I’ve always been a bag man. Not the kind that delivers bags of money, I just fancy them. When you get me in a store, I gravitate to the bag aisle. You might say it’s my bag.
Once at the LL Bean outlet, I bought this garment bag sort of thing about three feet square, with a shoulder strap. I thought this would be great for carrying my stuff on business trips. After a couple of trips to the airport with the bag flopping around at every bump, I decided this was not the case. I would have to invest in a proper messenger bag.
I have all sorts of seat bags. If you have a rear rack, you can get one of these trunk things, about the size to hold a six pack (not that I’ve used it for that, just a convenient point of reference). These can be crammed full of all sorts of stuff, as Mrs. D. will attest to when we had one on the tandem. It being a shared compartment, Susan filled it with the equivalent of a pocketbook and an overnight bag. My portion was relegated to the spare tube and tire irons (really tire plastics these days). A breakthrough occurred when we bought this fancy waterproof bag from Pamela for our other tandem. It was big and fastened to the seat so no rack was required. Susan had to trim down to just the contents of a pocketbook, and I still had my tube and tire plastics.
My touring bike sported a rather large saddlebag I made from a Frostline kit many years ago. It contained a pretty complete tool kit, which after many rain storms and residence in said bag for many years had been reduced to a pile of unrecognizable rust. I finally disinterred the contents of this bag a couple of years ago, after concluding I was probably not going loaded touring again any time soon, and even if I did, the contents of the saddlebag were for the most part useless. On the other end of the spectrum were the little seat bags for my racing bikes (or should I say “going somewhat faster than my cargo bike” bikes). I had one sort of tubular one for many years, until the nylon straps wore through from years of bouncing around. This was superseded by a really tiny whiz bang aero racer bag, where my tube and plastics were fighting for room. Then I got this affair that had a snap on connection so you could take the bag off and use it on another bike. It came in two sizes, the mondo size if you wanted to pack for a fortnight, and a more normal one, which had could fit the tools and tube and even an article of clothing. It also had an outside compartment for a water bottle (or a can of paint if it were arrowing season).
I’ve gone through several generations of bags commuting. In the early days, I actually used panniers, but had several catastrophes with them, including the loss of a pair of shoes, until I switched to the Big Blue Bag. The BBB was a regular soft sided luggage thing that I somehow lashed to the rear rack transversely. I slipped the straps over the seat, so even if the whole thing fell off, it would still be attached to the bike. That was my main stay for many years. But then I got in with a fast crowd, and realized that carrying a huge bag sideways was not very aerodynamic. So the duffel bag era began. I found a big blue duffel bag that could hold all my stuff and be mounted parallel to the direction of travel, greatly reducing drag. The BBDB was fastened with black rubber bungee cords I found in the road. These could be adjusted in size by tying knots in them so that the proper tension was achieved. The beauty of this is that if you had more stuff in the bag, the cords would stretch tighter to hold the heavier load.
Then I moved into messenger bags. I bought one since I had already bought every kind of bag known to man and still had not sated my bag lust. It took a while for me to get used to it, but I gradually became convinced that this was the ideal way to carry stuff to work. I’ve been using them for several years now, but still kept the rack on the commuting bike, just in case. I finally took the plunge and removed the rack from bike. Now there’s no going back.