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Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack: A Place for My Stapler

by Melanie Colavito

Banjo Brothers Metro BackpackI 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.

Banjo Brothers Metro BackpackGiven 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.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack 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 useĀ  — 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.

Banjo Brothers Metro BackpackOverall, 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.

 
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9 Responses to “Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack: A Place for My Stapler”

  1. Ted Johnson says:

    Melanie: What do you think of that waterproof liner? Banjo Brothers makes replacement liners, so does it seem like something you’ll have to replace eventually, or does it seem pretty tough?

    Could you fill it up with rusty scrap metal, go mountain biking, and then let us know what happens?

  2. Dan M. says:

    I’ve been thinking about ditching my Chrome bag for one of these. IMO the functionality of Chrome bags just doesn’t match the price. No doubt the materials are top notch, but I feel the design is lacking.

    On this bag, does that U-lock side pocket fill up with water? I can’t tell in the pics if there are holes or not. And does the laptop pocket come out or is it permanently in there?

  3. Miguel Marcos says:

    Nice review. How much does the backpack itself weigh?

  4. BluesCat says:

    I have only two beefs with a two-strap backpack while riding.

    Number one is the fact that my main commuter is a recumbent, and it wouldn’t work, and would be uncomfortable, to try to relax against the seat back and squish your lunch into your laptop.

    Number two is the fact that if you need to get anything out of the backpack, you need to stop, take it off, get what you need, put it back on, get back on the road again, worry that you didn’t zip up the pocket, stop, take it off, check it, put it back on, get back on the road … it might take me forever to get to work.

  5. Ted – The next time I feel the need to ride around with rusty scrap metal (sounds like a safety hazard), I’ll see how the bag holds up. Until then, I think that for my needs, the current liner is sufficient. I could imagine, that after time, if one were to use it in the rain a lot, that a replacement liner could be beneficial, but I haven’t had the opportunity to test it in the rain yet.

    Dan – Yes, the price point on the bag is definitely attractive! The side pockets do not have holes, so they could potentially pool with water. The laptop pocket is not removable.

    Miguel – The bag weighs approximately 2.5 lbs.

    Blues Cat – True, the backpack is not the choice for all situations. I prefer them to messenger bags, but my shoulders get sore quickly with weight hanging unevenly. I definitely wouldn’t use a backpack if I were leaning back against something as with a recumbent, so I can see your point.

  6. BluesCat says:

    Melanie – There IS one situation where a twin-strap backpack would be ideal: light errand running that turns into medium errand running.

    I keep one of my bikes stripped down (no racks, quick release lights and seat, etc.), and have a teardrop single-strap sling bag for light errands. Rather than having to take panniers and packs off the bike when I park it, everything goes into the sling bag (including the u-lock) and I just lock the bike and zip into the store.

    Sometimes, I forget that I need to get more than just a bar of soap and some deodorant. “Dang! I need a quart of milk and a couple of pears!” Those times, you are absolutely correct: a single strap can get pretty uncomfortable on even a two-mile ride; double straps and a waist belt would work MUCH better.

  7. Shabbis says:

    I have been commuting all winter up here in Portland with the Metro and I have a couple observations.

    - While it is completely waterproof, I find the fabric to be very inflexible making it difficult to compress the pack when carrying smaller loads. It also makes it kind of a hassle to open the top and fold it back. I have actually thrown a couple of stickers on the fabric, that’s how “plastic” and stiff it is.

    - This main compartment is very narrow and deep, so accessing stuff that is packed down into the bottom can be tricky.

    - The single lock strap on the back doesn’t lock down the top flap very well. I have the strap set to as tight as it goes at the top flap sits a little loose on the pack.

    - The front panel of pockets under the top cover are too tight or small to fit much in there. Again, as issue with using such inflexible fabric.

    - I’ve been riding in very heavy rain with this pack and have never noticed the side pockets ever filling up with rain.

    - This backpack can get very hot on the back. I am amazed anyone would use this pack in temperatures above 60 degrees or so.

    - I agree with the reviewer that the hip strap appears to be an afterthought. It actually rubbed into my wind vest when riding causing the vest to pill up. I also found the phone holder to be outdated (will not even fit an iPhone) and ended up removing it.

    - The internal hanging liner is NOT easily removable like their other bags, it’s actually sewn in, with a hole on top so it can dry out.

    - The reviewer forgot to mention the cool bike light holder on the left side of the bag on the back.

    I am actually thinking of replacing this bag with a Deuter Race EXP air so that I can have just one commuting bag year round.

  8. Shabbis – Wow, thanks for the review within the review. I agree that the stiffness of the bag and the lack of outer compression straps make it a bit unruly at times. When it’s filled to the brim, those issues are less prominent, in my opinion. Indeed, there is a great bike light holder that I neglected to mention, and that’s definitely a key ingredient for a commuting bag. I appreciate your comments regarding the waterproof liner, as I haven’t yet had the opportunity to use the bag in the rain (desert living down here). Thanks for the great input.

  9. Banjo Eric says:

    A few comments on the bag from a Banjo Brother. We are continuously changing all of our bags, based on our own experiences and on comments received from field-testers and customers.

    Our newest cell holster is much larger than before. Since we included them with the bag, we try to hit the most phones possible for whenever that bag was made – given that all the phones sold now are smart phones, we have a much larger holster on all of our current inventory. Replacements are also available on our website.

    We shortened the main flap to make it tighter with small loads and also moved the shoulder strap lower anchors to the lower sides. We also deepened the side pockets to hold water bottles better.

    The waist strap might seem like an afterthought, but is fully detachable so that it doesn’t interfere with those that don’t use it. It isn’t meant to be load-bearing like a hiking backpack, just control shift(many cycling-specific backpacks don’t include one at all).

    Regarding the welded liner on our other backpacks – based on the number of replacements that we sell, they last a long time and are $10 if you need one.

    Feedback is always appreciated.

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