Here’s some of the very best hard motorcycle panniers for adventure bikes on the market today. We’ll go in-depth on all the pros, cons and features of each set of panniers as well as our winners to help you choose the right luggage for your adventure!
Hard Motorcycle Panniers
Hard motorcycle panniers are a very popular choice – especially for adventure bikes. They’re sturdy, secure, can hold loads of kit, are neater, easier to pack and less faff than soft bags and don’t forget… they look cool too. But that doesn’t mean they’re always the best option. If you want something with a less bulk, a little more portability and are going to be riding predominately off-road then soft panniers are the way to go.
If you’re weighing up your options then have a read of these three packed guides below.
But if you’re in the market for hard panniers for your adventure bike and aren’t sure which boxes to go for, have a read of our considerations below and then check out our top picks. These are some of the very best hard panniers for adventure bikes on the market today. And also, if you’re looking for a complete set of hard luggage, then each set of panniers in this list has a matching top box to go with it. For more info on them, check out our best top box guide.
READ MORE: The Best Motorcycle Top Boxes
What to look out for
You’re going to ride in the rain on your adventure rides, there’s no doubt about it. The kit you’re wearing will get wet, but everything you’re carrying doesn’t have to. Waterproof panniers are pretty much the norm in 2021. Most aluminium panniers are welded or riveted, and feature waterproof locking mechanisms to keep the water out. Many plastic motorcycle panniers – usually reserved for those sticking to tarmac – are also waterproof, although cheaper brands may let a little water in. Even if your motorcycle panniers are waterproof, you can always use waterproof stuff sacks inside the panniers themselves for extra peace of mind.
Size is a big thing to consider when you’re purchasing hard motorcycle panniers. Not only do you need to consider the storage capacity of the panniers, but also their physical size. It’s all well and good opting for the largest panniers you can find, but if they’re too bulky they could leave you unable to get through narrow gaps, or worse, you could damage them trying to squeeze through a gap.
Most adventure motorcycle panniers are made from aluminium of varying thickness, thanks to the strength and relative light weight of the material. Plastic motorcycle panniers are still fairly popular, but they tend to be used mostly by road riders. Think BMW R1250GT instead of R1250GS.
When it comes top gaining access to your panniers, there are generally two schools of thought. The first – and most popular among aluminium adventure panniers, is via an opening on the top of the pannier. This is great for accessing your gear while on the bike, as it reduces the risk of anything falling out. The second option – most common on plastic panniers – is a side opening, with the hinge at the very bottom of the pannier. This is great for accessing something at the bottom of your pannier, but it does mean there’s a risk of things falling out. When it comes to keeping the contents of your panniers safe, the vast majority of panniers come with key locking mechanisms.
The Best Hard Panniers for Adventure Bikes
SW Motech Trax panniers
Quick info: from £340
The SW Motech Trax panniers are fully waterproof with a replaceable top seal. Constructed from 1.5mm thick aluminium, they also feature fibre-reinforced plastic corners for strength, and powder coating to help battle oxidation and abrasion. Available only in 37 litres, the panniers fit all SW Motech Quick-Lock side carriers, and can even be used with pannier frames from other manufacturers with additional adaptors.
Touratech Zega Evo panniers
Quick info: from £904.19, one-hand locking system
Touratech is a big name in the touring and adventure motorcycle category with a wealth of experience spanning over 30 years, so you know anything they put out is going to get the job done. The Zega Evo panniers feature a full aluminium construction, rounded plastic corners to protect the rider and panniers in the event of a crash, lids that can be opened from either side, and a nifty system that allows the panniers to be attached and locked to the pannier rack with just one hand.
Givi Trekker Outback panniers
Quick info: from £540, maximum capacity of 48 litres
Givi need no introduction – they’ve been producing great quality motorcycle accessories for a very long time, and these aluminium motorcycle panniers are no different. Constructed from 1.5mm thick aluminium, they’re reinforced with techno-polymer inserts and feature tie down points on the lid, which can be hinged or completely removed.
Givi Trekker panniers
Quick info: from £424.99, 33 litres
The Givi Trekker panniers are the all-plastic version of the Givi Trekker Outback panniers listed above. They share many of the same features but are not as sturdy as their aluminium counterparts. They are, however, cheaper and lighter. We’ve included them in this list because they are well-suited for adventure riders who primarily stick to asphalt and touring and don’t need the toughness of aluminium.
Bumot Defender Evo panniers
Quick info: from £725 (pannier rack not included), completely welded bottom
The Bumond Defender Evo panniers offer a simple, no-nonsense solution, with pretty much everything you would want in a set of hard adventure panniers. They’re made from 2mm thick aluminium for lightweight and sturdiness, with the bottoms of the panniers welded for extra strength and complete waterproofing. A quick release system allows the panniers to be attached or removed from the rack in seconds, while low-profile lid straps enable more equipment to be tied on top of the panniers, while they don’t get in the way of a pillion. The Bumot Defender Evos are some of the best panniers for the BMW R1200GS, especially as they’re made to fit straight onto the GSA pannier frames that come with the bike.
- Waterproof: Yes
- Construction: 2mm aluminium
- Extra features: Low-profile strap brackets, quick-release mechanism, replaceable corners
- Sizes: 35/31 litre, 40/36 litre, 45/41 litre (dependant on bike)
- Colours: Bare Aluminium, Frozen Grey, Black
Metal Mule Max panniers
Quick info: from £1199.96 for panniers and rack, rugged construction
Founded in 2007, Metal Mule are a relatively new company compared to some of the others featured on this list, but that doesn’t stop them producing some of the most rugged luggage systems on the market. Their Max panniers are constructed from high grade aluminium and aircraft grade stainless steel rivets for maximum durability. They’re water and dustproof, feature mounting points for additional accessories, and come in three different sizes.
The Best Hard Panniers Winners
The SW Motech panniers are our top choice for a number of reasons. They’re good quality, good value, and the fact they can be used with mounting racks from other manufacturers is a huge bonus. They might not be the most popular brand, but they’ve specialised in metal luggage for over two decades.
It’s no surprise to see Touratech listed here. Their Zega Evo panniers are rugged and durable, and feature clever little features such as the rounded plaster corners, and the locking system which allows them to be secured or removed to the bike with just one hand.
The Givi Trekker Outback panniers offer great value for money. They’re constructed from 1.5mm thick aluminium, just the same as some of the more expensive panniers on this list, and they also feature a completely removable lid and internal reinforcement.
The Bumot Defender panniers are the toughest, most durable and sturdy panniers on this list. If you’re looking to ride round-the-world on your motorcycle and want your boxes and rack to take anything you throw at them, then go for the Bumot panniers and pannier rack system.
The Best Motorcycle Top Boxes for Adventure Bikes
Read more on motorcycle luggage and gear
Thanks for checking out our Best Motorcycle Hard Panniers Guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here are a few more articles on motorcycle luggage and gear that we recommend you read next.
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Are you preparing your adventure bike and deciding on which luggage system to use? Ask us any questions in the comments below.