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backpack vs pannier

Old 09-09-10, 10:41 PM
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HB.Watermelon
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backpack vs pannier

This might be a preference thing. But, I'm currently using a messenger bag for commuting, and hate it! It shifts too much when riding. And, all that weight makes me feel top heavy. Do backpacks dig into the neck when riding? Are they comfortable? Or, are panniers the way to go?
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Old 09-09-10, 10:51 PM
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It is a very subjective thing, many people swear by messenger bags other only use panniers.

Personally I switched from backpacks to panniers for commuting recently. Panniers are more comfortable, less sweaty and have a larger capacity than a backpack.

When I commute to school I actually put a backpack in one of my panniers to make things easier when I get to where I'm going.

As a Washingtonian we get a lot of rain so having a weather proof set of panniers is also a big plus as my Northface Recon let water in.
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Old 09-09-10, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by HB.Watermelon View Post
This might be a preference thing. But, I'm currently using a messenger bag for commuting, and hate it! It shifts too much when riding. And, all that weight makes me feel top heavy. Do backpacks dig into the neck when riding? Are they comfortable? Or, are panniers the way to go?
What kind of messenger bag do you have and do you have it cinched up tight? It should sit high on your back. Many, many people wear them too low. Also a cross strap can make a huge difference.

I've used a good quality messenger bag, a back pack, and a set of panniers. I could write quite a bit about what I see as the pros and cons of each but I'll try and summarize.

panniers:
1) weight is on the bike, not on you.
2) No sweaty back

messenger bag:
1) quick and easy access to your stuff.
2) little impact on responsiveness of bike.
3) stuff stays with you when making stops

backpack:
1) weight better distributed across back and shoulders.
2) many people already own one


Some of the same pros and cons apply to both backpacks and messenger bags but the degrees may differ. Personal preference plays a big role in which you will prefer. Some of that comes down to riding style. If you ride hard and change your clothes when you get to work, you probably won't care that your back gets sweaty. In that case one of the chief knocks against backpacks/mess bags becomes a non-issue. That's where I fit. I use my commute as training and I sweat whether it's 100 or -20.

Personal preference isn't everything though. If you have a long commute and need to carry a lot of stuff, panniers start become pretty attractive even if you'd be normally inclined to use something else.

Last edited by tjspiel; 09-09-10 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 09-09-10, 11:55 PM
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Rack and pannier bag all the way! The bag I use clips on and off my rack so I can carry it around with me. I used to ride with a backpack and don't regret ditching it.
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Old 09-10-10, 04:05 AM
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Neither - I strap my backpack into a front basket. This one:https://www.waldsports.com/index.cfm/...8gbbasket.html

Single most practical and inexpensive item I've ever used for commuting -- wish I'd thought of it 2 years ago.
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Old 09-10-10, 05:00 AM
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Personally I would prefer a set of panniers, or maybe a large saddle bag but these just don't match the style of my bike.

So I ride with a backpack that fits all my stuff, even though I don't really like carrying the pack around all the time.
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Old 09-10-10, 05:12 AM
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If I didn't roll with an Xtracycle, I would be using racks and panniers.
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Old 09-10-10, 07:12 AM
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Here is my take on backpacks, I don't like them for commuting. Here is my intro to bike bags. IMHO: waterproof panniers is the way to go.

Adam
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Old 09-10-10, 08:09 AM
  #9  
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I don't mind using a backpack during the cooler weather, as long as the load isn't too heavy. The rest of the time, panniers rule.
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Old 09-10-10, 08:21 AM
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I use both.
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Old 09-10-10, 08:35 AM
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Gave away the panniers years ago.

My messenger bag has been made into a de-facto briefcase.

Backpack FTW.

Too heavy for a backpack? Trailer.
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Old 09-10-10, 08:42 AM
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Sometimes both, but prefer pannier. If I take my laptop home from work I stuff it in my pannier. If I took my laptop home in my car I'll have to wear the backpack into work. Gets too sweaty.
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Old 09-10-10, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by HB.Watermelon View Post
This might be a preference thing. But, I'm currently using a messenger bag for commuting, and hate it! It shifts too much when riding. And, all that weight makes me feel top heavy. Do backpacks dig into the neck when riding? Are they comfortable? Or, are panniers the way to go?
I would echo a previous poster -- a well designed, properly fitted messenger bag shouldn't shift -- cycling couriers have used them for decades, and they can't all be wrong.

I ride with a backpack, because I ride to public transit, and need to carry my stuff for half an hour each way off the bike.

As to comfort, again, the key is finding a backpack that fits you -- they are not all created equal. You might have to literally try a bunch to see what works. Many hear seem concerned about the sweaty back, but I guess I fall into the category of "I'll sweat with or without, so why go without?"

I have not tried bicycling panniers, but I rode with motorcycle saddlebags for many years, and loved them. They were not convenient to carry off the bike, however.

Obviously, this is a question that relates to your style, needs, situation, etc... You need to figure out what works for you!
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Old 09-10-10, 11:17 AM
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Backpack for me...been doing it a long time 14 miles one way....I don't even notice it anymore....

Don't panniers get all mucked up in rainy/ muddy/ slushy weather?

