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The Banjo Brother’s Commuter Back Pack might be just the thing if you don’t like messenger bags, or find panniers inconvenient. A two layer belt and braces waterproof design consisting of a “ballistic” nylon outer designed to resist the day to day rough n’ tumble while a nylon liner catches the contents and avoids the bin liner ritual. The subtle satin black livery looks classy sans bike while reflective striping and obligatory Led tab are nice safety features.
A voluminous main compartment favours the “bung it and rummage for it later” school of packing and the lack of lap-top pocket may well deter some, although with reasonable organization, carrying a modest lap-top, power supply, A4 note books and a change of clothes is achievable. Hidden under the outer closure there’s a pocket for stashing wallets, cheque books, ipods and other small valuables. The penholder is useful but the side pocket for mini U-locks could’ve been larger and something of a missed opportunity in my book.
In many ways this is a messenger bag turned vertically, large shoulder straps distribute heavier loads particularly well paired with the sternum and waist straps and incorporates a useful mobile phone holster. The bag’s contours ensure a ready free-flow of air, largely eliminating the embarrassing sweat patch-even after fairly prolonged effort, although I’d sooner a pannier in the height of summer. Sitting lower on the riders back makes for much- improved peripheral vision-especially negotiating major roundabouts and junctions and I was relieved to find it didn’t interfere with my helmet.
Thanks to the welded construction, weatherproofing is pretty much as good as it gets, so long as you don’t submerge it on a ride making it a useful mountain biking companion. It laughs at sudden, unexpected downpours, brushes with brickwork and bramble alike. While excellent, some pockets could be better designed and tidy freaks will baulk at the lack of internal organization. However, for those commuting with heavier loads and on rides of twenty miles or less, it makes a very, very good choice.
Pricey but well made commuter sack for those who don't like panniers or messenger bags.
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Make and model: Banjo Brothers Waterproof rucksack
Size tested: N/A
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Waterproof Ruck Sack is designed to overcome the problems commonly associated with cycling with a ruck-sack, sweaty back, restricted visibility and often poor weather proofing.
Tell us some more about the techincal aspects of the product?
The Outer shell is made from a very hard wearing "Ballistic" nylon designed to resist the worst downpours and the daily abuse inflicted upon cycling baggage. An integral, removable compartment lining eliminates the need for lining with refuse sacks. 1500 cubic inches should be enough for most but if you really want to haul the kitchen sink a 2000 cubic inch model is available.
Very, very solid.
Meets it's objectives and whilst there's some slight compromise-some of the space could be better organised and the mini U-lock pocket proved something of a missed opportunity. It either needs to be bigger or utilised in another way.
Slight signs of freying but hasn't worsened throughout the test period. Otherwise pretty much bomb-proof.
Fine with moderate to heavy loads and maximum commutes of around twenty miles.
Quite expensive but very well made and should repay the investment several times over.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performs very, very well, there's no annoying sway thanks to broad shoulder straps coupled with nicely positioned sternum and waist straps. Even in extremely heavy downpour there's been no need for additional internal lining.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nice understated design, cycling specific cut, huge main compartment and a reassuringly solid feel.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Some of the space could've been better utilised.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? For regular commuting or moderate mountain biking, yes
Age: 35 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)