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Nature Rider, Not MTBer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

My wife has begun commuting to work via bicycle. She's hit the common issue that wearing a backpack results in an uncomfortable sweaty back. Blech. She's also gotta bring her laptop to and from work every day.

Does anyone know of any panniers that have a padded section for a laptop? Is there a specially designed laptop pannier or are some panniers particularly compatible with a padded laptop sleeve?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
 

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Feeling a little taller
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6,705 Posts
Plim said:
Hey all,

My wife has begun commuting to work via bicycle. She's hit the common issue that wearing a backpack results in an uncomfortable sweaty back. Blech. She's also gotta bring her laptop to and from work every day.

Does anyone know of any panniers that have a padded section for a laptop? Is there a specially designed laptop pannier or are some panniers particularly compatible with a padded laptop sleeve?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
I hate that feeling also. Backpacks are still the way to go, you likely just need a backpack that has support away from the body.

I have an old Vaude brand pack that has "Aeroflex" suspension - no sweaty back.

http://www.puddledockers.com/Wizard_Air_24_4_p/vaude-wizardair.htm

I can speak for durability - I've had mine for over 7 years. It also has a space for a water bladder, side pockets for bottles, etc.
 

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Slowest Rider
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5,237 Posts
What I did

Plim said:
Hey all,

My wife has begun commuting to work via bicycle. She's hit the common issue that wearing a backpack results in an uncomfortable sweaty back. Blech. She's also gotta bring her laptop to and from work every day.

Does anyone know of any panniers that have a padded section for a laptop? Is there a specially designed laptop pannier or are some panniers particularly compatible with a padded laptop sleeve?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
I commuted by bike (without owning a car at all) for two years with a laptop computer and/or breifcase. I got a good padded notebook case from the notebook manufacture that can also be a breifcase. I had a solid bike rack with ties to the chain stays at top and bottom points. I then used a special flexy net with 4 hooks to go around the case and hold it down tight on the bike rack. It takes some practice to tie down quickly, but you soon learn to do it in a way that's very tight and secure.

I still have a couple of the flexy net things, but you should be able to find them at bike stores. I found bunjie cords weren't secure as things could twist and slide out from them all too easy. The net held everything down tight where it couldn't move.

I suppose a pannier might work too and be fine, but my method got the gear off my back, out of my way on the back of my bike rather than the side, and was quick. I attached my computer bag in a few seconds every time I got off the bus or went out of a building. (PS. A kickstand helps a lot, in spite of the heckles one may get. Fenders help with communting too.)
 

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Nature Rider, Not MTBer
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2,695 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the suggestions. They include things she hadn't considered.

If anyone else has more ideas or other appropriate panniers, please keep 'em coming.
 

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Trip the Bike Fantastic
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588 Posts
Hey, Plim,

I wondered about this same thing myself, having recently gotten turned on to panniers and posted a similar question on the RoadBikeReview boards. Comments were somewhat helpful, but surprisingly I heard very little from people who actively use a pannier for their laptops.

Still, it was enough to convince me this was a very do-able option. I got a pair of Novara bags from REI which ended up costing me about $60 with all the member discounts, etc. I use a seperate laptop sack from www.sfbags.com for my machine, and pad the rest of the space with clothes, etc. to support the load without any jiggling. I've been commuting for a little over a month this way, with the laptop in the bag. At first I was afraid to go over the slightest crack in the road, but have grown quite confident in the setup.

Regardless of bag, from a hardware perspective, I'd recommend completely shutting down the computer before transporting, as that'll park the drive heads and lessen the chance of them banging up against the disc and wiping your data.

That's a very cool lead on the backpack, Dan. I might use a backpack again for special rides where I'm going to be on more dirt, or doing a particularly long circuit on my way to the office, but for the most part I really like the freedom that comes from not having anything on my back and am willing to put up with the slight compromise in handling that comes from hauling pigs in the rear. Hope this helps.
 

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Slowest Rider
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TeleNateR said:
I currently commute with my laptop in a padded sleeve inside an Ortlieb BackRoller. I've been thinking about getting their Office Bag to make it a little easier as the laptop doesn't fit particularly cleanly in the pannier.

http://www.ortliebusa.com/cartgenie/prodInfo.asp?pid=36&cid=2
That bag looks nice and keeps things dry and padded, has room for extra papers and books, and has a strap for carrying off the bike.

That bag can go on left or right of the rack. But to keep it out of the way, I'd attach it flat on top of the bike rack with a net, as I said before. The nice thing about that bag is you can try mounting it a lot of ways and see what you like.

