Monday I took pictures of all my bike bags just in time for MG to make this post. How appropriate since I have been procrastinating this post for a while! Most of my riding right now is for commuting and errand running purposes. So how do I do them?
Unlike MG’s partner in life and cycling Felkerino, I do not need bikes to justify my bag obsession. It existed long before I started outfitting my bike. I am always looking for the perfect bag. I have fully accepted that there cannot be one perfect bag, but this acceptance will not keep me from hunting just in case. There are definitely several really good bags, their suitability born of the circumstances each bag is used in. Unfortunately, I can never completely tell if a bag will work until I have used it a few times. Luckily all this trial and error has made me a bit more discriminating on bag purchases, slowing down the pace at which I dump slightly used bags at Good Will. Although with the bike community I at least have a better chance of reselling the bike bags I discard.
I accepted long ago that I am not a small purse person. Well, mostly. A cute one still pulls me in on occasion. I have some very specific requirements on what I like to have on me at all times which includes bulky items like reading material and knitting. I like to spend a lot of quiet time by myself out of the house and I also travel alone for work frequently so these are the items I like to have with me on those occasions. I do a lot of people watching too but I find they are also simultaneously good buffers and conversation starters with the outside world depending on what I am trying to accomplish at any given moment.
The first criteria for a good bike bag is most days it needs to double as a good purse/ day bag. I could strap most of my preferred pre-bike day bags to my rear rack, but they are not designed of easy cleaning material nor are they water resistant enough for that kind of exposure. And most of them do not close in a way I find satisfactory for protecting the bag contents on a bumpy ride. So now I shop for bike bags that can be used in every day situations. So far I have stuck with messenger bags but I am not completely satisfied with them for professional meetings. I also go to the gym every morning before work and pack my lunch and the post-gym portion of breakfast nearly every day so I need a way to transport a change of clothes (I ride in my gym clothes and change to work clothes after) and multiple food containers too. That has led to my current week day bag configuration.
Detours Toocan Pannier
My most common daily bag configuration is a Timbuk2 Messenger bag as a purse and a Detours Toocan Pannier for my lunch, gym items and miscellaneous bike items I carry. I also have a second, larger Timbuk2 messenger (see below) and a second identical Toocan. I bought the Toocans over a year ago on the recommendation of David at Bicycle Space because I was running into a lot of heel clip problems with my old bags on my old bike and it was preventing me from riding my bike more to run errands. I am very fond of them and consider them my work horse bags. I have carried 8 quarts of strawberries in one Toocan and have been known to take home 25 pounds of apples at a time with them too (I have a canning compulsion.) On Thursdays from March through December you will see me loading both of them up at the Penn Quarter Farmers Market. This configuration has been as water resistant as I have needed it to be so far, and I have ridden in some downpours! The Toocans also have bright yellow rain covers.
I also have a Teeco from Detours (they do not seem to carry them any more so no link) for overflow on Thursdays (my boyfriend usually insists on carrying it or bringing it out on weekends to the farmers market even when I have the trailer. He does not understand the “Haul” part in Long Haul Trucker. Plus, he knows I go a bit nuts at the farmers market some times.). I also used to carry it a lot on weekends for extra errands.
Detours Teeco Pannier
The Teeco makes a nice market bag. It closes enough on top to hold everything in but is still open to the air. The sides are mesh. It converts to a back pack with straps on the opposite side of the pannier hooks that detach and zip away into the side of the bag. I find it a bit fussy to use as a back pack, especially when full, but it is narrow enough to hook flat onto my rear rack. With a cargo net for extra security, it is not a bad trunk bag!
Speaking of trunk bags, I have tried one of those out. For now, they are in the small purse category… cute but I am not sure how to completely make them work for me. I got the Detours Transit Box thinking it could double as a purse. I have not been completely successful integrating it into my cycling yet. And it does not hold my iPad easily.
My first attempt at finding a more chic bike bag to double as a purse was the Basil MIRTE.
It is definitely pretty and women who compliment me on it are often shocked to learn it is a pannier. There is a zippered section to cover the hooks when you are not riding with it. However, it is an incredibly awkward bag to carry. I find it uncomfortable to carry by the handle and looped over my arm. A shoulder strap would be a welcome addition on this bag. I also find that when I am riding it bows out and makes odd noises as it moves. The best I can figure is I am overloading it. So far this has been one of my more disappointing purchases but I have not completely given up on making it work yet.
My experience with this bag has kept me on the look out for a purse I can use while riding for something like a casual evening out. When in Marshall’s this past weekend (a stop I woefully neglected to mention in my Utilitaire post I saw a cute Kenneth Cole purse that I thought might work out.
Kenneth Cole Purse
I am not sure what is up with the angle I took that picture at, but the purse looks much bigger than it is in real life. It may be the way the stuff I had in it was sitting in it at the time. Anyway, while not weather resistant enough to be an everyday bag I think this will certainly make a good casual trip out bag. It fits the stuff I like to have out with me. There is a long, adjustable shoulder strap that I can use to wear it like a messenger. It zips closed completely across the top. And the color should not show dirt that easily. I took it for a test spin to get some coffee and was satisfied so fare.
I also grabbed a Zefal Seat Pack at Marshall’s since it seemed to be a good price and I have been carrying my miscellaneous bike items (spare tube, tire levers, patches, multi-tool) in a ziplock bag that transfers from bag to bag and has seen better days. The pack will likely live in one of my bags most of the time since I cannot see taking it on and off every time I stop, but it will be good for some longer training type rides I have planned.
Zefal Wedge Seat Pack
And now last, but certainly not least, is the mac-daddy of my “bag” collection- my Burley Travoy.
It is just spectacular!
I have really been remiss in not writing about the Travoy in a post all by itself and I will do so soon, especially now that I have had it for 2 months. I was lusting after it for a long time before taking the plunge and buying it and the way I justified it to myself was fabulous (I will tell you about it in that post, promise!). I seriously did get my money’s worth though and am satisfied I have justified the cost of its purchase with all of the times I have been able to use it in lieu of driving for more extensive errands. It has really changed the nature of my weekend riding. I promise I will work on that Travoy post this weekend!
Those are the bags I have now. The line up will likely change a bit, especially as I start to add some training rides (a better trunk bag maybe?) for some long distance multi-day trips that I have set as goals. Anyone have a favorite bag to recommend or want to organize a swap meet?