Saddle Bag Backpack

Like most hip, young residents of the bay area, I ride my bike everywhere.  There are many advantages to doing so: it’s the easiest way to get around town, you’re not dependant on public transportation or tied to the expense of a car.  Not to mention it’s great exercise, my buns have never looked better!  And most importantly, it’s low cost: with all that money we have to shell out for rent you have to cut back anywhere you can.

I could write a whole essay on bike advocacy, but that’s not what this post is about.  It’s about how to function adequately when your sole source of transportation is on two wheels.  That means you have to haul a reasonable portion of your life on your back.  The hip thing to do is to shell out $200+ for a locally, handman, vegan, waterproof, indestructible messenger bag.  Or if you hate animals, you can go the fair trade, organic, free range, humanely harvested, hand-stitched leather satchel.   The point I’m really getting at is both of these options only have one strap.  Which is okay while you’re leaning over your bike, but when you’re walking around with it, (loaded up with your laptop, water bottle, gym clothes, and at least one other layer you need at all times because the weather regularly spans a twenty degree difference in any given hour), your shoulder will start to give out pretty quickly.

A backpack would be the more comfortable, ergonomic, if not slightly less fashionable way to go.  The problem I have with backpacks is, whenever I ride my bike with them my entire back gets all sweaty.  It’s way gross.  It’s bad enough I get slightly sweaty no matter where I go,  (contrary to how this sounds it is, in fact, NOT an argument against biking everywhere.  Being slightly sweaty means that you always have a great complexion!  Besides, everyone else is slightly sweaty too, so you fit in.  As Beyoncé put it: a little sweat never hurt nobody!), but I draw the line when I take off my backpack and the entire back of my shirt is wet.  Ew.  Don’t ask me why this same phenomenon doesn’t happen with a messenger bag.  Perhaps it’s because the whole of my back isn’t covered, or messenger bags are designed to direct airflow over my back, or maybe just because they look cooler.  Anyhow, it doesn’t happen.

What’s a girl to do?  My heart wants to be cute and fashionable, but my head wants me not to be in pain!  Since living in SF, it’s not taken me long to realize that residents tend to swing towards comfort over fashion.  Hence the uniform, and hipsters embracing flats like oxfords and Keds over stylish four inch pumps.  Even Danielle Steele moved away from San Francisco because she thought we were too dumpy.

I decided to compromise.  What about all those cool bike panniers I see?  That would be the BEST way to carry all my crap on a bike.  The only problem is I absolutely detest having to take all of my things out of one purse to put them in other.  I know, girls do it all the time.  I’m supposed to have, like, five bags to choose from to match my mood or different outfit, but I don’t.  I hate it.  Everything I carry on me–and it’s a lot–is very important to my daily existence and if I leave even one little thing behind my whole day is shot.  Something will happen where I need the ONE thing I forgot, and I will be miserable.  So changing bags is not an option.

Why can’t a pannier pop off the bike and become a backpack?!  How awesome would that be?  It would be the best of both worlds: easy, no sweat–literally–way of carrying crap on bike, AND still be comfy carrying crap on foot!  It seemed too obvious to not be invented already, so I an online search and found some products that were basically what I described, but were for the serious outdoorsman.  Which is great when I’m bike camping, but not so great when I’m riding around town wanting to look cute.

Recently, my friend Melissa at BikePretty wrote an article featured in Momentum Mag about Po Campo, which makes a versatile (and cute) pannier-to-bag option in Loop:

Which is SO close to what I want!  Po Campo: please make a pannier-to-backpack option!  You have your first customer right here!

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8 years ago

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