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Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible Review

A heavy-duty backpack pannier that provides ample storage space, though a bit too one-dimensional to be universally effective
Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible
Photo: Two Wheel Gear
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Price:  $179 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Ample storage space, user-friendly mounting system, highly organized
Cons:  Heavy, not waterproof without rain cover
Manufacturer:   Two Wheel Gear
By Liz Chamberlain & Nick Bruckbauer  ⋅  Jun 29, 2021
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 14
  • Mounting System - 25% 7
  • Storage - 20% 8
  • Durability - 20% 7
  • Weatherproofing - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use & Versatility - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible is a quality hybrid pannier with a natural backpack design. The updated 30-liter "Plus" version delivers ample storage space for work necessities and pre- or post-commute activities. While the stow-away compartment that houses the backpack straps and mounting system is unique and allows for seamless conversion between pannier and backpack, it takes up some of the overall storage space. Luckily, this does not seem to reduce the carrying capacity of the pack by too much. While this pack feels a bit bulky and heavy, it is perfect for commuters searching for a hybrid bag that provides cargo space for a day of work and activities.

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$90 List
Check Price at REI
$180 List$175.00 at Backcountry
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Star Rating
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Pros Ample storage space, user-friendly mounting system, highly organizedDurable and waterproof, huge storage capacity, easy and secure attachmentHighly durable, waterproof, inexpensive, sleek and bright designLarge storage volume, durable, stylish, easy to useInnovative backpack design, comfortable, lightweight, waterproof
Cons Heavy, not waterproof without rain coverLimited pockets and organizationSmaller total storage volume, limited pocket options, only compatible with 10mm racksSomewhat expensive, limited organizational pocketsExtra hardware requires installation, conversions can be tedious
Bottom Line A heavy-duty backpack pannier that provides ample storage space, though a bit too one-dimensional to be universally effectiveThis top performer scores well in every category with no apparent weaknessesAn impressively durable and waterproof design that is compact and inexpensive, but is not compatible with all rack sizesA durable and waterproof pannier that is versatile and easy to useA lightweight and innovative pannier design that works just as well on the rack or on your back
Rating Categories Backpack Convertible Ortlieb Back Roller... Burley Pannier Set Arkel Signature H U... Ortlieb Vario
Mounting System (25%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Storage (20%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Durability (20%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Weatherproofing (20%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Ease Of Use & Versatility (15%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Backpack Convertible Ortlieb Back Roller... Burley Pannier Set Arkel Signature H U... Ortlieb Vario
Volume (liters) 30 L 2 x 20 L 2 x 11 L 24 L 23 L
Dimensions (in.) (H x W x D) 17.5" x 12" x 7" 16.5" x 12.6" x 6.7" 14.5" x 10" x 6" 16" x 12" x 6.5" 19.7" x 11" x 7.9"
Weight (pounds) 3.2 lbs 4.2 lbs (pair) 2.1 lbs (pair) 2.3 lbs 2.86 lbs
Material 600D Polyester with TPE coating PS 490 and PD 620 nylon 500D tarpaulin PVC fabric 1000 denier Cordura nylon Nylon
Pockets Two external zippered pockets, two external bottle sleeves, internal padded laptop sleeve, two internal mesh pockets Internal sleeve and zippered mesh pocket 1 main compartment, one small exerior pocket Internal laptop sleeve with zippered pocket, small external pocket Two side pockets, waterproof front pocket, internal tablet sleeve and zippered mesh pocket
Best Use Urban/Commuting Touring Touring/Commuting Urban/Commuting Urban/Commuting

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible is a quality pack designed with durable materials, a solid mounting system, and a comfortable and user-friendly backpack design. 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 and exceeded our expectations on storage space and commuter-friendliness.

The Backpack Convertible is available in a a 22-liter Lite version, as well as the larger 30-liter Plus version that we tested.

Performance Comparison


The Two Wheel Backpack boasts plenty of padding to safeguard your...
The Two Wheel Backpack boasts plenty of padding to safeguard your laptop, textbooks and other valuables.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

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. While this was a heavier bag than some of the other multi-functional pannier options, it proved to be one of the simplest and practical mounting systems.

Storage


The bright spot for the Two Wheel Gear Backpack is that its updated 30-liter version fits far more cargo than the 22-liter edition that we previously tested. While backpacks and panniers with multiple pockets and compartments often lack overall storage space than singular open compartments, the 30-liter storage volume ended up being a perfect amount of room for a day's worth of cargo needs. We were able to fit tech and work supplies, a change of clothes and shoes for the gym, and lunch, with wiggle room for additional items.

The compartment that houses the mounting system and backpack straps does eat up a portion of this overall volume, but it did not make as big of a difference as it did in the 22-liter version or the Two Wheel Gear Laptop Messenger. Ultimately, the pack is great for cargo-heavy commutes that require space for items outside of singular work or school necessities.

We felt the zippers are a bit difficult to use in comparison to the...
We felt the zippers are a bit difficult to use in comparison to the roll top closures of the competition, though they provide extra options for storage space.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

The Backpack Convertible has an abundance of internal and external pockets and sleeves. This pack has one of the most padded and protective laptop sleeves out of any model we tested, in addition to internal pen holders, mesh sleeves, and zippered pockets that provide organizational properties. On the outside, two large zippered pockets and two side stuff pockets round out the storage design. This 30-liter "Plus" version feels like it has unlimited storage options.

We were able to fit a laptop, sandals, two large textbooks, a water...
We were able to fit a laptop, sandals, two large textbooks, a water bottle and a sweatshirt with several pocket spares to spare.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

Durability


The Backpack Convertible scores well in this category with its padded construction and woven 600-denier nylon body. The zippers, seams, and hardware also felt strong and reliable. However, compared to the touring panniers in the lineup that boast poly-based woven nylon with water, oil, and abrasion-resistant treatments, this pack doesn't score quite as highly. The intended use of this pack is quite limited to city commuting, so the woven nylon would be considered entirely appropriate and durable for this type of use, as the average commuter may not need touring-style water and rip-resistant materials.

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 not heavy water application. The pack comes with a waterproof rain cover that will keep things dry when the skies really open up. While the rain cover is a welcomed additive, it is an inconvenience compared to fully waterproof pannier designs.

The rain cover did a great job of keeping the backpack dry, though...
The rain cover did a great job of keeping the backpack dry, though we found the rain cover option to be inconvenient.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

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

Ease of Use & Versatility


The Backpack Convertible employs a rather simplistic and intuitive backpack design. 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 can be difficult to utilize all of the storage sleeves and pockets if the pack is fully loaded, but that is for the heaviest of cargo needs.

Heading into work with the backpack strapped up and ready to go.
Heading into work with the backpack strapped up and ready to go.
Photo: Liz Chamberlain

This hybrid pannier's main selling point is its practicality and functionality. One drawback to the bag's organization abilities is its singular focus on commuting. Had the bag offered a larger open-space pocket option better suited towards recreational bike rides, it may have scored higher in this category. More highly integrated waterproof materials or treatments would have also increased its sense of multi-functionality.

One notable weakness with this pack's unique convertible backpack design is how 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.

Value


The list price of the Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible falls rather high in the lineup though its category ratings fall somewhere in the middle. While it is certainly a high-quality product with a unique and comfortable design, we were hoping for greater overall storage volume. A bag's value is often determined by its functional capabilities and versatility so users can get the most out of their purchase. Riders looking for an organized and comfortable backpack with ample storage space will likely find this to be of good value.

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. Still, its limited overall storage volume will likely limit its utility for most other riders.

Liz Chamberlain & Nick Bruckbauer