12 May 2016

Gear: Two Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack Convertible

I have been using the Pannier Backpack Convertible from Two Wheel Gear for about six weeks now. And I want to start by saying that I absolutely love this bag!

From my perspective, first and foremost, it is a backpack and I am a backpack kind of guy - I carry a backpack with me everywhere. But the Two Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack Convertible is also a pannier. It has clips that allow me to attach it to the rack on my bike. Genius! This saves me from getting my back all sweaty on my rides and makes for a much more comfortable ride.

As for aesthetics, the bag I received is granite colour with red detailing. This bag is both sporty and professional, rugged and refined. I love the colour of this bag and the red straps and zipper tags really add some colour to it. This styling is the perfect balance for "I am a hard working business professional" and "I rode my bike to work today".

This bag is very comfortable to carry. I carry this bag to work with me every single day with my lunch and usually a laptop inside and this bag is comfortable. Straps are contoured and padded just the right amount to remain minimalist yet offer the comfort required. The latching system that attaches to the bike rack is behind a padded piece that faces your back when you have the bag on your back; however, I have only been able to feel the brackets once or twice and, even then, could barely feel them at all.

One of my initial concerns was that converting the bag back and forth from pannier to backpack and vice versa would become exhausting. However, I have found it much easier than I anticipated. Flipping the bag from pannier to backpack, for example, takes mere seconds - pull out the traps, attach to the buckles, and zip up the flap. Done. To reverse the process, unbuckle the shoulder straps, unzip the flap, tuck the straps into the pocket behind the flap, and tuck the top part of the flap down on top of the straps. Done.

The one downside is that the bag is significantly smaller than I expected. Although it is difficult to compare to other backpacks because of the features of the bag, namely that it has a bike rack mounting system in it, other 24L backpacks have significantly more usable space inside. The mounting system takes up a good amount of space. For me, there is not enough room for a change of clothes, lunch, and my laptop (my typical daily commuter load). That being said, the bag does expand a bit and I am surprised how much I can jam in there when I need to. So all things considered, the bag does have plenty of room for everything I need for a day trip or night out on my bike.

It is important to note that this bag is not intended to replace the 2.0 Garment Pannier but to complement it. Back when this bag was still being designed, I was able to discuss it a bit with Reid Hemsing, President of Two Wheel Gear, and what he said makes perfect sense. With all the space in the 2.0 Garment Pannier (see my post on that bag HERE), I can haul all the clothes I need for work for the entire week in a single trip. Then for the rest of the week, I can use my smaller, lighter, sleaker Pannier Backpack Convertible and enjoy the lighter loads. There is plenty of room for everything else I need in the Pannier Backpack Convertible when I remove a full change of business clothing from the mix.

My only criticism is that the zippers are a bit difficult to close around the corners. With a bit of patience though, it takes only a second to reposition and get it zipped up. This should also be easier over time as the fabric relaxes a bit more.

I have to admit though, I had to really look for things to find wrong with this bag. I had six weeks to think and plan what I could find wrong and those are the only two things I could come up with. This bag is great. It looks excellent, it is extremely well made, and it fits a niche use-case that I have been looking to fill for a long time.

So overall, I love it. It fits nicely into my daily routine, looking stylish enough to ride to work and rugged enough to handle being attached to a bicycle. So whether I am riding my bike or not, I almost always have my Two Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack Convertible with me.