An octet of mes­sen­ger, roll­tops and ruck­sacks for in­ner-city rid­ing

Urban Cyclist - - Contents - £ 89.99 www.madi­


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.


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.


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’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

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.


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 £ 29.99­dayscy­

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.provizs­

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

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