Oh and BTW...I am new here :-)
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Old 09-10-10, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
If you ride hard and change your clothes when you get to work, you probably won't care that your back gets sweaty. In that case one of the chief knocks against backpacks/mess bags becomes a non-issue. That's where I fit. I use my commute as training and I sweat whether it's 100 or -20.
This is where I fit. I sweat so much it really makes no difference. Since I ride hard I want the bike to "feel right" underneath me. I don't like the feel of a bunch of weight strapped to the bike when I get out of the saddle or am hammering. If I absolutely need to I'll do a rack and be loaded down. Most days its a backpack with a change of clothes or a few things, extra tubes, tools and lights etc.
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Old 09-10-10, 02:01 PM
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I don't like wearing a backpack mainly because my hair is long and the backpack tugs on my hair all the time. I do like the convience of a backpack to take the more important stuff with me when I lock my bike. So whai I did is to put a backpack inside my pannier bag and load my stuff in the backpack. This allows me to take the backpack with me and leave my pannier behind when I leave my bike after locking it.
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Old 09-10-10, 02:35 PM
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I strap my backpack to my rear rack. If you are carrying a lot of weight its probably best to have your bike handle the load. I have panniers but I don't feel confident leaving them on my bike when I lock it up.

Well designed backpacks distribute the load better. Also some are better than others in regards to ventilation.

You have multiple options for bridging the gap between the backpack and panniers. You have some panniers that will double as backpacks or messenger bags. You can also rig something together to attach your backpack to your rack instead of just strapping it on.
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Old 09-10-10, 03:04 PM
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If I had a long commute, I'd be rocking the rack and panniers. Likewise for large, heavy loads. But, since my commute is just 3.5miles each way a backpack with a laptop sleeve and good padding fits the bill. The most I normally carry to work and back is a laptop, power supply, and lunch. On occasion there might be a growler of some delicious Sierra Nevada or homebrew.

I use a North Face Big Shot which has some nice mesh back padding that allows some airflow. It still causes a sweaty back on the super hot days but not nearly as bad as my old backpack. One thing I really like about a backpack is having my hands free. When I get off my bike and lock it up, I can just walk into a store or wherever without carrying a big bag around in my hand.
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Old 09-10-10, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by HB.Watermelon View Post
This might be a preference thing. But, I'm currently using a messenger bag for commuting, and hate it! It shifts too much when riding. And, all that weight makes me feel top heavy. Do backpacks dig into the neck when riding? Are they comfortable? Or, are panniers the way to go?
Better messenger bags are nicer than back packs. I don't have any of the troubles you mention with my chrome bag.

I grab the panniers when it's hot. I hate messenger bags and back packs when it's over 90 or super humid.
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Old 09-10-10, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by CptjohnC View Post
"I'll sweat with or without, so why go without?"
I'm the same way. I've been commuting with a backpack for a short while now and haven't felt the need to switch things up yet. I prefer to have as little on my commuter as possible other than lights and a little pack under the saddle.
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Old 09-10-10, 05:16 PM
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Living in a subtropical climate (similar to Florida), I like my rack and panniers for commuting. I'm totally fine with backpacks for mountain biking (my cycling background) as there's nothing to obstruct the handling of the bike. This summer I tried commuting with my backpack and, although very doable, it is horrible arriving at my destination with a VERY sweaty back - even on short commutes. Whenever I had to carry the 14" laptop, textbook and a cablelock, it was starting to become uncomfortable on my back. I just can't imagine if one had a bad back! I haven't tried the messenger bags, but I love panniers so much because there's no weight anywhere on my body and it keeps the bike quite maneuverable even on busy roads (unless you treat every ride like a race). And one more thing... I feel it adds a seriousness of purpose in the eyes of drivers and pedestrians... this ain't no mountain biker, race nut or rushing-to-make-a-delivery messenger guy. A bicyclist with panniers looks like s/he has important things to do, including, perhaps, saving our planet. I feel that perception is priceless!
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Old 09-10-10, 06:25 PM
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if you get a Deuter backpak you can tie it real firm
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Old 09-10-10, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by HB.Watermelon View Post
This might be a preference thing. But, I'm currently using a messenger bag for commuting, and hate it! It shifts too much when riding. And, all that weight makes me feel top heavy. Do backpacks dig into the neck when riding? Are they comfortable? Or, are panniers the way to go?
Messenger bag should not shift - you need one with a stabilizing strap and you need to wear it high up on your back.

Backpack is similar to a messenger bag - contributes to the "top heavy feeling", and makes your back hot.

Pannier bags are different - they require a rack, lower center of gravity (thus making your bike handle differently), might be less convenient to carry off the bike.

I'd say - make sure your messenger bag is adjusted so that it does not shift. If you still hate it, skip a backpack and look for panniers.

Others may know more though.
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Old 09-10-10, 06:37 PM
  #24  
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Panniers. No other opinions are worth listening to, because I am the smartest and most well-rounded cyclist (and human) ever to walk the earth. Panniers. Preferably Ortliebs.
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Old 09-16-10, 07:46 AM
  #25  
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IMHO: saddlebags/panniers > anything on your back !
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