How do you carry stuff to work?

IMG_9842In this weeks comment Friday I want to talk bags! How do you go about getting the bits you need into work. Whether that be a laptop, a change of clothes or any other items you keep in your bag.

After my brief brush with panniers, I’m currently relying on a messenger bag. My choice is between the Timbuk2 messenger bag which I bought second hand off the LFGSS forum and the Chrome Buran (which I’ve been sent for review). Messenger bags are comfortable, provide quick access as you can swing it around your shoulder and tend to have plenty of capacity.

Why I couldn’t stick the panniers? The wider bike made me feel less nimble.

On to you – what do you use?

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88 Responses to How do you carry stuff to work?

  1. Yvann 01/04/2011 at 9:38 am #

    I’ve been using just an ordinary backpack (admittedly one with plenty of back-padding) covered in one of those fluro Hump covers. It’s big enough to hold my laptop, change of clothes and the necessaries for the day (phone, wallet etc), but I’m finding it pretty tough work – I’d much rather let the bike do the carrying via panniers. So I’m surprised that you had such a bad experience with them?

    • Jules 01/04/2011 at 11:42 am #

      Me too but the warmer weather is making me dig out the rack and paniers come this weekend.

  2. Tom 01/04/2011 at 9:39 am #

    I’ve been using a Knog pannier bag. I quite like these because of their ‘hybrid’ design. They are not too bulky either, being quite narrow, so do not stick out so much. You are able to use them both as a messenger bag and as a pannier. The pannier attachment is also really easy – they clip on at the top, and that is all you need to do.
    Mine is made of waxed canvas which is water resistant, then there is also a rain cover you can pull out when it’s a really wet day.
    It has a good laptop pocket, nicely padded and with a felt like lining.
    They type I have: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/knog-frank-dog-laptop-courier-bag/
    Main downside is that they are a little pricey, but I think it’s worth it if you use it every day, esspecially if you want to protect you £xxxx laptop!

    • light 01/04/2011 at 9:55 am #

      Yeah Knog’s are great. I bought the smaller Hot Dog. I love that it is a messenger and pannier in one. I haven’t been using it as much as I would have liked on my bike as I hardly cycle commute these days..

    • Angi 02/04/2011 at 1:02 am #

      Ah I love my Knog bags. Have two of them…one (smaller) that can be attached to the rack as a pannier and another (larger) messenger bag which is waterproof.
      So far they have served me well.

  3. Ade 01/04/2011 at 9:49 am #

    When i have to carry my laptop i rely on my Arkel Briefcase Pannier which is totally bombproof and has plenty of room for laptop accessories and a change of clothes. Expensive but worth it. Other than that I prefer a backpack to a messenger bag as I find a messenger bag tends to slip round in front.

  4. GL 01/04/2011 at 10:02 am #

    I used to have a hybrid with panniers when I started commuting, but as I got fitter I felt the need for speed, so I got a road bike and now use a small rucksack to carry essentials only. I leave a suit in the office to change into when I arrive. As such I don’t feel I need to carry huge amounts of extra weight around anymore.

    Changing my bike took about 10 minutes off my commute overnight, and I put most of that down to not having one (or sometimes two) heavy panniers slowing me down. The difference is truly amazing.

  5. chris 01/04/2011 at 10:04 am #

    I’ve got an Ortlieb courier bag which, although they call it medium, is enormous enough for most days. It’s almost completely waterproof, really easy to access, has loads of internal pockets and tabs to clip things to, and while it was quite pricey to begin with and is now quite bashed after over 3 years of use, but is still feeling solid enough a for a few more.

    I know that some people struggle with the assymmetry of the courier bag, but I prefer the slightly lower centre of gravity compared with a back pack. (I guess the even lower centre for panniers would be better, but I never liked the width issue, either.)

  6. Steve 01/04/2011 at 10:04 am #

    I generally leave my Trousers and shoes at work, and use a backpack one day a week to carry all the other clothes I need to the office and leave the shirts hung up. The rest of the time I use a messenger bag. Mine has a clipped strap that goes across my front and really helps stop it swinging round in front.

