If you spend time properly planning on how you pack panniers for your next bike tour, you’ll find that’s well worth the investment. Why? It’s all about efficiency.
Pack panniers with weight in in mind
Generally heavy things should go at the bottom of your panniers. Why? It’s all about weight distribution and center of gravity. If you have heavier things higher in the bags, the center of gravity for the bike is higher, which means less stability. Pack with weight low.
Lose the bags within the bags
If your panniers are already waterproof, you might want to ditch the extra bags for the gear that goes in them. Why? It’s easier to stuff more things inside your pannier when they can fit into the shape that’s available within the bag. If your gear is already stuffed into a ball the size of a grapefruit, it might leave extra space around it. Sometimes that means for a less organized setup, but if you pack your panniers with some kind of organizational system in the first place, you’ll gain more efficiencies with how you use the space in the bag itself.
The heaviest thing you’re rolling with is probably sitting in the saddle. That means most of the weight ends up on the rear of the bike. That’s fine. It’s designed that way. That said, try to move some of the weight to the front and you’ll take some of the strain on that rear wheel, plus get some added stability on your ride. Don’t have a front rack? Consider a handlebar bag. At least pull some weight up front and you’ll find some benefits.