See the full review with photos at fxdfwd.co.uk/?page_id=2436
I recently arranged to take a month off from work to spend some time in Amsterdam with my lady. The plan was to ride there in 2 days. The first day we rode from London to Harwich, then took an overnight ferry to Hoek Van Holland. The second we rode along the west coast of Holland to Zandvoort, then in to Amsterdam. It’s 210km if your route avoids major roads. It was an incredible journey with stunning landscape both in England and Netherlands. I’m going through some footage I shot on my GoPro of the ride so I’ll hopefully post something up soon.
I had quite a few things to take and the only bag I owned was a PAC Street Large. Which is a brilliant, cavernous bag, which has actually helped me move house twice. It’s a single strap messenger bag which is great for carrying large loads, but unfortunately puts all the weight on one shoulder, which isn’t in anyway ideal for long rides. So the only thing to do was to get a backpack.
The choices on the table for the new backpack were either the Mission Workshop Rambler or the T-Level Challenger.
The Mission Workshop Rambler is a very comfortable, well made bag that comes in at £215 and ticks most of the boxes. It holds 22L with the capability of expanding to 44L by opening an external zip, which makes it huge. However it only comes with one small accessory pocket and I found the double zip to the main pocket to be more effort than I’d like. It sounds fussy, but it’s the sort of thing that bugs me if I’m using the bag all the time, especially if I’m paying that price. I want the bag to be simple and function well without any hassle. MIXTMEAT did an awesome review/video which you can see here.
The Challenger is the 32L urban backpack from the Korean company T-Level. It comes in at a very reasonable £125. Bargain! It’s an incredibly well designed bag made from solid, durable materials such as Codura, Duraflex and YKK Zippers.
It has a large main compartment, a large laptop pocket (accessible from the top or side of the bag) and a multitude of smaller internal and external compartments for all your ‘gubbins’, making it extremely practical for everyday use.
The bag feels extremely comfortable on, due to padded straps and three large padded sections on the back panel. The padded sections are separated by ventilation channels, so that your back doesn’t get sweaty either. There is a chest strap and a removable waist strap for extra support when carrying heavy loads. Compression straps feature on the side of the bag, which can not only be used to reduce the size of your load, but can also be joined in a myriad of ways to provide the capacity to hold bicycle wheels, frames, skateboards or any other odd shaped item that would otherwise be a chore to carry when riding your bike.
It comes with two large, easily accessible, external accessory pockets with waterproof zips. I found these the most useful on the trip for stashing my wallet, phone, headphones, keys, cameras, snacks, passport and ferry tickets. Still, with all that, there was massive amounts of room for other stuff.
The other accessory pockets at the front internal section of the bag are more than ample. The largest 2 pockets are easily big enough for a few magazines. I used that pocket for tools, meaning if I did need access, I’d have no problems rummaging around trying to find them. It also has 2 smaller pockets in front of that in which I placed my hard drive, spare films, batteries, memory cards, cables, lights etc. Again, these accessory pockets still had a large amount of space left over.
Although I haven’t used it there is a small internal net pocket for your iPod with a built in headphone port. This means you can listen to tunes on your bike, in a full blown thunder storm with torrential rain and not have to worry about your phone short circuiting because it’s in the pocket of your non-waterproof trousers.
Since buying this bag I’ve not taken it off. Whether it’s riding to a different country, going to get veg/meat/wine from the local shop or carrying bike bits too and from work, it’s the bag of choice . I’m sure my PAC will get used in the future if i need to move anything huge like my iMac or suchlike. But for the foreseeable future, I will no doubt be using this bag every day. An incredibly versitile and durable bag, perfect for everyday use. I’d recommend it to anybody looking for a backpack at a very respectable price. Get yours from Tokyo Fixed.
Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been too… You should make an effort to visit. (Not just for the pot and hookers either).