Arkel Orca Waterproof Panniers

hintLiving in a part of the world that has seasons, I tend to get tired of Winter long before it’s over,and long for the warmer days of Spring. There’s just one problem with that – we tend to have many days in which it might rain. While I can dress warm and dry, I do worry about things I might be carrying. As you all know, I have not yet mastered the Art of Minimalism; I bring along things that I really don’t want to leave behind, and yet I worry about them getting wet. So, you can imagine how happy I was to read about the latest from Arkel, the Orca panniers. They’re billed as being waterproof – and a glance at them, touching the fabric, certainly gives that impression. But are they? Read on!

The bags certainly feel waterproof – they have “RF welded seams”. I’m not sure just what that means, but I took a really good look at the bags, closed them using their “rolling over” of the top and snapping them, and by the way they felt as solid and air-tight as a basketball, I felt this was a good sign. But how to test them to see if they truly were waterproof? I was about to turn the hose on them, but then nature stepped in.

The weather report was saying we were going to have several days of off-and-on rain, with even more of the wet stuff at night. Being scientifically inclined (I used to be a shop teacher), I came up with a good test: put some newspapers in the bags, close them up, and let them sit outside for a day and a night in the rain. I did that – and the result?

Before we go into that, I do want to mention some of the other features of these bags. They share a mounting system with other panniers in the Arkel lineup, that of a Cam-Lock that has a handle that, when you pull up on it, releases the locks, and engages them when you let go. They can be adjusted to fit your rack quite easily, too, using an allen key. There’s a small zippered pocket on the outside of the bags, along with reflective striping and very handy tabs for mounting tail lights. On the inside, you’ll find a much larger zippered pocket for keeping loose things separate from the bulkier items. I would suggest this would be a good spot for magazines, maps, those sorts of things. There’s also a long pocket that just begs to have a laptop or tablet stuck in it. Altogether , there’s 45 cubic inches of space in the pair (they do make a smaller, 35 c.i. version, too). You can get an optional shoulder strap for carrying the bags while you’re off the bike, too – I think that would be a very good idea.

By now you’re thinking, ok, did it rain on my bags? How much rain? And what was the fate of the newspapers in the experiment? We had a bit of rain this one particular day, perhaps a half-inch. I thought that maybe that was enough of a test, but decided to let the bags spend the night outside. I’m glad I did, as we had a pretty good series of storms pass through. My rain gauge the next morning showed that just a bit over two inches fell. I felt the bags, and they didn’t feel like they had lost any air – these things really do close up very tightly! I unsnapped the straps, unrolled the tops, and looked inside: perfectly dry! The bags passed the test!

I have been looking for some panniers that would ease my mind about things getting wet, and the Arkel Orca bags have now moved to the top of my list. Toss in the internal storage measures, along with the reflective stripes and tabs for lights, and I think I’ve found the bags I’m going to use.

Arke Orca Waterproof Panniers
Pros: waterproof, internal storage pockets,tabs for lights
Cons: shoulder strap is optional
Price: $199.95/pair (35 c.i. version, $184.95)
For More Information: http://www.arkel-od.com/en/waterproof-panniers.html

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