Arkel Bug

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I have a car but prefer to get around the city by bike as much as possible. I own a pair of Arkel’s grocery bag-style panniers — higher-end versions of the previously reviewed Grocery Bag Panniers — which are great for shopping and commuting by bike, but I found myself wanting the carrying convenience of a backpack, so my hands would be free when I was off my bike. Arkel’s Bug was the best I found in this category.

I love this bag primarily because converting it to a very comfortable, functional backpack is as simple as pulling the shoulder straps from underneath a pair of Velcro flaps once I’ve removed the bag from my bike’s rear rack. The padding in the straps is good, and I have to remember to move a metal hook, so it doesn’t stick me in the back, but that’s easy. Carrying capacity is a little smaller than that of the grocery bag panniers, though still sufficient for my needs. Two small mesh pockets along with an easy-access zippered pocket on the Bug’s exterior make stowing and retrieving my water bottle and other frequent-use items a breeze.

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-- Colin Bogart  

Arkel bug
$170

Available from Arkel