Nearly everyone is familiar with Thule rooftop bike racks and boxes for motor vehicles. With the introduction of the Pack ‘n Pedal series the company’s cargo-carrying knowledge expands to bicycles. The Commuter and Tote panniers are sold individually for either matching or mixing.
The Commuter is a 19-liter pannier. It has a roll-top opening with a half-hood containing a small pocket perfect for keys and wallet. Inside is an 11”-wide laptop sleeve. With my computer, there was enough room left over for a pair of shoes, change of clothing and lunch.
On the outside, there are compression buckles, a large stretchy pocket and an open top pocket. Thule describes this pocket as a blinky light holder that the light can shine through. I use it to carry the included rain cover—the pannier material is heavily water-resistant but not waterproof. Even so, I’ve ridden through plenty of rain and made it home with dry contents. Only in a heavy downpour did I use the rain cover. A detachable shoulder strap is included and the pannier is sold left- and right-side specific, in black only, for $120.
The Tote has a 23.5-liter capacity. The zippered main compartment opens wide enough for a gallon jug to fit. Two internal handles pull out to make the pannier more tote-like, but get in the way when depositing and extracting items.
Externally, there’s the same open-top pocket, a carrying handle, and a zippered pocket containing an attached shoulder strap with enough space for phone storage. I like the simplicity of the Tote but would’ve preferred a small internal pocket instead of handles. A rain cover is not included. The Tote is available in black or green for $80.
Both styles use Thule’s slick mounting system, a set of molded channels that rotate when the attached cable is tensioned. For carrying the bag off-bike, the mounting hardware can be concealed by flipping over a panel.
A magnet attached to the rack attracts the bottom of the pannier to prevent swaying. This setup is amazingly simple and I love not having to fumble with straps and hooks. The magnets are strong enough to hold the panniers in most situations, but hitting a sharp bump or curb with a heavy load, the pannier will sway once, then reconnect.
Both panniers are made with non-PVC material and have reflective piping. Because the mounting system is so easy to use, I’ve stopped wearing a backpack and haven’t touched my other pannier set. Having two different panniers is a winning combo. The Commuter is large enough to haul the day’s necessities and the Tote perfectly holds vinyl records for when I find an unexpected yardsale. A five-year warranty is included.