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I have a ~2 mile/~20min cycle to work and currently take a rucksack with me that generally only contains my food for the day in a standard take-away container measuring about 17cm x 12cm x 4cm give or take.

I end up with a sweaty back in the morning which is a little annoying; so I'm wondering if there are any good saddle bags or similar that I could fit my food container, wallet and phone in (so something with a depth of maybe 10cm) to relieve the issue of sweaty back. Does anyone have any good recommendations because at the moment my rucksack seems a little like overkill.

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what about a "bum bag" (fanny pack and other names) seems about the right size, if you don't need a full backpack –  Dagon Sep 4 '12 at 19:57
    
Welcome to Bicycles! In addition to the answers to this question, consider browsing the questions tagged cargo. –  Neil Fein Sep 5 '12 at 3:46
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3 Answers

It sounds like you need something like a handlebar bag or a rack trunk like these:

rack trunk

handlebar bag

The rack trunk would require adding either a seatpost mounted rack or a full rear rack. Either one would allow you to move to panniers in the future if you needed to carry more goods like a laptop or a change of clothes, but a full rack would be able to handle more weight and is generally recommended for stability and versatility.

The handlebar bag may or may not require a front rack, depending on how big it is. Some come with enough of a mount that you don't need anything additional to support the weight.

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Thank you for the suggestions. They're both still a bit bigger than what I was hoping, but having looked at saddle bags like rei.com/product/811087/timbuk2-lightbrite-seat-pack-medium, it just seems very few people cater to this kind of issue. hmm WIll have to check my local bike shop –  Jarede Sep 4 '12 at 18:10
    
The handlebar bag is only 4.5 liters. You aren't going to get much smaller than that while still being able to carry a lunch wallet and phone. My slightly larger than a sandwich container is 870 ml, and even the smallest of the sandwich containers might be only 750 ml. Add in a wallet and a phone, and you're probably talking about 1.5 litres minimum if your lunch consists of only a sandwich. I like to east a little more than that. You also have to remember to account for lost space due to the fact that you're never going to completely fill every corner of the bag. –  Kibbee Sep 5 '12 at 12:32
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The suggestions by @Tha Riddla are great ones. If you opt for a full rear rack you may also want to consider just going with a single panier bag. Look for a smaller one similar to this one. The advantage is that you will have a little extra space when you need it, possibly for tools or when you need to stop by the store on the way home from work. The weight will be uneven, but I haven't really found that it impedes my riding, and even seems to be of minimal inconvenience when stopped. I've even carried home those 4 L milk bags without problems. You also might be able to get away with a frame bag but I would think that it would probably be too small.

UPDATE

I was also able to find this saddle trunk which seems like it might fit your needs.

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Yeah, I'd prefer the rear rack (either post mount or frame mount) to the front bag, since the front bag is hard to mount securely and will bounce around. And I've commuted for decades with a single pannier and never found it to be a problem, though the rack-top "trunk" bag is a reasonable option as well. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 4 '12 at 15:59
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Why not choose a handlebar bag? That way you might even grab a banana or hear your phone ring while commuting. And you will, surprisingly, have better aerodynamics. I like the waterproof Ortlieb, but choices are many. This one comes in 7 liters and 8,5 liter models. And this one comes in a compact 2,7 liters:

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Handlebar bags have quite limited capacity, interfere with cables on many bikes, and are quite unstable (affecting steering) if loaded with anything even moderately heavy. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 12 '12 at 17:14
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