    In the summer when I take a longer route home I just use a saddle bag for my wallet, phone and keys.

  7. Ciarán 01/04/2011 at 10:38 am #

    Panniers, all the way. Rucksacks just aren’t suitable for carrying stuff by bike.

  8. Alec-Angus Macdonald 01/04/2011 at 10:42 am #

    I’ve ridden to uni and now work for the last 4 years with a Chrome Metropolis and I couldn’t rate it high enough. I pack a gym kit, swim kit, towel, toiletries, work clothes, lunch and a laptop as well as the usual sundries (phone, keys, wallet, change, multi-tool etc) and it just hugs me comfy, high on my back. The strap is super padded and remains one-hand adjustable.

    The waterproof tarpaulin inner skin is indispensable (I’m in Scotland) and despite getting used and abused every day it’s showing no signs of wear. It’s even been through the wash a couple of times.

  9. Meadowend 01/04/2011 at 10:43 am #

    I have the use of a locker and showers at work, so keep a suit/shoes etc there. I use a pannier bag once a week to carry clean shirts/underwear/socks/towel to work and bring the dirty laundry home. Otherwise I use a Lifeventure bumbag (see below) that my wife found, which carries everything I need day to day, is big enough for a magazine (generally the Economist) and waterproof overtrousers, and solves the low centre of gravity problem.

    The only problem I’ve encountered with the pannier is on windy days when it does present huge resistance to side winds. But it is a bit of a pain clipping/unclipping especially when folding the bike to put it on the train, so my preference is the bum bag when I can get away with it.

    Lifeventure “waist” bag at Wiggle:
    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/lifeventure-base-runner-1-waist-bag/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=base&utm_campaign=products

  10. Alina 01/04/2011 at 10:49 am #

    When I have to carry a lot of stuff I swear by my Ortlieb Back Roller Classics. Because you roll them up to close them you can fit a huge amount in but at the same time can roll them up quite small if you are not carrying very much. It’s a bit of a dig sometimes to find things inside but overall I think they are great. Plus they are waterproof so no need for an extra cover.

    I am tempted to give one of those messenger bag/pannier hybrids a try though.

  11. pol sifter 01/04/2011 at 10:52 am #

    The problem with messenger or courier bags is the fact that they put extra pressure on the one shoulder and after years of lugging stuff around you can create shoulder/back/spinal problems.

    Trust me, my acupuncture/massage therapist wil vouch for it.

    I carry the usual gumpf needed for working in an office with a hot desk setup (laptop/powercable/mouse/headphones/sunglasses/pens&pencils etc.) and then there are the kit I need for the days when I go bouldering/swimming or yoga.

    My de-facto backpack of choice is my old Howies bag with a reflective “one way” sign on the back, not the most stylish of bags as it’s made from tough black colour Nylon, but I am always amazed at how much I can cram into it, it’s the one on the left in this link:

    http://www.howies.co.uk/content.php?xId=392&id=1044&viewblog=1044

    I have many a fellow cyclist stop me and ask where I got it or who makes it so I am sure if Howies updated it and made it a little more stylish/comfortable then they would be onto a winner.

    the cost? I found mine in near new condition on ebay for £15 – an absolute steal!

  12. Dunc 01/04/2011 at 10:55 am #

    Ortlieb back roller classics panniers – they’re the boss. Lots of room, waterproof, very sturdy and easy to use. Why get ones that you have to use a separate waterproof cover?!

    Also just bought a carradice zipped roll saddle/handlebar bag which is lovely. Just right for carrying around a few pieces of kit.

  13. Fabian 01/04/2011 at 10:57 am #

    I leave my suit etc at work and then just roll in using a fairly large saddle bag. I’ve gone through quite a few of these over the years, and would suggest to anyone that is considering such an option that they go for Carradice and never Brooks bags. I’ve had two Brooks bags and though they look nice, they have both fallen apart in under a month.

