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Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible Review

A high-quality and stylish backpack pannier that is a little too small to be universally effective
Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible
Photo: Two Wheel Gear
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Price:  $159 List | $159.00 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stylish, durable, user-friendly mounting system
Cons:  Small storage volume, not waterproof without raincover
Manufacturer:   Two Wheel Gear
By Nick Bruckbauer ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 21, 2020
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 13
  • Mounting System - 25% 7
  • Storage - 20% 6
  • Durability - 20% 7
  • Weatherproofing - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible is a high-quality hybrid pannier that has one of the most stylish and natural-looking backpack designs of any model we tested. While we are impressed with this pack, we just wish it were a little larger. The unique stow-away compartment that houses the backpack straps and mounting system allows for a seamless conversion between pannier and backpack but also takes up a large amount of the overall storage volume. This pack would be perfect for student commuters looking for a stylish bag in which to pack lunch and a handful of books, but riders needing any more cargo space may need something bigger.

Product Updated

The Backpack Convertible pannier that we tested here has been updated. The photo above depicts the latest version, and we're linking to it, but note that some of the features may differ slightly from the model we tested.

June 2020

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Star Rating
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Pros Stylish, durable, user-friendly mounting systemDurable and waterproof, huge storage capacity, easy and secure attachmentLarge storage volume, durable, stylish, easy to useDurable, inexpensive, easy to installHuge volume, very durable and weatherproof, easy to use
Cons Small storage volume, not waterproof without raincoverLimited pockets and organizationSomewhat expensive, limited organizational pocketsNot sold as a pair, lacks adjustable mounting hooksMounting system is not as secure as others
Bottom Line A well-built and nice looking backpack that might be too small for most usersA high-quality, consistently top-ranked design that is often imitated by othersA versatile design with plenty of storage in a durable and waterproof packageA well-built and affordable touring pannier that is fully waterproof and user-friendlyAn impressively built model with huge volume and simple design, but the mounting system leaves more to be desired
Rating Categories Backpack Convertible Ortlieb Back Roller Classic Arkel Signature H Urban Seattle Sports Titan Thule Shield
Mounting System (25%)
7
9
7
6
5
Storage (20%)
6
9
8
7
9
Durability (20%)
7
8
8
9
9
Weatherproofing (20%)
6
9
7
8
8
Ease Of Use (15%)
6
7
8
7
6
Specs Backpack Convertible Ortlieb Back... Arkel Signature H... Seattle Sports Titan Thule Shield
Volume (cubic inches) 1343 cu in 2441 cu in (pair) 1460 cu in 1100 cu in 2928 cu in (pair)
Dimensions (in.) (H x W x D) 17.5" x 12" x 7" 16.5" x 12.6" x 6.7" 16" x 12" x 6.5" 13.5" x 11" x 6" 17" x 13" x 6"
Weight (pounds) 2.8 lbs 4.2 lbs (pair) 2.3 lbs 2.0 lbs 4.7 lbs (pair)
Material 600D Polyester with TPE coating PS 490 and PD 620 nylon 1000 denier Cordura nylon Vinyl Thermal welded nylon (420D)
Pockets Two external zippered pockets, two external bottle sleeves, internal padded laptop sleeve, two internal mesh pockets Internal sleeve and zippered mesh pocket Internal laptop sleeve with zippered pocket, small external pocket External splashproof zippered pocket Internal sleeve with two smaller mesh sleeves
Best Use Commuting Touring Urban/Commuting Touring Touring

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible is a well-built pack with high-quality materials, a solid mounting system, and a comfortable and user-friendly backpack design. While it lacks a little in overall storage volume, it has a wide assortment of storage sleeves and pockets, making it ideal for a school bag or book bag. It receives respectable scores across the board, but may not stand out enough to appeal to a wide variety of users.

There is now a 22-liter Lite version similar to the model we tested, as well as a larger 30-liter Plus version.

Performance Comparison


The Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible is a little on the small...
The Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible is a little on the small side, but makes a stylish pick for cruising to work or school.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Mounting System


The Backpack Convertible is equipped with Two Wheel Gear's simple yet effective KLICKfix Kompakt Rail Mounting System. The beauty of this system is in its simplicity. Two large plastic hooks grasp onto the bike rack, while a red hook clicks firmly into place to provide opposing tension for a snug and secure fit. To remove the pack, unclip the red hook to remove the tension and lift the pack off the rack.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Additionally, the two main mounting hooks can be adjusted side-to-side to obtain an ideal mounting position, and a lower buckled strap helps keep a snug fit on the lower part of the rack.

