After I finally got my 2WG bag from the post office, I’ve been getting used to it. I didn’t want to do a review of it before I got used to it, because it takes a while to get used to a new bag and figure out where you want to keep everything and what you should take.
First of all, I want to say that Jonah, who runs 2WG, is just terrific on customer service. I have asked him so many questions and he wrote back patiently to all of them. I don’t think I could get this kind of service from any other company. The biggest problem I had was that my Blackburn EX-1 is too tall for the straps to reach the bottom of the rack so that I can properly hook the D-rings that keep the bag from jouncing around. He suggested attaching S-hooks to the bottom to increase the reach, and when I was slow on the uptake of going to purchase them (I just have not had time to go to REI yet) he sent some to me! Now that’s service. He also explained why the pockets are one-up one-sideways (you can load the sideways one while the bag is hanging) and how to best put the bag on and get it off.
The bag seems well-made to me. I have had some doubts about the zippers, I must admit, but they are trying to do something tough (go around corners) and have slowly gotten easier to work. Even when they seem to be straining they don’t break or misalign, which is a good sign. I also don’t often have to undo the corner parts.
The sizes of the main outer pockets are ample for my lunch jar and a book on one side and a laptop in a soft carry-case or my lock and shoes on the other side. (The lock will fit into the lunch jar side if I’m carrying my laptop. I have given up on mounting the lock on my bike because it comes with a weird mounting system that does not work as well as the old Kryptonite system.) I have a medium-size laptop, so it wouldn’t fit a huge MacBook, but it’s fine for most normal PC laptops. If I’m not fully loaded I can stick a box of soymilk and a few other groceries in there on the way home, even though grocery trips are not what this bag is designed for.
The smaller outer pockets (on the outside of the larger ones) hold plenty of miscellany like my cell phone, wallet, buff, MP3 player, sunglasses case, etc. I kind of wish there were organizer pockets in one of them, but that would reduce their general usefulness at the price of satisfying super-organized people like me, so I think it’s wise they didn’t do this. The top half-cylindrical pocket holds my random bike/transit stuff — multitool, tire levers, maps & schedules, ankle bands, and the like, and easily fits my keys for quick access.
There are even several little attachments for straps on the outside, handy for attaching my helmet or whatever. There’s a good tail mount for a taillight and some bright reflective tape on the back.
The big main compartment has room for lots of clothes either hanging (normal use) or folded (if you load it while it’s flat rather than vertical) or dropped in the bottom if they don’t need hanging. This is the bag’s main selling point — that you can carry your clothes without smashing them — and while I don’t take full advantage of this for work because my work is casual, it’s nice even for that and it would be so handy if I needed to look presentable one day but still needed to ride (it does happen!), or for special trips that I want to ride to but need to look presentable at. I know there are loads of people that ride in normal clothes or even suits, but I sweat easily and inevitably get grease on me, and it wears out the clothes, so I just prefer bike clothes and changing when I get there.
The bag is also great because it is not very hard to take off the bike, and once removed, it looks like a large garment bag-cum-briefcase (exactly what it is!) which looks far more professional than your average pannier. This is important for me because it has to come off on Caltrain (no room for cargo) and if I’m toting clothes to look nice in I’d prefer my bag look nice too. I wear it across my body (shoulder to over the opposite hip) using the included strap and have no trouble getting on and off Caltrain with it, even with a lot of stuff in, though it is large and heavy. It can also be carried in hand by two handles.
All in all, if you are looking for a bike bag to commute with and want to carry clothes to change into and don’t like stuffing them in a backpack, this is a great bag. However, it is built exactly for this purpose and I don’t think is the best bag for anything else. If you want a multipurpose bag, better stick to a backpack or another type of pannier.