Backpack vs Courier bag

Beating the system - the cycling commuting section

Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby misterhorsey » Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:14 pm

I know there's a thread comparing Backpacks vs Panniers, but I'm not sure that there's been one comparing backpacks to courier bags.

By courier bags, I mean something like this:

http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/cycle/7/Ortli ... 360022385/

Firstly, I wear a backpack. And I HATE it. It does have a nifty rigid plastic riser that keeps the actual pack off the back, hence reducing sweatage action, but I still hate it. I'd rather ride with my back nekkid, but the reality of commuting is that I need to carry clothes to and from work as well as other things, as well as a lock at all times. I'd rather not mount my lock to my bike or mount panniers to my s/s road bike.

I'm just curious about other people's experience re: backpacks vs courier bags. I'm pretty sure I'd hate courier bags too. The question is, will I hate them less than backpacks or more!

Over to youse.
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by BNA » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:24 pm

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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby Runjikol » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:24 pm

I used to ride with a sling bag. It was home-made of cloth and we'll just ignore that part of it. I found that it was a little small. The thing that bothered me the most was when loaded with more than a few light bits and pieces it would slip off my shoulder and hang against the frame. The option to wear it centred, so that it's looped behind the neck then in front of the shoulders and the bag on your back I found no better than a backpack.

Kind of have to say it: panniers are the best if you don't want anything on your back. 8)
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby misterhorsey » Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:29 pm

Runjikol wrote:I used to ride with a sling bag. It was home-made of cloth and we'll just ignore that part of it. I found that it was a little small. The thing that bothered me the most was when loaded with more than a few light bits and pieces it would slip off my shoulder and hang against the frame. The option to wear it centred, so that it's looped behind the neck then in front of the shoulders and the bag on your back I found no better than a backpack.

Kind of have to say it: panniers are the best if you don't want anything on your back. 8)


Hey, nuthin' to be ashamed about re carrying around your home made sling bag. Its very punk and DIY and cheap and 'nuff said!

Panniers are a no no for me cos my bike is commuting during the week and having fun on the weekend. I don't really want to have to have the rack on when I'm not using it. And then there's the pannier bag headache. If it was a different bike, maybe. But on my current roadie (who I am developing warm and soft feelings for at the moment) it would be like putting a saddle on a greyhound.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby mikedufty » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:48 pm

what about one of those seatpost mounted racks with a bag? Can be removed for non draught horse duties?
There was also a link on this forum somewhere recently to seriously large seat bags (attaches to seat and seatpost) which might do the job for you.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby Runjikol » Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:34 pm

Misterhorsey: you just need to by a second bike that you can fit panniers to for your commute. :D To directly answer your question: there's more to hate about sling-bags/courier bags than backpacks. If I had to choose between the two I'd choose a backpack or one of those army satchel things that attach about the back of your waist (Alice pack?).
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby Matty » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:58 pm

I ride with a Crumpler messenger bag or a man bag most of the time. My Cumpler bag is the Barney Rustle Blanket and I use it when I've got lots of stuff to take whereas the man bag is a bit smaller. The Crumpler has a "third leg" strap (basically a strap that goes from the main strap to the bag, kinda like a triangle seat belt configuration) this keeps the bag very steady on my back and stops it moving around even when it's fully loaded. If you're getting a messenger bag I'd highly recommend getting one with a stabiliser strap. My man bag which doesn't have the stabiliser strap moves all around the place and I'm constantly pushing it onto my back.

With regards to sweating, it is less compared to the backpack, however you're not totally sweat free. As there is still a place where the bag is pushing on your back, it's just generally lower and smaller patch compare to a backpack. One other thing, my shoulder can sometimes get a bit sore if I load up the bag alot. This is because all the weight is distributed through the one shoulder versus the dual straps on the backpack.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby m@ » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:03 am

Matty wrote:I ride with a Crumpler messenger bag or a man bag most of the time. My Cumpler bag is the Barney Rustle Blanket and I use it when I've got lots of stuff to take whereas the man bag is a bit smaller. The Crumpler has a "third leg" strap (basically a strap that goes from the main strap to the bag, kinda like a triangle seat belt configuration) this keeps the bag very steady on my back and stops it moving around even when it's fully loaded. If you're getting a messenger bag I'd highly recommend getting one with a stabiliser strap. My man bag which doesn't have the stabiliser strap moves all around the place and I'm constantly pushing it onto my back.

With regards to sweating, it is less compared to the backpack, however you're not totally sweat free. As there is still a place where the bag is pushing on your back, it's just generally lower and smaller patch compare to a backpack. One other thing, my shoulder can sometimes get a bit sore if I load up the bag alot. This is because all the weight is distributed through the one shoulder versus the dual straps on the backpack.


