The Inside Line Default bag is a thoroughly thought-out rucksack that's more than just a commuter bag. It's built like a brick shithouse, big enough to pick up a couple days' shopping on the way home and comfortable even when loaded to the gunwales.
'Default' is a slightly odd name for a bag. Inside Line Equipment explains: 'Put on a coat, grab your keys, wallet and some beats. Put your books, notebook, lunch and bottle in your pack. This is your default bag.' And hence the name. One bag to rule them all, if you're feeling Tolkeinesque.
Let's deal with the elephant in the room first: £170 is a hell of a lot of money for a rucksack. This is the sort of price you'd pay for a large, super-comfy bag intended to get you up and down a mountain with all your gear. £170 for a cycling backpack: someone's having a laugh, surely?
Not so (and don't call me Shirley). When you look at hiking rucksacks in this price range, you're usually paying for light, strong materials and clever design with carefully positioned padding and lots of adjustability. With the Default, you're paying instead for heavy, tough materials, useful detailing and bombproof construction. This bag looks like you could use it to shelter from small-arms fire.
This is the kind of build quality you find in bags used all day, every day by professional couriers who need a bag to be reliable; ordinary mortals can probably expect to pass this bag down to their children. Looked at that way, £170 is still a lot of money, but it's not unreasonable for the quality and likely longevity.
The Default has a nominal capacity of 25 litres, but it seems much bigger than that because it closes with a roll-top and press-studs that allow you to stuff it well past its stated capacity.
As well as the large main compartment there are two bottle-sized side pockets, an outer pocket big enough for a 15in laptop, two outer-outer pockets with internal sub-pockets for pens and the like, a huge document pocket with a waterproof zip, and another smaller waterproof pocket on the outside bottom of the bag.
There are probably sections to the Default that I haven't found yet. I kept stumbling delightedly across them in the first few days I used it. 'Ooh there's a pocket in this flap.' 'Aha! That's a handy place for a phone.' Yes, yes, I'm easily amused.
This afternoon, I rode home with the Default carrying a kilo of coffee beans, six pints of milk, half a dozen bananas, a kilo of grapes and a few lighter groceries. I wouldn't want to ride 50 miles with all that on my back, but for the short trip from the shops it was plenty bearable thanks to the Default's thick shoulder straps and well-padded back. You know the weight's there, but you don't mind it. As you'd expect with any bag this size, there's a sternum strap to pull the shoulder straps together too, making the bag a lot more stable.
Comfort and stability are great, but Inside Line Equipment hasn't worried much about ventilation. There are no channels in the padding to help stop your back getting sweaty. You won't get a can of baked beans poking into your ribs, but you will get a bit damp if you ride hard in the Default.
If you haven't massively loaded up your Default, then there are a compression straps to keep it under control, and like the shoulder straps they have nice big D-rings on them for easy grabbing and yanking.
You can get the Default in a wide range of colours: black, dark grey, light grey, red, olive, navy, sky blue, cyan, woodland camo, BMW Motorsport, and black with clear window. I'm rather taken with the cheerful orangey-red of our test sample.
I like this bag a lot. If you need lots of capacity and want a bag that'll last and last, you could do much worse.
Sturdily-built urban bag with lots of padding; tough and comfortable.
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Make and model: Inside Line Equipment Default bag
Size tested: 25 Litre
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The user Inside Line Equipment has in mind looks to be a short-distance commuter, young professionals and students. The styling's very urban, especially in the darker colours, and the maximum-durability vibe of the construction says it's expected to cop some abuse.
Inside Line Equipment says:
"Put on a coat, grab your keys, wallet and some beats. Put your books, notebook, lunch and bottle in your pack. This is your default bag. With room for a grocery mission, extra clothing, and protection from the rain, this is our flagship bag, designed for everyday use, and constructed using the highest quality materials, this bag is comfortable for everyday use, but will also carry larger loads with ease."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The feature list goes like this:
Weatherproof main compartment
Weatherproof hidden sleeve fits tablet or small laptop
Middle sleeve fits 15in MacBook
Deep side pockets
Adjustable/removable sternum strap and 1.5in waist strap
Snaps keep rolltop from obstructing view
Durable 1000D Cordura outer/Waterproof Vinyl liner
Water-resistant urethane coated zippers
Thick padded back and shoulder straps
Dimensions 12inx6inx20in (25
Handmade in California
Hefty waterproof Cordura on the outside, thick tarp-style fabric inside, very tidily sewn and well-finished, it looks like you'll be able to hand it down to your grandchildren.
Great for capacity and comfort, no so lovely for for non-sweatiness of your back, but that's clearly not a design objective here.
No sign of wear after a few months' use, and I don't expect to see any. Experience says bags built like this (double-wall, reinforced, covered stitching) are almost impossible to kill.
All that padding and super-tough fabrics adds heft. At 1640g, it's substantially heavier than, for example, an Osprey Talon 33 (920g), which is nominally bigger but actually closer in practical capacity than the numbers suggest. That's 1.7lb in old money; quite a difference.
Lots of back and shoulder padding, plus a well-positioned sternum strap to keep it under control make it comfortable to carry even when fully loaded.
Expensive, but not unreasonably so given the quality of materials and construction.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort when loaded; capacity; large, handy extra pockets.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
This is a beefy, comfy bag and for performance and construction it's a 9, maybe even a 9.5 if we had such a rating. The price isn't unreasonable for the quality, but it's not cheap, and that takes it down to a solid 8.
Age: 46 Height: 5ft 11in Weight: 85kg
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding,
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.