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Old 11-21-05, 07:45 PM   #1
thebankman
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Why are backpacks a no-no?

I wear a backpack with a belt strap carrying some books and a big lock with me on my commute.

Why do cyclists use messenger bags and shun backpacks as a big mistake? If I was riding a road bike I know it'd be a problem having a backpack sliding up and hitting me in the head but I ride a big upright hybrid. Is that the only reason, the sliding issue, or am I missing it?

Alan
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Old 11-21-05, 08:10 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebankman
I wear a backpack with a belt strap carrying some books and a big lock with me on my commute.

Why do cyclists use messenger bags and shun backpacks as a big mistake? If I was riding a road bike I know it'd be a problem having a backpack sliding up and hitting me in the head but I ride a big upright hybrid. Is that the only reason, the sliding issue, or am I missing it?

Alan
The only reason to use a messenger bag is if you're a messenger or if you get into your bag multiple times while you're riding. I think that most cyclists use messenger bags as a fashion statement or it's what they prefer. There is no mistake if you're comfortable. A bigger mistake would be spending money on a bag you don't need to impress people you don't know. Stick with what you have and if you need to carry more stuff, think about gettting a rack and some panniers. Since you're riding a hybrid it's smarter to let the bike carry the weight and give your back a rest.

If for some reason you absolutely must have a messenger baq consider one of the smaller manufacturers.
I use a Bailey Bag, it's waterproof and made in New Hampshire: http://www.baileyworks.com/
As far as slipping goes I know most bags have a chest strap to prevent this, but most riders get to where they can hold the bag high on their back without it slipping. After 7 years of messengering I think my spine is permanently curved in the shape of my bag. But if you have an upright riding position it makes no sense to have all of your pack weight concentrated on one shoulder.

Again, my vote is stick with what you've got and save your money for more important stuff, like a nicer wheelset.

-Marcus
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Old 11-21-05, 08:15 PM   #3
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I use a backpack too, although I have a messenger bag that I use when I need to carry more stuff once in a while. Messengers use messenger bags cuz they need big, waterproof bags cuz they never know exactly what they'll be carrying. Documents, tubes, boxes, etc. For commuters, it's a matter of choice, possibly needing something that looks like a briefcase (look like a cool professional or a nerdy student?), or a fashion choice (look like a cool messenger or a nerdy student?). Just my 2 cents.
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Old 11-21-05, 08:34 PM   #4
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Backpacks are a problem because they carry the load fairly high, making you more top-heavy, with more risk of falling over, and less maneuverability. Also they make your back sweat, weigh down your torso and strain your shoulders. Messenger bags ride a little lower, but the best place to carry a load is in a pannier because it's closest to the ground, and not dragging down your body. Second best is on top of the rear rack.
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Old 11-21-05, 08:51 PM   #5
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Thank you all, i learn something new on the BF every day
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Old 11-21-05, 08:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treespeed
The only reason to use a messenger bag is if you're a messenger or if you get into your bag multiple times while you're riding. I think that most cyclists use messenger bags as a fashion statement or it's what they prefer. There is no mistake if you're comfortable. A bigger mistake would be spending money on a bag you don't need to impress people you don't know. Stick with what you have and if you need to carry more stuff, think about gettting a rack and some panniers. Since you're riding a hybrid it's smarter to let the bike carry the weight and give your back a rest.

If for some reason you absolutely must have a messenger baq consider one of the smaller manufacturers.
I use a Bailey Bag, it's waterproof and made in New Hampshire: http://www.baileyworks.com/
As far as slipping goes I know most bags have a chest strap to prevent this, but most riders get to where they can hold the bag high on their back without it slipping. After 7 years of messengering I think my spine is permanently curved in the shape of my bag. But if you have an upright riding position it makes no sense to have all of your pack weight concentrated on one shoulder.

Again, my vote is stick with what you've got and save your money for more important stuff, like a nicer wheelset.

