$28 hard pannier

The Donkey Boxx pannier is a practical, low cost corrugated plastic box for your bicycle.


Donkey Boxx hardshell pannier

The Donkey Boxx from East Bay entrepreneur Mark Kohr is made in the USA from 80% recycled corrugated plastic, similar to the post office totes stolen from mail rooms all over the country. Mark sent me a Boxx to install and try. Over the past month I’ve used it to carry camera gear to bicycle races and vegetables from the farmers’ market. I’ve overstuffed, dropped, dragged, tumbled and otherwise abused this box. In spite of the Donkey Boxx’s light weight, it’s deceptively durable.

Permanent attachment

The Donkey Boxx attaches permanently to your bicycle rack with nylon zip ties. You position the box on your bicycle rack and hold it in place with provided zip ties. Installation is fairly simple, but I still recommend reading the provided instructions.

Because the pannier is permanently installed, you want to ensure proper position. You can’t just move the pannier around once it’s installed, so Donkey Boxx provides a heel clearance tool to help ensure you won’t whack the back of your foot on the box with every pedal stroke. You insert this clearance tool in the pedal axle and ensure the front of the box is behind your shoe size mark on the tool.

Heel clearance tool

Because Donkey Boxx panniers are permanently attached to the bike rack, I’m not sure I could put it on a bus bike rack or on Caltrain. Maybe you can make it work, but be prepared for a Plan B (a knife and spare zip ties?) in case the bus operator or train conductor asks you to remove the pannier.

After I first installed Donkey Boxx, I stress tested things by putting bricks in the box and hopping curbs. The box itself remained intact, but the zip ties finally failed after a little over an hour of this. Although the Donkey Boxx dangled sideways from the cable tie failure, the hook-and-loop closure kept the lid firmly in place in spite of the bricks bouncing around inside. Because I used Donkey Boxx to carry camera equipment, I wanted a little more confidence, so I now run with four heavy-duty zip ties. These are available at any store that carries electronics supplies, and are likely available at many mass market retailers as well.

Convenience

Hook and loop closures keep the lid on the box to keep things from bouncing out even when I’m zooming at high speed down steep hills. I love that I can flip the lid open to drop items into this box, and the rigid shape means I can pull things out without fishing for them like I do with fabric bags.



The plastic is waterproof, with drain holes along the bottom. Donkey Boxx recommends sealing the mounting holes with packing tape to improve its weatherproofing if necessary.

In addition to the box itself, the heel clearance tool and six zip ties, each Donkey Boxx comes with reflective decals, and a plastic stiffener used for mounting. As long as your bike rack (front or rear) as tubes on it, I think you can figure out a way to make the Donkey Boxx mount to your bike. Donkey Boxx does have a compatability chart listing racks that are known to work and not work.



I had intended to use Donkey Boxx for a S24O outing the other weekend, but the weather didn’t cooperate (I’m a fair weather camper now for these short trips). I’ll try again in the coming weeks and let you know how it goes.

I like Donkey Boxx. The website describes them as ‘appropriately unprecious’, lightweight, low cost, high utility bicycle panniers, and they fit the bill. Donkey Boxx is brand new and Mark is still lining up dealers, but in the meantime you can order online from DonkeyBoxx.com.

Top 2 photos by Richard Masoner. Remaining photos provided by Donkey Boxx.

6 Comments

  • May 31, 2011 - 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Man, these are cool. Love that they’re 80% recycled.

    Phil
    http://www.LiveProudGroup.com

  • Andy
    May 31, 2011 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for writing up about these. I considered them before, but if they aren’t removable then that’s a no go for me this time of year. In the winter, I often go a week at a time without having to take my waterproof pannier off, but in the summer my panniers are constantly on/off all the time, especially as my commuter is also the touring bike and long dirt rides bike. I also like being able to change the size, because I’d hate to carry just a pump and multitool and here it bouncing around inside the coroplast box the whole time.

  • May 31, 2011 - 9:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m using removable cable ties now, but even with that its not an easy on / easy off solution. This box is designed more for people who don’t mind a box mounted to their bike in a more-or-less permanent fashion.

  • May 31, 2011 - 9:59 pm | Permalink

    yeah if it had a better mounting solution i would be all over these… but i like to take my panniers off and into the house when i get home

  • May 31, 2011 - 11:04 pm | Permalink

    We got in one of these for a review too at Commute by Bike!

    Our writer seems to like it a lot. She’s been using it for about a month. Now she’s going to get a little more abusive with it to see what it can take.

  • June 1, 2011 - 10:23 am | Permalink

    I have an easy-on/off back rack on my bike – I wonder if attaching them to that would solve your problem – rather than removing the panniers themselves, you could remove the whole rack with panniers attached. ¬†Of course, since it’s a floating rack, it can’t support quite as much weight as a “permanent” rack, but depending on what you plan to carry, it might be an option…

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