Commuting: Backpack vs. Bikepack

BobaFett13BobaFett13 Posts: 8
edited August 2016 in Commuting general
So I keep seeing these Bikepacking kits that attach to your frame in almost a pannier fashion and now that I'm lucky enough to have a dedicated commuter (cyclocross) bike they've got me thinking.

At the moment I backpack - clothes, lunch & spare all carried on my person strapped to my back. It aero-ish but over time will take its toll on my back - additionally when it's warm it's less efficient to vent off when your back is covered.

Bikepacking takes the weight off your bike & puts this on your bike...but...less aero (front bar packs).

Anything I've missed?

How does it affect power when climbing? I'm still carrying the weight right?

Which is best!!??

Posts

  • prowlbassprowlbass Posts: 159
    My commute is around 30 miles (out and back) and I frequently extend the return journey to bring it up to 50-70 miles. I found my backpack was just destroying my back over those distances and spent ages faffing around with different bags to try and fix it.

    Finally stumbled upon the idea of bikepacking kit last year and have since used a full frame bag and a large seatpost bag for the commute. The full frame bag was great, although you lose your bottle mounts and the size of your frame will limit what you can carry. On my 58, I could fit everything I possibly needed that day and a water bladder for hydration. The saddle bag is also very good and can actually fit more than the full frame pack and is fully waterproof...although it does wobble about when you're putting the power down, which can be annoying. I've found myself using the seat pack more as it's 100% waterproof and easier to remove the dry bag from the bike at work than unpack the frame pack.

    To my mind, a frame bag or seat pack is more aero than a rucksack - the frame bag is tucked into the frame, so very little facing into the wind and a seat pack is largely hidden behind the bulk of the rider (whereas a backpack tends to sit into the wind above the rider, unless they have a very upright position). I also think they're a better solution than panniers as they have an aero benefit while also being more out of the way and less likely to snag on something (this is probably far less of an issue for people with panniers than I imagine it to be...).

    I don't find that either affects my power when climbing and prefer climbing with bikepacking bags than a rucksack - basically you're just riding a slightly heavier bike, so you probably won't be quite as quick up the hills, but not far off. I've taken a heavily laden seat pack on fast rides with guys who race and happily kept up (and beaten several up the hills).

    I'd say go for it - work out which style suits you and I doubt you'll go back to using a backpack!
  • redbikejohnredbikejohn Posts: 165
    I used to use a rucksack but it did give me backache. Too much in there really as I normally carry either breakfast/ lunch or lunch/dinner and waterproof plus quite a few bits and pieces. Anyway I went the whole hog and fitted a cycle rack know and use a pannier so I can now stuff my tablet in there too. No backache at all now but it does look censored but I don't care.
  • QuinsQuins Posts: 239
    I've got 3 degenerative discs and my old non bike specific ruck sack used to hurt my lower back. I was looking into panniers and other options but went with the Osprey trans alpine and not had any problems, weight distribution is better amd the shoulder , waist straps make a lot of difference. 30 ltrs , plenty of room for work clothes, breakfast, lunch, snacks, spares, rain, helmet attachment...I'm getting on fine with it , 12.5 miles each way and it's easy to carry/ access stuff when I'm on the train.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Depending how long the commute is. Backpack is neat and easy.

    If there's more weight or more miles then put the weight on the bike rather than you.

    I can't see it affecting speed - Just your comfort.
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,632
    Panniers are the best thing ever invented for commuting IMO

    The only notible drawback over a rucksack other than ruining the look of the bike is above 27mph I get a bit of a weave on due to the front of the bike being so light and the drag at the back .... But above 27 is only one segment so I can live without pushing hard for that 20seconds

    As far as comfort goes though it's a billion times nicer and easier than using a rucksack

    The pannier is heavier, the rack is heavier and I over fill the bag ... Yet despite the extra weight over a rucksack there is no difference in time over a 10-30 minute journey
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    I've personally gone full circle. Backpack > Panniers > Large saddle bag > Backpack. Largely because I have a choice of bikes and only need to do a backpack run 1-2 times a week with a modest amount of clothing.

    Unless you plan on light touring, I'd skip the bikepack stuff, I know they are very in right now but just get a decent bag for behind the saddle, like a Carradice. Keeps you aero.
  • jimmypippajimmypippa Posts: 1,712
    iPete wrote:
    I've personally gone full circle. Backpack > Panniers > Large saddle bag > Backpack. Largely because I have a choice of bikes and only need to do a backpack run 1-2 times a week with a modest amount of clothing.

    Unless you plan on light touring, I'd skip the bikepack stuff, I know they are very in right now but just get a decent bag for behind the saddle, like a Carradice. Keeps you aero.

    I've gone from backpack to pannier to backpack. I found that my packed lunch was getting shaken to pieces in my pannier, but it was far more comfortable.
  • I'm just starting out and finding myself in the same position.

    My commute is about 13-14 miles and on hot days or on Monday's when I'm taking in my laptop + other stuff, it's a real back-breaker. Invested in a pannier/rack so when I find a clamp that fits, I'm going to give that a go and just remove it on the weekends.

    I'd prefer to be less aero than walk around like an old man all day.
  • willy bwilly b Posts: 4,125
    I've gone from 5 years of a backpack to panniers mainly because I got fed up with having a sweaty back. Panniers are great!
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