  14. Dunc 01/04/2011 at 10:57 am #

    I also have a vaude backpack that I used before I had a bike with a rack, which is very good, and has a waterproof cover built into the bottom that you pull out on a bit of elastic

  15. K 01/04/2011 at 10:58 am #

    I hate riding with stuff all over my person, I’m a t-shirt and shorts guy, and I like to travel light. I use the Topeak MTX trunk bag, with the corresponding Topeak rack. The bag sits atop the rack by sliding it into a rail on the rack, and it has expandable panniers. It looks small but I can fit my tools, a full suit, shirt (they don’t crumple if you roll them and don’t leave them there too long), shoes and laptop if need be.

    I’m lucky enough that I can leave most of the stuff at work though.

  16. el-gordo 01/04/2011 at 10:58 am #

    When I first started commuting I used an old back pack I found in the cupboard and thought that would be fine. However, I got a Camelbak for my birthday last year and the difference was immense.

    The weight distribution is so much better when carrying heavy stuff like lap top while it also allows air to circulate around my back. It gets used 4-5 times a week on my commute (shirts etc carried in by train every now and again) as well as for skiing, hiking etc. I know they are quite expensive but I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

  17. Konrad 01/04/2011 at 10:59 am #

    I just finished a course of physio to realign my back following a year carrying too much weight in a messenger bag. I think they are fine if you are carrying a few papers, but carrying work clothes / laptop / sports kit is just too much.

    Like Andreas, I wasn’t keen on panniers. For me, the solution is this http://www.carradice.co.uk/products/type/sqrslim

    It fits very securely to your seat post, is waterproof, detaches in seconds, and you can get a laptop, pair of shoes, and work clothes in it.

  18. botogol 01/04/2011 at 10:59 am #

    pannier
    – messenger style bag – always swings round
    – backpack – I get too hot and sweat soaks through (TMI, sorry)
    – pannier is perfect, I forget it’s there.

    I don’t carry much stuff on my commute – clothes, no laptop, so weight is not an issue and I use a rack that clips on to the seatpost: very easy to remove when I don’t need it (I never cycle with an empty rack, always remove it) also it’s easy to move the rack from bike to bike. A seatpost rack is bit bouncy when hitting a pothole, though!

  19. Phil 01/04/2011 at 11:00 am #

    Hi Andreas,
    I love the classic range of Brooks cyclebags.
    Mine is a Barbican Shoulder Bag. Ok: 243 £ is far away from cheap, but it is a great bag, solid and comfortable. It’s my favourite, because it is safer than other shoulder bags, as you can fix it around your waist.
    The look is so classic and so stylish. :-)
    Have a great weekend.
    Phil

  20. Uli Harder 01/04/2011 at 11:03 am #

    I either use a big Carradice bag on the front carrier block of my Brompton or ancient green Karrimor panniers on my touring bike.

  21. Alex 01/04/2011 at 11:04 am #

    I use a backpack (Deuter Speedlite) which is really comfortable and I can pack everything I need into it.

  22. Ross 01/04/2011 at 11:06 am #

    Mixture of all the above for me – I found messenger bags hurt my back so moved to a back pack (a Deuter Cross Air) for my road bike which takes circa 20% time off my commute, whilst on my old MTB I have a rack and Panniers which save my back and I don’t think slow me down anymore than my very heavy bike already does. Just bought the Lidl Panniers for £11.99, similar to an Ortlieb construction, lets see how long they last!

  23. Jon 01/04/2011 at 11:07 am #

    I have a Dakine messenger bag (http://www.evanscycles.com/products/dakine/porter-laptop-bag-ec026701) which is lovely – huge, waterproof, very comfy thanks to the padded strap and effective cross strap.

    Alas my back is a very sweaty place, so when I got my new bike I opted for a Tourtec lightweight rack and use a cheap & cheerful Altura Arran pannier bag (http://www.evanscycles.com/products/altura/arran-16-pannier-ec008437).

    It’s a really basic bag but that’s sort of the beauty of it. It could use a shoulder strap though. It’s not supposed to be waterproof, but it does pretty well as long as it’s not torrential.

    I must admit hate the aesthetics of a rack & pannier but have to say it’s a far more comfortable option for me. I was thinking about getting a posh saddle bag from Carradice or something, but then my bike’s not exactly retro chic so probably better to stick with what I’ve got.

