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commuting backpack suggestions(18 posts)

commuting backpack suggestionsinnergel
Apr 15, 2003 6:06 AM
I am going to start commuting back and forth to work three days a week starting in May and need suggestions for a backpack. The commute is approx. 24 miles one way and I'll be riding three days per week to start with. I figure that the most I'll ever need to carry is a change of clothes, a toiletry kit, a rain jacket, and various small things, i.e. cell phone, wallet, keys. Since the ride will be less than 2 hours, I should be able to easily get by with my two water bottles, but I may need to carry an extra sports drink or bottle now and again.

My concern is that I don't want to get overloaded with stuff and don't want to carry a huge pack. Just the necessities. I've looked at a lot of the Ogio and Jansport bags online, but it's hard to tell how big/small they are. The Camelbak's look good, but are expensive and I probably won't need the extra fluid. And I live in Texas, so it will be very hot, very soon, so a smaller pack is appealing from a heat reduction standpoint.

Any help is appreciated.

J.
Leave the toiletries at work, skip the jacket unless you need itonespeed
Apr 15, 2003 6:24 AM
stash clothes at work that you replace on the days you dont ride in. These things will make your load much lighter.

Timbuk 2 www.timbuk2.com
More on commutingKEN2
Apr 15, 2003 6:38 AM
Keeping clothes, shoes, towel, and toiletries at work is what I do commuting 3-4 times per week. You just have to replace/replenish things on days you drive. We have a refrigerator and microwave at work, so I stock up on frozen dinners, apples, and drinks to keep there--saves even packing a lunch.

Then to bring in any work papers, plus wallet, keys, cell phone etc. I use the Timbuk2 PeeWee messenger bag: see it here--you can build your own online and choose features and colors:

http://www.timbuk2.com

The larger bags are overkill if you keep stuff at work IMO. I'm in Texas also and the PeeWee is reasonably cool, certainly cooler than a full-on backpack, plus it rides very comfortably and stable, as low as you want on your back. If you get a messenger bag make sure and get the strap pad too.
frozen dinners? tsktsk nmSteve_0
Apr 15, 2003 7:14 AM
Camelbak v. Messenger bagSpecialTater
Apr 15, 2003 6:34 AM
Last week I used a camelbak for the first time. Today I rode in with a Jandd messenger bag today. The messenger bag has a much bigger capacity than my camelbak and sits down lower on my back/butt. The lower position keeps me cooler. I use it for around town errands when I don't need hydration. Takes a little while to get the straps adjusted. I'll use the messenger bag more often unless I don't need to carry anything.
Ortlieb Messenger BagGregory Taylor
Apr 15, 2003 6:55 AM
This is the toughest, most waterproof piece of gear that I own. It has survived a couple of winters worth of commuting here in the D.C. area without a wimper. You could drag it behind your bike, throw it off of a cliff, hop in the shower with it, and your crap would still be dry. Highly recommended.
You don't need anything specialRJF
Apr 15, 2003 6:57 AM
I wouldn't be too concerned about what to use. Any old $30 backpack from REI or even Target will do just fine -- there's no secret to it. You can spend a lot more for something supposedly designed for biking, etc., but in my experience it's a waste of money. I've commuted by bike just about everyday for the past 15 years or so, and your average backpack has worked just fine. In fact, my current pack is a cheapie I got free at Circuit City when I bought a camera -- it works perfectly. I prefer the weight distribution and placement of a backpack over a messenger-style pack, too. Plus, those messenger bags cost a fortune.

The other suggestions are good ones: keep toiletries and clothes at work.
my 2 centsgreg n
Apr 15, 2003 7:27 AM
Of the messenger bags I tried, I didn't like the limited expandability. Also, they didn't seem like they'd stay in place if I was jumping curbs, etc.

I found a backpack that has been absolutely perfect. It's a Monterra Trekker. Regardless of the kind you get, make sure it has a strap to secure around your waist. This holds the backpack in place and keeps it from moving side to side and up and down when your out of the saddle or jumping curbs, etc. The one I have has two mesh pockets on the sides that shoes fit into perfectly and there are straps to secure them in there. There's a main compartment and holds clothes and my lunch. Another slightly smaller compartment that holds misc. papers, snacks, etc. And then a small outer compartment that's perfect for key's, sunglass case and small tools/repair kit. I only tote the barely minimum, leaving toiletries at work.

I've also gone the rear rack route, but found the backpack to be more versatile. And when it comes to doing workouts while going home, I don't have the awkward weight of stuff strapped to the back of my bike.
what about tube, patch kit, mini tool?commuterguy
Apr 15, 2003 7:48 AM
Commuting miles tend to be much harder on the bike than recreational/training miles--more flats and mechanical problems, in my experience. I carry two tubes, a patch kit, plastic tire levers and mini-tool (which includes a chain tool). Of course, I also carry a frame pump.

