If you’re new to cycling and not quite ready to wear all the skin tight cycling gear, you miss out on one of the best aspects of a cycling jersey: pockets. That’s right. Those second-skin shirts you see Skeletor-looking cyclists wear usually have three large pockets on the rear. And the more you ride, the more you realize you really do want to carry some stuff while you ride.
If you still want to cycle in your party shirt, Buffalo Bills jersey, or polyester tee, all hope is not lost. In fact, the solution is quite familiar, your mother probably even owned one. While the industry now insists on calling them “hip bags,” the fanny pack is the answer to your cycling prayers.
A few things make the fanny pack a perfect choice. The fit of a fanny pack, high above your butt, works great with the bent-over position of cycling and prevents the bag from moving or swinging beneath you. The limited straps also mean that you cut down on chafing, especially at stress points like your shoulders. You’ll also have room for your essentials, and most importantly, you’ll look awesome.
This Subalpine Hip Pack from Topo Designs works great whether you’re commuting, riding gravel or even mountain biking. While it doesn’t have an option to carry water, you’ll have space for just about everything else you need.
The bag has two main compartments. There is a zippered pocket closest to your hip that is narrow and perfect for a phone, then the main compartment with the lion’s share of the 2.4-liter capacity. The main compartment is relatively frill-less with no internal organizers other than a ring to secure your keys (always good if you are riding on rough terrain).
The bag also has a wide hip belt and massive buckle which makes it easy to put on and helps it avoid cutting into your skin or chafing. The pack itself is equally as comfortable where it contacts your body thanks to a thick, padded and ribbed back panel. It locks the bag in place and provides cushion between hard items, like phones and keys, and your back and hip bones.
The exterior of the bag is also great for attaching and managing your gear. The face of the pack has a four-point strap-down bungee cord that we found great for securing a hand pump that was too long to fit inside. The bag also has cinch straps to manage the amount of open space in the bag and prevent your gear from moving around. If you have more stuff though, you can loosen them completely and stuff the bag to its gills. There are also D rings you can attach gear to, but we tend to avoid biking with anything dangling off our bags.
Of course another benefit this bag has is it just looks awesome. While I use it primarily as a cycling bag, it’s also fun to take hiking or around town. It has bright pops of color and stands out in a world of greyish and blueish outdoor adventure packs.
$59; 5 colors; topodesigns.com