CBB Poll: Baggage Options

Around this time every year I start questioning my options for getting my work stuff back and forth. I’ve always used a backpack, but with afternoon temperatures close to 10° F (3° C) and the humidity making it feel 5 to 1° warmer, I’ve got to wonder if another option would be better. So, what do you use to haul your stuff to and from work?


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0 thoughts on “CBB Poll: Baggage Options”

  1. William says:

    I find backpacks to be pretty miserable for riding… I tried messenger bags for a while but they made me sweat too much. I put a rack and pannier on my bike, but that’s about 5 pounds of equipment when most days all I need is a shirt, glasses, keys, wallet, phone. It makes a difference, since my commute is 11.3 miles each way. Since one of my bikes is a Brompton, I just bought the touring pannier, and brought it to work packed with 5 shirts, a pair of shorts, and a clean towel, and it wasn’t even half filled. So on my other bike, all I have now is a lightweight handlebar bag for the glasses, keys, wallet, and phone.

    One thing that I haven’t figured out. I left the touring pannier at the office, figuring I’d bring it home when everything’s dirty, do the laundry, and bring it back the next day, but then that’s 2 of 5 days that I’m commuting on the Brompton, which is a nice ride but nowhere near as efficient as my other bike. I suppose that next time I can bring the pannier home with me at the end of the day, and the next week I can bring in the new clothes in the morning and take home the old in the evening, but I don’t think I own enough clothing to make that work.

  2. Chris C. says:

    I tried several bag and end up using a Chrome Citizen Messenger bag. My biggest grip with backpacks was my clothes would get wet from the sweat seeping through. The big plus for the Chrome Messenger bag was it has a rubber liner to that keeps everything sweat free. Plus it’s super stylish and I get street credit with the hipsters! Until they notice I’m wearing spandex… 🙁

  3. Adam Durand says:

    I’ve got a milk crate strapped onto my back rack. I don’t know what sort of weight it adds, but I love it!

  4. gazer says:

    Messenger bag, BUT I’m in northern california. Heat? Rather rare. Humidity?? What’s that?

    At times, I still pine for carrying my bag on the bike not my back.

  5. Fritz says:

    Don’t forget about the ever popular milk crate!

    I usually messenger bag it (Nor Cal like Gazer), but I’ve also just strapped stuff directly to the rack.

  6. I’m in the pannier camp, but then I’m always carrying more stuff, too. I always have a laptop (and it weighs over 7 pounds), a change of clothes, and shoes. And at least once a week I pick up something at the grocery store on my way home so I like having space for those items, though my new porteur-style front rack makes that a lot easier.

  7. Eric says:

    Panniers here. Tried the bags but prefer the panniers. I always have a laptop and accessories to carry – so even though it’s heavier with panniers, I still prefer the bike to shoulder the load…

  8. dlloyd says:

    Panniers, too. I started out with a PI Velockpak (which is a great backpack) but once the temperature started to rise, It was too sweaty and uncomfortable. One day I tried strapping it to the rack of my L200. I made it a few blocks before it almost fell off, but it was a revelation in ventilation. I ordered a set of Deuter Rack Pack I panniers from Sierra Trading Post the next day.

    I find that I can fit the laptop, clothes and lunch in one pannier. That leaves the other side of my rack free for the Nashbar Townie which comes in handy when the spousal unit asks me to stop by the grocery store on the way home.

  9. david in fla says:

    backpack here in north central FL. It’s hot. It’s humid. but all I’m carrying is the regular keys/phone/wallet/id badge and a shirt for the day. Pants for the week and shoes in the desk drawer. I don’t sweat too much in the morning until about mile 4 (out of 7ish), and then at that point I’m halfway there, so no worries. I honestly sweat more walking from the bike rack to the building, which is why I carry my bag in my hand once I get off the bike.

  10. Larry in AK says:

    I have done the pannier thing. The bigger the whatever you use, the more stuff you are going to put into it. I stage slacks, shirts and other neccessary items for the work week at my office. I leave a pair of shoes there all of the time. I commute all year long, so when I used panniers they raised the center of gravity and caused the back tire to get squrelly on soft snow. Since then I use a camelbak with few items in it.

