Review: Blackburn’s Barrier Universal Panniers Dec 2, 2014


Products that are designed to work within a system, but also operate just fine on their own are crucial to a brand. What if I don’t want to use your company’s rack? No problem. Blackburn’s Barrier Panniers are meant to be integrated into their Interlock racks – a system that allows you to lock your panniers for security while running errands around town – yet they work with any rack, even low-riders.

I recently gave these Barrier Universal panniers a go on a three day bicycle camping tour and loved them. Check out more below.


These panniers are as simple as it gets, with a few special details that make them better than other roll top waterproof panniers I’ve used.


First off it the way the strap feeds through the buckle for added security.


Then, use one of the daisy chain loops to lock it in place. If you have small items you don’t want finding their way to the bottom of the 17-liter bag, just stash them in the front – also waterproof – pocket. The size was perfect for our three-day trip. I could fit my Big Agnes UL1 in the bag, along with all my clothing, food, bedding and cooking equipment. Personally, I think the next size up – at 20-liters – might be a bit too much for such a trip. Extensive touring however, sure!


My favorite detail are the front and back windows to not only allow you to see the contents in the panniers, but to bring some daylight into the packs when you’re rummaging about. These windows also have clever pockets for you to stash blink lights in, which I opted out of since I’ve got a generator lamp.


The most important part of a pannier for me is the hardware that actually locks the bag to the rack. Is it secure? Is it easily modified? Is it durable? The short answer is yes. Time will tell on durability.


We rode a lot of bumpy, rutted roads, as well as some singletrack and while the bags certainly jostled around, like any pannier does, they never came detached. I did however have one of the clamps’ screws loosen – which was my fault for not checking them first – and found myself a bit frustrated at first.


The screws to tighten down the hardware are recessed a bit, requiring an allen key that’s longer than 1″ to easily access the bolt.


Problem is, it’s not the easiest thing to do with a multi-tool. You can, it just takes a series of 1/8th rotations. Again, it’s not impossible, just not as easy as other systems I’ve used.


Overall, for $99, the Barrier Universal Panniers exceeded my expectations, even with a simple caveat. Head over to Blackburn to read more and order from your local Blackburn dealer.

  • asdfsky

    Thanks for the review, what tires are you running ?

  • Transit

    A question John, would the FixIt Stix have enough clearance to reach the adjusting screw that gave you trouble?

    • John Watson

      Not sure

  • Western Rapid

    At a push, would you recommend these or the Ortliebs?

    • John Watson

      I’ve had the same Ortliebs for 4 years and have had zero issues. They’re also like $250 – these are $90 but I’ve only used them for a week.

  • Andrew

    Can this mount on any rack or does it have to be blackburn

    • John Watson

      Any rack.

  • Jon Winter

    Cheers for the review John, been looking at these or Ortlieb roll top plus for a while. Was hoping the Awol Transcontinentals would be release soon as I really wanted them, size wise, how do the Blackburn’s compare to the Trans as the Ortlieb panniers look to small for what I want. Cheers Jon.