30 Days of Rapha – What’s in the Backpack

Commute: 25 miles roundtrip
Weather: Cloudy Temp: 60 deg.
Rapha Kit:  Merino Base Layer, Cross Jersey, Touring Shorts over Bibs, Softshell Gilet
Accessories:  Merino Socks, Winter Hat, Fixed Backpack

Like the cyclists who wear them, cycling bags come in all shapes and sizes. Messenger bags and backpacks dominate our carrying options. Have a read of the washingmachinepost today and you'll see Brian's got his hands on an interesting variation made from recycled inner tubes and seat belts.

Rapha's Fixed Backpack has been making the daily commute with me for the past 18 months. Its carrying capacity is limited, but that works to your advantage because it rules out bringing the kitchen sink with you. It's low-profile design and clean good looks go well with Rapha jerseys and jackets.

I emptied the backpack today and here's what spilled out.

  • Main compartment: mini pump, extra spare tube, headlamp, small first aid kit, small towel, t-shirt, briefs, 2 x Think Thin Protein Bars, 1 x Grab the Gold Bar
  • Padded laptop sleeve: Canon G9 Digital Camera
  • Inner zippered tricot-lined pocket: Oakley clear replacement lenses
  • Inner zippered mesh pocket: business cards, pen
  • Right vertical side pocket: cellphone
  • Left vertical side pocket: credit card case, cash, keys
  • Rear vertical pocket: Crank Bros multi-tool, pack of wet naps, tire patches
  • Left shoulder strap light loop: Knog 2-LED Beetle (pink)
  • Rear center light loop: 2 Knog LED frogs (black)

The backpack is very comfortable with generously padded straps and raised padding where it contacts your back (this permits plenty of air flow). An elasticized chest band connects the shoulder straps and this keeps the pack centered. It never rolls or shifts. Small details like the sliding retaining clips that secure the webbing are incredibly well thought out. Once you get the hang of them you can easily secure the loose ends of your straps, even while on the move and wearing gloves.

Other than losing a couple of the fabric pulls that made it easier to grab the zippers, the bag looks brand new. If it gets covered in grime on a wet day, I just hose it off, and I've never had problems with water penetrating.

I believe there may be a larger backpack on the drawing board. If that project comes to fruition, I'll be one of the first in line.

7 Responses to 30 Days of Rapha – What’s in the Backpack

  1. Pingback: 30 Days of Rapha – Riding Down Hope Street | VeloDramatic

  2. chris tree says:

    I always wonder what other people carry in their messenger bags/rucksacks/mussettes… I always seem to have the problem you mention, bringing the kitchen sink out with you. Despite wanting to travel light.

    I saw the washingmachinepost too I was thinking all that rubber might be a bit sweaty.



  3. Patrick says:

    That pack does look nice. I presume you can fit the 15″ mac book, right? I commuted in DC for years and threw away the courier bag and went backpack and even sometimes would tag along for the group ride and still ride with my pack. This bag looks well thought out. One note, though, I went out today with my assos 851 jacket which fits like junk when you’re standing, but is sublime on the bike (since the position on a bike is different). The pockets are big and snug. Here is what I packed on my ride in 35 degrees to a buddy’s shop to pick up my new garmin and I had ample room to spare:

    One old bulky garage door opener – the wife took all the door keys – about the size of my iphone.
    Two outlayer assos lobster claw gloves
    One apple iphone and ear buds
    One Tumi wallet
    One rapha winter cap (I wore my craft ear warmers – with helmet)
    Three manuals for the gamrin – one was semi thick and two were thin
    One Garmin CD
    One Garmin wall charger with cable

  4. Patrick,

    Yes my 15″ MacBook Pro fits perfectly and the padding gives you an extra bit of confidence. That’s a good load you managed to pack into your jacket. All of that would definitely fit in the Fixed Backpack (perhaps not with a laptop in the pack though).

    The only items that prove challenging are thick items, practically you’re limited to about 6″. In terms of length, with two zippers closing the circumference of the main compartment I have managed items that stuck out the top (poster tubes) by snugging the zippers closed against them. That can interfere with your over-the-shoulder vision and your helmet, but it’s a rare event.

    I’ve got all kinds of camera bags, packs and photo belt systems known for clever designs, padded compartments etc. The Fixed Backpack is right up there with the best of them.

    Rapha, how about a point-and-shoot holster on the next bag?

  5. Pingback: 30 Days of Rapha – Always Looking for Improvement | VeloDramatic

  6. Hiram says:

    I’m very interested in this, but am nervous it might be a tad bit small? If i could fit a pair of sneakers, scrub pants and shirt, a 3 ring binder and a small textbook, I’d be golden! What are the possibilities of fitting said items?

  7. Hiram,

    It would be a tight fit with all that stuff. Low cut sneakers definitely. I think you’d have to leave the textbook at home (and so you should ;-)

    I may have mentioned they have a larger version on the drawing board. You might want to wait for that. I’ll ping the designers and see where that’s at.