Review: Detours Ballard Market Pannier

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Recently I have been testing a new bike bag, the Detours Ballard Market Pannier, a large shopper that easily transforms from a pannier to a tote to a backpack.

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The website describes the bag as follows:

If you’re rolling up [to the market] on a bike, this is the perfect pannier to take with you. An easily hidden padded shoulder harness lets you wear the pannier as a backpack while browsing the stalls, and two simple yet sturdy pannier clips attach to your rack for the ride home. A lightweight waterproof base keeps your bag dry from street spray, and a removable rain cover protects your goods when the skies cloud over. Interior organization makes this a great option for casual office commuting as well!

The bag comes in red (shown), black and “dalia print,” which is my favorite – grey with a little flower painted on front.

The bag hangs from the rear rack by two clamps.  The system was a bit tricky on my Pletscher rack because I had to raise the rack’s clamp while attaching the bag, but once in place, the bag fit well.  The large rack on my Dutch bike works perfectly with the Detours’ attachment system.

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The bag appears to droop a bit when loaded, but always feels securely attached.

There are adjustable straps on the front, which come in handy when the bag is used as a backpack.

The long handle straps are useful when carrying the bag, but they hang awkwardly when the bag is mounted and could be long enough to interfere with the wheel.  I tied them together and tucked them into the bag as shown below.  Another option is to tuck the straps in the front pouch, but neither solution is very elegant and I wish there were a better solution.

The bag, as you can judge by its size, holds a substantial amount of stuff.  In addition to the cavernous interior, there is a small internal, zippered pocket, plus three external pockets (two small on the side, on large on the front).

The bag I’ve been using for years as a large shopper is my Basil Rosa-Mirte Shopper, but that bag must be hand-carried by a handle – super annoying when trying to shop and/or when carrying a heavy load.  The Detours bag is not as cute, but wins over the Basil for ease of carrying with the shoulder strap and backpack option.

I’d say the Detours Ballard Market is most comparable to the Ortlieb Bike Shopper that I reviewed last year.  In that showdown, the Detours bag wins hands down.  Both bags hold a lot and have smart and easy attachment systems, but the Detours has useful outside pockets, holds more, is easier to close, turns into a backpack and costs $30 less.  The Ortlieb wins only in waterproofness.  The material on the Detours is water-resistent, but the drawstring top leaves it vulnerable.  A full, neon yellow water cover is included, though, so as long as you keep it in the bag, you should be good to go in storms.

The Detours logo on the side of the bag is reflective, but I was disappointed not to see more.  I wish companies would incorporate more reflective markings on bike bags.

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The two clamps on the back are fronted by a fabric panel…

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…which can be zipped up to hide the clamps and protect you from being poked.

When carried, the pannier functions as a long, substantial tote bag.  As you can see, it has a sporty feel.  Not something I would feel comfortable carrying to important meetings or court, but suitable for a regular day at the office.

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For daily use, I prefer a more professional-looking bag like Po Campo.  I’m not crazy about the sporty/bookbag-esque look of the Detours, which does not mesh well with my professional lifestyle.  The black or “dalia print” colors are better professional options than the bright red.  That said, the Ballard Market Pannier is marketed as a farmer’s market bag that could double for casual commuting, and the design is appropriate to that purpose.

Overall, I like the Detours Ballard Market Pannier a lot.  The bag fits a huge amount, while also being easy to attach and detach and convenient to carry, either as a tote bag or a backpack.   For a bike bag that are designed to carry substantial loads, the Detours is the best I’ve come across so far.

And a HUGE bonus of the bag is its nifty transformation to a backpack.  I did not get a photo wearing the pannier as a backpack, so please watch my video to see how easily this works.

Review: Detours Ballard Market Pannier from LGRAB on Vimeo.

The Detours Ballard Market Pannier retails for $69.  The company is based in Seattle, and I’m not aware of any local Chicago stores that carry the brand.

{As always, I received no compensation for this review, other than the bag itself.  Trust me, my opinion’s not that cheap!  ;-)  You can see my entire collection of bags in this video.}

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9 thoughts on “Review: Detours Ballard Market Pannier

  1. LGRAB says:

    Nice review! I like how the red bag looks on Betty.

  2. Beverley Strain says:

    Hi! I have the Ballard in the Dahlia print and agree with your review 100%. I was also able to carry a laptop in it with no problems. The majority of the time, I use this for grocery shopping. One thing I did notice is that space fills up quickly inside, and if the interior is jam packed the exterior pockets are unusable. On concealing the handles: when attached to the rack, I tuck the outside handle into the front pocket and tuck the inside handle into the top then use the hook to latch the top together and prevent the handle from coming out. It’s not ideal, but not bad either.
    Detours has a number of bags that are great and inexpensive. Detours and Po Campo are my go to places when someone asks me to recommend a bike bag!

    • Dottie says:

      Thanks so much for your input, Beverley! That’s a good point about the outside pockets being unusable when the bag is stuffed full. A couple of times I couldn’t reach into the side pocket to extract my garage door clicker, so I took to hitting the outside of the bag until my garage door opened. :-)

      I’ll have to remember your handle trick, as that sounds like a good solution.

      Now I’m interested in the other bags in the Detours line, as well.

      • Beverley Strain says:

        I have a few and they are great quality for the price! I just used the companion piece to the Ballard, the Alki Beach Basket, and I am impressed, but I installed the bracket wrong (which I should have seen coming!:) I am not at all mechanical). I need to fix the problem and give it another go!

  3. [...] About Bike Panniers: Detours Ballard Market Pannier Arkel Bicycle [...]

  4. E A says:

    I reviewed this bag in the Dahlia print… and I love it too!

    http://bit.ly/NmmS4d

  5. nathan coccimiglio says:

    I love riding around town, check out my bike and mountain biking at natecoccimiglio.com

  6. Allison says:

    I just bought this and love it. I am new to this whole urban cycling thing and am ditching my car when I move next month. I have yet to actually use it when grocery shopping (only got it today) but I love how easily it attaches to my rack and I love that it’s a tote and backpack. It’ll be useful once the farmer’s markets arrive. :)

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