Commuting - Rack, pack, what?

I’ve been commuting sporadically by unicycle (4.25 mi/6.8 km each way), but now that I am feeling more comfortable on my 36er and am riding faster, I am doing it more often.

So far, I have been stuffing my things for the day in a average book bag/backpack, but it is hardly ideal. It’s hot. It moves around a lot. I can’t hop at stops to avoid dismounts because it bounces all over the place. It won’t put up with daily sweating/abuse. So, it’s time to look for a long term solution.

On a daily basis, I have to carry a laptop, lunch, change of clothes and a few odds/ends with me. I’m trying to decide if there is a better pack out there that will allow me the capacity I need, but still be comfortable to carry (bonus if it is waterproof), or if I should look into some form of a rack system.

I have perused a lot of threads o the forum here, but all the pack recommendations are out of date, so… I figured I’d start a new thread and
see what people are using and like/dislike.

Share what you know - what has worked for you and what has not. Help a fellow commuter out! :slight_smile:

I don’t commute so take what I say with a grain of salt.

From my experience and fairly extensive searching at one point, there isn’t really a rack out there that works well enough to be practical. Some seatpost racks may work, but if you look over at the bike crowd, seatpost racks tend to fall apart.

IMO, I think your best bet is still going to be a back pack. If you got something with a waist strap, that would help reduce the pack bouncing around some.

I use a Dakine pack which has a lifetime warranty. I love it. They make quite an assortment of sizes and types, so I’m sure they’d have something that’d work for you.

I really wish there was a good rack that’d work with unicycles.

Model on the pack, Kiefer?


I commute daily with a laptop and usually some books on a 36 inch. I have a backpack which has a separate envelope inside close to my back. In this spot i stick my heavy stuff such as my laptop and books, on the outside i have softer, lighter stuff.

look for backpacks designed for Climbing.

some links of backpacks, camping and unicycles that i came across



I got a nice day hiking back pack made by Gregory. It’s very spacious and has the padded hip and chest straps, plus a well-ventilated back piece. I got it so that it could still hold a lot
(macbook, ipad, scrubs, shoes, lunch, writing utensils, emergency uni equipment, etc.) without much movement. It also rains here so I made sure it had a built-in packed rain cover. It has a compartment for a water bladder, but I don’t like to clean bladders so I either put a water bottle on my unicycle bottle rack or in one of the two side pockets on the pack. I’m too nervous to hop in place with my Mac in my bag, but I’ve gone down curbs and recovered from UPDs without much movement from the pack.

You might also consider a messenger bag with the shoulder strap and the side/rib strap so that it doesn’t slide around. I have a smaller one for days when I only need my ipad and a notebook (Timbuk2 Catapult messenger bag ). Surprisingly it works really well. I can access anything out of my pack just my unclicking the side strap and sliding the pack to my front side. It’s comfortable and most importantly, with the two straps, IT STAYS IN PLACE. Idk what type of lock you use, but the Catapult specifically has a slot on the front for a U-lock. It’s an awesome bag. And Timbuk2 allows customization of colors, size of pack, extra pockets, extra padded compartments for devices, etc. I’m a fan.

Anyway, that’s my advice: either a well-strapped and well-ventilated hiking back pack or a Timbuk2 messenger bag with the side strap.

I like the Deuter Speedlite 10. I use it for muni and commuting on the 36 and running. I might try a slightly bigger one next time. Maybe the Speedlite15 next time. I’ve had mine for years. It’s a great hydration pack, and holds more than you’d think. Super light and comfortable, esp. when hot. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for.

Do you remember what model that one is, by chance? I’m trying to get a sense of what size/shape/weight is reasonable and has worked well for folks. Based on what you tell me you are carrying, it sounds like we are close in terms of the size of pack we’d need.

I like their stuff, but no one seems to carry it around here, so I can’t find any of their larger stuff to try on. I think I have to go larger than a 15L pack, though, since I’ll be toting a 14" laptop every day.

Edit: Just found out stocks their stuff. Liking the look of the AC-lite line. Will go try one on and see how that feels. Thanks for the tip!

I have something very similar to the Gregory J-33 Pack. It’s women-specific. They have a men’s version as well. Idk if there are REIs in your area, but that’s where I got mine. REI has a bunch of different options for day hiking packs. Or any other big outdoor store.

