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.
Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible Review
Cons: Small storage volume, not waterproof without raincover
Manufacturer: Two Wheel Gear
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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