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Bike Trailers vs Touring Panniers – When to Choose What

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When you are preparing for a long bicycle trip or a bicycle tour, among the most important choices you will have to keep in mind is how your gear is getting strapped onto your bike.

Your choice of luggage will determine the amount of gear your bike can hold, how it handles, and what kind of terrain it is able to ride on.

This article will compare touring panniers and bike trailers and show you some advantages to using both so you can choose the best option for the right situations and your riding style.

Bike Trailers

  • Maneuverability and Handling

A trailer will make the weight of your gear not half as heavy on your bike. This will allow your bike to be much more nimble and quick, despite the large size. Because of this, bike trailers are great on off-road treks.

Bike trailers make it simple to get through difficult terrain without your gear’s weight weighing on your bike too much. Getting around tighter turns is much easier using these to haul your gear.

  • Hauling Bulky Items

If you are lugging around supplies like a kayak, hiking pack, surfboard, firewood, or a large tent, a bike trailer can help you do this with ease. Plus, if you need extra water or food, putting it on the bike trailer will not make the ride that much harder as the bike trailer is made for this purpose.

  • Less Wear on Your Bike

The bike trailer will handle the weight of your gear rather than the bike itself, and this will lessen the chance of your bike not being able to keep up for long.

Your tires and frame will not have to take too much of a beating and you will also not likely have to deal with broken spokes or bent rims. If you are worried about the longevity of your bike, it is a great idea to use a trailer.

Touring Panniers

  • Good for Organization

Panniers will have four bags that you can separate gear into so you can designate certain bags for certain categories of gear easily. Perhaps you could keep all your clothes in one bag, all the cooking gear and food in the second, and so on.

If you are bringing along electronics, touring panniers are a great idea so you can keep them separate from anything that might be wet or could easily damage them. 

  • Easy to Use

Panniers are not hard to assemble and use at all. Their rack bolts to your bike’s frame, and the panniers only need to be clipped on with the clips they come with to be fastened to the bike properly.

There aren’t any mechanical parts that you could worry about having to repair along the trip if something goes wrong. It is easy to replace any clips that get broken, and the worst thing that could happen is your bike rack snapping, which is pretty unlikely.

  • Lightweight

For the most part, a tour pannier will weigh less than most trailers. Panniers just do not have as many moving parts as trailers do and are lighter due to their simple design.

If you are worried about your gear being too heavy for the ride, you can shave off some weight by using a pannier. They can even come in ultralight designs for even less weight on your ride.

If You’re Hauling Pets

Many people will want to take their pet along with them on their rides, but it can get a little tedious when they get tired or veer off course and you have to stop to get them back on track.

You can use a bike trailer to haul along pets more easily. For dogs, a trailer can allow them to run along with you until they get too tired. They can then simply hop onto the trailer to catch their breath without having to stop the whole operation.

Even if you have a pet that is older or not so into exercise, they can just become part of your haul on the right trailer. Just be sure you keep any food or valuables secure so they don’t dig into anything they shouldn’t!


If you plan a long trip on your bike, it is important to get the right method to haul your gear down and ready to go.

For those that use bike trailers, they boast about being able to haul bulky items without too much wear on their bikes and are able to maneuver more off-road landscapes as well.

On the other hand, touring panniers users will tell you they are lighter than lugging around a whole bike trailer and are much better for keeping your supplies organized.

No matter which you choose, hopefully, this guide has given you some valuable information to think about when planning out your next big cycling expedition! 

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