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Apidura City Backpack review: Simple, smart and comfortable

A look at Apidura's new line of city riding bags.

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Apidura has been at the forefront of the bikepacking scene for a decade, creating ultralight, rackless packing systems that have helped riders push the ‘pack light, travel far’ mantra further than ever.

Ever so quietly, however, Apidura has been keeping closer to home by slowly building its ‘City Series’. The brand has just released its new City Backpack which uses the same construction philosophies that Apidura has come close to perfecting in its rackless bike bags range.

Here’s how Apidura describes the bag:

“Apidura’s City Series brings precision crafted technical gear to the urban environment, inspired by the rigours of bikepacking and designed for city life. The City Backpack is a modern, stylish everyday pack designed to seamlessly transition through the city so you can be as comfortable on as off the bike and at ease in any environment. Made from a bespoke waterproof and abrasion resistant marle fabric, the City Backpack has an understated design that pays homage to Apidura’s bikepacking heritage without being cycling-specific.

The City Backpack is designed to reflect these challenges; transitioning between the wet commute, working day and evening social activities seamlessly and without drawing attention to the fact you arrived by bike. Drawing on Apidura’s ‘less is more’ design philosophies, the backpack does away with traditional adventure-inspired design features that are over-engineered for the realities of city life, drawing instead on years of experience creating waterproof packs that don’t compromise on usability.”

What I like

To set the scene, I’d rate myself a 3.5 out of 5 in terms of being a hardcore commuter. I’ll do small grocery runs on my bike, ride to the office three times per week (25 km each way), and only ride in the rain when I have to. That means that a backpack is a staple of my daily routine and I’ve had many years to figure out what I like and what I don’t like.

This could very well be the most comfortable commuting backpack I’ve ever used. I know … big call. That’s not to say I put it on and think “ahhh’ like a new pair of shoes, but more that it offers the type of thankless comfort where you barely notice it’s there.

I’ve had countless shoulder injuries and backpacks always begin to irritate me after 20 minutes, but thanks to the well thought-out cushioning and support combined with the chest and waist straps that distribute the load (which are cleverly adjustable) this backpack couldn’t be less intrusive. It’s incredibly light when empty, but feels durable and solid.

As a side note, something I notice each time is how easy these straps are to fasten and unfasten. Plus, there’s no extra strap flopping in the wind, thanks to a simple but effective stowage mechanism. It seems like such a minor detail, but it’s something I’m delighted with each time I use the backpack.

The chest and waist straps are adjustable, incredibly easy to fasten/unfasten, and extra strapping is hidden away and kept clean in a simple but effective way

Of course the simplicity and smart appearance make it look like it’s nothing but a sack, but there’s far more to it than this.

I can bring this to the office on my bike or show up to a semi-formal meeting without looking like I’m going camping. The resistance to blemishes has been remarkable so far after a month of using it, and a quick wipe down is all it needs to make it look new again.

Inside there is sleeve for a laptop, a couple mesh pockets for things like pens, wallet, etc., and also a small zipper pocket for more secure storage. I can’t find exactly how many litres the overall size is on Apidura’s website (I’m guessing 20 litres), but overall there’s about enough room for a rolled up shirt and pants and possibly shoes (it’s quite stuffed at that point). On the outside there’s a zipped pocket for things like keys that you can get quick access to. I like the overall size and minimalistic approach because it forces me to pack efficiently and take only what I need.

More generally, I also like Apidura’s approach to sustainability and what they stand for. They don’t make a big deal shouting about it, but the company is on the bleeding edge of creating world-class products that are built to last, without the gimmicks. That means a lot to me, and I’ll most certainly support brands who lead with this ethos.

What doesn’t suit me

Personally I’ve always been drawn to commuting backpacks with 2-3 different layered compartments for storing my things. This means I can store things like a tube and pump in a less accessible area, put dirty shoes in another area, fold (rather than roll) a shirt and pants in a separate space, and store my lunch somewhere else (in case of a Tupperware disaster). There are many things like toiletries, basic tools, or a rain jacket that I always stow away and rarely need access to that I like to keep out of sight.

In a fairly simple backpack such as this one from Apidura, I’ve found myself taking everything out trying to find something that’s made it’s way to the bottom of the main compartment. My usual go-to piece is Rapha’s Travel Backpack which holds a lot more than it looks to, and keeps my various items separate. That said, it’s not the perfect commuter backpack either (nor does it state that it’s designed for that).

Final thoughts

I’m a massive fan of Apidura’s rackless bike bags and the same subtle touches, clever thought, and design considerations come through in the brand’s new City Series Backpack. I only use Apidura’s bike bags once in a blue moon, but it’s wonderful to be able to use this backpack each day to be reminded how good their products are. Despite lacking some features that suit my own use case, the backpack’s comfort more than makes up for it and I’ll most certainly keep using it.

Find out more at Apidura.com.

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