I have had a lot of backpacks in my life. Big ones. Small ones. Barbie-themed ones. Outdoorsy ones. Good ones. Bad ones.
A backpack is my preferred bag for traveling away from home, as well as back and forth to school, work, and all kinds of other activities. I mean, why use a bag with one shoulder strap when you can have a bag with two?
So when I find a good backpack, I have a great deal of trouble parting with it for a new one. I will use, abuse, and love a good backpack until the straps nearly fall off. I recently had such a backpack in my life, so when I got the opportunity to review the Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack, I was almost reluctant to move my belongings into the pretty new, red bag. Almost, but not quite. And alas, I was not disappointed!
Although the Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack is the smallest of the Banjo Brothers bike backpack line, sizing in at 1100 cubic inches, it is certainly not limited in space. In fact, on my less-than-five-foot-four-inch frame, it almost seemed too large.
Despite my short stature, I manage to always carry a ton of junk… errrr, essentials… around with me everywhere I go, so it is nice to have a bag that can accommodate my gear without overflowing.
The bag sits lower on the body than many other cycling backpacks, which provides better visibility and makes it easier to look behind you when bike commuting. The bag only has one one outside strap to cinch down the top flap, so it is hard to compress it down smaller when you are carrying less gear, but that feature gives it a cleaner look on the outside, as well.
Given my proclivity for carrying a lot around in my backpack, it is also nice to have one that offers the necessary shoulder, back, and hip support. The Metro Backpack has a great mesh padding on the back of the bag that keeps the shoulders and back comfortable, even with a heavy load. The mesh back panels also help to wick sweat away from your back, But in a place like Tucson, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the dreaded “backpack back” in the warm months. Nonetheless, the mesh panels help immensely.
My biggest gripe with the bag is the hip strap. While the Metro Backpack does indeed have a hip strap, it is just a thin, webbed strap, which doesn’t offer a lot of support on the hips. In fact, it even starts to dig into them with a heavy load. Although the hip strap on the Metro Backpack is better than no hip strap at all, I would certainly be a lot happier with a larger, padded hip strap, especially for long walks through an airport or across campus with heavy books, a computer, and lots of snacks. Fortunately, there is also a chest strap, which helps further secure the bag when necessary.
For a person like myself who carries around a lot of stuff on a daily basis — Why yes, I do have a mini stapler in my backpack you can use — one of the best features of the Metro Backpack is the wide variety of pocket options. In fact, there are 12 (counted them) different interior and exterior pocket options, as well as a cell phone holster.
Unfortunately, the cell phone holster seems to have been developed with an old-school flip-phone in mind, and not the wide, thin phones that are more common today. A nice crunchy (or chewy) granola bar does make a good substitute for the old-school flip-phone in the cell phone holster, however. Regardless, the organizational options are seemingly endless. Now, where did I stash that mini stapler?
Included amongst the wide variety of pocket options is a padded laptop pocket, which fits laptops up to 10 by 15 inches in size. Given that the bag was designed for those who commute by bike, it’s good to know that there is extra protection for a computer. Plus, it’s nice to have a laptop separated from the rest of the contents of the bag.
And last, but certainly not least, the Metro Backpack has a number of other great features that were designed with a bike commuter in mind.
There are two side pockets, which are perfect for holding a water bottle and a U-lock. For those who don’t live in an arid environment like myself and do have to worry about precipitation, the Metro Backpack is extremely waterproof, which is useful since you don’t have to worry about a separate rain cover. Made with 1680 denier fabric, and including a hanging liner that is fully separate from the outside of the bag, it is sure to keep your gear clean and dry. The roll-top design is also a great way to ensure that the contents of the bag keep dry when the going gets wet. Plus, the top compartment is very easy to access.
The bag comes in a black, red, or white, which should please most potential users. There are a number of sections of reflective taping on the front and the back of the bag that help keep you visible as well. Lastly, there are a few different strap options to keep things secured to the outside of the bag.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the Metro Backpack from Banjo Brothers. Although the hip strap and the cell phone holster are somewhat less than ideal, they certainly don’t have a major impact on my impression of the bag. The bag is a bit large for someone my size, but that is both good and bad depending on what I need to carry and doesn’t make me like the bag any less.
The Metro Backpack offers a number of nice features for bike commuters, which make it a good choice when you are in the market for your next cycling backpack. If I could have my way, I’d add some straps or a compartment on the outside to secure a helmet to when you are off the bike. But otherwise, this is a great bag. Plus, I really dig the flashy red color, which is not only pretty, but a practical way to stay visible on your next bike commute.
The Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack sells for $69.99 US.