World’s best DIY rack panniers Version 2.0

The extremely cheap, extremely durable, light, reliable, compact and even completely waterproof DIY rackpanniers are back, more secure, with better design and easier to make than ever before! I have done thousands of kilometers with them and they perform beautifully. Try them out using the instructions bellow (don’t worry, they are amazingly easy and simple) If you need any help, let me know!

You are going to need:

2 x Backpack
1 x Bamboo stick (around 1m long and thick like a marker) or a wooden broom stick or a branch from a tree etc
1 x Plastic sheet (2x2m – it’s the one they use to cover things from the rain, you can find it in almost every hardware store)
1 x Inner tube (if it’s from a road bike don’t fold it – you will understand when you get in that step)
1 x Piece of wire
1 x Rope
2 x Bungee cord (depends – you can get them very cheap in ebay)
2 x Small steel carabiner or metal S hook

Find two old backpack/school bags. Unstrap the naylon straps that are located on the bottom part of the backpack from the the shoulder harnesses (If your backpacks will be used only as rack panniers you can cut off the shoulder harnesses – otherwise roll them and tie them so they won’t get in your way).

Now, take the strap and make a loophole with a knot (you can use tie wraps if you want as depicted in photo). If the strap is long enough take the rest of the strap length and make an other loop in the same way (it’s very useful). Do the same for both straps on the two backpacks. Those loops are going to keep the backpacks OUT of the wheel with the help of two bamboo sticks. Make the stick go through the loops (see the photo). At the two ends of the stick wrap with tie wrap a folded piece of inner tube that goes around the stick (See the photo). That will prevent the nylon straps from going out of the bamboo ends.

diy rack panniers 1

Now, take two small pieces of innertube and roll them on the outer metaltubes of your rack. Where you are going to put them exactly depends on the size of your frame, backs etc. So, put them in the middle for now and you can adjust them later. Use some wire to hold them in place. Open the carbainers and put each one of them to hold the tubes. Use the same wire to secure them. Those pieces of tube will protect your rack from the carabiners (see photo). Those carabiners are going to hold most of the bags weight.

diy rack panniers 2

We are almost there. Take the carabiner and hook the right backpack (from the top handle) to the left part of the rear rack. Do the same with the other backpack but make it go through the top handle of the backpack you already installed. See the photo to understand the concept.

diy rack panniers 3

Now the interesting part. Tie the end of the rope on the second loop of the first strap (or on the bamboo stick between the backpacks loops) of one of the backpacks. Take the wooden stick and put it across the rack above the bag handles. This wooden stick will support half of the backpacks weight (so you don’t have to tie your bamboo sticks ON the rack). So, using your rope make some loops around the end of the stick and tie it on the strap loop of the other backpack. Check it if its tight, if its not, make some more loops until its very tight (do this with your bags full – you can do that whenever you want before your departure). Do the same on the backpack’s second straps in front. See the photo to get it.

diy rack panniers 4

One last thing. Put a piece of wire on each bamboo to hold them on rack. Just have a ride and see if your heel hits the pannier. If it does, move the bamboo to the back and attach it on the track with the wire (or hose clamps or whatever suits you- it doesnt support any weight, its job is only to move the bag out of your foot trajectory). If you need much space adjust the carabiners accordingly (along with their innertubes).

Your ‘world’s best DIY rack panniers’ are ready.

You can now make a sign with reflective tape or make a logo, a flag or whatever, heat seal it with plastic and hang it with rope from the ends of the bamboo sticks. It looks so cool!

Poor taping cause this to get wet

You can even make a wooden shelf on the ends of the bamboo sticks (you can make them big if you want to put more stuff) and put there a sleeping bag, clothes etc.


If you want to make them waterproof make the sheet go under the bags till the carabiners. There, find a quick way to attach the edge of the sheet on the rack. My suggestion is papaerclippers. Otherwise some wire will do the job. Then use a rope to hold the plastic sheet in place. With some experimentation you will manage to cover your whole load with the sheet and the rain will never touch your stuff. To understand how, check the drawing.

rack panniers diy

Everything is ready! Have a nice trip!!! And be prepared for compliments!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Samosis says:

    Nicko you are a genius, its good to see the improvements on the later design like the rackatabla!! Looking forward to my return to patra to find an old bike for my next adventure. Love the simple life!

    1. Bicyclosis says:

      I am really glad you like them Sam! Come back and I will find you a bike like my Greek Donkey 🙂

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