SOMETIMES you need to load up for a ride. Let Arkel take the strain...

What are they?

These are Arkel’s Orca 35 waterproof panniers. Much of my riding is pretty direct, but if you take the circuitous route you might need to carry a little more than a multi-tool or a spare set of innertubes.

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That’s where products such as these come in handy.

Sure, you can throw what you can into a rucksack, but if you don’t want the weight of a small child around your shoulders this is the way to go.

What about the design?

The Arkel has many great features, but perhaps the most important is waterproofing. There’s no point in taking a change of clothes and maps, for example, only to find them soaked through by the time you reach your destination.

And living where I do, where rain is a regular occurrence, despite what the weatherman might say, I can vouch that the claim is indeed a genuine one.

In fact, I indulged in a self-generated downpour, turning the hose on the panniers, and can safely say not a drop got through.

As well as repelling the worst the heavens can throw at you, the Arkel is also able to withstand a fair degree of abuse. I have a habit of catching things on trees, leaning them up against something jagged etc, but the panniers are constructed from tough stuff. I have only had them for a month or so, admittedly, but I cannot imagine them deteriorating much, if at all, over an extended period of time.

One of the aspects Arkel is most proud of is its patented Cam-Lock system,which aims to keep the pannier attached to the bike whatever the state of the surface you are riding on.

Pull up on the carry handle, the cam opens and then locks into place onto the rack – front or rear – with a rubber brake pad. Fully adjustable, there’s also a hook attachment at the bottom that keeps the pannier true.

How practical are they?

Arkel’s Orca panniers come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 25 litres to 45 litres. I shouldn’t need to explain why the ones I tested are called the Orca 35. Empty, they have a decent amount of weight to them, 1.86kg for the pair, but I think that’s a small price to pay for their robustness.

Internal organisation is a big part of the design. It’s important to keep things apart from each other such as diry clothing etc and the Arkel allows you to do that.

There’s an internal organiser for the likes of your tablet etc and also an external zipped compartment for smaller items.

They are also reflective on all sides and come with tabs to mount blinker lights.

How much are they and where can I get them from?

Arkel products are not cheap, these panniers are priced at £164.99 on the company’s official website. More details are available if you visit