  24. R 01/04/2011 at 11:08 am #

    I use a drawstring bag generally – unless I have to carry my football kit in which case i use a pannier. Does anyone know of a pannier which sits on top of your luiggage bag as well turns into a back pack? This would be ideal. I dont really like having anything on my bazck when cycling and panniers tend to have single should straps (much luck messagenr) rather than distributing weight across both should (some panniers dont even have that!)

    • John 01/04/2011 at 7:14 pm #

      Hi,
      Look up Arkel bags, they are a Canadian firm and make a few types of pannier bag that have shoulder straps that convert them into a back pack.
      I use the ‘Bug’ from them when I need to leave the bike and go walking with the bag any kind of distance.

      John

  25. Jackart 01/04/2011 at 11:09 am #

    Tried panniers, (make the bike less controllable) tried rucksacks (fine if your handlebars are high, otherwise they push your head forward). Had a small Timbuk2 for years & loved it, but it wasn’t big enough.

    I use a Bagaboo workhorse messenger, which sits on the back, the weight on one shoulder is not noticable as my handlebars are low and my back is flat. When carrying heavier loads it has a second shoulder strap, so avoids the problem of messenger bag ergonomics.

    Quite, quite brilliant bag. Order yours here! http://is.gd/2Sf1ng

  26. Ross 01/04/2011 at 11:09 am #

    I’ve used the Vaude Cycle 25 Convertable Pannier for about a year now. http://www.evanscycles.com/products/vaude/cycle-25-convertible-backpack-pannier-ec021733

    I use it as a pannier, but it converts to a backpack — really useful for going shopping on your bike etc., so you can put it on your back rather than lugging around by hand like most panniers. As a backpack I wouldn’t use if for long walks etc. because the straps and padding are not that substantial, but for walking around town it’s fine. The only downside is that the capacity is not as good as, say, an Ortlieb pannier so you can’t carry loads of stuff. Could do with more reflective bits on the outide too.

    • Andreas 01/04/2011 at 12:53 pm #

      I’ve used this before – pretty good and not too expensive

  27. arh14 01/04/2011 at 11:15 am #

    Not a single person has yet mentioned baskets. Given they’re one of the most popular ways of carrying stuff across the world, this is a bit odd.

    If you’ve got lots of stuff, put it all first in a bag and then put it in your basket. This is also fairly weatherproof; if it’s really wet add a plastic cover on top.

    Oh and they’re cheap. Very cheap.

    • Angi 02/04/2011 at 1:08 am #

      Oh I completely forgot I had a nice bright orange basket…despite using it most days. They are quite handy and you can fit a lot in them.
      The only problem I have with mine though, is that (it fits on to my rear rack) going over bumps and ramps on roads leaves the basket bouncing all over the place and slapping against my bike. It sometimes doesn’t feel secure enough.

  28. Phil 01/04/2011 at 11:17 am #

    I’m using a 20 year old pair of Karrimor panniers. The disc locks would not come off the rack on my old bike, and the tubing of my Mundo’s rear rack is too wide for the top clips, so I clip them to my Oxford lock cable ( which I have cunningly woven through the frame ) to support them. When they finally give up the ghost I will probably buy Carradice panniers.

  29. Ian 01/04/2011 at 11:18 am #

    Ha – Alex beat me to it !

    “Alex 01/04/2011 at 11:04 am

    I use a backpack (Deuter Speedlite) which is really comfortable and I can pack everything I need into it.”

    Ditto

  30. Gavin Bell 01/04/2011 at 11:18 am #

    I tired various backpacks, then shifted to one pannier in the left hand side, that was a few years ago.

    Recently I’ve bought a brompton and the c-bag does me very well. I wish it had some of the features of my much loved timbuk2 messenger like padding for my macbook or a key leash, but it does the job. A merino top to ride to work in and nothing on my back means I keep a lot cooler than when I had a backpack on my back.

  31. Yuriy 01/04/2011 at 11:24 am #

    I use a simple and honest cargo net (like this one: http://www.evanscycles.com/products/delta/cargo-net-ec006108?query=net) to fix a usual bag on the rack.

