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Anyone prefer a backpack to panniers?

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Anyone prefer a backpack to panniers?

Old 05-11-10, 09:51 AM
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Anyone prefer a backpack to panniers?

I bought the Topeak Beam rack and DXP bag and they work great on the bike. Problem is, it's kind of a pain to work with otherwise with my clothes and lunch etc for work (carrying the bag around off the bike). The messenger bag or backpack was better off the bike but a little more uncomfortable on the bike. Has anyone experienced the same thing?? I've though about just bringing my bag on my back with maybe just the clothes in it and then unload the DXP into the backpack for going to work. Anyone do anything similar?
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Old 05-11-10, 09:55 AM
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Wearing a backpack for commuting doesn't bother me. Last year when I had my road bike, I bought a rear rack for my bike, and bungee strapped my backpack to the rack. My commute was four times as long though.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:20 AM
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My panniers are really easy to unhook and carry, so that's not an issue. However, my poor laptop did take a couple of flying leaps off the rack until I figured out a way to secure them with a bungee cord. I guess it depends on the rack and pannier design you have. A backpack was fine when I was commuting 6 miles one way. But when my commute went to 18.5 miles one way, a backpack was out of the question. I love my panniers.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:22 AM
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I agree 100%. Especially if I am taking the train I prefer a messenger bag... except when I am on my bike. I still usually stick to panniers since they are so much nicer when you are actually riding.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:22 AM
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I have a very large and well made messenger bag. It does the trick. Little sweatier, but no extra weight as with a rack. Besides, I have to put the kid on the kiddie seat/rack two days a week, so panniers wouldn't cut it.

Panniers also add wind resistance. My bag is negligable.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:29 AM
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On short rides, a backup is good but for my commute, 20 miles each way, I prefer the pannier. It starts to hurt my back to carry a heavy backpack for that long.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:34 AM
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Yeah, it really depends on the type of panniers you have. I have a single grocery pannier by Detours, which works well because it also comes with a shoulder strap.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:39 AM
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I like using a backpack. It is a lot more comfortable for off the bike and commuting by bus, both of which make up a large part of my daily grind.

Anything over 8 miles and I would probably change my mind on that.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Standalone
Panniers also add wind resistance. My bag is negligable.
Yes, this is true. But when you have a 25 kt tailwind, they also make a great sail!
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Old 05-11-10, 10:46 AM
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I'm new to panniers ... only a few weeks' riding ... but, so far, it is no contest. Much prefer these over the backpack.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:51 AM
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I used to use a backpack. Then, I tried a messenger bag. The backpack made me sweaty, even on a short commute, and the messenger bag was always swinging around, hitting my arm, and catching on the seat when I dismounted at a stoplight or something.

I'm sticking with the latch-on Topeak bag, even though it isn't as comfortable for the train & bus part of my commute.

The possibility of a strap coming loose and catching in the spokes or the bag falling off is reduced to near zero with the rack bag, so it is a safety decision too. I realize this can be mitigated with proper bugeeing technique, but it just isn't worth the trouble to me.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Standalone
Panniers also add wind resistance. My bag is negligable.
I wonder how much of a difference panniers would make considering commuting speeds are no where as near as those racers bombing down the Alps mountain...
I do see one distinct advantage of using backpack/messenger bag. That is you don't have to hook and unhook the bag onto the rear rack. You can save some precious seconds there and if you are like me with butter fingers... minutes!
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Old 05-11-10, 11:21 AM
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Commute is only 9 miles. I like riding with the rack etc. but I don't like carrying the DXP bag to the office and "working" with it. With the panniers hanging down it's just cumbersome. Maybe I can find a bag that I can just hang on the rack then carry it like a messenger bag
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Old 05-11-10, 11:26 AM
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I definitely prefer a backpack. It's a personal thing. I don't mind the weight on my back (admittedly I have a light load) and I loathe the weight on the back of my bike.
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Old 05-11-10, 11:33 AM
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Has anyone got an Ortlieb City Biger? Looks like I can hang it on the Topeak rack and then just pull it off and go. I don't think I'd overdo the 20lb limit on the topeak. I just have work clothes and shoes.

I've also been looking at a Kriega R25. Obviously this one would stay on my back
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Old 05-11-10, 11:35 AM
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I've never tried panniers, so I don't know if I prefer a backpack, but that's what I use. I shower when I get to work, so a backpack making me sweaty isn't an issue. Also, my backpack seems to distribute its weight really nicely over my back, so while I won't ever forget it's there, it feels lighter than it is.

