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  1. #1
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    Recommend a backpack for commuting?

    Hi BikeForums.

    I know you must get a lot of these threads--I've searched, but I still have yet to find the PERFECT BAG. I'm obsessed with this stuff, sadly.

    I'm looking for a bag that is:

    • Mid-size (22-25 L, good for a change of clothes, water bottle, extra pair of shoes, u-lock, lunch, and a few misc. items)
    • Has good organization (i.e., a few small pockets)
    • Reasonably weatherproof. Ideally waterproof
    • Around $150? Willing to compromise, I guess.
    • A plus would be: separation from back/good airflow to help prevent shweat
    • Another plus: some reflective stuff
    • Another plus: expansion to accommodate groceries, like roll-top


    Been looking at the Banjo Brothers Commuter, Osprey/Deuter packs (mainly Radial and Futura 22, respectively), Tom Bihn Synapse 25, and the Mission Workshop Rambler. None of them have all the features I want...grr...but I'll have to settle for one. Any opinions on those bags? Especially the Osprey and Deuter packs, there's so many of them.

    If there are any good roll-tops that can carry groceries cheaper than the Rambler, I'd love to hear about them.

    Thanks for humoring me.

  2. #2
    we be rollin' hybridbkrdr's Avatar
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    Are you looking for a model that goes on a backrack like the Nashbar model (couldn't find it the last time I looked for it but saw a pic) or a regular backpack?

    If you ever want to put damp clothes in you bag, you may want one that's not waterproof and just put the other items in a bag. That way your damp clothes would have a chance to dry instead of being warmed up and mildew in the sun. (Bad example but you get my drift.)

    I find Obus Forme backpacks are pretty good.
    Feeling Good by David Burns

  3. #3
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    I had a Banjo Brothers (L) pack for a while. If I were in the market for another of similar design, I'd be giving the All City Captain Phil a hard look. Reason is because it is a modified Banjo Brothers complete w/replaceable liner. Not much airflow on the back, though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
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  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Dana Design, has been bought out by Marmot, http://marmot.com/

    My Dana pack is thus considered old, it has held up well .

    the Shove-it panel lets stuff be packed outside the main compartment.

    but sewn so not waterproof..

    Has good organization (i.e., a few small pockets)
    Ideally waterproof
    some conflict in those 2 goals, unless you are satisfied with the pockets being Inside

    consider buying one Ortlieb back roller or like their shopping pannier, and then,
    getting their backpack adapter kit, to carry it on your back . (or on the rack, in the future)
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-14-13 at 12:38 PM.

  5. #5
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    Honestly I'd look for a good set of panniers. It takes the weight off your back and allows greater freedom.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Have you considered Tom Bihn's Brain Bag? It can be cinched flatter if you don't need the extra volume, it has two main compartments for some separation, is highly water resistant (if not waterproof for most purposes), works with Tom Bihn accessories for compartmentalization and organization, and if you get it in black, you won't be ashamed to bring to a business meeting. It has a relatively clean, handsome look without looking like you're going survival training.

    I've had one for 13 years - used heavily for about 10 years - and while I didn't bike with it, it's held up amazingly well - not a single popped stitch or broken zipper.
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    I had a Banjo Brothers (L) pack for a while. If I were in the market for another of similar design, I'd be giving the All City Captain Phil a hard look. Reason is because it is a modified Banjo Brothers complete w/replaceable liner. Not much airflow on the back, though.
    That looks really awesome, although I can't find it anywhere in black I might have to punt on the back airflow thing if I want to get anything but Deuter or Osprey, so this is def an option. Thanks.

  8. #8
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  9. #9
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harshbarj View Post
    Honestly I'd look for a good set of panniers. It takes the weight off your back and allows greater freedom.
    +1. The PERFECT BAG won't be going on your back, that's for sure.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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  10. #10
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diewhenever View Post
    That looks really awesome, although I can't find it anywhere in black I might have to punt on the back airflow thing if I want to get anything but Deuter or Osprey, so this is def an option. Thanks.
    Another variant of the Banjo Brothers would be the T6 Back Sack. Mainly cosmetic changes, may not be big enough for your needs, but is under your budget ceiling.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
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  11. #11
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    ARCTERYX Spear 20

    review: http://www.journeymantraveller.com/2...-spear-20.html

    i use it daily for cycling and shopping

    also for rock climbing and as a fast carry on for trains and planes

    i'm super impressed with the durability as it really gets used everyday with no signs of wear
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
    Rohloffs seen on the commute: 3

  12. #12
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    also FWIW, the "water pouch holder" will hold 2 13.3" MBPs (older non-retina thicker versions) or one and some documents ... so the inside pouch is even useful
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
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  13. #13
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    Well, I decided I'm going to start going to a boxing gym after work, so my bag size requirement has gone up to 30-35 liters in order to carry dem gloves. I'm actually giving my Deuter Futura 42L that I use for travel and backpacking a try, seems to work pretty well, although the top of the bag was bumping my helmet a bit...gonna have to decide whether to stick with that or get another.

    Otherwise, I'm looking mainly at this: http://www.carryology.com/2012/07/25...oreas-bolinas/ and the All City Captain Phil. Or, I can wait and save up a bit for a more expensive bag, which I just might do. ****'s hard.