    Backpacks and, in fact, any sort of bags that you have to wear while cycling make you sweat faster because they prevent your back from ventilating. And panniers are okay, but hey, another “special cycling accessory” thing to buy which is impossible to use for any other purpose? No, thanks.

  32. Rob 01/04/2011 at 11:27 am #

    Use panniers for a while, but I’d agree that they make the bike feel much more cumbersome.

    Also, the weight of the panniers and rack is far greater than a rucksack, so that’s what I’ve reverted to.

  33. Gaz 01/04/2011 at 11:28 am #

    I use a carradice saddle bag. Keeps my back free from backpack, so I can easily add or remove layers whilst moving and it keeps weight off my back.
    Only downside is the centre of gravity is a lot higher than without it. Makes trackstanding more difficult but not impossible.

    I would use a rack but disc brakes are in the way

  34. Graham Ashton 01/04/2011 at 11:28 am #

    Currently I use a single Vaude Aqua Back pannier; they’re very similar to the Ortliebs, with a stiff plastic back, waterproof PVC and a roll top. They have a slightly better system of strapping the roll top down than Ortlieb, and serious touring cyclists typically prefer them over Ortlieb for that reason (I did my research).

    The only problem with my pannier is that there’s no external side pocket for keys, wallet, phone and puncture repair kit. There’s an internal document pocket which is rather nifty, but I usually have everything floating around in side. The Aqua Back Plus has a side pocket, so I’ll probably upgrade. In the meantime I’m going to put all this clobber in a small day bag, and then throw that into the main compartment (I only thought of doing that this morning).

    I also have a Timbuk2 messenger bag (also second hand from somebody on LFGSS) which is okay, but I don’t enjoy cycling with a bag in anything other than cold weather. I also carry two heavy locks these days (I can’t take my bike into my office any more), and wouldn’t want them in a messenger bag. The one thing I’d say against the Timbuk2 is that the strap buckle tends to dig into my right side, which can be uncomfortable.

    The effect a pannier has on handling is largely a function of the type of bike you’re riding. Mine is mounted on a 1970s Dawes Galaxy (so quite a stiff frame – with a hub gear it makes the perfect commuter) and I put plenty of heavy stuff on one side of the rack. You can barely tell that it’s there. On more flexible frame it’d be more of an issue.

    I used to ride a lighter steel frame with a Carradice long flap saddle bag, attached with their SQR quick release bracket. It was great for carrying plenty of weight, had side pockets, and was easily removed from the bike when I nipped into shops. It’s not as big as the Vaude pannier though, and I often need the room during winter for spare jumpers/waterproof jacket.

    I’ve never considered a backpack, mainly because riding is just more fun when you’re not weighed down by lots of clobber. I don’t think it’d be too good for my lower back either (which has seen better days).

    I also ride a Brompton, and they have an absolutely fantastic bag mounting system. You can put loads of stuff in them without having a big impact on the handling.

  35. Lindsay 01/04/2011 at 11:34 am #

    I’ve got a handbag carrier on my handlebars – it’s not dissimilar to the Boris bike thing but is spring loaded rather than elastic. Doesn’t make any difference to handling and is less heavy than a basket. Plus you can use your normal handbag. You can get them from the cycle chic shop.

    If I’ve got much in the way of clothes or whatever, then it’s panniers all the way. I’ve got a slim fastrider one which is great – pretty damn waterproof, weighs nothing, has a shoulder strap and velcro cover for the hooks when you’re using it off the bike. Plus it looks like a nice satchel. Or I’ve got a bigger one if I’m really carrying a lot. I did have some of the big altura ones but I found them useless – horrible to carry once they’re off the bike! The handles are positioned weirdly, there’s no shoulder strap and the hooks were always catching on stuff.

    I do also have a nice tartan boxbag for the rear rack which I sometimes use. You can leave it attached to the bike (they’re not very attractive to thieves) and just stick shopping or whatever in there.

    But the best tip I can give is buy a spare lock and leave it at work if you have a regular commute. Not lugging a lock around for every journey has changed my life for the better!

