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Saddlebags, since time immemorial, have accompanied travelers, adventurers and globetrotters on their journeys. Its name, which comes from the Spanish Arabic "alẖurǧ", immediately conjures images of horses and dusty roads, of merchants crossing deserts and of explorers entering the unknown. In this Shad Bikes post, we will learn what exactly a saddlebag is.

But what exactly are saddlebags? In simple terms, they are two bags of strong fabric or leather, usually square in shape, joined by a band of the same material. They are designed to be hung on the sides of a horse – horses, mules, donkeys –, bicycle, motorcycle or even a person, allowing luggage and supplies to be transported comfortably and safely.

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What is a pannier? Definition, materials and uses

Saddlebags are much more than just bags. They are essential allies on any trip, whether on the back of a horse, pedaling your bicycle or crossing the asphalt on your motorcycle. They allow you to carry everything you need for your adventure, from clothing and food to tools and souvenirs.

Going deeper into its definition

  • Two compartments: saddlebags are made up of two independent bags, generally square or rectangular in shape, joined by a band or strap of the same material.
  • Materials: made with resistant fabrics such as nylon, cordura or leather, the saddlebags are designed to withstand inclement weather and constant friction during the trip.
  • Capacity: the capacity of the saddlebags varies depending on the model and the use to which they are intended. You can find everything from small saddlebags of 10 liters to large saddlebags of 40 liters or more.

Types of saddlebags for every need

  • Horse panniers: Traditionally, saddlebags have been used to transport cargo on horses. These saddlebags are characterized by being large in size and made of resistant materials such as leather or thick canvas.
  • Bicycle panniers: Bicycle saddlebags are smaller and lighter than horse saddlebags. They are fixed to the bicycle frame using straps or rail systems.
  • Motorcycle panniers: Motorcycle saddlebags resemble bicycle saddlebags in size and shape. However, they are usually made of more resistant materials, such as nylon or cordura, to withstand higher speeds and wind.
  • Hiking panniers: Hiking saddlebags are special backpacks that are characterized by having two compartments on the sides, similar to traditional saddlebags. They are ideal for transporting clothes, food and other objects during long walks.

Practical uses of saddlebags

  • Luggage Carrying: The main function of saddlebags is to transport luggage during trips and excursions.
  • Organization: Saddlebags allow you to divide your luggage into different compartments, making it easy to organize and access your belongings.
  • Protection: Saddlebags protect your luggage from dust, rain and other weather elements.
  • Comfort: Saddlebags are designed to distribute the weight of luggage evenly, allowing you to travel in greater comfort.

What does pannier mean? Etymology and meanings

The word "saddlebag" not only designates a practical object, but also contains a rich history and endless meanings.


The word "alforja" comes from the Spanish Arabic "alẖurǧ", which means "travel bag". Over time, the word "saddlebag" has undergone different phonetic and morphological changes. In Old Spanish, there was the form "alforxa", which later evolved into the current form "alforja".

Figurative meanings of "saddlebag"

  • Cultural heritage: the word "saddlebag" can refer to the set of knowledge and experiences that a person accumulates throughout their life.
  • Inner wealth: "saddlebag" can also refer to a person's inner wealth, their personal and emotional baggage.
  • Memory: saddlebags can be a symbol of memory, since they keep memories of trips and experiences inside.

Examples of use of the word "saddlebag"

  • "I filled my saddlebags with provisions for the trip."
  • "The saddlebags of his mind were full of wisdom and knowledge."
  • "At the end of his life, his saddlebag was full of memories and experiences."

Choosing the perfect saddlebags for your adventure

Choosing the perfect saddlebags for your adventure

  1. Define your activity: will you use the saddlebags for riding, pedaling, driving or walking? Each activity has its own needs in terms of size, materials and fixing system.
  2. Consider capacity: how much luggage do you need to carry? Panniers come in a wide variety of sizes, from small 10 liters to large 40 liters or more.
  3. Choose the right material: Look for resistant and waterproof materials such as nylon, cordura or leather, depending on the climate and intensity of your trip.
  4. Pay attention to the attachment system: make sure the saddlebags fit securely on your horse, bicycle, motorcycle or body.
  5. Don't forget comfort: look for saddlebags with padding in the areas in contact with the body to avoid chafing and discomfort.

Tips to get the most out of your saddlebags

  1. Distributes the weight evenly: distribute the luggage evenly between the two saddlebags to avoid imbalances.
  2. Protect your luggage: Use waterproof bags inside your saddlebags to protect your belongings from water and moisture.
  3. Organize your luggage: Divide your luggage into different compartments for easy access to what you need.
  4. Clean and care for your saddlebags: After each ride, clean your saddlebags with soap and water to remove dirt and dust.
  5. Repair faults: If your saddlebags suffer any damage, repair them as soon as possible to prevent them from deteriorating further.

What is a bicycle pannier? The ideal companion for your cycling routes

Bicycle panniers are bags specially designed for carrying luggage on bicycles. They are attached to the bicycle frame using straps or rail systems, allowing you to carry everything you need for your trip without sacrificing comfort or performance.

Types of bicycle panniers for every need

  • Rear panniers: Rear panniers are the most common and are attached to the rear rack of the bicycle. They are ideal for transporting heavy or bulky luggage.
  • Front panniers: The front panniers are attached to the handlebars of the bicycle. They are ideal for transporting light objects that you need to have on hand, such as maps, snacks or water.
  • Waterproof Saddlebags: Waterproof saddlebags are designed to protect your luggage from rain and moisture. They are essential if you are going to take a trip in humid or rainy climates.
  • Bikepacking Panniers: Bikepacking panniers are lightweight, compact panniers designed for quick, light travel. They are fixed to the bicycle frame using rail systems.

The advantages of using bicycle panniers

  • Comfort: Panniers distribute the weight of luggage evenly, allowing you to pedal more comfortably.
  • Efficiency: Panniers allow you to carry everything you need for your trip without having to carry a backpack on your back, which improves aerodynamics and reduces fatigue.
  • Versatility: There are a wide variety of saddlebags available at Shad Bikes, so you can find the one that best suits your needs and preferences.
  • Durability: Saddlebags are made from durable materials that can withstand harsh weather and continuous use.


Saddlebags have accompanied humanity since time immemorial, being silent witnesses to countless adventures. From horses crossing deserts to bicycles traveling through mountains, saddlebags have transported dreams, hopes and endless stories.

Saddlebags are much more than just bags. They are symbols of adventure, exploration and freedom. Each saddlebag keeps a story inside that waits to be told.

Are you ready to write your own story with your saddlebags? Find your bike pannier at the Shad Bikes store today.