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backpacks vs panniers!

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backpacks vs panniers!

Old 04-14-14, 02:34 PM
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backpacks vs panniers!

What dose everyone use? I'm just curious, I see a large variety where I am from, I just wanted to see what everyone else was doing. Which messenger bags have a stability strap? please feel free to ramble
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Old 04-14-14, 02:37 PM
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Panniers for me. Let the bike carry the load, instead of my back. Also, give the back a chance to breathe. It's hot enough here in the summer without blocking half my body from cooling breezes!
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Old 04-14-14, 02:38 PM
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I used to use a Chrome messenger bay (one very good product), but I switched to panniers and am glad I did.
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Old 04-14-14, 02:49 PM
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Panniers are generally better all around for riding with cargo. However, the backpack has the added convenience of coming with you more easily and is generally more functional off the bike. For commuting I generally choose the backpack. For trips to the store, etc, panniers are the better choice IMO. I also have a timbuk2 shift pannier also which is a messenger bag/pannier combo, which is kind of nice for certain situations.
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Old 04-14-14, 03:04 PM
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I sweat like a pig, so switching to cargo-on-the-rack rather than on my back was a huge improvement for me. If you don't mind a backpack on your back while riding, it's OK.

That said, I've found panniers to be GREAT for supermarket runs. In a pinch I can also stuff my backpack in one of the panniers and use the other one for groceries.

I have a pair of ultra-simple panniers, just two vinyl-canvas boxes with belt straps. I'd like panniers with a quick-release mechanism, but it's not a huge trouble to remove them, anyway. It just *feels* like I am taking too much time to secure or detach three belts per pannier. It probably takes as much time to wait in line for a car parking's pay line

I have a messenger bag that I like for light cargo (water, notebook, pens, sweater), but I really don't like the way it hangs when I carry it on me while on the bike. I think I'll just sew some belts to it to make it rack-friendly.

If I had roll-up panniers, I think I'd be in heaven. For two weeks. Then I'd look at yet another bike-cargo-accessory web site and get angsty again.
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Old 04-14-14, 03:32 PM
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I used to used a backpack, and they're good for a slow-paced or short rides. But 15+ mph with hills and 10-11 miles one way, I went to a trunk and panniers combination. If I'm not working I only carry the trunk . unless it's a weekend ride and I stuff my crap in a jersey pocket.

The backpack made me sweat to much. I had to wear one today because I rode a bike that wasn't mine and it was a slower pace.
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Old 04-14-14, 03:34 PM
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I used to have a rack and pannier setup for my commute, but switched to a backpack about a year ago. I'm torn between the two. Panniers are better for your back as the bike takes the load but I feel the backpack makes the bike that little bit more manoeuvreable beneath me. I may yet switch back to panniers....

As for using a backpack, I find a cycling specific one to be very comfortable, I have a deuter bike one 20 litre pack and it is superb. It allows me to carry a rolled up change of clothes, lunch and a few tools etc with a little room to spare.

Whether you use panniers, a backpack or messenger bag I think it is wise to spend a little more and get a well designed, good quality item. Buy cheap and you'll buy twice.
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Old 04-14-14, 04:01 PM
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This year I've started having my driver deliver my clothes and lunch (prepared by my personal chef) to work, while I ride in. He then picks them up at the end of the day, and has everything cleaned and pressed by my valet. Works great! (I'll sometimes hitch a ride home if I'm not up to riding back, but don't tell anyone.)
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Old 04-14-14, 04:15 PM
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Saddlebag with a quick release. Your back won't get sweaty like a backpack, and it's much less awkward than panniers.
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Old 04-14-14, 04:18 PM
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My casual observation has been that people with a more aggressive riding style (while commuting) may be more inclined to choose a backpack or messenger bag over panniers.

