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Rack vs Back Pack

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Old 05-13-18, 07:58 PM
  #26  
Darth Lefty 
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All options have so many downsides you can’t possibly use any of them
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Old 05-13-18, 10:17 PM
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For me it's rack/panniers all the way.

Some panniers are easier to remove than others and that might be a factor depending on where you park your bike.

I am frankly shocked how many people prefer a backpack. For those that prefer a backpack, I wonder what kind of bike you're using. Last time I commuted with a backpack it was because I was on a racing bike that didn't have any provision for a rack.
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Old 05-13-18, 10:21 PM
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PS. Lately my wife and I are commuting on our full suspension tandem mountain bike and even though the bike has three bikepacking frame bags, I totally miss the rack/panniers of my regular commuter.
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Old 05-14-18, 10:04 AM
  #29  
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While you are going to sweat, regardless, with a backpack, the sweat is trapped against your back and cannot evaporate as well to help keep your core temp lower.
I have a backpack for my laptop, in the cooler months, I wear it. However, once May comes around, you know how it gets here in Texas. So, I installed the Ortlieb mounting system onto the backpack. I can now use the backpack as a pannier in the warmer months.
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Old 05-14-18, 10:27 AM
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I commute 30+ mile RT in 90s F with a bacpack. Not for everyone.

There are cycling specific packs, like Osprey's radial series, for which the frame is designed to keep the pack off your back to let air circulate.

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Old 05-14-18, 11:59 AM
  #31  
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My back hurt after a couple attempts at commuting with backpack, but I haul clothes and a laptop so maybe more wight than some backpack commuters.
Also being in Phoenix I need every bit of surface area I can get for cooling my core in the summer. No matter what frame a backpack has to keep it off your back it will never circulate air like being backpack free.
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Old 05-14-18, 12:08 PM
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I'm an IT guy. I can leave my computer at work and use my home computer at home, so I don't have to carry a computer. I don't have much to carry most of the time. Sometimes I carry food, sometimes clothes, sometimes both. I am pretty opinionated and consistently advised a rack and bike luggage. But I find myself wearing a backpack. My cycling specific backpack is narrow and hugs me closely, so it doesn't throw my balance off at all. Wearing a backpack, my luggage is sprung weight (on my body) rather than dead weight (on the bike). This is nice especially when I ride a light bike. It keeps the bike feeling light. It's also kind to my arms and shoulders when I have to carry the bike. I have to carry my bike up some stairs on each commute. I don't get unbearably hot and sweaty, but it could be I'm just more tolerant of that than some people are.
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Old 05-14-18, 01:57 PM
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Backpack for me. I have a kids one that's fairly small and fits everything perfect. An average sized one just seems too bulky.
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Old 05-14-18, 03:02 PM
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I use both a backpack and panniers. My bike lock, extra shoes, other clothing items (winter months), tools, tubes, lunch maybe some books/manuals go into the panniers. My laptop stays with me in the backpack. I feel my computer is much safer, and bounce around less than if it were sitting in the panniers. I think my body will smooth out the ride somewhat for the laptop.
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Old 05-14-18, 04:38 PM
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I used a rack with a trunk bag or pannier for nearly two years. It worked fine for me; I travel fairly light (lunch and clothes) and didn't feel like it was a huge drag over the rear wheel, especially considering that bike was nearly 28 lbs. No worries. Then one morning, getting ready for work, and I discover the bike has a flat. Didn't have the time to change it, so I threw everything into an old backpack and jumped on the cyclocross bike. The ride in to work was a joy; the bike just felt so much more lively under me. Part of that was the 10lb weight difference, certainly, but I realized that day that I'd much rather ride a light, responsive bike and take the extra 8-10lbs on a backpack than ride something that felt ponderous. I've been full-on club backpack ever since.

TL;DR - Both methods have their merits. We can't tell you what you'll prefer. Try both and you may be surprised.
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Old 05-14-18, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadKill View Post
My back hurt after a couple attempts at commuting with backpack, but I haul clothes and a laptop so maybe more wight than some backpack commuters.
Also being in Phoenix I need every bit of surface area I can get for cooling my core in the summer. No matter what frame a backpack has to keep it off your back it will never circulate air like being backpack free.
I carry a laptop too, NP, though I avoid it if I can. But feel it is safer carrying a laptop in a backpack vs. pannier.
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Old 05-14-18, 05:36 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Wittyname View Post
I used a rack with a trunk bag or pannier for nearly two years. It worked fine for me; I travel fairly light (lunch and clothes) and didn't feel like it was a huge drag over the rear wheel, especially considering that bike was nearly 28 lbs. No worries. Then one morning, getting ready for work, and I discover the bike has a flat. Didn't have the time to change it, so I threw everything into an old backpack and jumped on the cyclocross bike. The ride in to work was a joy; the bike just felt so much more lively under me. Part of that was the 10lb weight difference, certainly, but I realized that day that I'd much rather ride a light, responsive bike and take the extra 8-10lbs on a backpack than ride something that felt ponderous. I've been full-on club backpack ever since.

TL;DR - Both methods have their merits. We can't tell you what you'll prefer. Try both and you may be surprised.
^ This. I can ride any bike I want into work with a backpack, so it doesn't limit my bike choices.

