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.

Here are links to my reviews of other Two Wheel Gear products:
The Classic 2.0 Garment Pannier
Convertible Bike Briefcase
Pannier Backpack Convertible PLUS+

Coming soon: Mini Messenger Handlebar Bag

Full disclaimer: I am a Two Wheel Gear Brand Ambassador. I was provided with this bag by Two Wheel Gear for the purposes of this review.


  1. Hi Rob...thanks for the great review. I noticed you have a thinkpad laptop. Would you mind sharing the model with me? I am trying to make sure that my thinkpad will fit in there as well. thanks!

    1. Hello, sorry for the delay in responding. My ThinkPad is a T440 (14") laptop. It is quite large. It is a snug fit with the backpack so something larger may be difficult to fit.

      Hope that helps.

  2. Hi Rob, I've been using the Pannier Backpack Convertible for a few months. I live in Los Angeles, where most of us live very far from our jobs, so biking to work usually will involve multi-modes.

    For me that's bike/bus, bike/train or bike/carpool - depending on the day. Regardless, this convertible pannier/backpack works just great for me.

    The backpack mode is perfect for the "off bike" part of the commute. While at work, the backpack looks normal enough and doesn't stick out as some 'special bike thing' when showing up to meetings.

    And of course the pannier mode works great while riding - it fits my rack, and luckily I have no issues with heel strike.

    Since I keep so much stuff at work, I don't bring a full set of clothes each day. What do bring, rolls down quite small. That leaves room for lunch, small laptop, multiple sets of glasses, keys, wallet etc.

    That being said, although I get everything I need packed in, it's a tight fit. But I don't mind so much. I like a smaller pannier size while riding and as a backpack smaller is better for shoulder strain.

    Also the materials are so tough! Super durable. Love that too.

    Happy commuting!

  3. So I have the vaude backpack pannier which is awesome in almost all ways except one big problem...the straps are really uncomfortable. They are not really padded and therefore they are just not comfortable when I use it as a backpack which kind of negates the whole purpose of the bag. I am debating between buying extra pack strap pads or buying a new backpack pannier. How are the straps on this? Are they well padded and comfortable to carry as a backpack?

  4. Yes, I find these very comfortable. I carry this as a backpack almost every day and have never felt the least bit uncomfortable with it. I have it stuffed full sometimes with laptop, jacket, and other items when travelling. I would say medium padding as far as backpacks go, which is definitely enough for its size.