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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 05-22-13, 02:00 PM   #1
warrennnnnnnnnn
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Looking for the perfect cycling backpack...

About me:

I commute around 50 miles each week with my laptop and mini u-luck, plus some random things like a fresh t-shirt, kindle, power supply, bike tools. Occasionally I pick up a few grocery items on the way home. I take weekend trips.

As for my current setup, I own a messenger-style Timbuk2 laptop bag (the Command), but it hasn't been doing the job for me. The bag shifts to my side when I ride unless I cinch it so tight it makes me uncomfortable around my collarbone/neck/shoulder. Capacity and organization-wise, it's great, but I am thinking of selling it because I enjoy cycling more when I use my much smaller but not so tough MONO Expander Pack. The capacity and organization on this backpack is not bad, the laptop protection is great, the design is beautiful, but the toughness is nowhere near a true cycling bag.

I'm looking for the perfect cycling backpack that will be:

1) tough,
2) won't shift around while riding,
3) will protect my laptop with adequate padding and is weatherproof
4) has at least 20L capacity (so it can handle what I'd pack for weekend trips) but isn't so huge it would feel bulky around town
5) aesthetically pleasing?

I'm hoping you guys know of a bag that I don't, because I've already done quite a bit of research. I've looked at and almost purchased:

1) Chrome Soyuz
2) Chrome Bravo
3) Chrome Welded Rucksack (new for Chrome's Spring line)
4) Timbuk2 Swig
5) Timbuk2 Q
6) Mission Workshop Rambler
7) Fitzroy VX
8) Mission Workshop R2 or R6 + Arkiv Laptop Case

PROS and CONS of each:

Chrome Soyuz: PROS - laptop pocket with side-access, organizational pockets, u-lock pocket, waterproof main compartment, chest strap, accessory loops on straps, super tough material. CONS - main compartment is too deep and rolltop opening is too narrow, can't easily find things. Built in China.

Chrome Bravo: PROS - expandable upwards, laptop pocket, organizational pocket, waterproof main compartment, external compression straps, chest strap, accessory loops on straps, super tough material. CONS - main compartment is expandable, but potentially awkward for cycling when looking behind for cars. Made in China.

Chrome Welded Rucksack: PROS - all of the above for Chrome. Laptop functions as a separate case with organizational loops. CONS - not expandable, a bit small.

Timbuk2 Swig: PROS - laptop pocket with side access and drop protection, lots of organizational potential, chest strap, cheap. CONS - the style is "hip," not really my thing. I am more into the muted, minimal look.

Timbuk2 Q: PROS - same as above. CONS - same as above, plus it doesn't seem as tough as Chrome or Mission Workshop.

Mission Workshop Rambler: PROS - doubles in size and compresses down very nicely, great fit, chest strap, laptop compartment, very high quality stitching, urethane-coated zippers, super tough material, beautiful bag, lifetime warranty... and made in the USA. CONS - no organizational pockets, everything goes straight to the bottom of the abyss of the bag, including the laptop compartment which means no drop protection. Expensive as hell.

Mission Workshop Fitzroy/Fitzroy VX: PROS - all of the Rambler qualities except doubling in size. CONS - same, laptop compartment seems like an afterthought. Expensive as hell!

Mission Workshop R2 or R6 + Arkiv Laptop Case: PROS - all of the Rambler qualities except doubling in size. The most aesthetically pleasing of all the bags. Laptop sleeve also functions as a separate case, which is nice but not necessary. CONS - even more expensive!!!!! Have to sell a kidney for this one especially if I want the other accessory pockets...

I know this may seem like overkill but I figure if there is anyone who understands, it is the cycling community...

Last edited by warrennnnnnnnnn; 05-22-13 at 03:20 PM. Reason: formatting
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Old 05-22-13, 02:33 PM   #2
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Look at Arkel, Inc. -- they make bike-specific gear, supposed to have a lifetime warranty. The 'famous' Metal Cowboy is involved with the company.
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Old 05-22-13, 02:50 PM   #3
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I love my Osprey pack http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/group/...ydration_packs . The chest and waist belts will keep it solidly affixed to your back. Storage is secure and, if you want to carry more than its capacity, it's time to start thinking about a rack. I don't think you'll be comfortable riding 5 miles each way with too much more weight on your back.