+1

Rode with a backpack for years, hated it but just put up with it. Changed to a medium-sized Crumpler and the difference is night and day; I still prefer no pack at all, but the messenger bag is much, much more comfortable than the backpack. With a light load, I even forget that I'm wearing it... I've actually found that I don't get a sore shoulder even with a fairly heavy load because the pad on the strap is much wider and more padded than any backpack straps.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby hartleymartin » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:09 pm

I have a cheap shoulder haversack I bought from disposals store for $5. Not water-proof, but I use it to carry a basic insurance policy (first aid kit) and any other small items I might need when running errands. I think a traditional-style saddle bag with attachments suitable to make it a back pack or shoulder bag would be ideal. I'd even try this boat cleat trick: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHpLLLbec-4

Oh, and why do I call my first aid kit my insurance policy? Both my crashes occurred on the two trips where I didn't ride with a first aid kit. So Murphy's law works in my favour in that when I ride with the kit I will not have a crash.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby nickobec » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:07 am

I commute to either work (42km) or the train (3km) everyday and use a backpack or courier bag, depending on the length of the journey and what I need to carry.

My weapons of choice are:
Courier bag: Crumpler Part and Parcel (laptop bag) with the third leg
Backpack: Crumpler Yee Ross

The trip to train is done with the Part and Parcel, to carry my laptop and sundries.

The trip to work I usually use the Yee Ross because:
1. After riding for an hour riding with Part and Parcel, my shoulder starts losing sensation.
2. Sweatwise, the Yee Ross is far better than my previous backpack or the Part and Parcel.

I still use the Part and Parcel when I need to move bulky objects on the long commute.

I did use the Part and Parcel for the long commute for some time, but because of the shoulder problems and sweating. I started using a cheap backpack which stopped the shoulder problems and did lessen the sweating. Then I got the Yee Ross mainly because of it is a hydration pack and found that was even better on the shoulders and caused far less sweat than the cheap backpack.

I have reviews on my blog of the Yee Ross and Part and Parcel
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby dant » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:39 pm

Not relevant to the backpack or courier bag but for someone that wants to ditch any reference to commuting on the weekends the setup I have is good. It is a Topeak beam rack plus the biggest Topeak beam bag that does not have the fold down panniers. The top of the bag can also expand like a wedge for more stuff. You can carry plenty of stuff in this bag and it has little pockets everywhere. Best thing is the rack comes off in about 20 secs for a clean bike look when needed. I have been using this setup for nearly two years now with no problem. Bag also has a shoulder strap but I don't even know where mine is now.

Image

Should add that this setup will cost around the $200 mark but I imagine a very good courier bag would amount to this.

Cheers,
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby Big Jonny » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:36 pm

Matty wrote:I ride with a Crumpler messenger bag or a man bag most of the time. My Cumpler bag is the Barney Rustle Blanket and I use it when I've got lots of stuff to take whereas the man bag is a bit smaller. The Crumpler has a "third leg" strap (basically a strap that goes from the main strap to the bag, kinda like a triangle seat belt configuration) this keeps the bag very steady on my back and stops it moving around even when it's fully loaded. If you're getting a messenger bag I'd highly recommend getting one with a stabiliser strap. My man bag which doesn't have the stabiliser strap moves all around the place and I'm constantly pushing it onto my back.

With regards to sweating, it is less compared to the backpack, however you're not totally sweat free. As there is still a place where the bag is pushing on your back, it's just generally lower and smaller patch compare to a backpack. One other thing, my shoulder can sometimes get a bit sore if I load up the bag alot. This is because all the weight is distributed through the one shoulder versus the dual straps on the backpack.


I have the complete seed crumpler bag a big bag that takes a full change of clothes and shoes, the 3rd leg is a great help with keeping the bag in one place, on the advice of my physio I got an extra 3rd leg on the other side of the bag (got it done at the Gertrude street store where they put together the cstom bags. So I change shoulders, left out right home, has made a huge difference. I love the fact that the crumpler is easy to swing around to get to it and the fact that it expands heaps to take big loads, weight is always an issue though being on only one shoulder bit the big strap and shoulder pad helps and when you are riding alot of the weight is taken by the lower back.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby Big Jonny » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:38 pm

dant wrote:Not relevant to the backpack or courier bag but for someone that wants to ditch any reference to commuting on the weekends the setup I have is good. It is a Topeak beam rack plus the biggest Topeak beam bag that does not have the fold down panniers. The top of the bag can also expand like a wedge for more stuff. You can carry plenty of stuff in this bag and it has little pockets everywhere. Best thing is the rack comes off in about 20 secs for a clean bike look when needed. I have been using this setup for nearly two years now with no problem. Bag also has a shoulder strap but I don't even know where mine is now.

Image

Should add that this setup will cost around the $200 mark but I imagine a very good courier bag would amount to this.

Cheers,
Adam


nice ride adam, is that a GT frame?
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby dant » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:25 pm

Thanks Big Jonny - it is actually a Hillman bought through this BB and Mulger Bill. It is currently undergoing a transformation to a geared bike. Commuting around 46-50k per day now and have 2 other fixies so thought I would make it geared and use the fixies for wet weather commuting or 2 days per week.