Personally I used a messenger bag for many years until a snow boarding incident made it uncomfortable. While I was healing I switched to panniers and stuck with them for a few months. There were certain aspects of panniers that I liked, but they were somewhat inconvenient for me in that I stop almost everyday between work and home. I wasn't comfortable leaving my stuff with the bike, so I'd unhook the panniers and bring them with me. This sucked. Some panniers make this quite a bit easier. However if the roads are wet, it means dragging something in with you that's had crud splashed all over it. That and I didn't particularly like the way my bike felt with loaded panniers on it.

So before I was even completely healed I switched to a backpack, figuring that spreading the weight out amongst two shoulders would be less likely to aggravate my injury. I've been using it ever since. Sometimes I miss the messenger bag since it was easy to access the contents without having to take it all the way off. I still have the panniers for use if I ever do any touring or just need to haul some stuff a distance significantly longer than my commute.

There is no right or wrong answer here though except that I will say that I'd never use a messenger bag without a stabilizer strap unless it was really small and I was carrying virtually nothing in it.
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Old 04-14-14, 04:20 PM
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Commuted with a backpack for way too long, switched to panniers and never looked back.

In my anecdotal experience, people who switched from backpack to pannier and love it outnumber everyone else ten to one. Next up are the people who are neutral, or choose based on the situation. Last are the people who have done both extensively and honestly choose the backpack over panniers.

IMO getting the weight, and more importantly the stifling of air flow, off of your body and onto your bike, is extremely beneficial to commuting. If only for saving your shirts from back sweat.

The added weight onto your bike does change handling a bit. For a very spirited rider it is the biggest con, then again, all that weight on your back changes how you can handle on the bike also, but as humans we are usually more trained to deal with backpack weight.

Lastly, the rack and pannier combo gives you so much more versatility for what you willcarry with you. Things can be strapped to the top and sides. You can have bags on both sides and the top, and you can figure out ways to get very awkward loads on the bike, while you remain just as comfortable while riding.
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Old 04-14-14, 05:02 PM
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I never ever ride without my messenger bag or my backpack. I can ride without panniers but not without my backpack. Even when I am riding a bike with panniers I still choose to have a backpack on me... People who say that backpacks are only good for short distance are wrong. My longest ride so far has been 104 mile century ride and I've ridden few of them with a backpack...I am not against panniers, I use them when doing grocery shopping but I just don't need to ride with them on my everyday commutes or recreational rides. One time I've even carried a bicycle frame which I strapped to my messenger bag.
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Old 04-14-14, 05:05 PM
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Just depends on the load, when going to work I often carry nothing. When going to classes it varies by the days requirements. Do I need my laptop? Just my laptop? If so messenger bag, if I need full supplies and the laptop I'll opt for the pannier, bulky project to take in or knowing I'm going to be doing a shift at the plant sale I also bring my pannier and use a bike that's rack equipped. Should I just need to take notes, I've got a document tube I made from bamboo and hemp twine. I personally can not stand a very large bag or even very bulky load in the panniers.. I guess I'm just a roadie at heart though. It does help in my case all my text books are in digital format so I can just take my very light/small kindle into class with me in place of oversized and heavy books.
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Old 04-14-14, 05:15 PM
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Neither. Coca-Cola crate zzzzzzip tied to the rack for me. If it's weathery I'll put stuff in a bag.
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Old 04-14-14, 05:28 PM
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Backpack on one bike, backpack on rack on the other. Planning to get backrack for the bike without one.
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Old 04-14-14, 05:33 PM
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Wald baskets are a great alternative to using panniers. Just drop those grocery bags in and go, no fussing around with straps and buckles. You can mount them on the front of your handlebars or on top of the rear rack, just like a milk crate.
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Old 04-14-14, 05:57 PM
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I've always been a backpack guy. I simply think that road bikes look ugly with panniers. Call me a snob, I can take it!
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Old 04-14-14, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by tractorlegs View Post
Neither. Coca-Cola crate zzzzzzip tied to the rack for me. If it's weathery I'll put stuff in a bag.
Mine is Pepsi

I've used:

-Backpack: I've found the design and how it fits my body is key to comfort. I had a large Banjo Brothers bag, but I found it too big when loaded fully for my tastes. I've got an Ogio that is a great bag for school (lots of organization), but not all that comfortable to walk extended periods with (straps rub my nipples) and the "yolk" style grab handle is a pain while cycling (presses up against helmet/head too much). I also have a Dakine that has been used by two of my kids for the past 4 or 5 years for school. Great bag design- nice mix of a large main compartment and just enough smaller ones- but the straps and back panel leave a lot to be desired.

