Bag for commuting

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by jhas, May 12, 2004.

  1. jhas

    jhas New Member

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    I've started commuting to work, using my road bike. Its about 14 miles each way. Does anybody have an opinion about using a "messenger" style bag vs a backpack? Which is more comfortable? Which stays on your back without shifting?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Brunswick_kate

    Brunswick_kate New Member

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    Parcel rack and panniers here but I drive a hybrid and you might not want to clutter up your road bike with the extra gear. I just don't like stuff on me when I'm biking. I find that the lower stuff is on the bike, the better everything travels and I'd be concerned about the heat and sweaty bit of having a back pack on. I think it would be pretty uncomfortable.
     
  3. Resound

    Resound New Member

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    I commute to uni three days a week plus other rides and I do find that with my backpack the loss of ability to shed heat through my back is significant. The few times that I've ridden without it were so much easier it was ridiculous. I'd love to be able to space it an inch or so up from my back for airflow. Still, with winter coming on I'm suffering from the heat less and less.
     
  4. Randybaker99

    Randybaker99 New Member

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    I am using a Camelback H.A.W.G. for both water and clothes, on a 30 mile (each way) commute. It is very comfortable and has about 1000 cu in of cargo space which is just enough for me. As far as backpacks go it is the best I've ever used - with several comfort features (waist strap, chest strap, good padding) and all around great fit. I am concerned that it will not be feasible in hot weather (though the clothes I will need to carry will be a little less and I suppose I can put very cold water in the bladder).

    I don't think I would enjoy using a messenger bag - I just can't see it staying in place.

    I am currently using my new road bike for commuting, but rethinking. I have an old (18 years!) 12 speed in very good shape, and I think I'll upgrade it to a 9 speed double, and put the panniers on it. For long commutes panniers seem to be best in winter and summer - a backpack/messenger bag seems workable in spring and fall.

    Good luck.
     
  5. rek

    rek New Member

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    What resound said -- by the way, there are some back packs with "channels" for back ventilation, but it's never quite as good as it sounds.

    In wintery times, though, it doesn't really make too much difference if you have a backpack on or not. Summertime and backpacks are hell
     
  6. SomeGuy

    SomeGuy New Member

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    I wear a bag all year round for carrying my school books, and in summer it really is annoying.

    However a messenger style bag wouldn't really fix this, only using panniers or something else to take the stuff off your back.

    So yeah, I'd either go for panniers or a full bag. I use a Kathmandu branded bag, which I like. Its tall and doesn't go out too far from my back and has got all the releveant padding. The only problem with it is the whole sweating and heat thing.
     
  7. pablo_gg

    pablo_gg New Member

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    I am a HAWG user as well with a 10-30 mile commute each way. For a backpack, I find it very comfortable as well. I usually leave the water bladder at home however to minimize the weight on back.
    If you have never ridden with a package on your back, I recommend easing into it to avoid injury to shoulders/back.
     
  8. benZine

    benZine New Member

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    Have you seen the Deuter range of bags? A little it more pricey but they have a decent airflow system where the bag sits a fair way off your back. I'm thinking of getting one myself.
     
  9. kleinrider

    kleinrider New Member

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    Like several others have said, the best bet for commuting is panniers. Having said that, I think I still prefer a bag of some sort. I almost always ride with a CamelBak BlowFish, and while I sweat, I don't really have a problem with it. Even when going out for 40+ mile trips I don't notice it since I sweat so much anyway.

    I do think that a good quality messenger bag would probably be the best choice (again, if panniers isn't an option) as they are used by guys (gals, too) flying through traffic and they don't move. Of course, a good messenger bag isn't cheap, but it would be worth it IMO. I'm saving up for a good bag right now, we'll see how long it'll take me.
     
  10. benZine

    benZine New Member

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    I've heard the messenger bags are bad for you back?
     
  11. johnfward

    johnfward New Member

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    I commute 15 miles each way on a cyclocross bike. I've been using a Vaude backpack which has a suspension system that holds the pack a few inches off your back. Trade-off is loss of space in the pack but it's definitely worth it. Fact remains, however, that you still have to deal with the weight on your back. All things considered, I'd recommend the Vaude if you don't want to install a rack and don't pack too heavy. Quality and construction of the pack is top notch. www.vaude.de
     
  12. jhas

    jhas New Member

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    Thanks. I've settled for now on a lumbar pack from REI. It is just large enough for a change of clothes, lunch, and various essentials like wallet, keys, etc. Plus it has two outside water bottle pockets that make great storage for cleat covers, pump, etc. when I'm off the bike. The weight is down low, most of my back is free to breath, and with the optional shoulder strap in place it stays put nicely.
     
  13. ahimsa

    ahimsa New Member

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    I suggest the Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder to hold a change of clothes no matter what your choice of bags is. It keeps things fairly wrinkle free and helps keep things compact inside the bag. Check it out:

    http://www.eaglecreek.com/packit_folders.html
     
  14. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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    I bought a bike specific one, Caribee, less than $50 in Aus, http://www.caribee.com it has the vent channels and lots of add on carrying features, a bit like a Tri back pack, see http://www.nytro.com page for them.
     
  15. chispa60

    chispa60 New Member

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    Panniers are the way to go for commuting. The ones I've seen can range from only having bags on the side to ones that include a "trunk" as well as two sides. Some even have some decent water-resistance.

