While bike touring, we needed to carry everything on our bikes. Everything. If we had it with us, it had to be somehow strapped, lashed, and buckled onto our bicycles. One of the most common questions potential cycle tourists ask is: which is better – a bike trailer or panniers? My response is – it depends on your personal preference. There are pros and cons of each.
- can carry more gear
- gets weight off the bike so less chance of problems with the bike
- can carry more gear (notice how that’s both a plus and a minus?)
- one more piece of equipment to transport and maintain
- depending on the trailer, you might end up with an additional sized tire, which means extra tires/tubes
- maneuverability suffers and you have to make very wide turns
- everything is right on the bike so it’s a compact unit
- can make tight turns and get through most places an unloaded bike can
- can get panniers with lots of pockets for organization
- more weight on the bike so more chance of wheel problems
There are many options and a lot of it comes down to personal preference. I prefer only panniers, but hauled a trailer on our PanAm journey so we had more carrying capacity. Either way is fine – there is no “best” option here.
For those of you who have toured, please add your thoughts in the comments! What do you think the pros and cons of each are?