Storage


The Two Wheel Gear falls a little short in this category because we weren't able to fit much cargo inside compared to most other products in our lineup. While its stated capacity of 1343 cubic inches (22 liters) looks good on paper, in reality, we found that the compartment that houses the mounting system and backpack straps eats up a good portion of this overall volume. Once we packed the main storage compartment pretty a couple of textbooks, a sweatshirt, and some sandals, the external pockets and sleeves were difficult to load any further, rendering them nearly useless. With such a cool design, we are a little disappointed in the limited storage capabilities.

With a couple of books, a sweatshirt, and sandals, this pack was...
With a couple of books, a sweatshirt, and sandals, this pack was completely full and made it difficult to access the external zippered pockets.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

The definite bright spot for the Backpack Convertible in this rating metric is its abundance of internal and external pockets and sleeves. This pack has one of the best laptop sleeves out of any model we tested and has additional internal pen holders, mesh sleeves, and zippered pockets. On the outside, two large zippered pockets and two side stuff pockets round out the storage design. Ideally suited for use as a school bag or book bag, the abundance of organization options really shine if you don't overload this pack with too much cargo. Unfortunately, we hit that storage limit pretty quickly during our testing.

This internal padded laptop sleeve with additional organizational...
This internal padded laptop sleeve with additional organizational features are very useful for a commuting style pannier.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Durability


The Backpack Convertible scores well in this category with its high-quality materials and construction. The main body fabric is built with a durable 600 denier nylon, and all the zippers, seams, and hardware are top quality. This pack doesn't score quite as highly as some heavier-duty touring panniers with their thicker material and fewer zippers, seams, and moving parts, but this Two Wheel Gear model ranks well when compared to similar commuting style panniers and backpacks.

The fabric of the Backpack Convertible is durable and stylish.
The fabric of the Backpack Convertible is durable and stylish.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Weatherproofing


The Backpack Convertible struggles a little in the weatherproofing ratings, especially compared to models with fully waterproof materials and fully-sealing roll-top closures. The pack on its own would protect its contents from a light drizzle or road spray, but the included waterproof rain cover will help keep things dry when the skies really open up.

The attachable rain cover is a nice bonus, but leaves the back panel...
The attachable rain cover is a nice bonus, but leaves the back panel susceptible to grit and grime.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

One notable weakness with this pack's unique convertible backpack design is the way the shoulder straps fold into the stow-away compartment while in cycling mode. While this stowaway design makes it easy to convert between pannier and backpack and conveniently hides the mounting hardware while in backpack mode, it also leaves the back panel of the pack exposed to rain, mud, grit, and road grime while riding. While the rain cover can protect the front of the pack from the elements, there is nothing to protect the back panel. The same back panel that you will be wearing against your back at work or school is also exposed to spray from your rear wheel while riding. It is noteworthy that the other convertible backpack panniers we tested all have a back panel that either stows away or is covered up while riding.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Ease of Use


The Backpack Convertible is has a very intuitive design and is easy to use. Similar to other backpack style panniers, it scores a little lower than other models due to the inevitable conversion time that is necessary to switch from cycling to backpack mode. It also can be difficult to utilize all of the storage sleeves and pockets if the pack is fully loaded, due to the small overall storage volume. However, this pack does have a comfortable shoulder strap system, a convenient rain cover, plenty of storage options, and reflective trim.

The backpack straps are very comfortable and easy to stow away...
The backpack straps are very comfortable and easy to stow away during travel.
Photo: Nick Bruckbauer

Value


The list price of the Two Wheel Gear falls somewhere in the middle of our lineup, and it ranks somewhere in the middle of our lineup in most rating categories. While it is certainly a high-quality product with a unique and comfortable design, we are a little disappointed in the small overall storage volume. Riders looking for a small, stylish, and comfortable backpack who commute with a minimal amount of gear will likely find this to be a good value, but most others looking for more storage space will find better options elsewhere.

Conclusion


The Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible is a comfortable, high-quality commuting backpack pannier with a sleek modern design. With plenty of organization pockets and sleeves, this model could be a good option for students or office workers who commute by bike, but its limited overall storage volume will likely limit its utility for most other riders.

Nick Bruckbauer