  11. Jerome says:

    In Chicagoland suburbs, 6 miles each way year-round. Smaller Osprey backpack (Stratos 18) for laptop, pump, wallet, some light incidentals. Aircore carbon strut frame keeps it off the back and pretty cool. Small Timbuk2 cases for phone and camera on backpack straps. Ziplocs ready for downpours. Lots of flashers on pack, day and night, other lights on bike. Flash-Flag on left side of rack, utility marker flag on back of rack. That day’s clothes, food, water, towel along with tools, bungees in one touring Ortlieb Bike-Packer waterproof pannier. Leave a heavy 5-lb. lock on the bike rack at work, also leave shoes, belt, toiletries, yoga mat, etc in the office. When will be bringing a case of beer home, there’s room in the one pannier for the other pannier and a lighter lock. To carry more (beer, grocs) on weekend, combine the Ortliebs and the Burley. Larger Osprey when skating to/from work on very dry days.

  12. Noah says:

    You already know my answer, Warren. I’m panniers all the way right now. come winter-time, though, I will probably revert to the backpack. The reason being that with a backpack, my bike itself feels a lot more nimble for the low-traction surfaces, and my back won’t mind getting warm.

    That, and I’ll likely be using the knobby-equipped mountain bike instead of the roadie that’s got the rack on it. Who knows, though. I might end up buying a rack for my MTB as well.

  13. JiMCi says:

    Get the right backpack and you won’t sweat! There are a few models that have a lightweight frame with a mesh net stretched on it; the pack itself is off your back by a few inches, allowing lots of ventilation that will keep you cool. Mine is a Deuter and I never leave home without it. I’ve tried other bags before, as well as panniers and seatpost bags/rack. I got rid of them at a garage sale…

    Deuter system details: http://tinyurl.com/2g43o5

  14. Cafn8 says:

    I used a backpack for a while until I realized that I only ended up wet under the backpack, which didn’t take long to realize. now I just strap it to a rack with a bungee cord. Works OK.

  15. Mark Evans says:

    I’d use saddle bags but I take my MacBook back and forth to work so I carry it in a messenger bag.

  16. yangmusa says:

    Depends on the bike. On my Swift folder and on my recumbent I use panniers. On my beater bike I have a front basket ( a big Wald one) and I love it! I only put the basket on a month ago, but it’s so incredibly convenient to just throw anything in and secure it with a net. Since I finished my beater bike, I haven’t ridden anything else…

  17. Ed W says:

    I use a single pannier most days. It was originally designed for police use, so it’s a little larger than most panniers, almost like an over-sized briefcase. It’s great in the summer.

    But in cold weather I like having a messenger bag. It keeps my back warm.

  18. Rachel says:

    It depends on the commute. If I’m riding to work, I’ll haul my stuff in a pannier b/c I can’t stand the pain of a backpack after a 10 mile commute one way (Just remember you get what you pay for. The cheaper the pannier the more likely it is to kill you.) If I’m going to the coffeeshop, I’ll take my messenger bag; I’ll take a sturdy backpack for light shopping.

    I found a really awesome site for building a trailer and I’m debating about investing in such a project since I have to haul a lot of stuff to the recycling center 2 miles from my house.

  19. Christy says:

    I ride a recumbent so i have to use panniers. I have a set from Arkel – the grocery bags ones. Even when I rode a hybrid bike I used panniers. Backpacks made me sweaty and made me feel top heavy.

  20. Patrick says:

    I’m curious about the experience people have had with laptops in panniers. Are there any specific panniers designed to help absorb the shocks and limit potential damage to laptops? I just have a hard time letting myself put my company laptop at the mercy of the Baltimore potholes.

  21. Noah says:

    I use a smallish laptop bag for my macbook and stuff that in my panniers.

    I’ll be getting this when it’s out. Laptop cells are a popular option for bike commuters.


  22. Re: laptops in panniers.

    I have carried laptops in panniers for a few years. I keep my laptop in a padded laptop sleeve to prevent it from getting scraped up or banged up from other things in the panniers but I have had no problems at all in year-round, daily commuting.

  23. AndyM says:

    I have to cope with both high temperature (30s C) and high humidity during the summer here in Japan, I use a large waist pack from The North Face it’s about 25 litres capacity, so plenty big enough (used it for a 3 day trip to Shanghai). Has the usual water bottle holders and has a very useful cover for when it does rain. It’s very stable having a shoulder strap and also can fit my MacBook in it. All in all a good piece of kit.

