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From backpack to panniers to backpack

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From backpack to panniers to backpack

Old 04-19-12, 07:33 PM
  #1  
DJ Shaun
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From backpack to panniers to backpack

I thought I had been converted to panniers...

I use to ride only wearing a backpack until last summer when I was forced to switch to panniers following an injury (broken rib). It felt nice to no longer have the weight on my shoulders.

But last month I bought a new bike (Giant Rapid 2) and of course my rack and pannier combination were causing heel strike. While shopping around for a new rack and/or panniers I've gotten reacquainted with the freedom a backpack gives me. I forgot about the convenience of easily carrying my bag if I decide to stop somewhere. Hauling my panniers around a shopping mall or to an appointment was actually getting a bit annoying.

So instead of buying a new rack or new panniers I ended up getting a new backpack with better ventilation, comfier padding and more storage space than my previous one. (For those who want to know it's a discontinued Eddie Bauer Vantage Point in white and hi-viz green that was being liquidated.)

Anybody else switch from one to the other and back?
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Old 04-19-12, 09:09 PM
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The pendulum is swinging. Started out with a backpack on me, then tried panniers (heel strike), backpack on top of rack, mess bag on me or top of rack, backpack in a Townie basket, a sling bag, and as of today- a trunk w/small fold out panniers. I'm going to use the trunk in conjunction with the sling bag for now.
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Old 04-19-12, 09:10 PM
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I'm currently in stage two of your predicament. Went from backpack (accompanied with the sweaty back) to single pannier.

I commute to university (38km round trip), so once I get to school I carry my bag around. Panniers are great for the ride, but a bit of a pain once I get to campus. If my load is small enough, I can shove a small backpack inside my pannier (but this gets difficult when the weather is cold, since that means thicker clothes to change into).

I think that if your commute isn't too long and you'll be running errands, then a backpack is the way to go. With the right features (ventilation, straps that you can tighten and clip together, etc), then it should be more than fine. Some backpacks are really nice...
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Old 04-19-12, 09:20 PM
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I will never go back to a backpack. Zip tie a basket to your rear rack and put your backpack in it. Quick to grab when you stop, but you don't have to bike with it on your back.

I've never understood using panniers for commuting: they work well for touring, but aren't good off the bike at all.
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Old 04-19-12, 09:24 PM
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I've just recently gone back to my backpack, and I have to say I like it better than my rack/ pannier combo. More convenient.
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Old 04-19-12, 09:42 PM
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I used to always wear a backpack, but I hated the sweaty back problem it gave me. So I bought this messenger bag/pannier hybrid (in red for $60). I've had it for almost a month now and it's pretty useful. I ride to and from school 5 days a week and it hasn't broken yet or anything, except for a bungee cord on it that I snapped because I forgot to secure it to my rack. Conversion from a pannier to the messenger bag takes about a minute. I've never owned a messenger bag before but this one is definitely not uncomfortable, the hooks are hidden away nicely. Not comfortable for carrying much weight, though.
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Old 04-19-12, 10:12 PM
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If you find yourself frequently going back and forth between wishing you had a pannier(s) and then wishing you had a backpack during your commute, an Arkel Bug might be the solution.

http://www.arkel-od.com/us/all-categ...ing-bag-1.html

I have owned a couple of them and really like them. Though for the last year or so, I have just been using Ortlieb bike packer plus panniers on my normal work commute since I don't mind carrying them with the provided shoulder strap and I like the 100% waterproof reassurance without needing to rely on a cover.
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Old 04-20-12, 03:02 AM
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Maybe you picked the wrong panniers as the two that I've had both had shoulder straps so carrying in to a shop isn't a problem. Also, my current pannier is an Ortleib Downtown with QL3 fixings which is simply awesome. That said, they were costly (but worth every penny). Also, Ortleibs can be angled so heel strike isn't a problem. I haven't had to do this on my hybrid tho.
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Old 04-20-12, 05:52 AM
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I have a bag big enough to carry what I need for work, but small enough to fit in my pannier. If needed I have a 2nd plastic grocery bag. My empty panniers stay on the bike. Works well for me.

But I agree the backpack gives you more freedom. If I did it again, I might use the panniers for tools and spare parts and put a basket on the rack and put a backpack in there.
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Old 04-20-12, 06:10 AM
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I went to Topeak MTX Explorer Rack and Trunk systems. http://www.topeak.com . I have several trunks for it. No heel strike at all.
I started with a backpack but reaching for the handlebars with straps around/over my shoulders was a pain. I wouldn't trade the rack and trunk system for anything but when exploring I start at home and end at home or when commuting I start at home and end at work where I park my bike in my office so I never have to carry anything off my bike.


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Old 04-20-12, 08:11 AM
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when i first started commuting, i used a rack and trunk bag, but i was never crazy about having the extra weight on the bike, so i went out and bought a very spendy, but amazing, backpack with a suspended mesh back panel for ventilation and all kinds of straps and clips to get the pack cinched down just right. i absolutely love it and it means that i don't need to worry about having a rack on my bike. any of my bikes can be commuters now that i roll exclusively with a back pack.
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Old 04-20-12, 10:21 AM
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I went from backpack to panniers, and then back to backpack. I've been using a backpack exclusively for over a year now.

