproof garage-sized space, the big 'un has a top pocket with a roll-out mesh bag which can be used to hang down and dry washing and the side and rear pockets have drain holes to ventilate a fuel bottle, say, and keep your valuable documents both dry and handy. What we like about all their panniers is that the usual roll-top seal is diagonal, which has the effect of pulling the top of the bag together as you cinch it down. Neat.

A smaller 18-litre Universal pannier for £54.99 is a further option and still made from the same durable Nylon fabric. This comes as a single for either side or at the front; it is is likely to appeal to a lot of commuters as it is just about the right size and looks bombproof for your daily needs. Best, it comes optionally in a shiny space-suit silver finish Pacific call 'Chrome'. You can buy the larger panniers with this finish, too, and it certainly makes a nice change from the usual outdoor-gear red and blue. To literally top off your panniers, there is also a rack-mounting 17-litre'Boot' for £27.99 which might be all you need for everyday use when you're not on expedition.

There are a couple of highlights in the Pacific Outdoor range to us and one of them is the sub-set of panniers called 'Lightweight.' As the name suggests, they're fashioned from a lighter but still durable fabric, what they call '50 Denier Diamond Ripstop Recycled P.E.T' for materials geeks. The really important part is that the back-board is pared down to the absolute minimum so that when the bags aren't in use, or you're only travelling fully laden one way, the whole pannier rolls down into a tiny package. There are two sizes; a larger 44-ltre pair or a single 18-litre for £99.99 or £49.99 respectively and the colours are green or red. For comparison purposes, the single lightweight 18-litre pannier weight 510 grams versus 760g for the equivalent bag in the standard material. It might be an issue if you've just fitted a rear rack to your road bike and fancy a spot of fast touring.

Other highlights? Three different sizes of under saddle seat pack called Dry Hive ranging in price from £31.99 to £37.99 and featuring a pull-out and tethered waterproof shroud for wet rides. We particularly liked the brown colour option which would look very much at home under a matching Brooks saddle, especially if it's one of the models without saddle-bag loops - Colt maybe?

Plus we're supposed to be using our bikes more for shopping, right? But bike panniers designed for tents and sleeping bags seem poorly designed for potatoes and Shreddies boxes, yes? The Co-op pannier bag carries 8 litres in a box-like shape for £64.99 and there's a 'cool' version, too, for keeping ice-cream cold on the way home.

You can click through our Pacific Outdoor Equipment gallery to see courier bags, backpacks and organisers, too, but the top highlight of all for us and which should be of interest to all sorts of campers and cyclists with existing panniers that aren't waterproof will be the range of dry sacks, particularly the model called Pneumo LTW Window. Available in 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50-litre sizes and at prices from £11.99 to £27.99, they have windows to see the contents - genius - and air valves to squeeze out all the excess air for easier packing.

Pacific Outdoor Equipment from Madison


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