    Camelbak H.A.W.G.'s are good too but only for a limited about of gear. I'd say clothes and maybe some emergency repair gear and a small emergency first aid. Granted some emergency repair gear can be attached to the bike itself (i.e. mini pumps, tube wrappers/compressors, etc.).

    On a side note, if you do go all out on racks (and panniers) do get "low-rider" version of a front rack. They actually add to stability and control.
     
  16. motorhommer

    motorhommer New Member

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    I have been through the mill on this one. Started with backpack, then moved to panniers and have ended up with courier bag, which I think is the way to go if what you carry can vary in size from nothing to a lot. What I mean is some days I will need to bring shoes and change of clothes, along with diary and work papers. Other days I need nothing but just diary. I found the panniers when using two not flexible enough for papers and not big enough for shoes etc.

    I also found with the paniers that I had to balance the weight on both sides and I found it very hard to get at what I wanted.

    I bought the Timbuk2 large courier bag and have used it every day since. It has places for everything and a cross strap for stability. It can cover groceries, shopping, laptop, papers etc. Has phone and key pouch on cross strap.

    Horses for courses, it depends what you want and your needs.
     
  17. Glowingrod

    Glowingrod New Member

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    Depends, many commuters wear panniers. They're large and roomy but depending on brand can be pricey. Plus you'd need to adjust your riding a bit for the weight displacement. There's an upside to that of course when you take them off for a weekend ride your ride will feel ultralight and manuverable.

    Backpacks are most common and vary the most in price. It's hard to find a truly waterproof one, I've even had one that cam with a "rain fly" that was just a thin piece of uncoated nylon. Your best bet is to go to an outfitters or good outdoors store and try them all on, the more the better. Some just sit the stuff on your back with no means of preventing load shift, but a really good backpack doesn't shift at all when in place. Try an REI store if there's one near you. Or anyplace that caters to camping/backpacking and such. There are a lot out there.

    Messenger bags are becoming more popular. It seems every sport/outdoor/cycle manufacture has one now. Don't be fooled, these are "messenger-style" bags and rarely function. Others have more credibility due to looks and marketing and being standalone products but have fallen by the wayside in terms of quality and functionality in order to lower production costs. "Krumpler" for instance once made mediocre bags, but their latest offerings are only water resistant and use substandard materials which drops them back into the "messenger-style" catagory.
    A good messenger bag is waterproof, has a means of load stablization and is made of the most durable materials available, usually Cordura and Ballistic Nylon. If a bag is all those, check to see if the straps are angled where they attach to the body of the bag, sometimes even larger and accepted messenger brands miss that important feature for comfort and wear.
    I see a lot of 'messenger style' bags around, riding low and dangling straps, with main straps scrunched into ropes that bite into you when fully loaded. Here's a list of actual messenger bag companies:
    Under The Weather

    ReLoad Bags

    PAC Designs

    Push The Envelope

    Dank Bags

    Zo Bags

    These are all small independents that range in price from $100US to $350US depending on the model you choose. They're products are all handmade here in the US or Canada

    Some larger mesenger bag companies are Timbuk2 or Chrome. You'll get a quality product from these but less attention to detail and a decrease in materials quality in such departments as liners, straps.
     
  18. motorhommer

    motorhommer New Member

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    I have read a lot about these messenger bags before I bought. There were a number of internet reviews independantly carried out. I have the internet references at work.

    Chrome and Timbuk2 came out ahead in terms of quality, durability, ease of use etc. I am not a bicycle courier so I cannot comment, but I certainly would do a lot of looking at these two and would not totally dismiss them out of hand.

    I have the Timbuk2, and find the pockets etc excellent, I did go and order the insert for documents which is an extra - at the time of ordering.

    As an aside I have panier briefcases, paniers large and small, rack packs etc as I do a bit of touring also. I also use a Brompton with the various luggage carrying attachments, these are seriously good, I am a huge fan of Brompton but I do a 20 mile round trip and find a Hybrid a little quicker on this trip.

    But thats me, I could not carry all of what I sometimes do by backpack and I found lugging the two paniers around town when I parked a complete pain in the a....

    Have a good weekend.
     
  19. athoma00

    athoma00 New Member

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    I use a $5 nylon carry bag which I bungy cord to the carrier mounted on the front. It can fit my change of underclothing and lunchbox + phone, wallet, keys etc. Not waterproof so put the stuff I need dry in a plastic supermarket bag. Way better than something on my back. This setup is way cheaper than panniers although I may get some eventually for touring, but will probably only use for touring as not easily detachable. Have been toying with the idea of a handlebar touring type bag tho. Could get rid of the carrier altogether. I like having my cargo on the front where I can keep an eye on it, and it helps to balance the weight on the bike instead of loading the back tyre further .
     
  20. climbo

    climbo New Member

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    right on there 'rod ! I have the Re-Load bag and it is BOMB PROOF ! The material and workmanship is super fine and it can't be beat. They cost a bit more than an off the shelf model from the Timbuks etc. but they last a LONG time and are very waterproof and comfortable. And they can be customized to have whatever pockets, colours etc you want.

    And yes, I find a messenger bag does everything I need for commuting, they work for any amount of gear you need to carry and are great when off the bike also. It's not like you can throw your panniers over your shoulder when you hit town and be comfortable.
     
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