September 28, 2009

Review-Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack

By Elisa | 6 Comments »


As many of our long time readers know, I have had a problem finding a bag that gets everything I need, dry and comfortably, to work and play. Banjo Brothers, a friend of both Bici and Bike Skirt, sent a Commuter Backpack as a prize for the Flirty Thirty race.  I didn’t win it, but was intrigued.  Could this be the solution I was looking for?

Messenger bags are wonderful, but I need 2 straps.  I have a long, thin neck and have always had issues with it.  I was also in a car accident in college that gave me soft tissue damage that won’t go away.  None of my bikes have the capabilities for panniers (although I am looking into getting that fixed with a local bike builder), so a backpack is the only way to go for me.

After multiple emails (they were so helpful) to determine which size would work best for me, one arrived at my doorstep.  One look and I knew I would never use my old LLBean bag again.  This thing is classy looking, complete with reflective features that look good even off the bike.  Bells and whistles, but not so many that it is bordering on ridiculous.  Pockets for pens, pencils, cell phone, bike lock keys and a larger pocked for other random things (in my case; wallet, lipstick, bike repair stuffs). There is also a side pocket just right for a U lock that is easily accessible when the pack is on.  This has been the most surprisingly handy pocket so far.

Roomy?…oh my.  I got the medium with 1500 cubic inches of space. I packed it out to see how much it could carry.  Here is what I loaded it down with:

work day: 2 moleskin notebooks, full change of clothes, shoes, sunglasses case, large make up case, lock


work +play day: change of clothes, makeup case, 6 pack of beer, bottle of wine, triscuits, lock


Grocery day: a full weeks worth of groceries.  pork tenderloin, grapes, pop tarts, 1/2 gallon of milk, 2 cans of veggies, jar of spaghetti sauce and dry pasta, lock

conference day: laptop, rainjacket, t shirt, 2 notebooks, 2 magazines, lock

I waited to post this review until I had ridden in a good downpour with it.  On said day, I also got a flat in the storm, so the waterproof claim was definitely tested.  I arrived soaking wet, with everything in the bag bone dry.  I had a few items in the outer pockets that were damp, but anything in the large waterproof liner was dry.

The straps do distribute the weight evenly though I do use the waist strap as well.  The bag itself is not light, something I had to get used to.  When fully loaded, it is a heavy thing to hoist on.  I also find that if I put it low on my back, it pulls a bit on my neck.  I am still tweaking the correct strap length.  The u lock pocket makes for an uneven weight distribution that takes some strap adjustment necessary in order to keep it from falling one way or the other.

All in all, I would recommend this bag to anyone needing a good, sturdy backpack.  If you just want to carry around a notebook and repair kit, this is a bit much.  For the serious commuter however, it has everything you need.  The price is reasonable for all the amenities at $79.99.  Oh, and the folks running the company are good people who care about your comfort and happiness.  When I tweeted that my back hurt, I got a message asking if I wanted to trade or how they could help.  That is rare and welcome.

Bike Love!

When you order one, tell ‘em Bike Skirt sent you…

Goes with everything (except a head, apparently!)

Goes with everything

Enjoyed This Post? Share with others:
digg | stumble |


  1. On September 28th, 2009 trisha said:

    Meant to ask you about this when I saw you this weekend — it’s a good-looking bag! Great to hear it’s so functional, too, though I hope you can sort out a rack solution soon. A week’s worth of groceries is too much to be carrying on your back!

  2. On September 29th, 2009 Ghost Rider said:

    Those are great backpacks…as is everything else Banjo Brothers makes. I am a huge fan of their messenger bag, too.

    As for attaching panniers to your current bike, save your money and time by skipping the bike builder and look no further than your local hardware store…p-clamps are the way to go (and for only a couple bucks):

  3. On September 29th, 2009 Elisam said:

    Jack-this was just brought my to my attention (they actually sent a link to your blog!). This could change me life! Now I need to get some banjo brothers panniers…

  4. On October 7th, 2009 Elizabeth said:

    I love their stuff… For the past several years I’ve been using their waterproof pannier…. and just recently I’ve been using it exclusively – no more backpack on my aching back (for now)! Next — their grocery pannier complete with the shoulder strap to tote around the store. :-)

  5. On September 7th, 2010 Liz(zle) said:

    Just wanted to say thanks for reviewing this – I’m looking at getting the smaller BB backpack & all the reviews I’ve found were by men… I’m a somewhat petite chick.

    Just curious, how’s the pack a year later? How is it on back & shoulders over time?

    Love the site.

  6. On September 27th, 2010 jamie said:

    finally! a backpack that i can ride with and still have some style. thanks for reviewing it…i ALMOST bought an ugly rei backpack because i had lost hope.

RSS feed for coments on this post
Both comments and pings are currently closed.

No public Twitter messages. You Should Follow Me on Twitter
  • Things We Believe In