About 30 years ago I moved to Seattle and joined the ranks of clueless bike commuters. I wore whatever backpack I had sitting around to haul my shit to work and back.
In 1995 I bought a weak REI one-shoulder backpack that combined the worst of both worlds. It was awkward uncomfortable small and inconvenient but I thought it looked cool because it had one strap instead of two.
Then in 1996 I rode on on that one strap bag theme and bought a Timbuk 2 bag from 3. the company Suzanne Carlson started with her siblings before she started The Free Ride Zone which later morphed into Bike Works.
On May 12, 1997 I got a job at Elliott Bay Messenger Company and wore that T2 bag to work, wore it all day, then I wore it home. I probably wore it to the grocery store on weekends too.
In 1998 I got an Ortlieb messenger backpack which is basically a giant waterproof grocery bag with shoulder straps. I was working as a legal messenger delivering numerous small legal documents and taking off the bag hundreds of times per day to dig through it wasn’t so fun so I sold that bag to some other messenger and got a PAC designs one shoulder bag that I wore for a couple years until I tried to quit messengering by doing all kinds of other things including remodeling a 24 unit apartment building where I was also the manager/RA/babysitter, attending UBI in Ashland and then working in a couple bike shops.
In 2003 I went back to legal messenger work and ordered a backpack from those guys down at DANK bags. Not too long after that I ordered a one shoulder bag from those DANK guys. Being a legal messenger taking the backpack on and off so many fucking times to find the one unsigned order wrinkled up at the bottom of the sack got really old. I sat on the backpack for several years using it for groceries and beer and various things.
I always wore single strap bags on my right shoulder and my shoulders are now and forever uneven, jacked, tweaked and unbalanced. That first T2 bag was average size in 1997 but by 2007 it would be laughably small as bags got bigger and bigger.
From 2003 to 2010 working as a messenger I wore the shit out of the black DANK bag seen in the photo below as well as a camo/blaze orange DANK bag and then I finished my messenger career off wearing the tasteful understated wheat colored DANK bag in the photo above.
On September 10, 2010 I turned in my Nextel and reverted back to crusty commuter status. A short time later I started hauling my shit to work at Mad Fiber in that old DANK backpack. When I quit that job I wore the backpack to Bike Works for a while until one day Ortlieb gifted each and every Bike Works employee a backpack. And that’s the backpack I’ve been hauling my shit to work in every day since. The corners at the bottom of the bag have delaminated and are supported with gorilla tape on the inside and the cute little snap-in pouch organizer zipper stopped zipping some time in 2019.
Here and now as we speak I’m getting a new Ortlieb messenger size backpack with 39 liters of displacement. A big waterproof grocery bag with shoulder straps as seen in the top spokesmodel photo I poached from Ortlieb because it appeals to me on several levels. I'm not a bike commuter. I'm a light rail commuter with a bike. 99.997% of the time I will not be riding with 39 liters of shit on my back. It'll be unused potential and empty space that's lighter than air.
Those guys down at DANK bags make a fine product but zee Germans know what’s up for crusty commuters like me.