  14. #14
    Acts 2:38 rex_kramer's Avatar
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    I bought my son an Osprey Momentum 26 about a year and a half ago. I bought a 2012 Momentum 34 ($105 at REI) for myself before they were discontinued back in July. Neither of us can really find anything to complain about with these bags, although my son is talking about panniers now .
    Philippians 2:9-11

  15. #15
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    I bought an Osprey Flare a few months ago for my commute in to the university where I work. It's a beautiful orange colour and has reflective elements and pull rings rather than tabs for easy access when wearing gloves. It also has a laptop slot, tons of pockets, mesh bottle holders on each side, is waterproof and has ample mesh-coated padding on the back to reduce sweat. It's also got the added bonus of being extremely lightweight!

    http://www.amazon.com/Osprey-Packs-F...s=osprey+flare (be sure to read the user reviews).

  16. #16
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    Klickfix seatpost extender, bracket and a Vario rack, add the backpack of your choice:

    http://www.veloplus.ch/AlleProdukte/...eKLICKfix.aspx

  17. #17
    Senior Member 1242Vintage's Avatar
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    I've been using a North Face recon backpack for three years now for my daily commute. Holds rights around 30 liters, which is perfect size for my work clothes and a few tools/spare parts. When I remember to spray Scothguard (or whatever spray is in the cabinet) on the backpack after I wash it, it is reasonable water repellent. It has several zippered sections so I can keep valuables (wallet, phone, keys, work ID) in one, tools/parts in another, and work clothes in the bigger third section. I find the padding and shoulder straps comfortable, for a backpack.

    Only sign of wear after three years of hard use is the fabric around a zipper on one of the sections is starting to rip.

    Can be had for right around $90.

  18. #18
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    If it were me, I would place a higher priority on airflow on your back to prevent sweating. However, I live in the Southeast, so sweat management is a big deal. That is one of my reasons for using a large seatbag (Carradice Barley) for carrying my gear, although I do find the idea of using a backpack intriguing for occasional use. I would also put a high priority on visibility/reflectiveness, but that doesn't seem to be a feature on many backpacks.

  19. #19
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    Have you looked into the Ortlieb Velocity?

  20. #20
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    I would recommend the Osprey Stratos 24. I used to have the Osprey commuter specific pack, the Momentum 34, but I've found the Stratos to be much more comfortable. The mesh air flow back panel does not completely eliminate back sweat but it makes a significant different. The back panel is also super comfortable. In contrast to other packs, Ive found that it is comfortable in both an upright or low in the drops riding posture. The hip belt on the Stratos works very well, and beats the webbing strap on the Momentum hands down. I think this a an important feature. A wide backpacking style hip belt allows you transfer some or nearly all of the pack weight to your hips and reduces the burden on your back. They come in multiple sizes and I got mine for only $76 on amazon.com.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by aquateen View Post
    Have you looked into the Ortlieb Velocity?
    I went to REI and checked it out, as well as a few of the Osprey bags that everyone has been talking about. The Ortlieb is pretty cool--my problem with it is that it's basically just one massive pocket, and I also feel like I'm paying for heavy-duty rainproofing when that's not really that important to me.

    With the Ospreys, they're undoubtedly sweet backpacks, but I found that they are a little TOO compartmentalized for my needs. I do need a huge pocket that I could carry boxing gloves, shoes, and a change of clothes in, and then ideally I would have 2 or 3 smaller pockets for phone, wallet, headphones, a book, etc. Even when the volume on the Osprey is ostensibly pretty big, I feel like I'd have trouble fitting my big items into the main compartment because the total volume is split up into so many different pockets.

    Wish I could just design a bag myself. lol

  22. #22
    Intrepid Bicycle Commuter AlmostGreenGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diewhenever View Post
    I went to REI and checked it out, as well as a few of the Osprey bags that everyone has been talking about. The Ortlieb is pretty cool--my problem with it is that it's basically just one massive pocket, and I also feel like I'm paying for heavy-duty rainproofing when that's not really that important to me.

    With the Ospreys, they're undoubtedly sweet backpacks, but I found that they are a little TOO compartmentalized for my needs. I do need a huge pocket that I could carry boxing gloves, shoes, and a change of clothes in, and then ideally I would have 2 or 3 smaller pockets for phone, wallet, headphones, a book, etc. Even when the volume on the Osprey is ostensibly pretty big, I feel like I'd have trouble fitting my big items into the main compartment because the total volume is split up into so many different pockets.

    Wish I could just design a bag myself. lol
    That was also my problem with Osprey. Big backpacks, with lots of compartments, but very little room for big stuff. The Escapist and Talon series were the best of the Ospreys that I tried.

    Ultimately, I went with an Ortlieb Packman Pro2. It's a giant cavern, but I use soft sided lunch boxes for organizational storage. The lunch boxes stack and organize quite well.



  23. #23
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    I use a pack basket. Often get an odd look or smile - it holds my stuff well, easy to add a grocery store item the way home, doesn't sweat, is light weight, etc. try it!
    ride long & prosper

  24. #24
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    Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. It's sorta coming down to the Boreas Bolinas and the Mission Workshop Fitzroy--would be curious to hear if anyone has experience with either of those bags. Particularly concerned about sweaty back with the Fitzroy.

  25. #25
    Senior Member GeneO's Avatar
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    Have the MW VX Sanction, a smaller version of the Fitzroy, and it works great for my commuting (33 mi RT). I get a sweaty back, but that doesn't bother me.
    2012 Felt F55X

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