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The Craft Cadence Metro Pannier Backpack provides a roomy 25L of storage and proves easy to transport both on and off the bike. It has useful outer pockets plus loops for locks and lights, it's easy to use, and the price is good. It's a good one.
First let's deal with this as a pannier. It attaches with two sturdy plastic hooks which adjust laterally to sit in unobstructed spots on your rack. The hooks are joined with a flexy handle – pull it and it opens the latches, let go and the latches spring closed. It's simple and effective.
The lower mount is a simple buckled strap that stops the pannier flapping, and while it works perfectly well it can be slightly fiddly/dirty reaching in behind to access it. You also need to make sure you adjust the collar on the webbing to stop the loose end flapping in the spokes.
The hefty webbing loops on the front can hold D-locks, while behind them is a large external pocket with a waterproof zip.
You also get a good size mesh pocket on one side that's very useful – you don't want to be getting into the main compartment for every small thing. The mesh pocket is big enough for bottles, too, and elasticated at the top for security.
You especially don't want to get into the main compartment constantly here, given the roll-top uses three buckles to secure. This seems to be because the fabric is pretty flexible, and I missed the bracing many such bags have across their mouths to make rolling them up easier. This bag tends to unroll as you do the buckles up, though to be fair once you've done all three it sits perfectly well.
Also, having deliberately given it the minimum rolls and stuck it in the shower for a couple of minutes, I found it remained perfectly waterproof despite looking a bit loose.
Inside you find a large padded sleeve (it takes a 17in laptop) Velcroed to the back bearing various pockets: deep ones, shallow ones and a big zipped one. There's also a key hook and a holder for pens. Remember pens? We used to write with them on things that weren't the internet or phones.
You get a strong webbing handle for carrying it away from the bike, but if you're going far you can wear it as a pack instead. It only takes a minute to pull the straps from their (waterproof) zipped compartment and clip the ends to the lower mounts, and they're wide, well padded, mesh backed for a little ventilation and even have an adjustable chest strap.
There's a pad (normally Velcroed down) that flips up to cover the hard plastic mounts, and it works pretty well for short durations as the bag naturally tends to hang away from your back at the top. The flap also presents a much cleaner surface to your back, which is nice.
To make it more comfy you can remove the plastic hooks entirely, although the Velcro then doesn't line up so the flap is free to... well, flap, as you put the bag on. A wider line of Velcro here would be nice.
The mounting hooks adjust quite easily side-to-side, but you do need to take care to lock them back down carefully in one of the preset positions – if you don't, the hook can slide right off the end of its bracket.
Also, if you do remove them for any reason, their locking mechanisms can twist upside down so they close when you put them back, but don't latch. It's fairly obvious they're curving the wrong way (and not latching), and it only takes a moment to twist them back, so don't get me wrong – this really is a small niggle. But still, it requires a little care.
On the other hand, most people will probably set these hooks once and leave them alone, so it may never be an issue anyway.
While this bag is impressively waterproof as a pannier, it's not quite as a backpack – the waterproof zip is open to let the straps out. Water can then get in the gap and soak through to the inside, but you would need to wear it for quite a while in pretty heavy rain for that to actually become a problem. Again, it's unlikely to be an issue in normal use.
Perhaps a more likely-to-occur niggle is that, should you want to run this on the left side of your bike, the rear-facing reflective logo will be facing forwards instead. It could do with one on either side.
At £79.99 this seems very fairly priced, especially given its backpack mode. The Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier has gone up to £100 since Lara tested it last year and is slightly smaller than this 25L Craft Cadence, while the 22L Brooks Scape Pannier has gone up to £125 since Emma tested it last year.
If you don't need quite so much room (or such strong waterproofing), the Altura Heritage 16L Pannier that Tass tested last year is great for £55, but while the Bontrager MIK Commuter Double Pannier offers a huge 36L and was £89.99 when tested a year ago, it's since risen to £109.99 and still has the same flaws.
This is well made, waterproof, a very useful size and easy to carry off the bike thanks to its backpack conversion. What issues it has really are very minor – it's a very good pannier and a decent backpack too.
Waterproof, well made and very usable luggage that's great for carting around
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Cadence Metro Pannier Backpack
Size tested: 25 litres
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?
Craft Cadence says: "The Craft Cadence Pannier Backpack has been carefully engineered to be equally competent on its own in both form factors for riding on roads in cities. It also features a detachable tech sleeve and an innovative system for changing between pannier and backpack modes."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Craft Cadence says:
-Seamless conversion: unique 'flip' mechanism allows you to easily convert between pannier and backpack form within seconds
-Waterproof: robust buckle roll top enclosure system and welded seams ensures full waterproofing. No rain jackets needed.
-Commuter focused: cycle commuting features include front-mounted molle straps for D locks, an external pockets on either side for tools and accessories and a water bottle holder on the side
-Superior organisation: high-vis laptop and tech sleeve with 8 dedicated compartments for laptop (up to 17 inches), paper notebook, tablet, electronic accessories, keys, 2 pens and your smartphone
-Fully fledged pannier: adjustable buckles allow you to customize its position and cater to different widths of bike racks.
-Fully competent backpack: padded shoulder straps, foam padding and detachable waist straps ensures comfort in backpack mode like any of our backpacks.
-Buy with confidence: 5-year warranty for peace of mind.
Feels very solid.
Not light, but it's not meant to be.
Good as a backpack, especially with the rack mounts removed.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's waterproof, versatile and very easy to use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's nothing to seriously dislike.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £79.99 this seems very fairly priced, especially given its backpack mode. The Altura Thunderstorm City 20 Pannier is now £100 and slightly smaller than this 25L Craft Cadence one, while the 22L Brooks Scape Pannier is £125.
If you don't need quite so much room (or such strong waterproofing), the Alutra Heritage 16L Pannier is great for £55, but while the Bontrager MIK Commuter Double Pannier offers a huge 36L and was £89.99 when tested a year ago, it's since risen considerably to £109.99 and still has the same flaws.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The only issues this bag has are very minor, and even clumped together they don't add up to enough to seriously detract from it. It works well, feels well made and the price is reasonable. It's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,