Saturday, November 9, 2013

Holan Nomada panniers review

It all started in 2001. Having made panniers for Touratech from 2001 until 2008, they decided to market their own pannier system. The Nomada range appeared in 2010 and a year later the Nomada Pro series was launched. The panniers are designed and built in-house in Poland and distributed all over the world through They also make pannier racks and have a range of accessories for Adventure bikes. 

We were looking for panniers in 2012, as preparation for the trip we were about to make. I had never heard of Nomada Cases and contacted Touratech Australia, who couldn't be bothered to reply. We had a serious look at Metal Mule but found their Australian distributor unbelievably rude, the piano hinge a poorly executed hardware shop solution and the racks flimsy. Hepco & Becker left a lot to be desired and so the search continued. By pure chance I stumbled upon a picture of Nomada cases, somewhere on Google probably. It led me straight to the, then, US importer who claimed that the manufacturer  was impossible to work with… Not the best start to find out about a product! I read lots of messages about the problems, which concentrated on the delivery problems of the American distributor at the time. Nothing negative was said about the quality of the product. Hmmm. What to do? The panniers looked good, but they were in Poland and I was in Australia… could hardly 'pop-over' to have a look. In the end I took the plunge and ordered them, payment was made and 14 days later they arrived. I opened the box and was gobsmacked! The quality of workmanship was absolutely perfect. Aluminium welding leaves a lot to be desired on lots of panniers I've seen but these are perfect. I filled them with water, tipped them upside down and… no leaks. Then I interchanged the lids and did the same again… again no leaks! I had asked for mounting hoops so that I could make my own racks and fitted them to the Bonneville. They have been with me now for 120.000 km and I absolutely love them! They are not only 100% waterproof but also dust proof, which is far more difficult to achieve. They have been over New Zealand earth quake damaged roads, the Alaskan Dalton Highway, Top of the world Highway, Canada's famous 'roadworks'. We've been on roads that made big off-road trucks turned around and go back; and, of course, we carry too much weight in them… They took it all in their stride and despite hard use nothing has broken. Not even a hinge or a lock.

We liked the Nomadas so much that we fitted them to Jeanette's Bonneville as well. She has the 31 litre, mine are 38. Mike now has the 45 litre Holan top box as well as he wanted something that was lockable. Jeanette's panniers are the newer model with improved locks, there is nothing wrong with the old ones but the newer version is even easier to use. Innovation goes on apparently.

I dropped my bike early on, even before we left! I took it off the centre stand, lost my balance and over it went… the pannier took the full weight of the Bonneville without even a dent(!) and prevented any damage to the bike.

In Utah I was at the receiving end of road rage when a car deliberately rammed into me from the side, while I was doing 100 km/hr, pushing me over more than a metre. That I didn't go down was a miracle according to the State Trooper. The car's front tyre hit the pannier so hard that it left skid marks on it (see photo) yet it didn't deform in any way and is still perfectly water and dust proof. I'm sure glad I didn't have plastic panniers…

The Nomadas have proven themselves under difficult circumstances. They have saved my life and saved my bike from serious damage and are so easy to live with! Perfectly made, far superior in quality and finish compared to Metal Mule and for a better price. Do I recommend them? You bet! Click on the link at the top of this post to visit the Nomad-ADV website for more details

Evaluation after two years and 70,000 km of use. An extract from our post 'All our gear after two years on the road'

Nomada Cases
Getting the Nomada cases was a big gamble. As you can read in previous posts they have worked very well for us. Jeanette damaged a set of leather Triumph saddlebags during a fall in New Zealand. As the Nomada panniers had worked so well for me, we ordered a set for her as well. There is a debate on the internet about soft luggage versus hard, the general consensus is that hard luggage damages in a fall and is no longer waterproof. That may very well be the case with many hard panniers, but not with Nomada. The properly made double leather bags she had until then were damaged beyond repair in one fall, the Nomada cases fitted since have survived 3 crashes (each of which more severe than the fall with her leather bags) and are still perfectly waterproof. One of those was sliding backwards on a steep hill in Nicaragua, getting airborne when the bike found a rock in the soft sand and then landed on the pannier… which found another rock. Yes it had a dent, a dent knocked out of it when we visited the factory. But with the dent it still didn't leak and it still sealed perfectly at the lid too. On the same day it went down again, same hill too, again no damage. In Norway she hit Mike at 50 km/hr and landed on the same pannier on the bitumen again… It was still waterproof! 

When Jeanette hit Mike in Norway, the impact was huge. Mike's left hand pannier took the whole hit. A 380 kg bike and rider hitting an aluminium pannier at 50 km/hr! The pannier was almost ripped from the frame! Almost… We strapped the pannier to the frame with the Nomada straps and continued to the campground, where I found no cracks in the pannier anywhere and could knock everything back into shape with a hammer and a rock… Yet even in damaged condition, they didn't leak or caused any damage to the stuff in the pannier. In fact that pannier went on to do the rest of our trip around the world!

Nomada cases are made out of high quality 2mm thick aluminium. Where they are most likely to impact first, there are nylon impact protectors and 4 mm thick aluminium. At the top they have a double seal and extra reinforcement to prevent the pannier from deforming. We have become to love these panniers. They are simply the best in the world. We've looked at alternatives but nothing comes close to Nomada.