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Verdict: 
Stylish and hard wearing bag that stands up to the elements and the daily grind
Weight: 
1,380g

The year is 2099. Planet Earth has been ravaged by nuclear war. The entire population of cycling-based luggage has been decimated. Only one rucksack survives: the Inside Line Equipment Default Mini.

Ok, maybe that's slightly dramatic, but the Default Mini is a real action hero. Tough, rugged, good looks, just a bit smaller than the rest, the Tom Cruise of rucksacks perhaps?

Inside Line Equipment (ILE) is a California based cycling luggage manufacturer specialising in handmade bags and packs for all types of cycling. They claim that all their bags were 'created while in the saddle of a bicycle' and that 'they are designed with strength and simplicity in mind'. Two key foundation stones for a successful cycling bag you'd imagine.

The Default bags are ILE's flagship style of bags, designed and manufactured for everyday use. In their own words: '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'. We took a look at the Default Mini's bigger brother last year and now it's the turn of the smaller sibling.

The first thing to note about the Default Mini is that it's sturdy, really sturdy. When picking it up it has a decent weight to it even when it's empty. The main material used to construct the bag is a super-durable 1000D Cordura, and the main compartment is also lined with a heavyweight waterproof vinyl. The vinyl lining makes the main compartment of the bag really waterproof; it would take tsunami-like conditions to penetrate a material of that quality. The way the main compartment is constructed means that seams, often a weak point when it comes to water ingress, are kept to minimum.

The main compartment of the rucksack has a rolltop opening, two poppers hold the opening together and this then rolls down and is held shut by a large Velcro strap. It's simple and quick to use and adapts according to the amount you have inside the bag. The rolltop also adds to the waterproofing aspect of the bag. The lack of a zip on the main compartment is another bonus, zips are easy and quick to use, but they're often the first thing to fail on an everyday bag like this.

The capacity of the Default Mini is 18 litres with dimensions of 11x5x18 inches. The full size version is 25 litres. Numbers are all well and good but it's how it equates to everyday life that matters. Typically you can fit a change of clothes, a packed lunch, and a loaf of bread into the bag comfortably. Or if you want another example: 16 A5 Jiffy bags loaded with road.cc socks (shameless plug).

The roll top means that the capacity is slightly flexible, you can fit more in by not rolling it down as much, but this obviously compromises the waterproofing and how securely your cargo is fastened. The bag has two sets of compression straps on each side, when there's not much in the bag you can tighten these to stop the contents rattling about, and when it's full to bursting loosen them off to increase capacity.

The main compartment of the bag is the most used part, but it's the pockets that often prove to be the most useful for filing away the bits and bobs that come hand in hand with riding a bike. The Default Mini has its fair share of useful pockets and pouches, most of them hidden away under the large flap on the front of the bag. There is a large full width pocket and two smaller pockets with sections for coins and pens. There is also a large hidden zip pocket built into the flap that's big enough to hold a MacBook Air (other wafer thin laptops are available). This is weatherproof, slightly padded and sandwiched between the main compartment and the front pockets, making it very safe and secure. Along the bottom of the front there's a narrow zipped pocket, handy for things that need to be accessed in a flash.

The front pockets aren't strictly waterproof but they're heavily water resistant. The frontmost panel is lined with the same waterproof vinyl as the main compartment and the zips are urethane coated making them water resistant. There are also two deep side pockets on the bag, useful for drinks bottles or for reaching back to drop drop things into when on the move.

The bag is really comfortable to wear on the bike, the straps and the whole of the back panel are heavily padded with a foam-like material covered in a stretchy mesh. The only downside to this comfort is the lack of ventilation to the back area, it can fast become hot and sweaty if you're pedalling fast, or are loaded up with cargo.

It sits relatively high up on the back and fits tightly so that it's not swinging about as you ride. However, the high position means that if you're really pushing the capacity of the bag the rolltop can slightly obstruct the view over your shoulder while riding.

There's a sternum strap between the shoulder straps that helps keep the bag securely in place, this is tightened by using a tensioning strap. It can also be moved up and down vertically by clipping it onto loops that run the length of both the shoulder straps. There is also one of these handy loops on the front panel of the bag to attach a light or carabiner to.

There's a large variety of colour options. The ILE website lists over 10 different options so there's something to suit all tastes, but individual dealers may only stock limited range. It's tempting to go for something eye catching but it's worth remembering that bag is really going to last you so a more conservative approach might be advised. The only useful thing the bag seems to be missing in its current form is reflective material of some kind. It's pretty commonplace on bags these days and can easily be added without upsetting the look of the rucksack.

The Default Mini retails at £145, with the full size version coming in at £179. That's steep for a rucksack, but this isn't any old rucksack. You're getting something that's handmade and absolutely hard as nails. After a couple of months solid use it still looks good enough to be hung on the rack in a shop. Apart from a few splashes of mud there's absolutely no visible wear and tear. It's the kind of kit that's not going to last you just a season or two, but more likely five, six, or even more. What's more the the ILE bags come with a lifetime warranty on materials and craftsmanship, a sign of a brand that believes in its product.

The giant mutant cockroaches that inherit the earth after we've wiped outselves out will love them.

Verdict

Stylish and hard wearing bag that stands up to the elements and the daily grind

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Inside Line Equipment Default MIni Backpack

Size tested: 18 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?

ILE say: "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?

