Ever since my ride to work went from 2.5 miles to 7.5 miles one-way, I have been in pursuit of the ideal bike commute setup. After a few months, I settled on using a Carradice Camper for the to and fro, and that worked well, as long as I did not need to ride anywhere else during the day. Recently I’ve been needing to attend more off-site meetings for my job, and that makes having a bag like the Carradice less appealing.
I wanted something easily attached and removed from the bike – something a Carradice is not made for – and that looks more business-like than my backup set up, the Ortlieb pannier.
It was as I was mulling this bike bag dilemma over that I connected with Maria at Po Campo, who invited me to try out the Po Campo Bergen Pannier for my commutes. Her timing could not have been better and I happily accepted the offer.
I’ve now been using the Bergen Pannier for a little over a month and have several thoughts to share about it. While Po Campo sent me the bag at no cost (in exchange for a review), the bottom line is I would spend the $114.99 retail for the quality, aesthetics, features, and overall utility of the Bergen Pannier. A more comprehensive review of my time with this bag follows.
As I said, I was searching for something that looked like a professional bag, and the Bergen Pannier scores high marks in that area. A mix of polyester, nylon and faux leather, I chose the cheery multi-colored Mosaic print that comes with a khaki fabric along the base and the bag handles. The bag also comes in a black herringbone pattern as well. I wear a lot of black and neutrals, and the Mosaic print helps bring some pop to my work wardrobe.
The inner liner of the bag is a bright contrasting color, and there are internal pockets for accessories, as well as a dedicated space for a laptop. The bag offers a small external zippered pocket that I use for storing keys and a patch kit, and another pocket where I can stash the shoulder strap that is included with the bag.
One of the additional features I like about this pannier is the reflective stripe along each side. The stripe is large enough to be visible at night, but does not overwhelm the rest of the bag, and it still maintains a professional look.
The Po Campo site notes the volume of the Bergen Pannier at 20.6 liters. That is enough to easily fit my laptop, a notebook, purse, bike lock, patch kit and multi-tool, bike tube, and a blazer. After that, space is at a premium and I have trouble zipping up the bag.
That means I’m not able to easily carry my lunch with me if traveling with those other items. That’s good in a way because I can’t overstuff it, and I would not want the bag to be much bigger than it is or it becomes unwieldy and no fun to carry anywhere.
For the interim, I’ve begun carrying another small pannier that handles my spillover items, say my lunch and workout clothes, on days when I go into the office and then to meetings later in the day. I will leave that bag attached to the bike while in my meeting. If I don’t want to leave an extra bag on the bike, I’ll just opt for the work cafeteria that day and ride solely with the Bergen Pannier.
Ease of Attaching and Removing from Bike
The attachment system on the Bergen Pannier is fantastic. The magnetic clips fit easily on my rack and snap quickly into place.
The bottom of the pannier easily attaches with a spring-release closure ring so you can hook onto the bottom of whatever rack you use.
The bag sits steadily against the rack and I don’t feel any wobble from it. That is also a tribute to my awesome Tubus rack, but I was initially concerned that the magnetic clips and ring attachment system would not cut it on city streets. Not to worry, the bag handles bumps and turns without issue.
Once I reach Point B, which is generally a five-mile ride in whatever direction, I lock up the bike and remove the pannier. The magnetic clips release easily and it is then easy to unhook the bottom attachment ring.
Ease of Carrying
Po Campo’s Bergen Pannier is also super comfortable to carry. Unlike the old days in previous jobs, where I would go to a meeting with Ortlieb pannier hooks gouging into my side, the Bergen Pannier feels good on my shoulder. In addition, the magnetic clips sit smoothly and I don’t notice them when I walk or stand with the bag.
I don’t always use the shoulder strap that comes with the pannier, and often use the straps at the top such that the bag sits just under my arm when I carry it, and not at my waist. I love that these straps are also long enough to go over my shoulder. I appreciate that Po Campo gives me both options for carrying the bag.
This pannier can take steady, but not heavy, rain over short distances (say 8 miles or less) and keep all your stuff dry. I rode it a few times in this type of rain and I was pleased with how the bag held up.
If it’s a deluge, though, the pannier will soak through. It’s just not designed for extreme conditions. Most days don’t involve not deluge-type commutes, fortunately. And when they do, you’ve got more than your bike bag to worry about, especially if you’re planning on walking into a meeting right after arriving.
Only more time will tell the story on durability, but I’ve been giving the Bergen Pannier a solid workout since I received it and I’ve been pleased. The zippers are high quality and have never gobbled into the inner lining, the print helps to hide any staining, and even then the fabric can be easily spot-cleaned.
Bottom Line: The Bergen Pannier looks professional and carries just enough stuff to get me to and from meetings without being clunky. I am quite fond of the Mosaic pattern, and am glad I chose it over the more conservative black. The bag holds up pretty well in the elements, although your stuff is unlikely to stay totally dry in a prolonged rainstorm. I wish the bag was bigger, but it’s probably better it isn’t because then it would be cumbersome to haul around. As it is, the pannier slips easily on and off the bike, and is very comfortable to carry. I look forward to continued regular use of this bag.
I did not anticipate liking the Bergen Pannier as much as I do. I wasn’t sure that a Po Campo bag would suit my current daily commuter bike, a rough and tumble Rawland dSogn. Nor did I see Po Campo matching my personal style, as I am a pretty streamlined practical person, and I was not sure what to think about life with a more stylish bag. I’m glad that Po Campo reached out to me, as the Bergen Pannier has been a welcome addition to my bike commute arsenal, and it has become a must on days that require external meetings.
On one final note, I’ll add that Po Campo is a woman-owned company, and I am pleased to support women-owned businesses whenever I can. For more information about the Bergen Pannier and Po Campo, please check out the Po Campo site. Thanks again to Po Campo for the opportunity to try out this bag!