Josh King lives in Seattle, where he commutes by bike every day, rain or shine. He switched to full-time single speed commuting in 2010. You can read his thoughts on going gearless at www.singlespeedseattle.com
I’ve been a pannier convert for the last few years. But before that, I commuted using a backpack — which I still use when riding the newest addition to my bicycle fleet (an SE Lager with coaster brake and no rear rack).
As a follow-on to my test of the Velo Transit Metro 20 Pannier, I tried out the Velo Transit Edge 30 Waterproof Messenger Backpack.
Like the Metro 20 pannier, it is a thoughtfully-designed, very well-built piece of equipment. And it’s made in the USA. So how does it hold up to a commute? Onward…
Ventilation and stability: …are very good. Like most high-end backpacks these days, the Edge 30 has a padded back with mesh ventilation to help minimize heat retention. Velo Transit also obviously put a lot of thought into the balance and weight distribution — the pack is very stable and rides high on the back. I had no issues whatsoever with my typical commuting load of clothes, shoes and laptop. And it even worked great on a grocery run, loaded down with a couple of bottles of wine, a pork shoulder and a bunch of vegetables.
Excellent waterproofing: The main unit is basically a waterproof sack, which — like the Metro 20 pannier — is done up in bright yellow to aid visibility. The top rolls to complete the waterproofing; there's no chance of anything in there getting wet. And while the handy exterior pockets aren’t completely waterproof, the pack features an ingenious tuck-away "storm shield" that zippers into place to protect the pockets when riding in typhoon conditions.
Storage: The main unit is huge, and the four smaller pockets up front are capacious and well-designed. One of them is even accessible while wearing the pack — handy for a phone or snacks for longer rides. It also features both chest and waist straps for stability. It's nirvana for most any backpack fans, but could be overkill for those who travel light.
Add-ons: the pack isn’t purpose-built as a commuter (there’s no laptop sleeve), but VT sells an accessory laptop pouch, as well as options such as exterior water bottle cradles. The largest of the four front pockets is also the perfect size for slipping an iPad into. The bag also features lots of attachment points for lights or strapping on extra gear.
It’s a cool looking bag, too, and the contrast-colored pockets and rain screen help enhance on-bike visibility. All told, the Edge 30 is a worthy contender for anyone looking for a sturdily-built waterproof backpack that’s built for cycling.
The Velo Transit Edge 30 waterproof messenger pack sells retail for $209.95 US.