Well sure you could use that old Jansport from your grad-school days, but would you really want to? Besides, with a lifetime guarantee and being co-designed by the Mission Cycling Club of San Francisco the new Especial Raider Backpack by Timbuk2 is the sheer epitome of a cycling specific, highly designed, specialty piece that you either own or really wish you owned. Hit the break to see why something seemingly humble as a backpack could engender such desire…


The target audience here are passionate cyclists relegated to 9to5 office work (you know who you are). How else are you gonna fit in that pre/post office ride? Cram in the requisite white oxford, blue tie, and wingtips, sling it over your back and take off – nothing but unadulterated blacktop between you and your cubical, but you can take the long route today.


With room for a full change of clothes and a unique shoes pocket that “quarantines” your cleats, plus the essential zippered small pockets for keys, wallet and phone, the Especial Raider Pack is the quintessential “everything you need nothing you don’t.” Additionally, a well thought-out removable folding board will keep your starched shirts crisp and ready for the board meeting.


At $79 that Raider is one of Timbuk2’s most accessible pieces.


  1. I’m not being snarky here, I seriously want to know. Why would anyone choose a heavy, sweaty backpack over a rack and pannier for commuting? I ditched the backpack in college and I’m never going back!

  2. I guess Americans never look down because they seem totally oblivious to how dirty the bottom of your shoes can get. I see people wearing shoes in their homes, putting them on their furniture, etc. all the time. It’s disgusting. The shoes need to be in a completely separate section of the backpack. Timbuk2 should know better – they are based in San Francisco where the streets are covered in human and animal feces and other nasty things.

  3. @ Frank, for those who commute on their race bike or other such bike that they don’t want to toss a rack/bags on.

    I go back and forth with my Salsa Fargo and a rear rack. The last 12 months have been backpack because I was taking it off road so much to do Sub24 camping with it and in those situations, I use a Revelate Designs seat and frame bags, again, no need for a rear rack.

  4. @frank: because a backpack is more aero for roadies; and your rack/pannier is normally as heavy as a backpack. i prefer a backpack, as i dont have to release the bag from the rack when leaving the bike.

    but yes, this one looks good, but its too long, covering the jearsy pockets!

  5. What backpack with any reasonable capacity doesn’t cover your jersey pockets? Particularly if it also doesn’t bump the back of your helmet if you ride with your bars lower than your saddle? My current backpack covers the tops of my pockets but is still narrow enough to allow access to my two side pockets. It looks like this pack might be similarly narrow and also allow some access? The only reason I ever need access to pockets on my commute is to stash gloves or arm warmers – otherwise, it’s in the pack. I’ll have to take a look at this one in the shop.

  6. …oh yeah, the pockets on the sides of the pack may also be accessible while riding. And to James S’s comment: I would hardly recommend to anyone that they position their toothbrush so close to the bottom of their shoe, as shown in the picture! I have a dedicated shoe bag that my shoes travel in if I’m commuting with them.

  7. Its not really for road cycling if its black. It should have integrated light strips and be red or some bright color. It should also have a system of air cooling so your back doesnt feel like a horse pissed on it after ten minutes. Also a speaker for a phone would be cool some where on the straps.

  8. Geez people you are all so snarky! Its not like this is a Budnitz bike. Its a pretty well thought out if you ask me, and its less than 90 bucks. It does a good job at hitting the roadie commuter market. For the record, I wont be buying this pack I ride a Big Dummy to work.

  9. When I commuted, I left my work shoes at work. That’s a second solution to a non-existent problem. I can’t, however, carry a backpack that slings over one shoulder (or a messenger bag for that matter). The asymmetric loading doesn’t play nice with my neck.

  10. I really don’t see how this pack solves any problems better or different than other packs. My kid’s JanSport school backpack has similar functionality without the “Made in the Mission District” hipster surcharge.

  11. Looks like good fair weather commute bag. Capacity might be insufficient anything more than a set of clothes. Needs hip straps to stabalize the load for out of the seat climbing. I always put my shoes in first, heels down, soles against my back. This puts the heaviest item thems flat against my back. I’ll stick with my Camelback Octane 8+ and Deuter Superbike for now.

  12. I use a Wingnut bag that I have customized. It totally covers the rear pockets, and that totally great since the bag then sits lower on your back, and with the “wings” you can have access to pockets while you ride. I used to do a rack and bags, but if you have the right bag, the bike stays a nice ride. My old Atala is great as a fixie but when it was a geared bike with racks was heavy spaghetti with the rear rack and bags flopping around.

  13. The main benefit to this backpack based on my experience checking it our in our shop is that it is very light but still retains a nice shape on your back. Certainly not the bag for me but If I were riding a road bike to work with minimal carrying load I’d consider it.

What do you think?