Here are my Pros for backpack IMO:

1. Doesn't limit bike choice. My gravel bike is also my commuter bike and my road bike can be my commuter bike.
2. I can use it on multiple bikes. With panniers I have to have a rack on each.
3, Carrying a laptop is more secure (less bumps to damage thermal heat pipes etc.)
4. Backpacks are more convenient. I love the kickstand feature on the Osprey radial - you can stand it upright anywhere (I was suprised by how handy this is).
5. The bike ride is less unwieldy and more aerodynamic and better balanced.
6. Can use the pack off the bike. Don't have to detach from bike to get access.
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Old 05-14-18, 07:04 PM
  #38  
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I actually just ordered a medium Banjo Brothers Commuter pack. If it doesn’t suit me, I’ll try a rack
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Old 05-14-18, 08:52 PM
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I’m using a backpack now because the rack is usually occupied by a kid seat for part of the commute
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Old 05-14-18, 11:39 PM
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It really depends on what you prefer. I ride with a rack and pannier exclusively now because phoenix is just too hot in my opinion to have a backpack against my back, even in winter. (This winter was exceptionally warm too)
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Old 05-14-18, 11:56 PM
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All my commuters for the past 30+ years have had LowRider (or the equivalent Jann (sp) front racks and panniers, Some of those bikes have/had rear racks for additional cargo. I far prefer to have the weight up front so when I stand (either to accelerate or climb a hill) the weight isn't leveraging the bike. (I realize hills aren't an issue in Houston) I also like that the weight in those low front packs helps a lot on sketchy road surfaces and railroad tracks. (You do need a bigger tire and/or stronger rim. You will hit potholes a lot harder,)

Yes, when I ride my good bikes, I use a backpack. But they get used for commuting far less.

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Old 05-15-18, 02:14 AM
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Backpack on rack. For short distances backpack on back may be feasible, but sweating is a problem even at quite low temperatures.
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Old 05-15-18, 02:45 PM
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1st choice is a rear rack & trunk. been known to use a courier bag in addition to the trunk
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Old 05-15-18, 08:26 PM
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Backpack for me too. Bike rides better. Cheap. Convenient.. Tougher on the butt though. Rack is nice too. Good for heavier weight cargo. Maybe mix it up. I love bikes.
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Old 05-16-18, 07:22 AM
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I used a backpack throughout last year for all my commutes. Something similar to this one:
https://www.timbuk2.com/collections/...12733988306986

But earlier this year, on one of the brevets, I felt the need for a bag. I dont use the backpack on brevets because I have a Camelbak hydration bag on my back during these long rides. So, I thought maybe now the time has come for me to move to a solution that will fit both my commute as well as randonneuring needs. With that in mind, I decided to try out the Bontrager seatpost rack and the Bontrager interchangeable rear trunk delux bag. Why the seatpost rack? Because I have two bikes and I keep switching between them for my commutes.

However, I found that I had to mount the seatpost rack really high up so that the side bags that carry shoes on one side and clothes on the other dont hit the wheel. And that messes up the bike's handling.

So, now I am wondering whether I should get a good old bike rack instead of the seat post rack? Or, for commutes stick to the backpack and for brevets, mount the seatpost low and not use the expandable side pockets of the bag. Just thinking out loud here.
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Old 05-16-18, 08:23 AM
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I used to think front panniers were dumb because of how I expected them to mess up the bike's handling. I've been impressed with how good they feel. They're better than rear panniers.
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Old 05-16-18, 09:22 AM
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If you've got a backpack and want to try it, go ahead.

When the day comes (pretty soon, I would think, in Houston) that you think, "Dang, it's hot, and I'm dripping sweat," try a rack and panniers. Ortliebs are easy on and easy off. Even though by late July or August you'll still be hot and dripping sweat. you'll feel cooler than with a backpack.
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Old 05-16-18, 09:49 AM
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I've used backpacks in the past and completely understand how they can be easy and convenient. I don't use backpacks regularly any longer and have graduated to dedicated racks/panniers. The racks and panniers are an additional expense, but I can afford it. I would use a backpack again if I needed to carry something on one of my rack-less bikes. It's no big deal. I just don't enjoy carrying weight on my shoulders and back (convenient or not) if I can avoid it. Hot weather makes packing stuff around on my back even more uncomfortable.

Years ago, I "split the difference" by mounting a milk crate on the back of a hardtail MTB I used for commuting -- drop the backpack in the crate. When I needed to carry extras (groceries, etc) carry the pack and crate the rest. It's a very flexible way to cart things around. It gives the impression you're waiting for a DUI to clear off your record, but that's a subject for another thread.


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Old 05-16-18, 10:41 AM
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Houston commuter here. Too hot for a back pack IMO. granted you get sweaty anyway but no reason to make it worse.
Also a touring bike is designed to carry a load on the bike. My loaded panniers feel just fine. A bike with shocks doesn't react well to panniers I found.
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Old 05-16-18, 01:31 PM
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Back or rack; it’s very personal, and context.

For commuting I go with panniers (actually one usually does the trick) now. But for leisure I may choose a small backpack; somehow that feels more adventurous :-) especially when I want to do a ride & walk combo activity.
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