bike

Two Wheel Gear Convertible Pannier Backpack

I used the new Two Wheel Gear Convertible Pannier Backpack for two weeks as a bicycle commuter from an in-town neighborhood to a small city co-work space in a bike-friendly Southern city. I’ve been using a “corporate backpack” that is great for vehicle commuting, but was not shaped nor designed for bicycle-commuting. Overall, I like the convertible pannier backpack, but it reminded me of a few pet peeves I have as a long-time bicycle commuter with vehicle options.

The Good

  • The shape and size of the backpack is perfect for my bike commute to co-work space. I can fit my laptop (see note below, because this is a critique, too), battery, headphones, and a full change of clothes along w/ lunch and water bottles.
  • The chest strap can be adjusted for comfort, but definitely requires planning ahead. The attachment mechanism does not come off easily. Once adjusted, they were very comfortable.
  • Enough interior and exterior pockets, but not too many. Liked the mesh interior pocket.
  • The bright yellow rain cover easily removes from the pocket for visibility and protection.
  • I stuck my bike lock in the rain cover pocket while riding.
  • The exterior charcoal material is work appropriate for the tech environment of my co-work space.
  • I was apprehensive about the lack of waist strap, but the backpack fit well while riding in a small city environment with bike lanes. It did not slide around, as I had worried.
  • The pannier attachments were easy to use, but it reminded me why I don’t like riding with panniers. By the time I got to work, the exterior of the pack was gritty from the road and just yucky. I didn’t really want it touching me once I was ready for work, whereas wearing it as a backpack, it stayed clean from road grime. I had forgotten that about fabric panniers until I commuted with this bag for 2 weeks.
  • I attached my helmet to the outside loop once I got to work.
  • The Bad

  • The interior slash pocket for the laptop is too small. The pocket itself would fit my laptop, but the opening has no stretch or give and does not open wide enough to let my computer in. We tried 3 different laptops (Asus, Lenova, and HP) and they were all just slightly too thick to fit into the pocket. Kinda defeats the point of a laptop pocket.
  • The main zippers are VERY substantial. Unfortunately, even with the red grippers, the zipper itself is hard to open and requires holding the bag in a certain way to unzip. You have to fold back the fabric all along the zipper and guide it around the opening. It stops at the curves of the top unless you guide it along. You could not open this bag one-handed.
  • The interior compartment is black, making it the deep black hole. Literally any lighter color interior would be a better choice than black.
  • I do not have locker or storage space in the co-work space, so when my riding shoes were dirty, I had to put them in a separate baggie and attach it to the outside of the bag, as I don’t want grit on the inside of the bag where my computer goes. I got one of those giant zipper style plastic bags and kept it in the backpack for those days.
  • Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a prototype Two Wheel Gear Convertible Pannier Backpack for 2 weeks of testing, which I then returned, in consideration for a gear review.

    Paleo Meals to Go

    IMG_4916
    Long-time listeners to our podcast know that my family dabbles in outdoor adventures. We kayak, hike, mountain bike, and trail run for vacation and as weekend “warriors.” Despite our best intentions, we are not avid campers. We’d rather base camp with daily excursions or go on assisted adventures. We’re not the bad boys we think we are. I want to eat well when I’m playing, and I got lucky with Paleo Meals to Go this summer.

    One of my pet peeves about camping is the selection of MREs (meals ready to eat — military kid). Almost all of them have soy, like TVP, which I am allergic to, or they are gluten-laden carb-fests that leave me feeling gross. I was stoked when I heard about the Paleo Meals to Go; even though I’m not strictly Paleo, I’m pretty close. (Goals, y’all.) We just returned from a hot and steamy South Carolina kayaking and mountain biking coastal adventure, with temps around 100. I’ll be honest: I wasn’t going to heat up anything to eat. This could have been rough!

    IMG_4922

    Learning from past camping food disasters, I tested the first meal at home on the stove. I wanted to have the prep and timing figured out while it didn’t matter. I followed the directions on the package exactly, and all was well! I actually liked the Summit Savory Chicken enough that I’d eat this by choice on a night when I didn’t have time to fix a proper homemade meal.

    I packed the Caldera Chicken Curry, Butte Cacao Banana, and Cliffside Coconut Berry for 2 breakfasts and supper, and also the pack of Apex Fruit Snacks for the car ride home the next day.
    IMG_4964

    While not beautiful to look at, this cold-prep Cliffside Coconut Berry breakfast was delicious! I opened up the package and licked the inside clean, since my short camping spoon could not reach all the way in (The company is switching to a horizontal package soon, which will solve that problem, but I’ll still tear it open to lick clean. Leave no trace and all…) I also liked that this was an energy-dense start to my day, without feeling like a rock in my stomach. I have a hard time getting enough healthy calories in the morning before adventure days. Both of these breakfast options were yummy!

    IMG_4985

    I don’t think my phone-photo captures just how filthy I was after a fun day riding, since my legs and sand are about the same shade. We hydrated carefully due to the heat and humidity, and I was thrilled to have planned a meal that did not involve heating anything up, but I was “living dangerously” by fixing cold Caldera Chicken Curry.

    Yep, cold curry. It was great! I’m a little obsessed with curry, and carry it with me most of the time; pretty much any savory food can be rescued or improved with enough curry, you know? My family, however, does not like spicy foods at all. (How are these people related to me?) I graciously shared a taste of the curry as-is with them, and the boys both liked it and thought it was not too hot at all. Since I prefer food just below Vindaloo level of spice, I added some curry powder to mine.

    IMG_4936

    I’m not sure if my car-ride selfie shows it very well, but on the drive home, I ate the pack of freeze dried fruit. I’m not usually a fan of freeze-dried fruit because the texture freaks me out, but this was good enough that I leaned back to get the dust — leaving the fabulous fruit ring around my mouth in the photo!

    Hot or cold, the Paleo Meals to Go were a hit for our adventures. I am actually going to stock some in my hurricane kit, because why should we suffer with terrible food in an emergency, when we can have yummy meals like these instead? I was especially happy that none of these meals caused intestinal distress. I’m sure there are worse things to happen on an adventure, but seriously, gluten or soy-induced stomach issues are the pits! Paleo Meals to Go avoid both of those aggravating categories, while being lightweight and tasty, too. I’m a fan.

    IMG_4986

    DISCLAIMER:
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Paleo Meals to Go for free in consideration for a gear review.