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How To Make Your Own Panniers

In this simple guide I’ll show you how you can recycle a square bucket and make your own panniers which are incredably useful. I used four panniers just like this on a 2100 mile Pa

Topic: Bicycle Touring  
Categories: Bags & Packing, Howto


Copyright © 2010-2014 By Ian Harper - (contact)

Status: Completed Jan 2010
Last update: Wednesday January 27, 2010 18:47 (US/Pacific) (edited Fri 29 Jan 2010 16:51 (US/Pacific))
6,701 hits since January 27, 2010 (hitcounts updated nightly)
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bike buckets in use

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How To Make Your Own Panniers - Bike Buckets: The DIY recycled pannier.

I originally posted this on my blog Ride Free Bike Maps. I'm posting it here because I want to share my design with this community as well. In this simple guide I'll show you how you can recycle a square bucket and make your own panniers which are incredably useful. I used four panniers just like this on a 2100 mile Pacific Coast tour with great success. This kind of panniers are also called Bike Buckets. There are a bunch of guides out there on how to make these guys and most of them that I saw use bungie cords to hold the buckets down. I don't like that approach because it allows the buckets to jostle around. In my design I use webbing which keeps the buckets securely fastened to the rack. You can also use the webbing to store things on top of the buckets.

Things You Will Need:

  • A bike with a rack
  • A drill.
  • Wrenches, screwdrivers, and/or allen keys.
  • A razor blade or a sharp knife.
  • A plastic bucket.
  • 2 rope hooks.
  • 2 bolts
  • 2 nuts
  • 4 washers
  • ~ 60 inches of 1 inch wide webbing
  • 3 webbing slides
  • 1 side release buckle

The things you need for this project are pretty standard except for the webbing and webbing hardware. I was able to find everything at a local hardware store and a sporting goods store. If you can't find webbing in your area you can always try Google. Suitable buckets are also easy to find. Mine came from cat litter and mayonnaise. It is worth asking around for the mayonnaise buckets because they have much better lids.


  1. Using your razor blade cut out a portion of the ridge next to the bottom of one of the handles.

  2. Drill two holes in the bucket just under the portion of the ridge that was cut out.

  3. Align a rope hook with one of the holes and tilt it toward the edge of the bucket. Make a mark on the bucket where the second hole of the rope hook is positioned.

  4. Drill holes where the bucket is marked.

  5. Bolt the rope hooks on the bucket. Put the washers on the inside of the bucket.

  6. Strap the bottom end of the webbing on to your rack using one of the webbing sliders.

  7. Put the bucket on your rack.

  8. Wrap the webbing around your bucket, around the top bar of your rack, and back over the side of your bucket. It should hang down to about the middle of the bucket.

  9. Attach the free end of the webbing to the top bar of your rack using a slider.

  10. Starting from the top of the webbing pull it taught over your bucket. At the halfway point of your bucket cut the webbing.

  11. Attach the female end of the buckle to the top piece of webbing using the last slider.

  12. Attach the male end of the buckle to the bottom piece of webbing. The male end should not need a slider to attach.

  13. Give yourself a pat on the back!


I've gone through a few different versions of this design. In this version I tilted the rope hooks so the natural wobble of the buckets will be lessened. Prior designs where the hooks were vertical had a tendency to crack along the sides of the hooks. While not new to this design the quick release buckle makes life a lot easier. You could make this work using only sliders and adjusters. A previous design of mine used this but it was cumbersome to take on and off.

You may want to wrap something around your rack or around the hooks. After heavy use the hooks can damage your rack. I've wrapped webbing designed for rock climbing around the hooks with good success. I've also used spare denim from on old pair of jeans with less success. I couldn't find a good way to attach them.

Of course you will need to determine if this will work with the brand of rack you have. The majority of racks I see are the universal delta racks which work well but don't have a horizontal bar at the bottom of the rack. For the purposes of this demonstration I attached the bottom piece of webbing in a way that would mimic a delta rack. As soon as I took that picture I moved the webbing to the horizontal bar. If your rack has one I'd suggest using it.

My last recomendation is that you personalize your buckets. I Had a few friends come over and we all drew on my buckets with sharpies. I got a LOT of positive comments while I was on my big tour. Plus it was fun to publicly display my art all down the Pacific coast. I wouldn't use sharpies again because they scratched easily but it was still wort all the effort.

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bike buckets in use

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