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Green Guru Spinner Backpack

by John Coe

Zipper pulls.

That’s really all I’m asking for. Zipper pulls.

I’ve owned a lot of backpacks over the years. Messenger bags, too. And, for several years, mostly just so that I would be able to confidently tell people, I’ve commuted with a messenger bag for years, I’ve been commuting somewhat consistently with a messenger bag. And, I’ll tell ya what: I really don’t like commuting with a messenger bag. It’s almost always too bulky, too unstable, and, whenever it’s loaded with more than a few pounds, it’s also torturously uncomfortable after only a few miles. That’s my view on messenger bags. Sorry messenger-bag makers. Me no-likey.

Green Guru Spinner backpackSo, I was stoked to get my hands on Green Guru’s Spinner backpack, a mid-sized, commuter-specific, made-from-recycled-bike-tubes, honest-to-goodness backpack. My left shoulder, ya see, had been wanting to try out a new two-strapped bag for some time.

I’ve been riding to work with the Spinner on my back for a little over a month now, and I can tell you: both of my shoulders have appreciated the opportunity to more comfortably share the load. The Spinner pack has nice, wide, padded, semi-rigid shoulder straps that fit well and stay put, despite the lack of a sternum strap. Nevertheless, the pack does feature a simple webbing hip-belt which seems to work well to stabilize the pack when loaded.

Inside, the Spinner pack is divided into two simple compartments that provide just over 1600 cubic inches of storage space. The larger interior compartment is designed to carry a laptop, files, and other big items. The smaller top compartment is set up to provide a simple organizational space for pens and pencils, along with a small zippered pocket.

Green Guru Spinner BackpackFor my own needs, I found the Spinner more than adequate for transporting my pump, keys, wallet, rain-gear, and iPad to and from work on a daily basis, as well as sundry other items now and then, as well.

The bike-tube construction on the top panel tends to make the bag a bit floppier, in a more-boneless sort of way, than bags with more common all-Cordura construction. But it also adds a bit to the bag’s curb appeal and likely to its utility as well. Being made of butyl-rubber as it is, it’s certainly different, and arguably substantially more waterproof, than your run of the mill nylon-Cordura bag. Green Guru has also added a few strips of reflective webbing and a couple easy-to-access compression straps and pockets on the outside of the bag. Nice touches for a bag aimed at the commuter market.

Thing is, they overlooked the zipper pulls. A small detail. Perhaps. But, as far as I’m concerned the lack of zipper pulls are a serious oversight for a bag at this price point ($100) and which is obviously intended to be utilized by a somewhat sophisticated, experienced end-user.

Valve Stem Zipper Pulls

Not Included: Valve Stem Zipper Pulls from Green Guru

See, zippers without pulls are harder to use than they need to be. Zipper pulls make zippers easier to pull. Duh. But they also keep zippers from rattling. And, I gotta tell ya, the way the Spinner rattles sometimes, depending on where I’ve parked my zippers, is enough to drive me mad… or at least to make me stop half-way to wherever I was going to reset the zippers into a less-rattly position.

Leading me to conclude: I like the pack, Green Guru. It does what a good pack should. But I’d have gotten to wherever I was going just that much sooner, perhaps minutes ahead of schedule, or at least on time, if you’d simply installed a couple sets of zipper pulls.

 
Burley nomad 229

12 Responses to “Green Guru Spinner Backpack”

  1. Paul S. says:

    Messenger bags are crappy for commuting, but they’re great for running around town while loading stuff in and out of them on your regular stops. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what they were designed for. Your problem was never with messenger bags, it was with someone telling you you should be using them for something they weren’t designed to do well.

    It’s kind of the equivalent of complaining that there’s some problem with your Smart Car because it’s uncomfortable for your family of 5. It’s not the car that’s the problem.

  2. John Coe says:

    It was hipsters, Paul. They told me messenger bags were cool.

  3. JohnnyK says:

    Those darn hipsters, they will trick you everytime :) There is a local company where I live that produce and sale similar products to Green Guru. You may have heard of them, Burro Bags. Burro Bags claim to fame is their buckling system for their messenger bags. The buckle is able to synch up around your chest such that the bag does not move. They also sale other bags and will even custom build a bag for you. I don’t own any of their bags so I cannot say if they are good or not but I did get to see them in action at a big cycling event where I seen several of those “hipsters” carrying them 150 miles and they did not seem to have any issues. However I usually suggest commuters to get a rear rack with panniers or a good top bag and stop being a turtle or pack mule. Let the bike do the work. As a 41 year old I would rather save my back. I agree with Paul, use the correct tool for the job. Messenger bags were made to carry paper files, and small packages for short distances quickly.

  4. Hivemind says:

    I use a messenger bag for commuting and I love it.

  5. Clay says:

    Messenger bags have been pushed hard by manufacturers to non-messenger market snce before it was cool to be a messenger. The dawn of the messenger-aping-hipster just expanded the market upward into more expensive bags. Which makes sense, since in my town I see college kids all the time with $200 extreme-messanging bags when they could easily get by with a jansport.

    Anyway, Paul S., I think you’re off the mark. Many consumers are told messenger bags are practical for every day use in a commuter setting. And, even if they weren’t told this by ad copy, it’s not unreasonable to guess such from their ubiquity.

  6. Clay says:

    Oh, and on the subject of the article. That looks like a really great bag. Re: zipper pulls, you can get paracord for cheap cheap cheap and make your own. Would be easy, and probably a more durable solution than most factory pulls.

  7. Belfrey says:

    I went through a messenger bag phase for some years, and I have to agree with the article. It was fine for riding between classes (and convenient to swing around my shoulder when I wanted frequent access to my lock, wallet, etc.), but not fun to carry for anything more than a few miles.

    Rather than a backpack though, I went to using a rack and panniers for commuting, and have never looked back. Putting the weight on the bike rather than my body has made for much more comfortable riding.

  8. John Coe says:

    Good tip, Clay. But my point was, on a $100 bag i expect to get zipper pulls, not have to make my own.

  9. Clay says:

    John, higher end bags generally don’t come with zipper pulls. When you get into the $100+ price point for a backpack you’re either getting into trend-centric ripoffs or niche markets where particular preferences defer design of zippers toward the minimal. I understand your gripe, but if you’re spending $100 on a bag, what’s another $3 and 10 minutes tying knots?

    If only every company could cater to our individual preferences…

  10. Mike Myers says:

    I have a cycling-specific backpack which was made by Schwinn before they were bought by Pacific, a Chrome Metropolis messenger bag, and I also have panniers on two of my bikes.

    The best way to carry anything is panniers. Getting the weight off my back is easier and more comfortable.

    When I ride my bike which has no panniers, I choose the messenger bag most of the time. Maybe it’s because Chrome has bags figured out, but I’ve never found my mess bag uncomfortable. I cinch the cross strap tightly and the bag won’t move at all. The problem is the bag is too big to deal with OFF the bike.

    The backpack is really good if I’m going somewhere and need to carry stuff around. It has room for a change of shoes, can hold the lights and things I take off the bike, and has a helmet compartment, which the Chrome does not.

  11. Groover says:

    I’m commuting with a messenger style backpack. Best of both worlds. :-) But your Green Guru Spinner looks pretty cool. I like how they recycle tubes. Oh, and those valve stem zipper pulls, too! Neat!

  12. I also use rack and panniers for commuting. I tried a backpack a long time ago but found it uncomfortable and made me hot and sweaty. A messenger bag seems completely unsuitable for commuting and I am too old to be influenced by the messenger bag/ hipster style. I do understand Paul, though, when he says messenger bags are great if you are a messenger.

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