Cheers, Adam
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby Runjikol » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:35 pm

Dant: those mudguards look great - what kind are they? Do they come in a disc-brake version? :D
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby Matty » Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:53 pm

Big Jonny wrote:I have the complete seed crumpler bag a big bag that takes a full change of clothes and shoes, the 3rd leg is a great help with keeping the bag in one place, on the advice of my physio I got an extra 3rd leg on the other side of the bag (got it done at the Gertrude street store where they put together the cstom bags. So I change shoulders, left out right home, has made a huge difference. I love the fact that the crumpler is easy to swing around to get to it and the fact that it expands heaps to take big loads, weight is always an issue though being on only one shoulder bit the big strap and shoulder pad helps and when you are riding alot of the weight is taken by the lower back.


That's a good idea, didn't realise they could do that. Unfortunately, I don't have a custom Crumpler store near me. May look into it if get another custom bag made.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby misterhorsey » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:52 pm

Thanks for the replies everybody.

I still haven't had a chance to try out my friends Crumpler.

However, I have to say the shoulder issues that people are mentioning are enough to deter me. I don't travel terribly far, but I"m not a fan of having a uneven weight on the shoulders even when walking. So I may well be sticking with my daggy backpack. At least it brakes up the rather dark coloured clothing I tend to wear while commuting.

Cheers.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby m@ » Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:34 pm

Try it before you buy if you can; I've found the messenger bag much easier on the shoulders than any of the various backpacks I've used...
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby dant » Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:23 pm

Runijkol - they are Zefal mudguards. Don't know the exact model but next time I am in the bike store I got them from if I remember I will check for you.
Should add that they are brilliant - especially the front as it goes down much lower than a lot of mudguards out there. Keeps crap from the bottom bracket (apart from splashing through puddles obviously).
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby just4tehhalibut » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:25 pm

What about a rack that removes quickly from the bike? Doesn't need tools.
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/cycle/7/Hamax ... 360036825/

Then there are the various saddlebag, not the tool bag that fits under your saddle but something near pannier-sized, Carradice have lots but I like this one, it has a quick release
http://carradice.co.uk/sqr-saddlepacks/ ... ress.shtml

I use the Deuter AirRace backpack with the rigid arch to keep airflow between the pack and back, probably what the OP has. I have used courier bags, okay homemade, and didn't like the feel. And just like having a helmet that you only wear in case of accident I'd wear the backpack over the courier bag because it is better protection in most accidents, for the spine. At least the backpack and helmet had proved their worth by the last time I woke up in the emergency ward.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby Runjikol » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:45 pm

Apologies if this turns into a double post... something went awry.

I'll be receiving a Carradice SQR Tour bag in the next few days. Just waiting for it to clear Customs. After a few days of trialling I'll review it elsewhere on the forum and if I remember I'll put a little blurb in this thread comparing it to backpacks and sling-bags that I've used. :)

Dant: the mudguards look like Zefal Paragon - from my researching. If they are Paragon model I'd be curious where you got them from as I can't find any stockists to date. :?: Wiggle list them but are out of stock until mid-July.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby misterhorsey » Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:21 am

Ok. Just decided I'm going to enjoy both worlds and keep the backpack for when I'm doing a strict commute (loaded with lock, clothes and other items) and then buy a courier bag for when I'm only carry a lock and my wallet.

Nothing worse than going out and cycling there and then having to carry around a ridiculous bushwalking style backpack around in a bar!!!

My initial thoughts turn to Crumpler cos they seem well made and are Australian, but to be honest I don't really like their look.

Anyone got any suggestions of a brand of minimalist designed courier bags in strong primary colours (like a red, a blue or a yellow - there's actually no more, is there?) with a ready made third leg?
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby Runjikol » Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:06 pm

misterhorsey wrote:Anyone got any suggestions of a brand of minimalist designed courier bags in strong primary colours (like a red, a blue or a yellow - there's actually no more, is there?) with a ready made third leg?


I think the Ortlieb brand produce something you might like.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby fitnhealthy » Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:13 pm

These seem expensive, but I like the look of the knog bags. I haven't seen them in person, but their website is http://www.knog.com.au

I have been looking at the Leading Dog handlebar bag for the same reason, for small outings when I just need my wallet phone and stuff.
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby dant » Wed Jul 01, 2009 6:50 pm

Runjikol,
I think you may be right. Drop me a pm if you want me to check price/availability/model. Bought at Riders in Brisbane.

Cheers,
Adam
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Re: Backpack vs Courier bag

Postby sharktamin » Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:12 pm

misterhorsey wrote:Anyone got any suggestions of a brand of minimalist designed courier bags in strong primary colours (like a red, a blue or a yellow - there's actually no more, is there?) with a ready made third leg?


Image
http://www.originalityuniforms.com.au/o ... ar_BNA.htm

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