  36. Stacey 01/04/2011 at 11:36 am #

    I’ve got a basket – it’s the best way for me. I just put my stuff in a backpack and then dump it in the basket as I can’t see the point in physically carrying the weight especially as my back needs TLC. I’ve also got a couple of bungee cords on the basket as I sometimes pop into the supermarket on the way home and the basket will take two full carrier bags … and of course, as my work stuff’s in a backpack, I simply put it on.

    When I considered getting a basket, I stood back, looked at it and thought “how naff does this look” but I’m pleased I got it – it’s so damn practical that I really don’t care what it looks like. I’ve had a rear basket for about 15 years – I’ve just bought a new bike and treated myself to a new basket which is much more attractive than the last one – black mesh …

  37. Adrian 01/04/2011 at 12:48 pm #

    I started with a back-pack and hated it.

    Ended up getting a Vaude dual purpose bag that I can use as a panier or backpack. Problem I found was that with Laptop, shoes, tools, etc the bag weighed over 15 KG. Having all that weight on one side of the bike not only fiel weird, but I went through 4 bolts in a year Panier was fine, (rated to 35kg) but the bolt attaching it to the side the Pannier is loaded on takes all the stress. Even alternating (Left side in the morning, right in the evening)I when throgh 2 bolts.

    I now use the Vaude as a panier bag, and a Cheapy Altura Panier bag. It gives me the advantage that the Vaude is now my dedicated work bag, as I keep the tools, spare tube, etc in the Altura, so when travelling for work I no longer need to strip out tools that will be confiscated by security.

  38. Murray 01/04/2011 at 12:54 pm #

    I found that a bag made my back very sweaty, especially in summer. I don’t mind being less nimble with panniers attached – it means I can do a lot of shopping in one go on the way home from work.

  39. Corin 01/04/2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Agree about the sweaty back thing.

    Unfortunately, with one pannier bag containing locks, work clothes, food, etc I found my bike became dangerously unbalanced. I actually came off twice with this set up and although the side-loading may not have been the cause of the tumbles they made me switch to an old-fashioned backpack.

  40. arthur panos 01/04/2011 at 1:20 pm #

    well i sued to carry my lap top and ipad around my shoulders with either a one strap bag or a two strap back pack. For some reason i had this annoying pain in my chest that lasted ages. Turns out it was because I had been excaccerbating a previously undetected cracked rib injury (falling off my bike in the rain)!!

    so now, I carry my stuff on a little platform ive attached to my seat post – chest feels much better!

    • Andreas 03/04/2011 at 10:29 pm #

      :O was shocked to read the undetected cracked rib!
      Good call on the seat post attachment – I’ve heard these are good and I’ve been meaning to try..

  41. Frank 01/04/2011 at 1:20 pm #

    I use this by Orca – http://www.wiggle.co.uk/orca-waterproof-backpack/

    Although it does have a small compartment on the front, the main area is just one big section. Good strapping across waist & chest to keep it tight, secure and comfortable to carry.

    Very waterproof, as you’d expect, which is main reason for purchase.

  42. Chris Mahon 01/04/2011 at 1:21 pm #

    I have a Carridice SQR Slim saddle bag. Big enough for a laptop, change of clothes and rain jacket. Anything else goes in the rear rack via bungie. This is much better than a pannier in terms of bike balance. You can’t really feel the Slim at all.

  43. Jane 01/04/2011 at 1:47 pm #

    I bought a pannier, because I hate the sweaty-back issues. My pannier is just big enough for all my winter-cycling changes of clothes/make-up/lunch box. It’s a proper pain to carry off-bike, though, despite a detachable strap. I’d marry the person to invent a truly dual-purpose pannier/shoulder bag. Don’t let that put you off, though.

    • Sue 01/04/2011 at 3:00 pm #

      One thing I do like about the Brompton is the luggage system – I currently use an S bag, which is fine for my daily stuff (small laptop, Kindle, purse, sunglasses, make up, packed lunch, waterproof jacket and hi-vis rainproof bag cover)

      • Adam Edwards 01/04/2011 at 9:48 pm #

        I have the C bag which has the super feature of the yellow lining so you can actually see what you have in your bag rather than fumbling in the dark. Big enough for the laptop when needed and the useful front pocket for gloves and maps. Also click on and off is a 1 second job and as it’s at the front and central, not a balamce issue.

