By Contributing Editor Kristina Strain

Rather than shell out the bucks for a clunky metal bike basket, why not fashion your own out of repurposed materials? A homemade bucket pannier requires only two ingredients and a few basic tools, and it’s a far greener option than buying a pannier made in China from strip-mined ore.

I was able to scrounge up my supplies around the house, making this project not only quick and easy, but free as well. Even if you have to buy a bucket, the total cost for the project should be under ten dollars.


1 Bicycle (not pictured) with rear metal rack

1 square-sided empty bucket, with lid if desired. Birdseed and kitty litter often come in square-sided buckets; search around the house to see if you might have one kicking around. If you need to buy a bucket, a home supplies or hardware store will have what you need.

1 metal coat hanger. Everyone has one of these.

Pliers, for wrangling the coat hanger

Wire cutters, for cutting the coat hanger

Using the pliers, un-twist the coat hanger’s neck and straighten it out as much as possible. At one end, make a hook about two inches long, as shown.

Carrying bucket, hanger, and wire cutters, approach your bike. Hook the hanger to one side of your rack, and set the bucket in place. Pull the hanger around your bucket, bending it into place so it’ll hold the bucket aloft. Cut the wire at the other side of your bucket, leaving enough excess to turn under another hook.

Make a second hook at the other end of the hanger, and loop it onto your bike rack.

Now you are done. Yes, it really is that easy.

I like the bucket pannier concept a whole lot. Like many avid and adventurous cyclists, I’ve had metal baskets on my bike for many years. Though it seems something as sturdy as metal should last for years, through rain, wind, and snow, it rusts. It doesn’t take look for a shiny metal basket to become a rusty piece of junk hanging off the side of your bike.

With this project, though the wire coat hanger may rust, (and can easily be replaced, I might add) the bucket is as durable as it gets. It is impervious to the elements, and it can be removed and hosed out if it gets dirty. Best of all, the whole endeavor takes only five minutes, and the materials needed are as green as it gets. Ride on!