Monday, January 12, 2015

Homemade Kitty Litter Tub Panniers

After cycling for 2 1/2 months through Colombia & Ecuador last year, I picked up some great tips.  I met cyclists with top of line, expensive gear, like Ortlieb bags, but also met those who had the bare minimum.  Those bare bone cyclists taught me to make some key things from scratch with inexpensive materials to save a bundle of money.

I will share how I made panniers, a handlebar bag & a camp stove for a fraction of the price of what you would pay to buy your own.  These will be three separate posts on my blog.

First, homemade panniers.

When I was staying in a casa de ciclistas in San Antonio Prado, Medellin, Colombia with Manuel & Martha, there was a photo book of cyclists with their bikes & gear.  I saw some that had kitty litter tubs as panniers and was like, "No way!"  So, having come back to the California to work for a bit, I decided to make some for myself.

Here's what I used to make and attach them to my bike (with all costs):

(2) Purina Tidy Cat 35 lb. Kitty Litter Tubs - $12.90 each + tax @ Walmart = $27.86 total.
(I first asked friends, the animal shelter & Petco to get them for free, but had no luck.  Fortunately, my roommate has a cat so the 70 lbs of litter will be used. I saw the tubs @ Target later for $11.99 each, with a $5 gift card when you bought two).

(4) Tarp/rope hooks @ $1.19 each = $4.76 + 0.38 tax = $5.14 total (They did not have the right size @ Home Depot so I had to go to a local hardware store in town.  They are small - just 2" tall)

(8) Each of nuts, screws & washers #8-32 x 1/2.  $3.56 + 0.28 = $3.84 total

(2) Quick release straps 1" x 45" (made by Liberty Mountain) @ $3.50 each on Amazon = $7.00 total:

Cost of everything for homemade panniers: $27.86 + 5.14 + 3.84 + 7.00 = $43.84 total for (2)

Cost of Ortlieb Back Panniers: They are on Amazon now @ $199.65 = $399.30 total for (2)

These homemade panniers are inexpensive, waterproof, durable, dog proof (I met cyclists whose Ortlieb panniers had been bitten through by dogs), less likely to be stolen and double as a seat when you're camping at night.  It's a win-win.

Now the process of making your own kitty litter tub panniers:

1) Cut a small piece out of the 2nd lip from the top of the bucket so the rope hook will sit flush against the side.  Mark the 2 holes of each hook with a pen so you know where to drill.

2) Drill small holes (you see I am going to put the hooks about 1 1/2" - 2" in from the outer edge of the tub)

3) Attach hooks with screws, bolts & washers:

Here's what it looks like inside:

Once done, the hooks actually almost snap onto the rack because of their size.  I actually had to apply some pressure to push the hooks down onto the rack, which makes them fit very snug:

For extra stability and so they don't bounce around I added a quick release strap on each one, which goes through the inside of the rack:

Outside view:

I plan on putting reflective tape on the 3 visible sides of each bucket.  You can also cover them with bumper stickers or paint them with Krylon Fusion Spray Paint, like one post I found below:

Low rider bike with painted kitty litter tub homemade panniers:


  1. Those bare bone cyclists taught me to make some key things from scratch with inexpensive materials to save a bundle of

  2. The panniers project is an ingenious idea. I think I will implement your skills on my long distance bike so that I can be able to pack as much food as I can for my weekend getaways. You can also check out some inventive DIY camp stove ideas here:

  3. Purchasing a cover with getting a tub will help you in maintaining the cleanliness of your tub. If you already have a tub, then you must have idea about how important it is to have a tub cover.kahuna massage chair review

  4. Hi, I'll try this for my next camping trip! Thanks! :D