Bicycle Paniers From Canvas Military Surplus Map Bags





Introduction: Bicycle Paniers From Canvas Military Surplus Map Bags

You can buy $12 map bags from a military surplus store and with some strap, bungee cord, and rivets, attach them to your bicycle rack for sturdy, unique paniers.

Step 1: Supplies and Tools

-duct tape
-1/8" bit
-rivet wrench
-6 rivets (wrestled with 1/8"x1/4" but would suggest 1/8"x1/2")
-6 1/8" rivet washers
-4' of thin bungee cord
-4 small bungee hooks
-2 map bags
- 4" of strap or webbing

Step 2: Attaching Strap to Hold the Bungee

-Cut the strap in half.
-Looking at the back of the bag, align 2" piece of straps to the bottom corners appox. 1" from side and bottom of bags (decide where the bags should be positioned on the rack relative to pedals and frame so that your feet don't hit the bags during revolution).
-remember, the bags will be on apposing sides so the straps will be in opposite corners.
-Duct tape under the strap and inside the bag so the canvas doesn't bind up on the drill bit
-Cut or punch holes in the straps where you want to drill
-Mark holes on the duct tape with a pen
-Drill holes for rivets
-Two rivets on the side closest to the end of the bag and one across for the two.
- leave enough gap between to easily slide the bungee cord (be sure to go through the strap, both outside and inside canvas, and the backing board).
-attach strap with two of the three rivets on the same side of the strap
-To ensure that the rivets take, use rivet washers on the inside of the bag.

Step 3: Bungee Prep

-Cut Bungee in half
-Finding the middle of each 2" section, tie a loop knot.
-Draw end of cords through hooks and knot the end

Step 4: Attach Bungee to Strap

punch in the final rivet so that the bungee is held into place with the loop below the front ring.

Step 5: Attaching Paniers to the Rack

-Take the loop and attach it to the bottom of the rack.

Step 6: Attaching Paniers to Rack #2

-Wrap the rings over the top bar of the rack and attach the bungees through the inside.

Step 7: On the Rack

Paniers should fit tightly to rack under heavy load. You can adjust the bottom knot if necessary

Step 8: For Carrying Over the Shoulder

Remove from the rack and attach bungee hooks to the top ring straps (so the hooks don't grab your clothes).
-attach shoulder straps.
- Put a little candle wax on either side of the buttons to make them snap with ease.

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    Neat. Just make sure that the fabric doesn't get too close to the moving parts. I may make something like this myself. I saw that you can get soft military map bags at

    6 replies

    Great 'ible-If you are concerned about the bags getting in the spokes (though with your rack it's unlikely to happen), you could get a plastic sheet, I'm thinking corrugated plastic, etc., to stitch in to the back of your bag-cut it to fit the back panel of each bag, insert it into the inside, and either stitch it with a heavy sewing awl or even rivet it in place-it will keep your bags 'up' even when empty and the contents are less likely to shift and send the bags swinging towards the spokes. Hope this makes sense-it's how some motorcycle saddlebags are constructed, and they are a little cleaner looking in that you don't need a permanent frame on your motorcycle to support the bags and keep them out of the spokes.

    So I know this was 7 years ago, but did you end up making a motorcycle set? I've been thinking about it and wondered how yours came out.

    These map bags have boards in the back so they stay up on their own. They don't fold or flop. Is that what you mean?

    Yeah, if they are already reinforced that's fantastic-it saves you some work. I may make a set of these up to straddle the tank on my Suzuki.

    Like Red Green said, you can never have enough duct tape.

    wow this instructable is very usefull. i don't know about you, but i'm voting for this one!

    Thanks, this step should be broken up into a few steps.

    I recently did something similar. If the bags are nylon it is easier to make the holes with a soldering iron. My rack dose not have the bits sticking out that you attach the loop to so mine are only attached at the top. Though I think the way you attache the panniers with the bungee hooks may be better than my method. I am sometimes coming home after dark and added some red reflective tape for safety.

    1 reply

    Yeah, our other bike doesn't have the bottom hook so we put it over the bottom of the rack where it connects to the frame.

    It would be helpful if the process for step 2 was either broken down into further steps, or if additional photos were shown for each procedure with a dash beside it (above). I like your Instructable -- a very clever way to make panniers which are likely to outlast anything available commercially. Overall, very well done.

    If people didn't have a rivet gun, they could probably use leather rivets (which basically just need a hammer) in place of the pop rivets. Great instructable :)

    I have another idea for a carrier for a bike, but I'll try to turn it into an instructable myself.

    I love army surplus stuff!

    nice chacos! nice work on the bags too

    Beautiful, off to the surplus store. Way cheaper than the store bought. Great for shopping.

    Smart way of making the plastic hoops both hold the hooks, and lay over the rack. knocks out two functions with one thing. Well done.

    1 reply

    Thanks. It was trial and error on that one. At first I had the hooks on the other side of the hoops but the bags were just flopping around against the rack.