Seven different bags for seven different commutes

A good bag can be the difference between a successful journey and an annoying hassle. Whether to work or to the shops, sometimes a well designed bag is even more important than the bike itself. Here are 5 that you might want to consider the next time you need a trusty companion for your belongings. For more detailed descriptions head over to the website (linked for each item).

Topo Designs Roll Top

The “master of versatility”, according to Topo. The highlights: handmade in Colorado, USA, tough materials and smart design including a roll top (nice) with additional front access (even nicer), separate zipped pockets for organizing things inside, plenty of loops and lashings and side pockets for bottles or whatever else you need quick access to. The styling of these bags looks clean, functional, and stylish. I like it. Not outrageously expensive either. Available in three colours.

You simply can’t go past Deuter when looking at a pack of any kind. The EXP Air the most bike-specific in the range, with features like a helmet holder, compatible with hydration systems, the fantastically breathable Aircomfort Ventilation System to keep you back as dry as possible as well as a similar system for the shoulder and hip straps, included rain cover (adds high-visibility to the pack), very lightweight, side pockets, expandable size, a compartment for wet items that is separate from your dry ones, and more. The only drawback? It’s not particularly stylish, but if you need a super technical bag for the bike, your route home takes you up and over the bigest hills, or you just like to go hard, this old classic is hard to pass over.
For those of us who need to be a bit more presentable at work, a long commute may not have the best effect on your shirt and tie or dress. Enter the Henty Wingman. Keep your formals clean and crease-free with their roll-up backpack, containing a gym-bag in the middle. The backpack, available in two sizes, has all the usual features too, such as laptop/phone pouches, external pockets, reflective piping, light loops, high-viz rain cover, chest and hip straps, and more. The standard Wingman is worn messenger bag-style with some changes to where the pockets are located, but otherwise they function in the same way. Drawback? It’s a bit on the large size, but how else are you going to get your suit to work?

Henty Wingman Henty Wingman

This takes a page out of Deuter’s book, incorporating a suspended, mesh back panel to combat the inevitability of a sweaty back, but opts for a more traditional shoulder strap. It has many of the good features of the Deuter too, but offers a slightly more subdued aesthetic (though still not as stylish as the Topo Designs bag). Rain cover, multiple pockets, laptop compartment, U-lock pocket, helmet attachment, side pockets, and two sizes are amongst the features. Their Momentum and Spin bags have most of the same features but lack the same back ventilation.
 Osprey RadialOsprey Radial
At the other end of the spectrum from the Deuter EXP Air is the Scout from EVOC. If you need to cart around your camera gear by bike, there are a few good bags on the market for that, but the new Scout has a few tricks up its sleeve. The Scout is a new, smaller version of their CP series, which bring a professional level camera bag to a convenient commuter size. A collegue of mine recently took the larger version (CP 35l) to Iceland for a month-long photo expedition, and praised the highly customizable interior compartments, comfort, side and back entry, airline carry-on size (high-end camera equipment and luggage handlers? No thanks!), and high build quality. The Scout retains all of these features, as well as the adjustable shoulder straps, padded hip-belt for when you’re fully loaded, air channels to help breathability for the back, and attachments for tri-pods or ice picks or axes for all your back country expeditions (or just in case you work at the top of a frozen waterfall). If you only want to bring a camera around with you then just change the interior padding and use the rest of the space for your normal stuff, like a jacket, cable lock, bike spares, etc. The rear and side entry for the camera, which is normally at the bottom, is brilliant.
EVOC Scout EVOC Scout EVOC Scout
Need size? If you ride to the shops and want something for the weekly grocery run but don’t have a rack for panniers, give the Ortlieb Transporter. The clue is in the name – this is just about hauling stuff. One, big, high quality and waterproof compartment (there is one inner pocket), if you need space, this is it. If you need more, give their X-Tremer a go – 109l of insanity and its suspension points will support up to 500kg (even if you, or even you and a mate… or two, can’t)!
Ortlieb Transporter
And finally, if none of these will do and you simply must get to the clubhouse to meet up with the old chums but your Porsche 356 is getting re-trimmed and besides, it’s a nice day, you’ll want to make sure you have your Lindberg eyewear and other sundries tucked neatly inside one of the bags from Hard Graft. The Back2Back will do if you have a larger number of sundries. One strap or two, lots of supple leather, plenty of hand-crafting, traditional technique, and über premium materials. Don’t forget your pen case.
Hard Graft Back2Back