I recently took the HybridBackPack for a spin. Don’t be misled by its name. This is not a backpack. It’s a bike carrier accessory that allows commuters to safely and easily carry backpacks, briefcases, laptop cases, shoulder bags, and small boxes on a bike rack. For the beer drinker in your life, you can even strap on a case of 24.
First I had to attach the HybridBackPack to my bike carrier. The printed instructions that came with it were of no help. After going back and forth from the garage, where my bike was, to my office, where I could watch how-to videos on the company’s website, it turned out it was quite simple to get the pack on the bike. It attaches with Velcro straps in three places: on the top front of the bike rack, on the right seat stay (that’s the downward part of the frame that connects to the top tube), and on the left chain stay (the frame that runs parallel to the chain).
For the first test, I fastened a backpack loaded with books. This was securely attached with three adjustable straps on the HybridBackPack: one running front to back and two at the side. The backpack didn’t move around during my test spin, or affect the handling of the bike. I would feel completely confident transporting a laptop or a brief case using this accessory.
For the next test, I attached a cardboard box 14.5 x 11 x 7 inches, and threw in the backpack, a few extra books, 3 bottles of wine, and a few household items to simulate the weight and instability of a load a commuter might have if she stopped on her way home from work to pick up a few groceries for dinner and some wine at the LCBO—total weight 17 lbs. The box held firm while I wheeled around corners and cycled over bumps and pot holes along our country road. Except for the clatter of the wine bottles I was not aware of the load or of any shifting contents while cycling.
If security is a concern where you commute, the HybridBackPack website says that a slot underneath the unit allows you to lock it to the rack. However, it isn’t clear how this works (this isn’t documented on the website), or how it would be more than a modest deterrent to a determined thief, given that the unit is made of vinyl and could be easily freed from any lock and chain with a simple utility knife.
But despite this and my beef with the printed instructions, I give the HybridBackPack a thumbs up. For commuters it’s a good alternative to bungee cords or panniers. You can carry shoulder bags and briefcases safely and access them easily once you reach your destination. Loads are held securely by sturdy, adjustable straps, there is plenty of Velcro to attach excess strap lengths on smaller loads and the reflector on the back flap makes you and your bike visible to motorists.