I agree that a backpack is a poor choice for long distances, though. Having done several 80+km rides with a backpack, I'm keen to try something else. My lower back starts to hurt a bit at those distances, and maybe I have crummy core strength, but am thinking that losing the load on my back may help.
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Old 05-11-10, 11:49 AM
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I've bungied a backpack to my rear rack as an ersatz rackpack in the past. But I can't stand to wear the thing while riding. I despise sweating (when unnecessary - frequently it's unavoidable of course), and a backpack can be a culprit. I often ride with a friend who doesn't really mind sweating while riding, so I suppose it's a matter of personal preference to an extent. I use a single pannier these days. But it's a moderately impractical solution for carrying my work/spares/tools (more than will fit in any but an impractically large seat bag, but less than necessitate a pannier).
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Old 05-11-10, 12:02 PM
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I'm not sure what the ultimate solution is for me yet. I used a backpack for a little while, then went to a messenger bag for many years. My back and shoulders had been sore ever since a couple of snowboard "learning experiences" this past winter so I've been using panniers for the last few weeks to allow my back to completely heal.

My back already feels better but for various reasons including those already mentioned, I'm not sold on panniers. A simple example is the fact that I like to stop at a convenience store for a beverage right before getting to work. I used to lock my bike to a railing by first hooking my handlebars (drops) over the top. With the extra weight on the back of the bike, this proved a little more challenging.

Then once I had the bike locked I realized that I had a bit of dilemma. What do I do with my stuff? One of the items I carry is a laptop and that's not something I just wanted to leave there. The panniers are not THAT hard to get off but they're not that nice to carry around either.

There's also the fact that I ride a performance road bike. It works fine with the panniers but it's not nearly as fun to ride as it is without them.

So now I'm thinking about going back to a backpack but one that's designed for cycling. Should be easier on my back and shoulders than a messenger bag though not as convenient. That may be a trade off I have to live with.

I'm not sorry about the pannier purchase though. There are times when I've wanted to carry more than I could put in my mess bag and times when I had room but was not very comfortable. So it'll be nice to have them on those days when the backpack alone isn't enough or when I plan on going for a longer distance.

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Old 05-11-10, 12:09 PM
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For me, a suspended back backpack is the only way. Currently wearing a Marmot Zephyr. More of a pain to load than mess bags, but way more secure and comfortable on the back.

I just don't like racks unless I'm going on a Looong ride with some heavy stuff.

I do have one bike outfitted with panniers if I know I'm going to buy more than a couple meals worth of food at the store on my way home. That's pretty rare, however. Then, of course I have a trailer for even more serious hauling duties.
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Old 05-11-10, 12:10 PM
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As a former messenger, I'm of the on-my-back school. I tried panniers once and simply hated how it made the bike feel in traffic. I see loads of people riding into work with the straps swinging dangerously close to the spokes, makes me cringe. I prefer the single strap shoulder bag with a chest strap, and have been carrying my laptop and such daily with that. I have an awesome DJ record backpack that rules for to-go food runs. I shower just before I leave so if I sweat I basically air dry in front of the fan in the change room as bacteria that causes BO hasn't had time to come back yet.

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Old 05-11-10, 12:14 PM
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For small loads and cooler weather I prefer the backpack. It's easier to put on/take off, makes it easier to wheel my bike into the spare office I keep it in at work/the spare bedroom I keep it in at home and keeps me warmer when it's cold out. I use a rack bag and it's just not worth putting a pannier on for a small load that fits in the backpack somedays.
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Old 05-11-10, 12:18 PM
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If all you do is ride to work everyday, then ride home, then I can see how panniers would be better. I definitely prefer them for longer rides and rides outside of the city.

However, for riding in the city, and with all the various and random stops that I make on the way home (bars, cafes, restaurants, social rides, etc), panniers are a pain. I tried them for about two weeks and went back to a messenger bag. Considering how often I have to shoulder my bike, flip it around, lock it to weird or odd objects, panniers simply get in the way far more than any benefit they offer. I want the weight on bulk on my back, out of the way (mostly). I also tried a trunk bag and had the same experience.

Also, if your messenger bag is swinging around, it's either not a messenger bag or you don't have it strapped down properly. A good messenger bag should feel like a solid, strong hug, and will move only slightly, if at all. I wouldn't use a messenger bag if it swung around, I do far too much sprinting in heavy traffic to have to worry about something that inane.
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Old 05-11-10, 12:30 PM
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My pannier is a simple basket that I drop my backpack into. The basket stays on the bike, while I carry the backpack around.
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Old 05-11-10, 01:52 PM
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I prefer a backpack with a hipbelt. It stays secure against my body and doesn't add undue (fore or aft biased) weight to my bike so my bike handles much better... especially in mud and sleet/snow.
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Old 05-11-10, 02:38 PM
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I converted a backpack into a pannier by adding the pannier hooks made by Lone Peak. These have a little lever that locks the hook to the rack so it won't pop off over bumps. When used as a pannier I just loop the backpack straps over the outside of the pack to keep them out of the way (I put a clip on them so they stay put). The pannier hooks are out on the corners of the pack so they don't touch me when used as a backpack.

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