Whether you’re commuting, hitting the trails, heading out for the weekend or meeting your mates at the local, here are five backpacks you should check out.
Velomacchi Speedway Few companies blend form and function as well as Oregon-based Velomacchi. Their $299 Speedway roll-top backpack is both highly technical and damn good looking—just as at home on the trails as it is in the pub.
The highlight is the harness system, which features everything from pivoting shoulder straps, to clever size adjusters (with stowage for excess strap lengths). It’s also curved—making it easy to get in and out of when kitted up—and closes with a magnetic coupler, with a knurled aluminum release knob. We’ve been riding with the Speedway pack and can attest to how well the system works. It’s easy to adjust, comfortable, and won’t shift around while riding. (And people keep stopping us to tell us how good it looks.)
Velomacchi have used 1000D Cordura throughout the chassis, with a waterproof liner and roll-top closure. In addition to the main compartment there are two zippered compartments on the front and side, two outside pouches with toggle closures, and a section for carrying a hydration bladder. That’s 25l of waterproof storage in total.
Neat touches include an ICE card pouch, aluminum helmet clip, an elasticated holder for a pen or tire pressure gauge, and a plastic section on the chest for mounting a POV camera. [Buy]
Farmer’s Racer Tucked away in a Swedish spruce forest, is the workshop of Lars Gustavsson. Here, Lars produces his charming Farmer’s Racer backpacks. They are the antithesis of modern, highly technical equipment—harking back to a time when “going to work meant leaving home for several days.”
The design is minimalist and utilitarian: a single, top loading compartment to hold anything from firewood to a laptop. Each bag is made from a single sheet of heavy duty waxed cotton, and finished with an ox leather interior and trim—so it will age beautifully, and probably outlast your bike. The straps can be reconfigured to turn the pack into a sling bag, or swapped out for optional mounting straps to use it as a pannier. There are two sizes to choose from: 12.2l (€270) and 14.5l (€290), and Lars will ship it to anywhere in the world, for free. [Buy]
SW-Motech Legend Gear LR1 German brand SW-Motech have established themselves as the go-to guys for adventure and touring gear. But they’re also alt-moto nuts, and regular readers of Bike EXIF (head designer Adam Stephens blames us for the partially completed Honda NX650 in his garage).
Legend Gear is SW-Motech’s bid to equip riders in the retro-slash-custom market. The range combines all of the functionality and quality they’re known for, with a pared-down aesthetic.
This is the LR1: a multi-purpose piece that can do duty as either a tail pack or backpack. Weighing in at €170 with a volume of 17.5l, the chassis is constructed of Napalon (synthetic leather) and water resistant canvas. A rain cover is included for full foul weather protection, as are four straps for tying it to your bike. A pair of hidden shoulder straps allow you to switch it to backpack mode. Best of all, the Legend Gear range is modular: you can use the attachment loops on the outside of the LR1 to kit it with various accessory pouches. [Buy]
Alpinestars Charger R The $130 Alpinestars Charger R is the sportiest looking pack in today’s line-up. It’s been designed with aerodynamic performance in mind—with a thermoformed PU top shell that’s intended to protect your gear and improve airflow.
The rest of the shell is made from 600D and 1200D poly-fabric, PU coated for additional strength and water resistance (there’s a stowed rain cover for when things get really sketchy). Inside the two main compartments you’ll find a laptop sleeve and multiple organiser pockets.
Alpinestars have used a new ‘S-shaped’ shoulder strap system—designed to follow the body’s natural contours for maximum comfort. It also features a customizable chest connection system to help fine-tune fit, and a waist belt that can be stored. Other features included kidney belt pockets, and a padded, air mesh back panel. [Buy]
Icon 1000 Advokat The Advokat backpack ($167) blends practical storage and comfort, with the tactical-meets-posh styling we’re used to seeing in the Icon 1000 series. The outer is a rugged waxed canvas affair, capped off with riveted leather details and metal hardware.
The flip-up lid reveals two main compartments, with various organiser pockets (including a 15” laptop sleeve). There are two smaller pockets on the outside, and a pouch at the bottom that hides a rain cover. Comfort features include padded shoulder straps with an adjustable sternum strap, and a 3D mesh back panel for maximum airflow. Plus there are compression straps at each side to help manage the load. [Buy]