Waterproof Bicycle Pannier Boxes





Introduction: Waterproof Bicycle Pannier Boxes

I've been an avid cyclist and do-it-yourselfer nearly all my life.  I fell in love with camping and trekking by bicycle a few years ago and it is what gets me out and riding and training.  I have used a BOB trailer for camping and have loved it but I always wanted to try panniers.  Because I didn't want to shell out the hundreds of dollars to get some I decided to make my own. 

I don't sew very well so my only option is hard sided panniers.  The various crate-based and cat litter box-based panniers I have seen on Instructables look like they would work well but none of them had the look that I was searching for.  I also felt that changing the configuration of the hooks could make them alot sturdier and less prone to fatigue.

Kingsford charcoal began making these waterproof containers a few years ago to hold and dispense their charcoal.  When I saw these boxes at a hardware store last summer, I thought they would make a great pannier because they wouldn't stick out and they are made of very sturdy and resilient plastic. So I picked up a pair for about 20 bucks (all said and done this project was under $30)

I made a bracket out of some oak scraps that sits on top of my bike rack and holds the two poles that the boxes hook on to.  The poles are from an old tent that are cut to a length that allows a rope strung through them to keep the panniers from sliding off.  A pair of bungees keep the boxes from bouncing out.  Eventually I will make a more elegant solution like the Arkel and Ortlieb hooks that latch but for now this works. 

The hooks are 3/16"x1" flat steel bar that is formed into a hook with a vice and a big hammer.  They are epoxied and bolted on. 

So far I have ridden about 200 miles with weights between 30 and 65lbs and I have had no problems at all.  Proper loading is important for panniers so keep the heaviest loads low and they will work great for you.  This summer I'll be training for a 200 mile 3-day weekend camping trip and these panniers will be a big part of it.

I hope this Instructable is helpful and not too much of the same old stuff.  Cheers!



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13 Discussions

I know this is fairly old now but I'm glad I found it. It gave me an idea about how I could build something similar.

I put an instructable up and gave you credit for inspiring me. If you want to see it, it's here https://www.instructables.com/id/Bicycle-Panniers/

not only does it fit a gallon of milk, it even fits through the lid!


If you don't want these in black my parents have these in clear, got them at Costco as a set with smaller ones inside. I have also seen them, with in a day of seeing them in at my parent's house, at petsmart in white as a dog food dispencer. I'm sure it is the same injection mold.

Loved your idea so much, that I went to my local Lowe's and got two containers (@ $11.45 each) that night. I really like your wooden support. I had a faulty foldable lawn chair, so I used the stays to extend my carrier and make the cross braces - all held together with hose clamps. The green cord you see is a rubber band used for isometric training I got from Dick's. I mounted LED lights from a Holloween light set that has vibration sensor, so I don't have to worry about the on/off switch. Rode w/ two the first day, then tested with only one, went shopping and loaded fully with milk, juices, and other heavy groceries. The low center of gravity is marvelous. Thanks again for the idea.

all of the plastic box paniers are nice! I tooik a heavy cardbord box and slapped it in my rack (not so great but fine for library trips)

these (and all of the kitty litter/bucket type) look great

here is an improveent

1) add panels of foam insulation on alll side to make one side a cooler, you could get very fancy here.

2) add LED lights if the black plastic is too dark to see contents, or, like your car boot, easy to see at night


VERY nice! I've thought about making a simple milk-crate rack for the back of my bike, but that leaves the center of gravity rather high when the crate is loaded. Your design looks neat and clean, it's lightweight, not hard to execute at all. MUCH better than my idea. The fact that it's moisture-proof is a big plus for me.

One minor caution: epoxy does not stick well to most plastic (PE, HDPE, PP, PET, PETE) bucket-type containers. Bolts will be absolutely necessary. Use fender washers (much larger than ordinary washers) on the inside of the container, to distribute the load and avoid possible cracking around the hole.

Time to hie myself to the store and get a couple of containers... :-) Thanks!

2 replies

I've tried the milk crate and now I want to try sewing from scratch/converting a backpack. I found that for my (light loads) purposes the crate's weight didn't bother me, but once I took the crate off to switch it with a better one, I realized it wasn't worth the added difficulty getting on the bike. This experience was probably due to my having a pretty large bike, (very tall) though.

Thanks for the comment. The epoxy I used was a 5 minute epoxy that boasted it would bond plastic wood or metal and after some proper roughing-up it has been pretty durable so far. I suppose we will see in a year or so.

I really like your design, phish. It looks very secure, easy to pop on and off, and easy to access when attached. I too had some minor concerns about cracking when looking at those hooks but by the sounds of it so far so good. Anyways, if it proves to be an issue down the road it would be an easy enough thing to bolster for version 2.

Question for you: have you had any issues with heel clearance while riding? I guess that's something each person will have to take into account before building.

My only suggestion on possible ways to improve it would be paint the inside white for easier visibility :)

Happy riding!

Nice instructables, I'll have to make those for my bike!

Great idea! I have sewn panniers from 25 years ago, but they will eventually wear out. I especially like that these ride low. Not just for the improved center of gravity, but for ease in swinging a leg over the bike during mounts and dismounts.