The Craft Cadence backpack is designed by and for bike commuters. It’s a really top-notch backpack for cycle commuting, and right now it’s on sale as well. So, we thought it was the perfect time to publish this review of one of our favorite cycling backpacks!
The full name of this product is the Craft Cadence IPX5 Waterproof 30 Liter Roll Top Backpack. That name crams in the most important details you need to know about this cycling backpack: it’s fully waterproof, it holds a whole lot of stuff, and it is closed using the roll top method (roll it twice and seal the Velcro). But that’s just the bare bones take – on closer inspection, this backpack has a whole lot more going for it.
Now, we know that there are cyclists who swear by panniers, and cyclists who swear by backpacks. We don’t want to get into that debate. Simply put, this product is aimed at cyclists who prefer backpacks over panniers, who need to keep their stuff dry, and who would like to keep their back as sweat-free as possible while using a cycling backpack. If that’s you, read on!
About Craft Cadence
Craft Cadence is a small London-based company. It was started in 2016 by a small group of London-based bike commuters. Their mission statement is: “We are driven to serve the cycle commuting community with quality products that are designed with our community in mind.” It seems that they have just one product, and that is this cycling backpack, available in just two colors – attention-grabbing yellow, and a more stylish matt black. Both versions have reflective details for added visibility.
Buying Options for the Craft Cadence Cycling Backpack
If you live in the UK, you can choose to buy it from Amazon, or direct from Craft Cadence. If you live outside of the UK, you need to buy it direct from Craft Cadence. Shipping times are 3 to 4 business days in the UK; 3 to 5 in the EU; and 7 to 10 for the rest of the world.
A Completely Water Proof Cycling Backpack
This cycling backpack is certified against water ingress at IPX5. This means it will resist water jets, and that “Water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.” So, unless you plan to cycle underneath a waterfall for extended periods, this backpack should protect your stuff from rain, sleet, and snow!
This level of waterproofing is achieved by constructing the backpack out of 0.5 mm thick high quality tarpaulin materials. This is the thickest such construction on the market today. Also, the seams are welded with high frequency welding; the roll top closure system is effective in protecting against rain; and the zips are water-resistant.
I have not used this backpack in the rain, but the construction details reassure me that it will be entirely water proof. Also, the quality of the materials speaks for itself when you look at it.
Organizing Your Gear Inside the Craft Cadence Cycling Backpack
I have used panniers that are basically just cavernous bags. I don’t like them. They keep stuff dry, but it can be very annoying to find your stuff. What I want when I am commuting is speed and convenience. I notice that it is extremely quick and easy to roll the top of this bag twice and secure it with the Velcro strips (which could have been a bit longer, but they do the trick anyway.)
Importantly, this backpack has compartments to help you keep your stuff organized.
On the outside is a large, water-resistant pocket where you can put things you want to grab quickly, such as a mini pump, a lock, and your keys. Note that this pocket is only water-resistant, not IPX 5, so you would not want to carry your electronic gadgets in this if there was any chance of train.
I found this pocket to be easy to open even when wearing gloves, thanks to a handy zip tab. The zipper is horizontal, so nothing will fall out when you unzip it.
On the inside is a removable sleeve (secured by Velcro) that has two compartments. One of them will take a laptop up to 15 inches (for example, a 15-inch MacBook Pro, a Dell XPS15, or a Lenovo Thinkpad). The other is a mesh pocket intended for smaller items, such as phones, keys, or wallet. Personally, I prefer to have those items more easily accessible.
You can actually arrange a couple of water bottles on the outside of the sleeve. This would be handy if you were doing a really long ride. Or, you could use it to transport a couple of bottles of wine home for the weekend!
Alternatively, you can remove the entire sleeve, and just use the bag as a cavernous sack. That would be useful if you were doing grocery shopping, instead of bike commuting.
Also, you could remove the sleeve, place any wet gear you have at the bottom, and then replace the sleeve. This would enable you to keep wet gear separate from dry gear. I tried that once, after a swim, and it worked really well. Although I was glad I remembered to get my swim gear out as soon as I got home, because I wouldn’t want it to get smelly in the bag.
In this video, Mrs. Average Joe Cyclist shows off the features of this cycling backpack, and shows how much she packs into it!
Protection from a Sweaty Back
The backpack features foam padded back panels separated by mesh. The idea is to have an airflow in there, so that you don’t get a sweaty back. The shoulder straps also have air vents, for the same reason. These have worked for me so far, so that I have not experienced sweaty back or shoulders. But I have to stipulate that I have been trying this backpack out during the spring, not the summer. The hottest day I have used it, it was 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Secure Position on Your Back
I am not a big fan of cycling backpacks, usually preferring panniers. However, I can see the attraction in terms of hop-on-and-off speed and convenience. I was pleasantly surprised to find the backpack comfortable while riding. Craft Cadence has designed a shoulder harness system that is intended to maximize your comfort, even in a forward riding position.
Apart from the shoulder straps, there are two other straps to keep the backpack very securely positioned. These are a chest strap, and a waist strap. I found that they do keep the backpack very stable. Also, I think that this weight distribution over shoulders, chest and waist helped to keep the backpack comfortable, even when quite heavily loaded.
Visibility of the Craft Cadence Cycling Backpack
The Craft Cadence back pack has a reflective strip at the bottom, which also can be used to secure lights. The bright yellow version is of course highly visible. I know many people prefer their gear to be black, but I find yellow a whole lot safer.
There are also reflective strips on the shoulder straps.
At 30 liters, this backpack has plenty of capacity for everything you need to transport on your commute. Also, if you leave the top wide open instead of rolling it down, you can use it to transport a very large amount of groceries on days when it is not raining.
Closing the Backpack
Basically you just roll the top twice, tightly, until the Velcro patches meet. Then if you like, for added security and water-proofing, you can cinch the roll down with the two provided short straps.
Specifications of the Craft Cadence Cycling Backpack
This backpack has a capacity of 30 liters. It weighs in at 1,000 g (2.2 pounds), and is 60 cm (24 inches) high by 43 cm (17 inches) wide by 19 cm (7.5 inches) deep.