So I've been commuting for a couple of weeks - enough to know that the setup I have isn't working the way I want it to. I really don't have a lot to spend so I'm trying to keep costs down as much as possible. My setup is pretty basic. Right now I have this rack and this Swiss Gear backpack.
The biggest problems I'm having are - 1) I don't feel like the backpack is secure enough on the rack and 2) I have too much stuff in the backpack.
The back of the backpack is about 13" and the rack is only 5.5" wide so a lot hangs over on each side. Right now I wrap it in a bungee net and then wrap a bungee around it lengthwise and 2 across it. Inside my backpack I have my laptop and normal things I need for work plus a full size thermos for coffee, a change of clothes, and lunch. Even though the thermos seals great I'm still concerned with it being in there with the computer and my clothes get wrinkled and my lunch get smashed.
I thought maybe a wider rack would help with stablizing the backpack some. I was looking at this Topeak rack which is over an inch wider than what I have now - it's 6.8" wide.
Then I'd like to be able to get some things out of my backpack - like coffee, clothes, lunch, etc, and also be able to pick things up at the store if I need to.
I've looked at this Wald folding basket, as well as this Axiom Pannier Set and these Louis Garneau Explorer Panniers
I've heard that the Wald baskets are heavy (I carry my bike down 2 flights of stairs - I take the elevator in the morning), and it looks like the panniers would provide some extra support for the backpack, but would cover the rack and make it harder to bungee down.
Those of you who have crossed this bridge - got any suggestions?