CRAFT CADENCE CYCLING BACK PACK
1250g Yellow and Black (as tested) £79.99
With a whopping 30litre capacity, the Craft Cadence Cycling Back Pack has been meticulously designed and refined. The result is a cycling back pack with features that cyclists will appreciate, and which make this a real challenger in the increasingly competitive cycling rucksack market. I’m not a natural fan of carrying gear on my back when on board the bike, so I take some convincing. Well, Craft Cadence have gone a long way to convincing me.
Pros: large, visible, waterproof, robust.
Cons: over shoulder visibility might be impaired occasionally.
Made form “tarpaulin type” materials – not the pads and straps – with welded seams, an IPX5 rating. This means it protects against low pressure water jets from any direction. IPX6 is similar, but with high pressure jets. In real life, it should be waterproof in all sorts of conditions, short of submersion: unless you are targeted with a water cannon.
It’s roll-top closure, secured by Velcro patches and corner straps, should keep goods secure and rain out. These also mean that you have not got to un-buckle every time you open up.
There’s an external zip-pocket – designed for easy-access items - with a bijoux zip-garage. This pocket is not waterproof, because of the zip – so take a belt and braces approach to anything sensitive to water, just in case.
The fabric is 0.5mm thick – the thickest on the market, according to craft Cadence. This promises durability as well as security. Initially, it put me in mind of the old lorry tarps used by UPSO (Potter’s Panniers, for example). However, Craft Cadence is neither pre-used, nor, I think, quite as hefty.
Unroll it, and look inside, and you’ll be struck by the voluminous capacity. Equally, you’ll notice the removable 15” lap-top sleeve, with two-zipped mesh pocket for keeping smaller items tidy. The whole sleeve is held in place by our old friend Velcro, for ease of removal and replacement. Rather nicely, there’s space for tubular items, such as water (or beer) bottles, to the sides of the sleeves.
Of course, take the sleeve out, and you have even more space, should you want it.
Thirty litres is a lot of space, and you may not want to fill it all. However, it removes the need for external loops for carting round larger U-locks.
In common with any decent backpacks, foam and mesh panels separated by channels are designed to avoid “sweaty back” syndrome. In this case, the shoulder straps are also ridged with foam to enhance ventilation even further. Frankly this can be a thankless task in warm or humid weather, or at anything more than gentle speeds.
Air vents also feature on the shoulder straps. These are fully adjustable, as are the chest and waist straps. Sad to say that my waist measurement is no inverse to my age, but all the straps have plenty of length.
Craft Cadence say that the shoulder straps are designed for a “forward” riding position – which should suit most cycling positions, except for those who speed along on the drops or sit bolt upright. The straps are made from high-grade seat-belt type fabric, promising durability.
A corollary of the “forward” riding position is that there’s a reflective strip toward the base of the bag (which doubles as a light loop) – others are to be found on the shoulder straps, and on the sides of the bag.
There’s a robust carry-handle, too.
The thirty litres capacity makes this one of the most voluminous packs on the market. Some might question how much a commuter might want to carry. However, a pack like this could easily serve duty for group gear on trail ventures where panniers or big rack packs are not desirable. So, as well as filling the external pocket with spare tubes and, tyre levers, micro-pump, and multi-tool, I’ve removed the sleeve and stuffed in four lightweight waterproofs and a pile of snack bars.
With the sleeve in, the Mac-Book has felt safe and secure, notebooks (I know, but it is my age), pens, pencils, phone, cables, power bank, have been kept separate from my waterproof jacket, spare blinkies, and so on. Water-bottle have stood upright, ensuring no nasty leakage over electrical goods. It is undoubtedly a backpack for someone who likes, or needs, organisation.
On the way home, I’ve been able to add vital supplies; two bottles of wine, veg biryani, sag gosht, a stuffed paratha, papadums and chutneys. Mind you, things were getting close to capacity, and I’d not usually want to carry that much on my shoulders.
This is very much as advertised. The one weakness is the external pocket. Although only described as water-resistant, such pockets often are, to all intents and purposes, waterproof. It had survived a couple of wet commutes, but I left it outside – negligently – in a torrential downpour. I was surprised to find, that the inside of the pocket was wet. However, I’d not shoved the zip right into the garage, so – mia culpa – That may well explain it. On the other hand, I’d tend to think carefully about what I put in that pocket, especially if there are major storms forecast.
This looks like a durable piece of gear for tough use – again, hinting at doubling-up for the commute and some off-road work. I’ve it on canal company architecture brickwork and through overhanging brambles on the tow path. I’d never want to do these things too much, but there’s not a mark to show for these adventures.
Keeping things clean is pretty easy and comparable to many similar products. I’ve found post-fettling finger prints disappear courtesy of a soapy sponge or a drop of something like Rock ‘n’ Roll Miracle Red.
Thirty litres of space has not tempted me to overload things. Personally, I’m not keen on heavy weights on my back when cycling. I’ve commuted and taken to the odd gravel ride, fully loaded, but not over-weight. Generally, the chest strap has been enough to keep things stable – and more sedate commuters may well find even that’s unnecessary. I’ve reserved the waist strap for faster gravel trails.
Over the shoulder vision, despite a recent redesign can be obstructed by the shoulder of the roll-top. This is not unusual with this type of closure. The fuller the load, the higher the top goes, the easier vision becomes. Having said that, I’ve only really found this a minor problem when first using the rucksack. Adjusting the shoulder straps and lowering my head a little made things easier.
Sweaty-back syndrome? Frankly, this seems to me to be an inevitable consequence of wearing a rucksack – especially on humid, hot days such as the ones when I first wore this to work. Bearing that in mind, on cooler summer days, I have felt air circulating between back and rucksack. In my opinion, the padding ventilates better than, the more fundamentally upright commuting, Tucano Urbano Beak Pack and the Chrome Urban 18.
A lot will depend on how much you want to cart around. Those convinced that 12litres will be enough, could opt for the cheaper Oxford Aqua Evo 12 Backpack. Ideal for mid-distance commutes, it may not offer flexibility for those on group duties or heading further from home.
Ortleib’s well-known Atrack CR offers 25 litres, is waterproof, and is described as “ideal for everyday use.” It is also over double the price. Ortleib also offer a range of “active packs” at a range of uses, including cycling. The range, in my opinion, tends towards more specialisation. The Craft Cadence may well offer a nice compromise.
Without doubt the Craft Cadence Cycling Backpack is thoughtfully designed and very well executed. Capacity and design combine to suggest a range of uses. Moreover, it looks pretty durable, promising long-usage for your money. Equally, discipline specific devotees and precise packers might prefer less capacity.