Almost makes me want to start bike communting again. Why'd I ever buy that car?? :skep:
Oh yeah, to get to the trail head at all the other parks with my mountain bike. :thumbsup:
 

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Master of '80s BMX tricks
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Hi Plim,
Has she considered just using just a a basic bike book rack similar to these they are nothing fancy or exotic but i would ride more care-free having my laptop strapped to the top of one of these more than i would if it were on the side of the bike next to the wheel. ( especially if i were to attach a milk crate or something on it to hold the laptop and other items too.) It seems like a laptop would be in constant danger of an accidentally having a leg crash into it or it getting wet from a puddle splash in a pannier.
some times simpler is just better.
 

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Medium?
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6,728 Posts
Chrome messenger bag

Hate is a strong word, but I really, really, really don't like commuting with a computer. If I have to bring a computer, I also bring the keys. My commute is 26 miles one way though...

Get her a very light vaio and a Chrome messenger bag.

The laptop's not going to last long if you carry it in a pannier on a hardtail of any kind.

http://www.chromebags.com/
 
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3,617 Posts
bubble wrap mailer...

i found this cool chrome bubble wrap mailer at work one day, and it screamed at me...
"ghetto style laptop carrying case"
i put my 14" iBook in it
toss it into my Kremlin messanger bag
or use the panniers.
no problems yet.
i use to put the laptop in a big-ol-ziploc bag
the thing you want to avoid is getting things in your laptop, like coins, dirts, etc
 

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Trip the Bike Fantastic
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Fast Eddy said:
The laptop's not going to last long if you carry it in a pannier on a hardtail of any kind.
Hey eddy, do you speak from experience? I understand you're a techie guy, so appreciate your perspective. I also know there's a lot of fear around this issue. However, I've yet to hear from anyone who's actually experienced a laptop failure from commuting this way.

Now, for the commute. Let's hope Murphy's Law doesn't make me update this post in a few hours!
 

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Registered
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If shes even considering a pack

I recently switched to a dueter futura ac 28 which has a frame that keeps the pack off your back entirerly and rest on your hips. I dont have to carry a laptop most days but the pack does carry alot and is real comfortable

<img src=https://www.sailgb.com/pi/Deuter/new/Futura28_1.jpg>​
 

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Medium?
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Cycledelic said:
Hey eddy, do you speak from experience? I understand you're a techie guy, so appreciate your perspective. I also know there's a lot of fear around this issue. However, I've yet to hear from anyone who's actually experienced a laptop failure from commuting this way.
Like I said, I try not to take the laptop if I don't need it. They are notoriously unreliable in the best case and in a pannier is far from the best case. There are too many ribbon cable and springy circuit board connections in there for my taste.
 

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Slowest Rider
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A Re-enactment

I tended not to commute the laptop on the bike too often, maybe a few times a month, as I like desktops more and we had a VPN. The laptop lasted two years until I sold it without the slightest problem. Laptops are even more rugged now, designed to go thorugh airline baggage. :eekster: You should be fine with rack, panneirs, whatever if you turn it full off and pad it well with a good bag. Still, get full insuance and back it up.

You made me pull out my commuter bike, tie-down net, and laptop and do a re-enactiment of my bike commuting days. See below. (I discovered the net only has two hooks, but it still works well.)

As you can see the laptop fits nice right on top without having panniers hanging off the side. But you need to play around and learn how to secure the net the right way so the bag can't slide off. You have it right when you can put the bike on it's side and shake violently and the bag stays on top. I had no problem with a lighter book bag, but the heavier computer needs more securing. I got one of the widest bike racks to help in using it this way. I may have used a bunjie cord too - I can't recall completely. Panniers may be easier if you like them.

Incidentally, I think Fast Eddy using a similar technique for bike camping at Henry Coe: gear on top of the rack without panniers. I also velcro onto the rack the tote bag you see at the bottom, which I use for family picnics. I also use this hard tail bike to haul my baby trailer, which may interest you as your family grows.
 

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Feeling a little taller
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Fast Eddy said:
Hate is a strong word, but I really, really, really don't like commuting with a computer. If I have to bring a computer, I also bring the keys. My commute is 26 miles one way though...

Get her a very light vaio and a Chrome messenger bag.

The laptop's not going to last long if you carry it in a pannier on a hardtail of any kind.

http://www.chromebags.com/
2nd on the light Vaio. That and a Sprint Cell Internet card and she won't even have to go to the office - telecommuting mid epic sounds intriguing.
 

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Nature Rider, Not MTBer
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks again for more good suggestions. Thanks even more for letting me start my day with a good laugh!
 
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