Riding into Town - A Guide to Urban Cycling Backpacks
It's hard to disguise the fact that urban cycling backpacks and bags have become a bit of a fixture of riding in town. With two wheeled culture increasingly reflected in street maps as well as shop windows, exploring the city by bike has never been more popular. So, whether you've got a long standing picnic commitment, an awkward errand out eastward, or simply the desire to take some stuff along for the ride, a robust bag for city cycling is going to be top of your hit list for those long summer days cycling between pin points.
First things first though, let's clarify the atomisation of the nomenclature here - urban cycling bag? No, we haven't made it up, though we wish we had: An urban cycling bag is designed to put up with the rough tough street scene, built to be utterly bombproof and allow you to carry everything you might need on your city escape. As a standard, you can expect to see things like laptop storage, decent EVA foam back padding, and a generous helping of water and abrasion resistant 1000D Cordura. Rolltop closures being popular, you can be guaranteed of arriving with your spare change of clothes dry and unaffected by any climactic hullabaloo that may be going down.
All day packs
Leaving the house on a whim not knowing where the day will take you? Well, your needs are as multifaceted as serendipity, so from hauling a baguette to toting a ton of paperwork, you'll need a sturdy and stable backpack with space to swallow whatever gets thrown your way. They'll keep everything dry, are utterly bombproof, and will sit comfortably on your back for even the most determined dash across town. In these sorts of circumstance, there are some solid standouts, namely from brands like Chrome and ILE, with their Barrage Cargo and Default Bag.
Other ultra-practical alternatives include the "created for kayaking" Sealline range, including the handily named SealLine Urban Backpack. Making sure that everything is absolutely waterproof, you can head off in the knowledge that your precious paper and even gadgets are in no harm of being wetted in that typical mid-ride line squall.
For the ride into work, a different beast is required. Sure, you still want to keep everything safe, but, well, there are some aesthetic considerations to be made and balanced against practicality. So, what to go for? Well, the all weather commuter might have their nose tweaked by a solid Rostov or a Kharkhiv from US brand Chrome as they provide ample space for laptops and clothes for the day ahead.
Cycling to work in the city though calls for a different beast altogether - one that will keep your suit free from folds and creases. Well, the magic word here is Henty. This Australian brand make suit bags that double as backpacks, rolling up to give you the ability to pedal to the office before changing into more suitable attire, and frankly, it's been a revelation for the commuting cyclist.
The Street Photographer
Now, this strand of the urban cycling bag genus is a rare but beautiful thing. Photo bags are some of the most specialised bags out there, and do a fantastic job of keeping your DSLR and assorted lenses safe as you go about town. Beautifully compartmentalised and offering external strapping to help carry a tripod if needs be, a camera bag is a must for budding photographers looking to head off in pursuit of that cityscape or portrait without worrying about their hardware's welfare. With offerings from Chrome in the form of their lightweight Niko Sling and beefy Niko Camera Pack and a heavy duty counterpart from ILE with the Photobag Prime Molle and Photobag MKIII, the bicycle bound photographer is well catered for as they breeze around town clicking shifters as well as shutter releases.
The Swift & Stylish
So, we get it, there's a rough tough side to urban cycling bags, but not everyone can pull off the gnarly, King of the Crit, legs of steel look. Fortunately, cycling in town isn't always about being a fixed geared monster - many take a great pleasure in style and refinement, and to this end, there are some pretty gorgeous looking cycling backpacks out there.
Examples? Well, just take a look at the Brooks England range. Crafted by hand from the finest of materials, these bags just ooze style and draw attention for all the right reasons. Turning up for that semi-formal I-really-hope-this-goes-well coffee appointment in town, a bag like this won't look out of place. Carrying a laptop alongside other essentials, these bags are things to be treasured and to take pride in. With features designed specifically for cycling, you'll be able to keep up with the pace too, which is always a plus in the frenetic blur of the urban landscape...
Slings, Belts and Duffles
Maybe you're not into all that stuff though - sometimes it's good to feel the relative freedom of packing light, and if that's the case, your only need is to keep your pockets empty and your bikes security in tow by means of a solid D-Lock. Some of the main contenders in this field? Try the Chrome Chekhov or Chrome Kadet. Another sneaky little bag for that quick and liberating city dash is the a clever old offering from those innovators at Tate Labs. The Barfly Daily Courier Bag does a great job of holding the bare essentials without punishing you with weight penalty for being so outlandish as to dare and sneak a bag onto those drop bars of yours.
So then, if you've read this far, you should hopefully have a better idea about the plethora of options open to the townie on two wheels. There's plenty of choice, and most definitely a backpack, bag or sling to suit your next outing and every need. As ever though, if you're really stuck, just drop us a friendly line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try and whittle down the options! In the meantime though, why not cast your enlightened eye over the cordura, buckles and big literage backpacks in our urban cycling bags section?