I'll never go back to a rack and panniers for bike commuting. It's just too much of hassle, having to move my belongings back to a backpack on days that I ride the bus to work, and then to move them back to panniers on the days that I cycle in to work. Now I just grab my backpack, no matter how I'm getting to work.

It does help a lot to have a very good cycling backpack though. If I were using some cheapo WalMart backpack, I'd probably be miserable.
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Old 04-20-12, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by alhedges View Post
I will never go back to a backpack. Zip tie a basket to your rear rack and put your backpack in it. Quick to grab when you stop, but you don't have to bike with it on your back.

I've never understood using panniers for commuting: they work well for touring, but aren't good off the bike at all.
Different panniers work for different uses... there are commuter panniers with shoulder straps.
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Old 04-20-12, 11:11 AM
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I've been back/forth on same. I believe the answer is both.

The panniers come in handy for stuff like groceries. I like to keep the lock, repair kit, some spare clothes, and tubes in the bags. Having the spare clothes is handy when weather changes. Some stuff, I don't like to carry on backpack (e.g. tennis racket).

If I need to carry something expensive like a PC, then I get out the backpack. I find myself throwing the backpack on the pannier rack, often, though (just bungee it on).

I ride with street shoes often, so to combat heel strike, I buy shoes that won't his the bag. I only shop for shoes that have small footprint.
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Old 04-20-12, 02:02 PM
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This pannier is pretty easy when it comes off the bike. Pretty much turns into a messenger bag:

http://www.ortlieb.com/_prod.php?lan...kt=downtownql3
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Old 04-20-12, 02:47 PM
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I started with a backpack, then went to a rack pack/trunk and for the vast majority of commutes the rack pack/trunk is plenty of space for clothes, lunch, etc.

On the rare occasions when I do need more space (esp. light/bunky items), I certainly have no problem riding with the back pack.

The rack pack/trunk stays on all the time, in fact it's bolted on, and it's mostly harmless even when there's nothing in it. Yes, it does come very close to heel strike, and in fact if I'm not properly clicked into my SPD's I can/do get a bit of heel strike. Nothing massive though and a gentle reminder (to self) to click in properly.

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Old 04-20-12, 03:43 PM
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I switch back and forth a lot. I like the way the bike feels under me without rack and panniers. It moves better. Yet there are times, particularly in bad weather, when I prefer to have my body unencumbered while the bike carries the load. When I don't have much to carry, a trunk bag gives me something in the middle. I also use a small messenger bag once in a while.
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Old 04-20-12, 04:18 PM
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I've bounced between them as well. I usually use one or the other depending on my plans for the day. When the weather gets hot enough I'll probably start thinking of buying one of those fancy hammock mesh back bags, but I always flake out and suffer through the heat. I already have a bunch of nice backpacks for climbing, they just don't breath well enough for biking in mid summer.
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Old 04-20-12, 04:59 PM
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I started with a backpack, went to a different backpack then to a pannier than to a different backpack - and used all of them with a rack trunk. Now it depends on the wind, temperature and load as to what I use.
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Old 04-20-12, 05:31 PM
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Lots of good points.

My panniers are pretty basic with no shoulder straps. I did keep the rack on since that's the only place where I can secure my two locks other than in my bag. My top tube is triangular with cables running underneath and I couldn't attach the holder for my U lock there.

I could have transferred the rack that's on my winter bike but it weighs a bunch! It would defeat the purpose of riding a light weight bike.
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Old 04-20-12, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by hubcap View Post
If you find yourself frequently going back and forth between wishing you had a pannier(s) and then wishing you had a backpack during your commute, an Arkel Bug might be the solution.

http://www.arkel-od.com/us/all-categ...ing-bag-1.html

I have owned a couple of them and really like them. Though for the last year or so, I have just been using Ortlieb bike packer plus panniers on my normal work commute since I don't mind carrying them with the provided shoulder strap and I like the 100% waterproof reassurance without needing to rely on a cover.
That might be perfect but it's a bit pricey. I've never seen those at my usual bike shops so I can't tell if it would work with my rack.
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Old 04-20-12, 05:41 PM
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Why chose what you want?

http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Cyclin...ierdaypack.jsp

Jim
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Old 04-20-12, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I switch back and forth a lot. I like the way the bike feels under me without rack and panniers. It moves better. Yet there are times, particularly in bad weather, when I prefer to have my body unencumbered while the bike carries the load. When I don't have much to carry, a trunk bag gives me something in the middle. I also use a small messenger bag once in a while.
I agree about the bad weather. I'll probably stick to panniers on my winter bike.
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Old 04-20-12, 07:16 PM
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3.9 pounds for rack and trunk and I still can use a backpack on my other bikes if I like.
Actually, the rack weighs less than the trunk. I use the truck to carry lunch supplies on Mondays and leave it at home the other days. It's a good system.
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
when i first started commuting, i used a rack and trunk bag, but i was never crazy about having the extra weight on the bike, so i went out and bought a very spendy, but amazing, backpack with a suspended mesh back panel for ventilation and all kinds of straps and clips to get the pack cinched down just right. i absolutely love it and it means that i don't need to worry about having a rack on my bike. any of my bikes can be commuters now that i roll exclusively with a back pack.
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Old 04-20-12, 11:08 PM
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nice, I use a kelty redtail backpack. Works great.
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