- Weatherproof main compartment

- Weatherproof hidden sleeve fits iPad

- Middle sleeve fits Mackbook Air

- Deep side pockets

- Adjustable/removable sternum 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 11 x 5 x 18 inches (18  30

- Handmade in California

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Really solid, the construction, stitching and materials are of top quality.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
7/10

Really comfortable to wear but can get quite hot and sweaty.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

A fair whack of money for a rucksack but it is handmade will stand the test of time.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Generally really well. Looks good and carries a decent amount of cargo for a daily commute. Comfortable and hard-wearing with only a few minor quibbles.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The stylish looks and quality of construction/materials.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Lack of reflective and lack of ventilation on the back.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, definitely.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, definitely.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 5'10"  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: KHS Flite 100 Singlespeed/Fixed, Genesis Equilibrium 20  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,

 

Oli has been a road.cc staffer since day one. He's the graphic design and photography force behind the site, and has got a keen eye for good quality, well designed cycling kit. You'll find him on his bike everyday whatever the weather, he's got a penchant for a steel frame and has had 'fit mudguards' on his To Do list for nearly 6 years now. Likes: cold toast, gin, rugby. Dislikes: fitting mudguards. 

14 comments

Avatar
a_to_the_j [119 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

considering its primary function is for commuting it really does need some reflective elements on the bag,
also given its roll top sometimes blocks your rear view
and
its not good on ventilation
imho i would not have given it 4/5
there are plenty of equivalent packs out there that do the similar and for less than £145....

Avatar
matheson [54 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Nice for the hipsters...

I'll stick to my LOMO drybag which has so far provided exemplary service on the daily grind and is a fifth of the price. http://www.ewetsuits.com/acatalog/Motorcycle-Motorbike-Dry-bags-Accessor...

My son uses an Overboard 20L rucksack, which takes a hammering on his way to/from/during school. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/360738278305?_trksid=p2060778.m1438.l2649&var=...

Avatar
crikey [1251 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

£150 for a small waterproof rucksack?
Really?
8/10 for value?
Really?

I've just bought two different backpacks for £17 and £15 respectively, both do exactly the same job as this one. I've got a bigger Karrimor one which I bought before my daughter was born, and she's 22...

Ever wonder why people treat reviews like fairy stories?

Avatar
jacknorell [1067 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
crikey wrote:

£150 for a small waterproof rucksack?
Really?
8/10 for value?
Really?

I've just bought two different backpacks for £17 and £15 respectively, both do exactly the same job as this one. I've got a bigger Karrimor one which I bought before my daughter was born, and she's 22...

Ever wonder why people treat reviews like fairy stories?

That's great.

How many years of daily use in all weathers and heavy loads do you think those rucksacks will get through?

This bag is really expensive, but so are Chrome messenger bags or Mission bags, and they last years for bike messengers...

Avatar
crikey [1251 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Quote:

I've got a bigger Karrimor one which I bought before my daughter was born, and she's 22...

You see this bit, this bit is a clue.  3

Avatar
crikey [1251 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

...and what I'd really like to see is the reviewers buying things with real money that they earn at their jobs, and then telling us how much value for money they think they really got.

Avatar
a_to_the_j [119 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
crikey wrote:

...and what I'd really like to see is the reviewers buying things with real money that they earn at their jobs, and then telling us how much value for money they think they really got.

this!

Avatar
truffy [649 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Hmmm, if you relied on reviewers only reviewing stuff they'd bought with their hard-earned, there wouldn't be many reviews!

On a personal note, I have a deep loathing of hook-and-loop (or Velcro™ as the reviewer has it) fastenings, particularly on expensive equipment. It seems cheap. I'd prefer something more 'luxurious' at this price point.

Avatar
jacknorell [1067 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
crikey wrote:
Quote:

I've got a bigger Karrimor one which I bought before my daughter was born, and she's 22...

You see this bit, this bit is a clue.  3

Good point, if you use it to haul stuff every day it's one amazing bag.

Avatar
MKultra [393 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I have used more than one daysack, courier bag or bergen to the point of it getting holes in it and even the pricey ones still give up the ghost within 5 years of hard daily use. I would not be spending £145 on a hipster item like that when you can get an all singing all dancing Camelbak or Osprey that also doubles up for MTB use. For wet commutes at the moment I have a pleasingly low priced but well made Alpkit Gourdon and that's stood up to all manner of wet weather.

Avatar
Nat Jas Moe [198 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Overboard much cheaper and just as good. The one I have has not let me down and is still in original order, except perhaps for the added dirt of several years of commuting. Please get reviewing this bag as not all of us can afford these expensive but no better bags. Their 20 litre bag costs 36 pound at the base level and 56 for the high vis one. So that almost a third of the price.

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fukawitribe [2943 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Another happy Overboard user here - superb in the wet (or even in the sea) and the fit, in particular the webbing, I think is great. OK, it's basically a single pit to chuck stuff in, with little in the way of extra pockets etc, but works for me on and off the bike. Cracking bit of kit.

Avatar
Lungsofa74yearold [293 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
matheson wrote:

Nice for the hipsters...

I'll stick to my LOMO drybag which has so far provided exemplary service on the daily grind and is a fifth of the price. http://www.ewetsuits.com/acatalog/Motorcycle-Motorbike-Dry-bags-Accessor...

My son uses an Overboard 20L rucksack, which takes a hammering on his way to/from/during school. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/360738278305?_trksid=p2060778.m1438.l2649&var=...

This stuff looks great & bargain prices too! Great tips - thanks.

Avatar
fenix [1209 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

It does look good - but without reflectives it's just not fit for purpose.

Another vote here for Lomo kit - excellent quality - we've several of their drybags for kayaking too - they work really well.