  24. Dr. Logan says:

    Once you go panniers, you never go back… to your, uh, back.

  25. CaptMonkeyRocket says:

    Rack bag! (Terrible oversight to leave this choice off the poll.) I add a single pannier on days when I have a lot to carry.

  26. Warren T says:

    Sorry Capt’. I guess I was hoping that the “Other” category would pick up the slack. I’ve ridden with a backpack so long that my knee jerk reaction to seeing a rack bag would be to lump it into the pannier group. Upon pondering this further I could see that there is a difference. I tote a laptop with me so, like several others above, I tend to think it is safer to keep it on my back — less vibration. If I didn’t have the ‘puter with me, I think the rack bag would suit me well.

  27. Steve says:

    Usually a messenger bag in cool/cold weather because they’re so convenient, but in the middle of summer I start taking a change of clothes and shoes to work and a pannier works better for that.

  28. Mary says:

    I went with panniers, because I Hate wearing a backpack…I sweat too much, my shirt is ruined, you get the picture.

    Plus, I can fit more in my bag without it weighing me down.

  29. Tim says:

    I know it’s a little much, but I carry a laptop back and forth, so Backpack is my choice. I don’t want to jostle the ‘puter on the way. I just carry extra shirts and shower when I get home through the humid Austin summer heat.

  30. yangmusa says:

    This may possibly be a little too geeky for those nervous laptop commuters out there, but… I’ve replaced my hard drive with a compact flash card. Not only are they much more resistant to shock than hard drives, they also use a lot less power. I still try to cushion my bag on a spare sweater or something, but I’m not too worried.

  31. Kim says:

    I’ve just started commuting by bike recently. I’ve tried the backpack, but I feel constricted and off-balance with it on. I’ve changed to a Topeak rack and REI pannier for now, just to stuff my normally needed stuff in. I’ll be getting a grocery pannier for the other side, since my ride takes me right past the supermarket.

  32. Paul of Minneapolis says:

    Me, I ride a LOADED tourning bike, four panniers and a handlebar bag.

    Most of the time I take off the front bags cause of the wind drag. The handlebar bag keeps wallet, keys, phone and PDA. If it’s just to work or school and back shoes in one pannier and cloths in the other.

    I don’t think I want a backpack when I leaning as low as possible into a strong headwind.

    As for the weight, when I’m loaded with groceries or camping gear, it feels like the bike is close to 60 to 100 lbs at times.

  33. danomite says:

    I use a Chrome Citizen messenger bag on my 16km commute. It is enough for pants/shirt lunch and (bike) tools. I keep my shoes at work. On atypical days I can carry my rain gear or other bonus items (like, say a six-pack) in there too. The Citizen is tiny compared to a lot of bags that you see rolling around.

    I prefer the messenger bag to panniers because it doesn’t add unsuspended weight to the bike, though I will admit to having spent very minimal time with panniers. In messenger bag vs backpack, I find the air-flow and general comfort to be much better with the bag.

  34. Sue says:

    Xtracycle. Not cheap, but completely, utterly, eliminates “carrying stuff” problems. I feared buyer’s remorse but instead ended up selling my car.

  35. David says:

    I have a waist pack by Lowe Alpine that can hold an 8.5 inch by 11 inch tablet (or laptop), it holds my lunch, jacket (on the way home on warm days), and/or rolled up shirt/pants. It’s been great for commuting all spring, summer and fall. I also used it during a century ride in May. It is far less sweaty for me without a pack on my shoulders, the ride is very stable and I am able to cinch things down with compression straps, etc.
    I bought mine on clearance at Sierra Trading Post and haven’t seen anything better yet. Also it has reflective piping on the back for visibility to cars. And bungee elastic netting on the outside if I really want to tie something else on.

    I have been intrigued by Xtracycle, and might be trying one soon. Kinda spendy, like buying another bike though. It would be better to just buy a “longbike” frame if there was one available on the market. I’ve heard Xtracycle can make your bike as versatile as a pickup truck…

    I have a little one-wheel trailer, but never used it. If I want to go grab a few groceries, I’d rather just throw a pannier open top sack type bag on the rear rack.

  36. Ideoggece says:

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well.

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