        My daughter uses an Ortlieb front pannier on the rear rack of her 24 inch wheel Puky with an old suit carrier strap to take it round school over her shoulder (we tried the Ortleib rucksac adaptor but she found it too uncomfortable). The bright red colour get comments, usually favourable. The second one gets used for PE kit when needed.

        My son has the really cute Puky pannier set for small bikes for his Puky, altough it would easilty fit with other kids bikes. It comes as a pair joined together and is enough for lock and a few things, so he feels he’s carrying his own stuff and so helping Daddy not have to carry so much!

        Finally Jane (other half) has a recylced plastic folding box on the back of her Pashley trike, but it’s falling to bits so time we paid for the official mesh box with lockable lid we think.

        Cheers

        Adam

  44. Tim 01/04/2011 at 3:40 pm #

    The truth is I have found over many years that you need a variety of bags to suit the particular need or load. For example the daily commute, I use one pannier, repair stuff, wet weather gear, locks etc. Daily commute but getting shopping on way home two panniers or if big shop two BikeBins. Occasional commute when wanting to look the business. Ortlieb office briefcase. Can carry the laptop as well as the above and looks ok at a meeting. Nipping in to town and want to off and on quickly, Ortlieb messenger bag 12 L. Hold spares and a lock and can hold a bit of shopping.

    Night out with someone special, Brooks Soho all leather messenger bag. Carries bits and ipad safely. Oh and a spare toothbrush. Enjoy your weekends.!

  45. Steve 01/04/2011 at 3:41 pm #

    For the past three years I have used a North Face backpack, big enough to carry a computer, change of clothing, spare tubes, locks, deodorant, towel, book and occasionally a pair of shoes.
    It can get pretty heavy. The trick is to use the adjusting straps to pull the weight up onto the shoulders. Once done, I don’t find the weight too much of an issue. I do get the sweaty back problem though, no matter the weather.

  46. Tim 01/04/2011 at 3:51 pm #

    http://www.bikebins.com/

    I bought a couple of these a few years ago and often get asked about them when using them. Large capacity, total weather proofing and seriously functional if you have a lot to carry and want it kept dry and safe. You can use just one but if you use two remember to attach the “wide load” sign.

    • Iain 04/04/2011 at 8:40 pm #

      They look good, I need to upgrade to waterproof panniers and these look to work out cheaper than the more traditional style, if you’re still using them a few years after buying that’s got to be a good sign too! On the wish list!

  47. John90 01/04/2011 at 4:14 pm #

    North Face Base Camp large size messenger bag for me, because it is very water proof and because it is very large. At times, with two locks, laptop and all the other rubbish I cart around it has weighed as much as the bike. I used to use a hiking ruck sack but found it hindered my rear view.

    The only thing I don’t like is that it can slide around a bit, even with its auxiliary strap on. Don’t mind the sweat – working up a sweat is one of the main reasons I ride.

  48. Michael 01/04/2011 at 7:02 pm #

    I strapped a milk crate to the top of my rack and throw my backpack in there. It’s a bit unwieldy at first because the weight is rather high up, but I got used to it in about 10 minutes of riding. Works pretty well.

  49. John 01/04/2011 at 7:37 pm #

    Hi,

    I use panniers all the time, just a single Arkel commuter one for my daily commute but if I know I am going to be doing shopping on the way home I add an Arkel extra large Utility bag one as well as this also balances things up well.
    I normally don’t notice the weight on one side unless I am carrying a lot of gear.
    With regards to ‘nimbleness’ well, I find that if your handle bars get through then you and your panniers will as well unless you cut a corner on the way!
    I have to agree with Tim though that for all occasions you need a selection of bags for the job, they just change the bike into the perfect set up for whatever you are doing.

    John..

    John

  50. Luke 01/04/2011 at 7:55 pm #

    I use some crappy Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op panniers that (I presume ironically) say 100% waterproof on them. I am waiting for someone to start selling these in the UK -http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/shift-bike-pannier-messenger
    The closest I’ve come across to a pannier bag that you can carry without giving yourself a hernia

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