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67

I spent the last two years as a backcountry ranger, in Northern California. There, I wore a backpack almost every day. Now I am a bicycle commuter in Sacramento and I choose panniers first, a messenger bag second, and the backpack a distant third. There are three reasons why the backpack is my last choice in this list. Any bag I carry ends up being ...


32

The primary reason why bike messengers use messenger bags is that you don't have to take them off to load or unload them. If you're continually picking things up and dropping things off all day, you don't want to be faffing about taking a backpack on and off all the time. A secondary reason is that the flat rectangular shape of a messenger bag is more ...


22

A messenger bag is great when you: Are not transporting a heavy load Have to put items into the bag, or remove items from the bag very often. Are doing short trips, or having to leave your bike a lot as part of a longer trip A rucksack is great when you: Wish to be able to easily carry the load while off the bike You have to walk a long way after your ...


17

Messenger bags still get your back sweaty, sometimes even moreso than a backpack since messenger bags are often wider than a backpack. I find a messenger bag more convenient than a backpack for shorter trips, but a pannier better for rides of greater than a mile or two. A messenger bag is quite handy if you have to make a lot of stops and don't have a lot to ...


8

Take a look at your riding position. When I was much younger (about 10-12 years ago) I used a messenger pack all the time while in an aggressive riding position (e.g., track bike / road bike) . In that position I found your lower back supports most the weight of the bag. In a more upright position it pulls on your shoulder more. As a test, try walking ...


8

There are a few reasons I prefer a messenger bag or backpack over panniers. A bag on your back is easy to carry around off your bike. If you're using a bike as your primary mode of transportation and making multiple stops, it can be inconvenient to secure your panniers without detaching them and carrying them. I can get off my bike and go to a concert or ...


7

Another cargo solution is a messenger bag or backpack strapped to a porteur rack or in a front basket. You have all the flexibility of a human-designed bag plus the ability to easily carry large/bulky loads when needed. Many bicycles handle quite well with even a moderate front load, but the lower the load can sit the better.


5

Another option is a handlebar bag. Most models have a quick-release and shoulder strap so they're easier to take with you than a pannier. Mine is large enough to carry an iPad/netbook plus lunch, sunglasses and other small items. As long as your load isn't too heavy the effect on your steering is minimal. Otherwise I'd go with panniers or a rack-top bag. ...


5

Waterproof. Not with a waterproof cover, but really, really waterproof, like e.g. the Ortlieb Messenger bags. That's the one thing that is paramount if you also want to commute in bad weather. Size depends on what you carry. If it's just some tools, use a saddle bag. If it's a change of clothes, especially shirt and trousers, look for a larger one so you ...


5

I also hate leaving my rack on my bike carrying a back pack. One solution that I have been thinking about is to get a trailer. Most trailers can be attached in about 2 seconds so it is fast, keeps the weight off your back, etc. Update: Bought a trailer. Love it. Highly recommended. Have a Bob trailer. Was as much as my bike but easily worth it. ...


4

As an alternative, I use bungee cords to attach my bag on the bike.


4

You may want to use a cross strap if you have one (a strap that goes over the chest) to help stabilize the bag, and play with where the messenger bag sits. The width of the bag's strap also can have an effect, as well as the level of padding. I've also found that a loose bag, which can move around a lot, can cause pain while biking versus a bag that is held ...


3

Is it one of those bags that go on only 1 shoulder? I've delivered news papers in England for 6 years, our bags would be close to 10 pounds on a sunday. I found that my shoulder hurt a lot after a while. I started swapping the shoulder I would wear the bag on. One day on the left, one day on the right. That seemed to work a bit better. Alternatively you ...


3

Bikeshare bikes are beasts, and their geometry (long wheelbases, particularly) is such that I wouldn't think 15 pounds in front appreciably changes the steering. My concern -- the picture isn't clear on this point -- is whether the bag can be secured in place so that it doesn't slide out. My messenger bag sometimes gets loaded unevenly (books!), which could ...


2

For straps, ensure that the bag has a cross-strap (that loops around the other side of your body to the bag), or it will be forever falling off/moving to your front. For size - I've had a Timbuk2 Medium Messenger, but currently get away with a Timbuk2 Catapult. Certainly this manufacturer has a huge range of colours available, and being able to pick a nice ...


2

What I keep in my (not messenger) backpack for commuting: Change of clothes (I cycle in shorts & jersey) Shoes (I cycle in SPDs) Spare change in case I forget my wallet Deodorant Mobile Waterproof cover Waterproof cycling jacket Small umbrella (for when I get off the bike) If your work place lets you have lockers or some other storage you can ...


2

I actually always wear a backpack. I would like to get packs to put on the back of my bike. But I only have one bike and it's carbon so I will not add any pack frame to it. I did, however try my friend's messenger bag one time and it left a bruise the size of a softball on my back. I think messenger bags could be good if you have only a lunch a ...


2

I'll add to the already, good reasons for using a messenger bag. Backpacks, I've found, can sometimes stick up too high, making it difficult to raise your head; especially if you have an aggressive riding position (which most real messengers have) Properly packed, a messenger bag can be every bit as comfortable as a backpack. The myth that the single ...


2

I'd suggest that you start with a used bike – perhaps the Indian craigslist would be a place to start. You could observe what people are using for commuter bikes in your area, maybe even talk with some of them, and get some ideas about what sort of bike would be appropriate for you. A used bike will be less expensive and you'll lose less money if you decide ...


2

I agree with most of the comments about messenger bags being better for riding. However... I find it very odd no one has mentioned yet that if you ride wearing a full face helmet (like a downhill or motorcycle helmet) it is always hitting the top of your backpack which it actually dangerous and motion/sight limiting. A messenger bag with the thick strap ...


1

I would really recommend this http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/gravity/liberty_cx.htm I'm making the assumption that you will not be traveling on pristine road surfaces and will have to negotiate some potholes and curbs .. you want a little more rubber than a MTB but don't want the rolling resistance of those fat tires. Stick with a backpack. I have ...


1

I would suggest that you strap it to your back ONLY if it is not distracting you when cycling. What I mean by distracting is the back sliding left or right and making you feel that it is moving around your body. This could be an annoying factor for just anybody. If you have this issue, try to fasten it around the protective rail at the front. Citi bikes ...


1

I personally only use a backpack, but most of my riding is off road recreational, not commuting. I have never see a messenger bag or panniers when out on technical single tracks. Every MTBer I know or have seen either has a backpack or nothing. With a good backpack, when out on a ride, I don't even know its there most of the time, however I sometimes go to ...


1

I'll add a dissenting opinion. A single strap bag is fine, and the second strap is not required. I've used several, and simply tightening the strap has always been enough to stop it moving around, even at 35 or 40km/h. Naturally, the weather resistance, size, and comfort concerns that the other answers mention are worth considering, but something important ...


1

There are so many options for this I can't list them all, here are a few good ones. Mission Workshop has very refined and expensive bags, very full featured multi purpose bags. Rickshaw Bagworks has several commuter bags you may want to check out. Chrome Bags has lots of laptop bags in addition to their standard messenger bags.



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