Last week was all about packing. The nice folks over at Chrome sent me one of their Citizen Buckle Bags and I spent most of the week trying to figure out the best way to pack all my crap into it.
I tend to carry a lot of stuff with me when I ride: 15 inch Dell Latitude, work clothes (shirt, pants, shoes, socks, undershirt, underwear), lunch, sunglasses and case, two tubes, mini-pump, 2 threaded 16 gram CO2 cartridges, deodorant, etc. In my new bag, this is 17 pounds on my back. Part of the reason is that my office doesn’t allow overnight storage in the locker room and my employer requires I lug this laptop back and forth. Before the Citizen, I was carrying everything in a three section laptop backpack I’d purchased at REI a few years ago. The backpack was packed to the max; some days it was difficult to jam my wallet into the little front pocket.
When the Citizen arrived I was a little worried that there wasn’t enough space and, after my first attempt at packing it seemed almost as full as my little backpack. There was a lot I liked about the bag, but having never packed a messenger bag for cycling, I wasn’t sold after the first couple of days. I had packed it like a backpack, putting my laptop in first and the bag turned into a plank across my back, leaving me with a sore spot where most of the weight rested on my spine.
My first attempt at re-packing the bag only slightly improved my situation and I was beginning to think the thing wasn’t designed for packing as much stuff. It wasn’t until Wednesday that, by laying my shoes down in the bag and putting them where the laptop had been and packing the computer in the center of the bag between my lunch bag and my clothes, that I found the ideal comfort for me. Since figuring the packing out, the bag has been perfect.
The “Truck Tarp” liner is durable and waterproof (and I can vouch for it keeping my clothes dry after today’s ride). The shoulder strap is easy to use and the pad is thick and comfortable. There are plenty of pockets and the bag is deceivingly large. My only complaint now is that the shoulder pad doesn’t extend down under the buckle and, especially when I’m wearing just my jersey, the metal buckle can sometimes put pressure on my massive pectoral muscles. Look for a full review after a few more weeks of riding with it, but for now, I’m pretty impressed.
With all this bag talk, I forgot to mention that on Saturday I took my first recreational ride since I began commuting and had the following observations:
- The first few miles felt weird without the bag on my back.
- I felt strong on the flats.
- The 3 weeks of (flat) bike commuting has not helped my climbing legs.
That’s all, for now.