Our products get taken out into the real world, where they’re tested and reviewed by experts and enthusiasts. What makes an item a keeper, and what could be improved?
Brooks Canvas & Leather Backpack
Why this product, and why you?
Cycling has always played an important part in my life. I race, commute and find a great deal of joy from a simple bike ride. I’m also a loyal Brooks customer and already own the saddle, basket and leather straps. (Also, I secretly wish I was British. The Brits have a class and heritage that’s hard to surpass.)
Beyond the rugged but beautiful oiled canvas shell is a bag as functional as it is simple. No buckles; only hooks. This eliminated any jingle when I was riding or walking down the street. The snaps are secure and strong, the zippers slide and never jam or hesitate. The roll-top made for easy access and protected everything, like my Canon SLR, in bad weather. The two internal pockets were great for general organization, while the smaller pockets that are accessible from the outside saved me from having to unpack my entire load or removing the bag from my back.
When did the product come most in handy?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve carried paint brushes, 10 liters of water, SLR camera and lenses, a Neolithic artifact, shoes, clothes and muffins – and the bag welcomed them all.
What’s your favorite feature?
It’s a subtle one: The metal feet anchored to leather straps along the bottom of the bag. The straps support heavier items that would naturally be placed lower in the bag, while the metal feet add an expensive “clink” when setting it down on most tables and floors. It’s a delicate way to say, I’ve arrived. During a spontaneous meeting at an artist studio, we needed a whole lot of water. I was shuttling 10 liters at a time while on my bike. The bag did an incredible job of accommodating all that bulk, while still being remarkably comfortable given there’s no padding. It made what could have been a nightmare a rather pleasant experience.
What needs improvement?
The straps aren’t the easiest to adjust, especially while I was rolling through Red Hook. They seemed to say “Are you sure, Sir?” when you go to move them. It’s probably Brooks’ way of ensuring safety – I shouldn’t be adjusting my straps while riding a bike anyway! Overall, the bag is simple, refined, incredibly detailed, strong, safe and – unlike British cars – reliable. This bag was built for life.