When I commuted by bike, I used the Ortlieb messenger pack. It’s basic, it’s comfortable, it works very well. It is totally waterproof, commuting in Seattle over the winters was a good test, never had any troubles. I’ve put plenty of road miles on my 36 lately and see no reason why it wouldn’t crossover to Uni commuting. I’ve never been a fan of messenger bags (one shoulder bags), they just never stay in place and they don’t hold enough, they are o.k. for light loads (yours isn’t light).

The other packs mentioned would also work fine, I have a similar one to the Gregory mentioned (mine is REI brand), I can carry a good amount of groceries with it on my uni. The Ortlieb is nice because it’s just one big space with a big opening on top, easy to load and unload. The backpacking types are not quite as easy to load/unload and tend to mash everything together more, not a big deal.

Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. I spent a bit of time pack shopping today with your recommendations in mind, and I think I found a good one. I looked at the Ortleib (and I love the idea of a bomb-proof, waterproof, pack). Unfortunately, it’s just a bit too small for my needs. I brought along my typical “load”, and it was pretty tight in there. Definitely no room for extra stuff, should I need to expand for a day.

Eventually, I settled on a Deuter Futura-26. The narrow profile and good suspension means it is down out of the way and does not obstruct sight lines over my shoulder. It has the integrated rain cover for the bad weather days and it has an awesome suspension that keeps the bag totally off my back so I should get much better air-flow on the hot days, and not soak the body of the pack with nice, corrosive sweat.

Most importantly, when I was jumping up and down with it in the store (You should have seen the looks I was getting. :D), it was rock solid on my back - with full or partial loads in it. That should be nice for hopping at stoplights or dropping curbs. No more emergency maneuvers (I hope!) because my pack decided to swing around. :slight_smile:

Anyway, thanks again for all the advice everyone! I’ll follow up with a review in a week or two after I get to put it through its paces.

ooooh! That looks nice! Good choice! :slight_smile:

I’d still pack everything I wanted to keep dry in a/some plastic bags…


I would say it depends on how much weight you have to carry. 3-4kg in a back pack is no problem.

I once did 50miles over 2 days off road with over 12kg on my back… OMG did I have saddle sore!! :astonished:

Racks, for me

I’ve just been setting up my commuter for a commute where I carry a fair amount of weight lately. My minimal configuration is as follows:

That’s a Thule Pack ‘n’ Pedal on the back, with an Arkel Tailrider on top. That having said, I’ve just recently affixed a second Pack ‘n’ Pedal in front with a second bag on there. This one, which is pretty slim, to be specific:

Now, front racks and bags seem to be a matter of taste. Some folks don’t like them, I gather, as they can get in the way (though as I say, the one I’ve got on there is very slim, and so it’s more the rack than the bag getting in the way). In my case, I think the trade off is a worthwhile one, and I don’t find it too annoying. Honestly, I think I’m going to leave the front/bag rack on there permanently, just because I’m too lazy to remove it and it doesn’t bother me much. Plus, I’d much rather have the weight on my rack than on my back, when trucking a load. Not a fan of riding a uni with a loaded backpack. Though a light backpack really just carrying my laptop is fine.

When you mount, does the pack not get in your way?

A bit. Not so much that it’s a real problem. I tend to mount at a slight angle to compensate for this. But I’m not even sure that’s entirely necessary. In any case, the ergonomics of freemounting strike me as a much more minor concern than the ergonomics of riding (which is where the front rack comes in, as a consideration).

One more reason to learn a jump mount? :slight_smile:

Fully Loaded

Here’s my fully loaded look, incidentally. Literally, as I just got back from the store, and there are two big cartons of milk in my front pack. A tad front-heavy, I can tell you.

Definitely a cool setup you have there. I’ll have to keep an eye out for a deal on the Thule racks. Unfortuantely, there’s no way that would work for my daily commute. 1 UPD and my laptop would be toast. :frowning:

So far, the new pack is working like a champ. Review to come after I have it for a week or so.

Yeah, I also carry a laptop, so I sympathise with this consideration completely, as well as your resolution to it. That having said, my present solution is to carry the laptop and (almost) nothing else on my back, then put the (other) heavy stuff in my packs. That’s even with my laptop being just about the heaviest laptop manufactured today for its form factor (a Lenovo Thinkpad with the huge-ass extra large battery). At least reduces the back-born disruptive weight to a fairly minimal one which is pretty much right against my back and doesn’t really move around at all.