It's also a good idea to carry a rag to clean your hands, in the event that you have to perform a messy repair. And if you really want to be prepared, you can carry crash pack, to deal with road rash.
i would use a touring saddle bag...colker
Apr 15, 2003 7:52 AM
www.rivendellbicycles.com
a backpack overloads your ..back while a saddel bag just affects slightly your bike balance. yoou can carry everything you need on a adams or a nelson.
check rivendell line.
SecondedAndy M-S
Apr 15, 2003 8:17 AM
I commute rain or shine. Rain days, it's my pseudo-cross with fenders; shine, it's the Bianchi roadbike or the Bridgestone roadbike, both stripped down for speed.

On all of the above, I carry my necessities in a Carradice Lowsaddle Longflap (LSLF) bag.

This morning I carried: my lunch, a complete change of clothes (though it's an informal office, so not too bad), my insulin and blood-testing equipment (I'm diabetic), a spare tube, an Alien tool, a patch kit, and a second complete kit in a tiny PI saddlebag for my lunch ride. Also a barcode scanner and disk I'm giving to a friend, and a small case containing my checkbook, fountain pen and mechanical pencil, change for the vending machine, swiss army knife, and some painkillers (just in case).

All of this fits into the LSLF (see www.wallbike.com) with the straps on their tightest setting, and the flap closed. I could add a heavy wool sweater and some large parcels without too much trouble.

I have the bag hung from a rack that I had made at a local shop (see it with a Carradice Jr. here: http://www.geocities.com/marchantshapiro/strange_ideas/saddlebag2.htm).

Secured properly to the rack, I can barely tell that the bag is there, there's no additional weight on my back, and the CG of the bike is considerably lower than if I were wearing a pack.
Vaude ...Humma Hah
Apr 15, 2003 7:56 AM
... their packs have an arched back/backboard system that allows air circulation between the pack and your back. I adore mine, which has a pouch that carries a hydration bladder just fine, and could easily carry shoes and a change of clothes, too.

This question usually produces a number of votes for Vaude, plus others favoring messenger bags.
2nd the Vaude ...(nm)Scot_Gore
Apr 15, 2003 12:30 PM
caveat with messenger bags . . .Geardaddy
Apr 15, 2003 9:06 AM
I used a messenger bag for a couple of years for my commute, which is only about 6 miles one-way. I would often do a longer ride on the way home though. Anyway, a backpack is certainly more stable on the back than a messenger bag, which is good for the longer rides. Also, I developed some persistent neck strain problems using the messenger bag as well. I think this was due to the fact that the messenger bag tends to distribute the weight on one shoulder, which is made worse with heavier loads of course.

I have since switched back to using a backpack, which has improved the neck strain issue. The thing that I liked the most about the messenger bag was the ability to access it without having to take it off. So, I looked for a backpack that had some pockets accessible from the front. I settled on a Kelty bike pack that I found at REI, which also has a built in Camelbak-like bladder.

You don't really need a water proof pack, as you can just use the poor man's technique of putting your contents in a plastic bag before putting them in the pack. Also, I would suggest keeping a rain jacket in the pack as well. They are not heavy at all, and they can help out quite a bit to keep you from getting hypothermic if you're caught in a cold rain.
What about a handlebar bag?innergel
Apr 15, 2003 10:51 AM
If I leave my extra clothes, shoes, and lunch at work (which I will do) then a handlebar bag looks like it might fit the bill. It would carry the necessities for emergencies, etc., and would not sit on my back, so the heat wouldn't be an issue. At least not any more than normal in Texas :-)

My only concern with a handlbar bag is that it would change the handling of my bike (Trek 2300) with the extra weight up front. Plus, I would be a bit concerned with the bag possibly getting in the way of the steering. Plus, I wouldn't want to look like a dork with a giant bag hanging off the front of my road bike.

Any opinions on this idea? Just thinking out loud.

Thanks for all the great suggestions.
re: Dump the backpack, go rack and pannierstdok88
Apr 15, 2003 11:54 AM
24 miles is a fair bike ride to commute. My commute is 11 miles each way and the backpack made my shoulders sore. I got panniers from REI. They're big enough, secure to the bike, and I feel like I'm riding rather than going to school. Consider them.
Bring clothes for a weekbigrider
Apr 15, 2003 12:02 PM
One option is to bring in a week's worth of clothes on a day you ride your car. Keep your toiletries at work. At a minimum keep a pair of work shoes at the job site. If you can work it, the day you drive your car you take dirty clothes home and clean clothes in and replenish the other stuff you need.

Two bottles ought to get you one way with no problem. I ride 11 miles each way on occasion and I can make it with no water. Just drink before you leave and when you arrive.

Use leg and arm warmers, a vest and other items that can be put in your back jersey pocket for the ride home when it is warmer. If you do the above the only thing you need to carry is lunch if you pack.
re: commuting backpack suggestionsjrm
Apr 15, 2003 2:33 PM
the northface torrent works pretty well. Nice fit, light but the closures are kinda hard to get to without undoing the belt strap.