-Messenger bag: It is a large Banjo Brothers. Got this in a trade for some Knog saddlebag panniers that I was experiencing heel strike with. Light bulky loads are a breeze, heavy loads aren't. This is my foul weather bag.

-Grocery panniers: A pair old Nashbar Townies that are close to 20 years old now (they don't see much use). Used for the occasional grocery run or to shove a backpack in.

-Trunk bag: Got this via trade (and since traded again). It had drop down panniers and the main compartment expanded up as well. It worked well for my short commutes and excelled at light utility runs (movie rentals, post office). This would be my choice if I were into longer recreational rides/centuries.

-Milk crate: My bigger backpacks would not compress enough to stuff in it, but it was great when I needed to make a gas run for the mower.

They all have their pros and cons.

FWIW, I believe that a roll top backpack is superior to a tear drop design- you can overstuff and also carry stuff under the flap. But a backpack is like a bike, shoes, or saddle- the fit is critical to comfort.
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Old 04-14-14, 06:24 PM
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I've never, ever used any kind of pannier, saddlebag, or any other bike-mounted container. But since I'm happy with my backpack, I probably won't bother trying anything else out.

What I can say is that I replaced my cheap one with a bit more expensive backpack, and it was well worth it. With extra padding, an aluminum stay down the inside, and a waterproof rain cover, it fits nicely and works in all weather.
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Old 04-14-14, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
I've never, ever used any kind of pannier, saddlebag, or any other bike-mounted container. But since I'm happy with my backpack, I probably won't bother trying anything else out.

What I can say is that I replaced my cheap one with a bit more expensive backpack, and it was well worth it. With extra padding, an aluminum stay down the inside, and a waterproof rain cover, it fits nicely and works in all weather.
Feel free to plug the product- I'm always on the hunt for that ever elusive 'perfect bag' and I kinda have a bag fetish
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Old 04-14-14, 07:04 PM
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Is there a milk crate option?
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Old 04-14-14, 08:40 PM
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I ride with a backpack 5 days a week because it feels so good to ride with no pack on the weekends.
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Old 04-14-14, 09:05 PM
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One pannier most days, two when transporting change of clothes (kept in locker at work).

I took the Ridley Excalibur out for a ride yesterday, and wow did that feel good!
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Old 04-14-14, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
I ride with a backpack 5 days a week because it feels so good to ride with no pack on the weekends.
Do you slam your hand in a car door just so it feels better when you don't?

Anyway, I couldn't stand a backpack on hot days. And while my bike felt more maneuverable without the panniers (not surprising since the the weight of the backpack is right near the center of gravity whereas the panniers were 2-3 feet if not more away from the center of gravity), I felt less stable with a backpack (also not surprising as the weight is higher off the ground).

Since I like to get into a routine just so I don't forget things, I went with panniers all the time when I was commuting by bike. I was doing 16-20 miles one way, depending on the route I wanted to take. The shorter route had some crazy traffic which I didn't always feel like playing in.
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Old 04-14-14, 09:29 PM
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I use both a backpack and a messenger bag, the backpack more often to be honest.

i cannot get a messenger bag as large as I want - to carry my work clothes, my gym kit, running shoes for the gym and shower flips. A little too much for comfort in the messenger bag. If it's just work stuff, then I take the M Bag.

i use the Timbuk2 Especial M Bag, it is wonderful. The Timbuk2 Phoenix backpack.

i tried the Chrome Metropolis and did not like it for one simple reason. It rides over the left shoulder and I prefer a bag on my right shoulder.
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