-Marcus

I like the Bailey website photo album, especially the child carrier. I ride with a back pack in the cold months and a small bag I strap down in the warmer times. Those warmer times are a long way off tho'.
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Old 11-21-05, 08:57 PM   #7
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I use a backpack with fairly heavy loads--up to 20 pounds--with no discomfort and certainly no falling over from "top-heaviness"! When I get to my destination, I hop off my bike, lock and go. I do not have to mess around with detaching those PITA panniers. I bought my current backpack at a Back-to-School Sale for $17. It is well constructed, almost waterproof, and has lots of convenient pockets, clips, loops and fasteners for all sizes and shapes of cargo. I think it even looks real nice. I have never had a messenger bag because I am very satisfied with backpacks.
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Old 11-21-05, 09:44 PM   #8
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I've used a backpack for my entire 3+ years of year-round commuting, mainly because that's what I started with. I carry a company laptop back and forth most days, and I had seen other people (not even bikers) carrying theirs in a backpack, so I figured that's what I needed, and my company graciously bought me one instead of the standard-issue briefcase-style bag. I too ride an upright hybrid, and I haven't noticed any balance problems or so forth from it. But then, I have nothing to compare it to. I'm sure that the pannier people have a good point about lowering the center of gravity and so forth, but it hasn't been a problem for me.

The biggest disadvantage I have noticed is the back sweat issue. However, here in Maine, that's only really a problem in the summer. It hasn't become a big enough issue for me yet to go to the trouble is switching.

On the plus side, I think the advantage of being able to carry it around with you is a big one.

Not an argument for or against, but one odd thing I've observed in myself is that it feels kind of like wearing a seat belt, so when I don't have it, I feel less secure. Totally psychological, of course, but there it is.
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Old 11-21-05, 09:55 PM   #9
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I disagree with Treespeed. I've tried several back-packs, but in my case a cheap shoulder bag was my ticket into the world of messanger bags. I disagree that it's all about look . . . I just use what works best. A loaded backpack (in my case) slowed me down, and kept me from riding low. I also found that back-packs swung me around. My "messanger bag" lays low and the load is spread over my back instead of being pressed down on my shoulders. It allows me to ride lower, and much faster. I'm currently looking for an upgrade to my $5 "messanger bag" . . . I think I'll be getting the Chrome Metropolis. (So I can be cool )

I don't mean to ruffle any feathers, but I'm just saying that a "messanger bag" works for me.

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Old 11-21-05, 10:00 PM   #10
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For myself, I feel comfortable with up to about 10 lbs on my back, after that I find it affects my balance and maneuvering on a road bike. I can handle a bit more on the mountain bke. But much heavier loads in the pannier are almost unnoticeable, to me.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:09 PM   #11
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I agree with that cooker : ) Panniers are great with heavy loads. I have an Arkel Bug for pannier use. BTW IMHO the Arkel Bug as a back-pack wasn't designed to be worn while riding, but works fine as a pannier.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:15 PM   #12
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Everybody fits different things. I have a bunch of backpacks for, well backpacking. Just don't work well for me on a bike. Messenger bags work great for me. If it works, go with it. Fashionable or not, it'll get covered in grime soon enough.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:17 PM   #13
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I would agree with what others have said,go with what works for you. I dont like riding with a backpack because it is simply uncomfortable for me. The weight always feels like it is sitting on my back and shoulders the wrong way. i feel restricted when i move around between the drops and hoods. The messenger bag i have fits me well and is really comfortable. Panniers are a great way to carry a load, but if i am going on a ride with several stops i dont like taking the time to take them on an off, id rather just take the messenger bag. I thinks its really subjective, go with what works for you.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:35 PM   #14
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i agree with treespeed. panniers better then a back pack.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:39 PM   #15
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You should see how high I see some idiots wearing their messenger bags....
I can wear a ski pack and fully cinch up the straps and it'll be a lot tighter and transfer the load to the hips and around the back, where they're supposed to be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cooker
Backpacks are a problem because they carry the load fairly high, making you more top-heavy, with more risk of falling over, and less maneuverability. Also they make your back sweat, weigh down your torso and strain your shoulders. Messenger bags ride a little lower, but the best place to carry a load is in a pannier because it's closest to the ground, and not dragging down your body. Second best is on top of the rear rack.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:50 PM   #16
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Maybe this is a MTB-background thing, but I've never seen anyone hop up a curb with loaded saddlebags, and I know I never could. That alone kills the deal for me.

