Earlier this week, without thinking, I brought my laptop home. I completely forgot that the following day I would be commuting by bike to work. Oops! After work, and after my last RAW ride, I spent some time trying to figure out how to bring the laptop back to the office on Tuesday's commute. My options seemed to be drive in and try to shift my ride schedule, switch to more of a messenger type bag - unfortunately the best bag from that is from my old company and I am always wary of bringing too much old company paraphernalia to the new company. Or do I use a backpack?
What is the big deal with messenger bags anyway? Is it just a fad for the hipster set or wanna-be bike messengers? Or do these bags offer something more than what a backpack would offer? I have tried riding with a shoulder slung bag before, it wasn't a Timbuk2, rather a canvas attache. I found riding with it to be somewhat bothersome because it would shift and I would have to keep pulling it back up. The only advantage I could see in this bag is that you might be able to get some different carrying positions that would allow more airflow to your back.
If I remember correctly, the movie Quicksilver stylized bike messengers and depicted how the messenger bag was used so that the messenger could whip the bag to his/her front and deliver the goods without ever having to remove the bag. I saw this often while working downtown in NYC in the mid 1990s, too. But, I am not delivering any messages so it would seem that a messenger bag is not the right gear for a bike commuter unless he or she want's to appear hip. I want functionality, personally.
I ended up choosing the backpack. A 4300 cu ft EMS pack that I have had for 10 years that rarely get's any use. In fact the pack swallowed my laptop briefcase with room to spare. The waist belt and sternum strap made it feel like it was part of my body and it was quite comfortable. The only drawback is it gets rather warm attached to my back the whole time, so there could actually be some advantage to the messenger style bag.
Banjo Brothers. They have a waterproof commuting backpack that comes in two sizes.
Click on the image above and it will take you directly to the website for the bag itself. The only thing this is missing is a padded sleeve for a laptop but that would be an easy and low cost addition. Of course another alternative would be to use a pannier.