I am writing this review on a bag that I purchased with a preconceived bias, so keep that in mind if it sounds slightly like I may be searching for a reason to love this bag. The Woodward Convertible is a bike pannier that can also be worn as a backpack. North St Bags, which is located in Portland, Oregon, was named for the street the owner grew up on in Montpelier, Vermont. Unfortunately, I left Portland just before discovering this amazing local company, and had to wait for the bag to arrive in the mail. Since I don’t remain in one place for very long, it was a bit tricky to coordinate where to have the bag shipped, and to make sure I would actually be there. Consequently, by the time I did receive the bag, I was over a thousand miles away from my bike, so I had to test it out as just a backpack first.
The bag converts easily between a pannier and backpack, with a zippered flap that contains the backpack straps while being used as a pannier and a velcro strap to secure the pannier hooks and bungee while wearing as a backpack. The bag is also waterproof, so there’s no need for rain covers if it starts to rain on you during your ride. There are good reflective stripes all over the bag, and my favorite part is that you can customize the colors of both the main bag and the reflective stripes.
Inside the main bag is a padded compartment for a laptop (or papers that you don’t want to get crinkled), and there are two velcro pockets on the outside as well as a pocket that perfectly fits a U-lock. The side velcro pocket is perfect for my water bottle when I’m walking around town or already have my coffee thermos in the water bottle cage on my bike.
I did get to try the bag out as a pannier when our friends, Dustin and Katie, from Alaska came through Durango after bicycle touring around Arizona and New Mexico. The bag fits best on a rear rack, since it would hang pretty low and may hit the ground if you were to try it out as a front pannier. There is a bungee cord with a hook that hooks onto the bottom part of the pannier rack, and two hooks at the top of the bag that hook over the top of the rack. It does allow the bag to bounce away from the rack, since there’s nothing securing the bottom of the bungee to the bag, but it seems pretty secure and I don’t think it would easily fall off of the rack.
This bag has been perfect for biking and walking around town and is wonderful for grocery shopping. I am extremely happy with it so far, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who commutes by bicycle or even occasionally would use their bicycle for a shopping excursion into town. It’s a pretty durable material, and while a bit costly for me, I think it could last a lifetime, and I feel good about supporting a local company that’s making handmade bags in the USA.
For anyone who is interested in purchasing from North St Bags, use the code “bagforlife” to receive a 20% discount on all orders over $100! This discount code is good until December 14th of this year.
Even though it may be far from cycling season where you are, it is shopping season! Whether you’re shopping for someone else or for yourself, a rack that allows you to bring your bicycle along when using your secondary mode of transportation can expand the geographic range where you cycle and encourage you to ride more when conditions outside of your immediate vicinity are not ideal. We know not everybody can quit their day job and bike around from city to city, so for those of you who have your own car, here’s a guide to shopping for the perfect bicycle rack: