I’m not a backpack gal. I don’t like the sweat or the weight messing with my center of gravity. I do, however, haul a fair amount some days.
You can find a variety of types of bags with different ways of attaching to the rack or to you. Unfortunately most bike shops carry an assortment that resembles what Henry Ford told early car buyers: You can have any color you want as long as it’s black.
Black is a really stupid color for an item into which you place things. Unless you carry a flashlight you’ll always be rooting around in the bottom of a dark cave.
Another feature of my former Black Uglies that I loathed and detested was the way the mounting hooks dug into my side when I took the bag off the rack and carried it. Some bags are designed with clever flaps to cover the hooks or a different mounting system that doesn’t stick out so far.
When you’re looking at any bag, think not only about how it attaches to the bike, but how it will work for you as a bag you carry around off the bike.
Odds are that you’re not going to leave a bag with your laptop, wallet, and that pretty necklace you just bought for your daughter sitting on the bike while you go check out the sale rack at some of our wonderful local boutiques in Carnegie Square or SoDo.
Hence my love for my pretty Po Campo bags and my oh-so-practical Donkey Boxx that I was able to dress up with custom stickers from Hydra Creations. The Po Campos detach quickly and their flat webbing straps don’t dig in. I drop a fabric grocery box into the Donkey Boxx to hold my dealie-bobs and what-nots and just pull that out.
My 17-year-old daughter, on the other hand, slings a regular bag over her shoulders and pedals away with it swinging back and forth.
It makes me a trifle crazy to watch her because it looks like she’ll spill all that stuff any minute and it also looks as if the changing weight distribution would be scary, but it works for her so I keep my judging little mouth shut. (This is a relatively rare exception to my normal mothering style, which I confess in order to forestall the inevitable comments by my daughters.)
If you’re fine with backpacks, by all means use one. It doesn’t have to be bike-specific.
Before you start automatically shifting absolutely everything from your purse into the bike carrier, however, stop and take another look. Can you pare down what you carry? I’m betting the answer is yes.
Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking
- 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
- Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
- Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
- Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
- How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
- Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
- On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
- 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
- Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
- There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
- Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
- More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
- Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
- Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
- 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
- On a Roll with Katherine Widing
- I Shouldn’t Assume
- Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
- Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
- What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
- How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
- 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
- It’s All in the Attitude
- Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
- Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
- More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
- Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
- Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
- Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
- 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!
- Experienced commuters, what kind of bag/pannier/box do you have? What do you like/dislike about it?
- What features do you want in the ideal, perfect, too-good-to-be-true bike bag?