It's also a lot harder to pick up a loaded bike and carry it up stairs etc. I used to use saddlebags for long-haul trips, but I think nowadays I'll vote backpack, at least for trips of less than a hour or so.
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Old 11-21-05, 11:42 PM   #17
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get panniers....and end the debate.
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Old 11-22-05, 03:52 AM   #18
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Maybe this is a MTB-background thing, but I've never seen anyone hop up a curb with loaded saddlebags, and I know I never could. That alone kills the deal for me.

It's also a lot harder to pick up a loaded bike and carry it up stairs etc. I used to use saddlebags for long-haul trips, but I think nowadays I'll vote backpack, at least for trips of less than a hour or so.
I hop kerbs with loaded panniers. Can't say I would suggest you try it though. I also have a cheap messenger bag I got on ebay. Lemond brand - names's vaguely familiar... For $10, it does the job when I need to take my stuff with me into a store. The last time I wore a backpack and rode a bike, I was in school.
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Old 11-22-05, 07:47 AM   #19
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If backpacks were that bad, camelbaks would come as messenger bags.

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Old 11-22-05, 08:11 AM   #20
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I wore a backpack everyday (year round commuter) through my 6 years in college and carried light to heavy loads. I should also mention that my longest stretch I'd ever be on a bike was about 4, maybe 5 miles - mostly 2-3 miles. It never bothered me one bit, nor did I ever think it increased my risk of falling - I would think that if you like bikes enough to post on this forum, you're not at any more significant risk of falling while wearing a backpack compared to panniers. Now that my commute is about 8 miles one way, I'm using a rack trunk and so far, I can get everything in. I also hope to get a set of panniers soon. I do like feeling more free, by not having anything on my body.
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Old 11-22-05, 08:12 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
Maybe this is a MTB-background thing, but I've never seen anyone hop up a curb with loaded saddlebags, and I know I never could. That alone kills the deal for me.

It's also a lot harder to pick up a loaded bike and carry it up stairs etc. I used to use saddlebags for long-haul trips, but I think nowadays I'll vote backpack, at least for trips of less than a hour or so.
Never underestimate the power of fear - you should see me jump a curb when my spidey sense tells me that a cager is fixing to make me a permanent part of the landscape!

I prefer panniers for a couple of reasons.

1. let the bike carry the weight, not my fragile, wimpy bod. I spent too many years humping packs.
2. My 'vent' for heat and sweat is my back and pits - wearing a backpack blocks up my ventilation
3. I don't have to worry about locking and unloading - my parking space is my office.
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Old 11-22-05, 09:00 AM   #22
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I've never gotten the whole 'no backpack freedom' thing. For me it seems like the reverse. My bike is usually around 25lbs, I'm gonna immediately notice if there is some extra tacked on the back of it. I am about 150, and I am a lot less apt to notice the same weight on me.

I frame this comment in the context of not carrying all that much. If I had more than a few kilos of stuff with me, and again, was on a longer trip, I'd probably get the weight off my back.

But into a BOB trailer, not panniers (cue sound of new can of worms being opened)
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Old 11-22-05, 09:33 AM   #23
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My backpack
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Old 11-22-05, 09:33 AM   #24
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Backpacks are a problem because they carry the load fairly high, making you more top-heavy, with more risk of falling over, and less maneuverability.
By that logic, it's a wonder anybody who's 6'3" and 300lbs can ride a bike at all! I'm a light guy at 130lbs and any backpack that I can carry while walking, I can carry while riding. Sure, 40 lbs of laundry on my back means that it takes more effort to start and stop. And more weight on the tires means one has to use a bit more care when turning, to keep traction. But in that case i'm still no worse off than I would be with the stuff in panniers.

For me, there are two significant problems with carrying stuff on my back:
my backpack doesn't protect the stuff in it from rain, and it makes my back get sweaty and stinky. (so then my backpack gets sweaty and stinky too.)
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Old 11-22-05, 09:50 AM   #25
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I was about midway on my commute this morning when I noticed that my back was getting a little toasty...which was okay by me since it was otherwise down in the 30's. Just for grins, I arched my back the tiniest little bit. I could feel the air circulating all the way across my back and shoulders. I actually thought about threads like these and grinned.

I have been using a Pearl Izumi Velocipak this season and have no complaints.
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