Good luck.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:04 PM   #4
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http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-For-Commuting

I received many good suggestions in the thread above.

My needs/priorities are slightly different from yours. I want a bag that is completely waterproof because it rains like mad here, and is large enough for me to stop at the grocery store on the way home. I don't usually carry my laptop and don't need any special compartment for one. I also wanted a bright and reflective bag, or a material that I could plaster with reflective tape.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:12 PM   #5
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By getting their Back Pack Adapter you can use a Ortlieb Pannier as a Back Pack

Shopper or the snap Lid Sport Packer you can pack a lot of stuff In It.

Adding a sternum strap on the front, Between the shoulder straps ..
If not there, they're easy to sew together.
keeps it from moving around much at all.
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Old 05-22-13, 03:23 PM   #6
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There is no such thing as a good cycling backpack. Attach the luggage to your bike, not your back.
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Old 05-22-13, 04:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
There is no such thing as a good cycling backpack. Attach the luggage to your bike, not your back.
Incorrect.... you just haven't been fortunate to find one that works for you .

The fact is, it doesn't matter how you carry your stuff or the company that makes that gear, there is no universal solution.
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Old 05-22-13, 06:18 PM   #8
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This one works for me. http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/group/...omentum_series
I use the 34.
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Old 05-22-13, 06:20 PM   #9
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I have a Kelty that I use, smaller capacity though, but have lots of Kelty gear and really like their product.
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Old 05-22-13, 06:24 PM   #10
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I have a Mission Workshop Vandal (as does my wife) that is now 2 years old and still hasn't let me down. I use Arkel saddlebags on my Vaya these days, but my Vandal is my goto bag for everything from a 2 week trip to California to going to the grocery store to haul 3 bags of cat food and beer.

The lifetime warranty itself means the price is good - the fact that it is made by people in the U.S. who need to have a working wage that allows them to survive is better.

Cheap usually means collapsed buildings down the road in third-world countries.
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Old 05-22-13, 06:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cogdriven View Post
I love my Osprey pack http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/group/...ydration_packs . The chest and waist belts will keep it solidly affixed to your back. Storage is secure and, if you want to carry more than its capacity, it's time to start thinking about a rack. I don't think you'll be comfortable riding 5 miles each way with too much more weight on your back.

Good luck.
+1 and the Airscape back panel will be best in the heat.
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Old 05-22-13, 07:19 PM   #12
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I've been looking at this daypack. http://www.rei.com/product/827110/rei-flash-18-pack


Basically I'm looking for something ultra light so I can use on my bike that has no rack. I'm trying to keep that bike ultra light (compared to all the other bikes I have...) and have many times when I don't feel like taking my commuting pannier.
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Old 05-22-13, 07:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
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There is no such thing as a good cycling backpack. Attach the luggage to your bike, not your back.
Agree whole-heartedly.... but every once in a while, a small daypack would be handy.
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Old 05-22-13, 07:33 PM   #14
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If you don't mind putting your laptop into it's own sleeve, I use a Camelback Explorer. I myself like a waistbelt, since I have a semi upright position I use the waistbelt and loosen the shoulder straps to let the air in between my back and the pack.
I had an old Timbuk2 Swig that I gave away, you can't go wrong with the ruggedness but getting sweaty back syndrome on 30 degree days is just wrong. On most days I have the waistbelt wrapped around the pack but when it's especially warm or I have a heavy load, I am glad it's there.
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Old 05-22-13, 07:53 PM   #15
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Also this one, I have the larger internal frame for hiking and my wife has a marmot that she likes.

http://goo.gl/D4E54
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Old 05-22-13, 08:16 PM   #16
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I know panniers are the way to go for heavier loads or very hot days or long rides. But for just my short commute or errands around town, I like a bag that is convenient when I'm off the bike. Messengers don't use panniers, and some of the same reasons apply here.
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Old 05-22-13, 08:41 PM   #17
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Love my mission workshop. It is very light for being fully waterproof and has many waterproof compartments. I have a 30 mi RT commute and have carried my 17" MacBook pro, though I am getting a 13" air which is 1/2 the weight. Very well made IMO.
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