I’d rather not feel anything hanging out the back as I’m riding, and anyway, I only need enough room for water, a windbreaker or waterproof, maybe a sweater and an extra pair of gloves.
And don’t forget the rain pants.
The problem with those Bluto-sized backpacks is that unless they’re stuffed to the gunwales, they get all kinds of floppy and saggy.
And when they are stuffed like a cannoli, they shift the center of gravity aft and a beam wind will nigh blow ye right off course.
OK, sorry about the nautical lingo, which came to me from my early Mobjack days, but the point here is that sometimes smaller is better.
And it just seems more rational to carry a well-stuffed smaller backpack than a half-empty monster.
The Road Sack High-Viz Backpack
The Road Sack definitely scores on that account, but don’t let this deceive you.
The Road Sack can hold about 3.5 gallons (~13 liters), according to the manufacturer, although I wouldn’t suggest pouring in that much water to find out if it’s true. But imagine three one-gallon jugs and you’ll get the picture.
The Road Sack backpack has a unique design that serves two purposes.
First, it has an organic shape, tapered on the sides leading up from the bottom. This helps make it more aerodynamic than many, most or all other backpacks I’ve tried.
And the shape really does work — I honestly can’t even feel the Road Sack on my back when I’m riding, and that’s a good thing.
The second is that the tapered sides and bottom optimize the surface area of the pack, to best show off its high-visibility yellow special fabric, both in day and night.
You can see from the animated photo at the top of the page and the day/night comparison photos below that this baby really lights up!
The yellow material is some type of special fabric that is completely and highly retro-reflective at night.
We had the camera lens stopped down all the way to f25 at 1/250 of a second to take the photos, which believe me, is a miniscule amount of light in a pitch-black room, and the thing lights up like Christmas at Harrods’s.
Oh, and by the way — there’s actually a third reason for the Road Sack’s shape, now that I think about it.
When it’s not stuffed, those gunwales help maintain the overall shape, so it doesn’t get all saggy and baggy.
I don’t really know how this works, but there must be some trick to the design and the lining I suppose, because the Road Sackdoesn’t look much different whether it’s empty full of those virtual 3.5 gallons.
This is a nice feature, because it helps keep the Road Sack from flopping around when partly full.
There’s a side benefit also: you, the rider, can always look cool, just like you’re on an important mission to deliver some high-priority goods.
Now just because the Road Sack seems smaller than other backpacks (and it really isn’t) and it has such a unique design doesn’t mean the Road Sack is a wimp-ola when it comes to carrying capacity.
It will still hold our benchmark, the HP d2000dv computer, which is now becoming rather a beast when compared to today’s netbooks.
The small flap at the top of the Road Sack is in a handy location for the small stuff, like keys, MP3 player, the wad of bills used to bribe the gate guards or pay the squeegee man…
Open that small flap and the external pocket extends nearly all the way down the pack.
See in the photo on the back of the Road Sack, where the black piping forms an egg-shaped circle? That entire circle outlines the outside pocket that is accessible through the top flap.
Another brilliant design feature is in the way this external pocket expands.
You’d never know it by looking at it, but as the pocket gets filled, the yellow strip down the middle expands.
It’s designed with some clever accordion-like folds on either side, and these allow the pocket to bulge, but they also keep the material tight against the body of the pack when the pocket is empty.
One of the potential downsides of the overall Road Sack design is the zipper entry for the main compartment, which only runs about half-way across. You can see it in the photos; it’s the black band that forms the top of the egg-shaped “O” of the external pocket.
But it’s still wide enough to slip in most gear, so it’s a good compromise.
Speaking of the zipper, the yellow fabric has a relatively fine weave, so the zipper can occasionally catch an edge (photo below).
There’s a bit of a simple trick to holding one finger in front of the zipper, pushing the fabric out of the way so it won’t get caught as the zipper is closed.
Also, the very bright high-visibility yellow fabric can become soiled rather easily. I haven’t tried to clean it yet, but I’m hoping that a normal light soap and water mixture will do the job.