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Packing a computer Back Roller Plus

Old 04-05-10, 12:35 PM
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nycphotobike
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Packing a computer Back Roller Plus

Hi there,

I've been thinking on this a while and it seems like traveling with a computer is going to be necessary considering what I want to do with my tour. I'm a photographer and I intend to shoot and blog my way across the US. With a large camera and wanting to edit and post images, I see no other way to do this than with my 15" MacBook Pro. That being the case, a couple questions come up.

For starters, does anyone know if the Ortlieb Back Roller Plus will fit a full sized laptop? Being a fairly expensive piece of gear, waterproofing is a must. I have heard only good things about these bags and am all but sold.

Second: When packing the computer, would you recommend nestling it on the inside or outside of the bag. On the inside, it's more protect in case of a fall or banging up against something. It would also center the load better. However, it seems like the vibrations would be more intense closer to the stiff part of the bag and bumping against the rack. The outside of the bag would provide some insulation and I really don't intend to fall over. The laptop would be in a padded neoprene InCase sleeve regardless.

Third: For those of you who do travel with computers, how do you handle locking up the bike? Do you always take it with you? It seems most people keep all their valuables in a small handlebar bag and take that into stores and whatnot. Obviously, the computer will not fit in a bag of that nature.

Thanks
Andrew
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Old 04-05-10, 01:42 PM
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LeeG
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I'd be inclined to use a thermarest trail seat that can be partially inflated and rests against the inside of the pannier with a small section of folded over at the bottom for the laptop in it's sleeve to sit on then clothing and soft times packed nest to that. Or maybe a trail seat and sport seat duct taped together. I wouldn't bet that at some time your bike doesn't fall where you don't want it to. Either way putting the 'puter on the derailleur side my be some precautionary practice. I'm not operating from much experience other than a few miles and that's what I did.

https://cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-re...l-seat/product
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Old 04-06-10, 07:13 AM
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I sometimes carry my 13" Macbook in my back rollers. I usually just put it in its case, wrap a towel/jeans/whatever around it to prevent it from bouncing around, and ride. Because of the heel taper on the back rollers, you're going to have somewhat limited space for a 15" laptop (side to side). My guess is that it should fit with even with a bit of padding. The hardware sticks into the bags a bit on the rack side of the back rollers (at least the classics) and you want to somehow insulate your laptop from this.

If you think you can swing it, a netbook would be a much better idea for touring. It would save you a lot of space, risk, and weight. Netbooks can usually be had for less than the cost of the Applecare warranty for your laptop and will probably do more to extend its life.

Also, it may be worth mentioning that Ortlieb makes an SLR insert for their handlebar bag.

Last edited by anthony691; 04-06-10 at 07:17 AM.
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Old 04-06-10, 01:24 PM
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Thanks for the advice. I looked in to netbooks and even the iPad with its camera connector kit when it comes out but I don't think either will really work. The biggest problem I see with them is the lack of disc space. The iPad only goes up to 64gbs and most netbooks are not much more than that. On my last big trip hiking through Scotland for 18 days, I shot over 40gbs and I intend to be on the road for over 70 days this time around. Also, netbooks cannot really handle the processing requirements of dealing with large files generated from a professional grade camera. If I could, I would gladly take a 13" MacBook Pro or even the Air.
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Old 04-06-10, 05:02 PM
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Most netbooks these days use a standard 2.5" SATA hard drive (the same kind the Macbook uses) which you can upgrade to whatever size you like. Random example with all kinds of space: https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136546

You can also buy one or many SD cards or external hard drives. Maybe even pick up drives/cards along the way, fill them up, and mail them home.

If you need a Mac you can hack a Dell Mini 10 into one, apparently without much trouble: https://gizmodo.com/5389166/how-to-ha...eopard-netbook

Storage isn't a good reason to bring an expensive piece of hardware on a dangerous (for it) bike trip. Everything from netbooks on up basically use the same commodity hardware to do it.

With regards to processing you can either wait things out (as people did 5-10 long years ago) or just downscale them prior to editing on the road and save the heavy hitting for when you get home; 5 megapixels is plenty for a blog. You're not bringing an Epson 7900 with you.

I'm in a similar place, and am planning on getting a netbook.

Last edited by AlanKHG; 04-06-10 at 05:07 PM.
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Old 04-06-10, 05:08 PM
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On my transam I carried my netbook in a neoprene case inside a bubble wrap envelope inside a front Ortlieb roller. I had no problems. I'm not sure the bubble wrap was needed but it worked anyway and I had the space.

That should work for you with a rear pannier. Or to beef up the protection what about packing it the same way then stuffing your sleeping bag round it for more protection from impacts if the bike got dropped.
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Old 04-06-10, 08:52 PM
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anthony691
My guess is that it should fit with even with a bit of padding. The hardware sticks into the bags a bit on the rack side of the back rollers (at least the classics) and you want to somehow insulate your laptop from this.
Anthony691 is correct. I have the Classic Back Rollers, and my wife has the Packer Plus rear panniers. Both have hardware on the inside that left imprints on the neoprene sleeve we use for our netbook. She usually carries it , and just pads it with clothing. Our netbook does have a solid state hard drive so I'm not very finicky with it.

You should have plenty of room in your Back Rollers for a notebook. While my "full" sized laptop is on the small size there is plenty of room for it. However, since we got the netbook room it is not an issue for me- my wife carries it! .

Last edited by Doug64; 04-06-10 at 09:01 PM.
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