Back to Back – How the New Fixed Backpack Measures Up

The Large Fixed Backpack gallery

Rain or shine the original has been backing me up for 18 months. I'm so used to wearing it that there's usually a moment on a weekend ride where I imagine something is missing. The minimal, low-profile design doesn't allow for any extra ballast. You pack the essentials and that's it. For my commute that means a clean shirt, briefs, small towel (shoes and trousers are kept at work), a couple of apples, my G9 digital camera, hand pump, 2nd extra tube, multi-tool, spare gloves, Stowaway Jacket and wet-wipes. Wallet and keys in one side pocket, cell phone in the other. The light loops on the shoulder straps and back usually have Knog Frogs or Beetles attached.

The original is a hard act to follow, but there are times when I need to carry a heavier load to or from work, and that's been a problem. Enter the new Large Fixed Backpack.

On first appearance it's surprisingly similar in size to its teammate. A little more square at the shoulders, perhaps half-an inch deeper (meaning away from your back). It has two generous exterior pockets instead of the three exterior pockets on the original. In terms of space it's probably an even trade, but I like the placement of these pockets on the original better. I can unclip the small chest strap, swing the pack off my left shoulder so it's easy to get at my keys and wallet in the right-side pocket. The new pack will require me to take it off to get at my keys and wallet. I'd love to see a shoulder strap phone pocket, like the stretch pockets on my Think Tank photo harness.

The Large Backpack features a familiar internal layout, both packs accommodate my MacBook Pro, though I seldom need to carry it. The additional half inch of depth (front to back) will provide a bit more room for an SLR body so I'm anticipating giving it a try for an upcoming road race shoot where I ride my bike to various points on the course.

Carrying capacity of the two Backpacks

It's only when you unzip the expandable rear panel that the LARGE designation make sense. Take a look at the comparison photos of what fits in the respective packs. A couple of caveats. In the photographs where the Large backpack is expanded, it contains the shoes and my MacBook Pro. My Giro Ionos does fit in the expandable section, but not at the same time as a pair of shoes. Fully loaded with laptop and shoes the pack weighed 12 lbs.

Expanded, the Large Backpack loses its svelte profile. Of course, if you want the option of additional capacity, it's a small aesthetic price to pay for practicality. The shoulders straps continue to provide good support for the bigger load, stabilized by the chest strap and the addition of a waist strap. When not in use, the waist strap can be neatly stowed behind the lower section of back padding.

Carrying capacity of the two Backpacks

In answer to those of you trying to decide between the two. It really comes down to how much you regularly carry. Both Fixed Backpacks are identical in materials and basic construction. The original has lived up to its waterproof rating and cleans up nicely on the occasions it's been covered in road grime, I'd expect no less of its stablemate.

The Rapha Large Fixed Backpack is priced at £125 $200 €140

If you want or need to carry a full change of clothes (briefs, socks, shoes, trousers and shirt) along with a laptop the Large is the way to go. As you can see, when the expandable section is collapsed, it has a clean profile. On the other hand, if you like the minimalist discipline, go with the original. Both will give you years of good service.

13 Responses to Back to Back – How the New Fixed Backpack Measures Up

  1. Richard says:

    Thanks for the comparison between the two packs. I was planning to get a pack like the Osprey Talon which is very popular with mountain bikers because of how it fits while riding, but now I will be considering the Fixed backpacks as well.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading through your commentaries and reviews, though the latter are quite dangerous to the pocketbook of a simple civil servant like myself! I recently bought the Rapha Touring Shorts, after reading your review and wore them on a ride last Saturday and am very pleased with them. Now to buy their jerseys as well…

    • Richard,

      Apologies for the negative impact on the bank balance. The Touring Shorts are a real favorite of mine. See Willy’s comment about riding 250 miles in them (in 24 hours). The next post will have some shots of him wearing the shorts and his gorgeous Vanilla tourer. Good riding this summer.

      • willy in pacifica says:

        Hey, where are the pictures?

        I have been refreshing every 5 minutes. You’re killing me : )

        willy in pacifica

        • I’m on it lad. I’m laid up at home just now with a terrible cold, and keeping tabs on the office. Promise it will be up by tonight, so you can take a break from refreshing for a few hours. I’ll email you when it drops.

  2. Svptt says:

    Looks great!!

    Mine is sitting at the post office ready to be picked up!! Can’t wait.

  3. Have you thought of trying action wipes instead of baby wipes. They smell and work a lot better for bike commuting. Just a thought. I really like them.

    • Haven’t come across them in person, though I think I’ve seen them online. The ones I ride with just happened to be kicking around the house. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Synergy says:

    Hmm…the omission of the very useful side pockets could be a deal- breaker for moi.
    Does the Large have the internal shades pouch ala original? If so, I hope they made it a tad bigger as it was only really suitable for a spare lens,rather than a pair of curvy M Frames complete..Almost as if someone designed it in the office but didn’t get round to testing the prototypes…I did mention this whilst picking up some goodies at Perren St ,hope someone listened.

    Like yourself, I am a big fan of the original [notwithstanding a subtle tweak or two for a future variant, perhaps] The personal luggage of choice when stocking up on a couple of bottles of red when nearing home at the end of a Sunday afternoon tempo ride.Both sandwiched between the Stowaway,of course.

    • Synergy,

      I checked the shades pouch and it does seem a bit bigger. I can fit my Oakley Radars (pitch model) inside the pouch of either backpack. The new pouch definitely zips more easily.
      The two repositioned exterior pockets are still useful, it’s just they can’t be accessed with the one-shoulder pivot move of the original. I think the rationale for moving them is probably to make the bottom of inside main compartment completely usable, which it now is.

  5. Josh says:

    Thanks for the review :)

    Now I just need to come up with some money…

  6. Greg says:

    Great review, love the use of the Stowaways to differentiate the two packs. Thanks for all the additional pictures, a nice supplement to those on the Rapha site.

  7. Dave Wyman says:

    What a terrific review of the pack. As always, great photographs (and you’ve given me some ideas on improving my own photography). I’ve enjoyed your various posts about Rapha, as well as your blog in general.

    Although I’ve been aware of Rapha for a year or so, I’ve only recently received my first couple of Rapha items – the Country Jersey and cap – and have just ordered a Club Jersey. I look forward to continued reviews of Rapha gear from you.