An octet of messenger, rolltops and rucksacks for inner-city riding
SHIMANO TOKYO DAYPACK
This tough polyamide pack has oodles of features. Its single large compartment has a padded laptop sleeve and zipped mesh pocket, and there are external loops for a D-lock, large external pocket, zipped side pocket and a water-resistant pocket housing a waterproof cover. The rolltop is secured by a large metal hook, but you can also access the main section through a handy side opening. There are Velcro straps for extra storage. The wide, padded shoulder straps are comfortable, and we the single chest strap is nice secure.
DEUTER OPERATE III £ 94.99 www.deutergb.co.uk
Open up the Operate III and you’ll find pockets galore, often split into further zipped, sleeved or drop-in pouches for pens, phones and sundries. It even has a detachable key fob. There’s a 15.5in padded laptop pocket, two large central pockets, a stationery pocket and a drop-in pocket beneath the flap. There’s also an external elasticated pocket at each end. Twin buckles and Velcro secure the flap firmly and there’s a wide, padded shoulder strap and a narrow secondary strap, which can be adjusted so you can carry the bag over either shoulder. Finally, the handle makes the subtle-looking bag office-friendly.
RAPHA REFLECTIVE £ 130 www.rapha.cc
As you’d expect from Rapha, this little fella is perfectly formed and extravagantly priced. And while in daylight it’s a subdued pale grey, reflective panels leave you beautifully lit up when illuminated by car headlights. Its small capacity is still enough for a 15in laptop (in a padded compartment), a waterproof, and a few other bits and bobs. The well-designed bag is made from water-resistant material and comes with a hi-vis cover for especially wet weather. The single waist strap is secure and the bag very comfortable. Good but expensive.
ORTLIEB COMMUTER PACK £ 120 www.ortlieb.com
Ortlieb’s Daypack scores maximum marks for minimalism – it has just one external pocket and an internal 15in laptop bag – which keeps the weight of this tough, waterproof bag down to 740g. The rolltop design is faff-free, and the chest and wide, supportive waist straps are removable, with the chest strap height adjustable. Rubber air pockets on the back provide comfort and stop it slipping. This is a simple, effective, high-quality bag with a five-year guarantee, though the price is on the high side.
DEUTER BIKE1 £ 74.99 www.deutergb.co.uk
This is a very old-school design: a single large main compartment, and a smaller external one with zipped and nonzipped pockets and two elasticated side pockets. Throw in a chest and wide mesh waist strap, Deuter’s ‘Airstripes’ padded back, a stow-away rain cover and the ability to carry a hydration reservoir and this covers all the bases. The result is a simple, easy-to-use and comfortable backpack with decent reflective details on the back if not the sides. And our experience of similar Deuter bags suggests it’ll last for years.
SHIMANO OSAKA MESSENGER £ 75 www.madison.co.uk
The main things you want from a courier bag are comfort and stability, as you don’t want a slipping bag throwing you off balance. Thanks to its padded back, 5cm-wide shoulder strap and 3.5cm waist strap this scores well on both fronts. Tighten both buckles and even when it’s loaded with a laptop and more this stays put. The main compartment has a padded laptop sleeve, there’s a large zipped pocket in the flap and two external mesh pockets. There’s reflective piping and a small reflective light loop for night riding.
OUTEREDGEATACAMA £ 29.99 www.todayscyclist.co.uk
The Atacama is about as minimalist a messenger bag as you’ll find, matched by an equally minimal price. The 21-litre bag does manage a padded laptop sleeve, and the flap also conceals a large external pocket with a waterproof zip. But the minimalist streak means the Atacama only has a shoulder strap – the other courier bags here have shoulder and waist/chest straps. With the strap tightened it stays in place, though we’d recommend trying before you buy to see if you get on with the single-strap design.
PROVIZ REFLECT360 £ 69.99 www.provizsports.com
A criticism of many cycling bags is that they lack reflective details – not this one. The Proviz Reflect360 lives up to its name by providing an astonishing degree of brightness when picked up by car headlights. You’ll be lit up like a beacon/Christmas tree/lighthouse/ whatever in the darkness with no chance of a SMIDSY – ‘ Sorry, mate, I didn’t see you’. Chest and waist straps, water-resistant material, a vented back, external mesh pockets and a light loop add to an impressive all-round package with a decent carrying capacity.
7 No-frills courier bag that’s stable and comfortable
6 Efficient bag whose single-strap design is divisive
Design harks back to days of old but performs superbly 9
7 As durable as you’d expect from Ortlieb but quite pricey
8 Pockets galore make it a bag for the organised rider
6 Solid bag but remove the Rapha name and it’d be a sub-£100 effort