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The Craft Cadence backpack is great looking, with loads of space and some clever storage ideas. It's aimed at commuting cyclists, designed to carry pretty much everything you'd need in a stylish and comfortable manner – and it does. It's up there with the best cycling backpacks, in my opinion.
It's a very well made bag. I'm a bit of a backpack nerd – I have owned custom bags as well as some messenger bags, and this one is up there with the best. It's made from 600D polyester with a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) coating and welded seams, and is tough and waterproof.
I got caught in some changeable weather during the test period and had no issues with anything getting wet. I kept phones and the like in the outside pockets and my laptop in the middle with zero fear that I was going to get home to find them swimming.
The bottom of the bag is made of a far thicker material designed to take some abuse, so you don't have to worry about throwing it around.
The metal buckle to get into the roll top feels like it's going to outlive me, let alone the rest of the bag.
The only bit I was a bit disappointed with were the waist straps, which seem like a bit of an afterthought. I had to do them up so tight to hold the bag in place that I found them uncomfortable – they have no padding and no flexibility, so when you breathe in and out they dig in.
I ended up simply removing them, and the only time I felt I could have done with them was hopping over speed bumps when my laptop would sometimes tap me in the back of the head.
There are three storage areas to the bag: the 21-litre compartment, and two zipped pockets on the outside.
Inside the main compartment are two Velcro straps holding an eight-pocket organiser sleeve. This includes a pocket for a 15in laptop (mine's a Dell Precision 7560) plus a large, zipped pocket. There's also an A4-sized pocket and some smaller ones, plus two pen holders with a key strap.
I used all these pockets and didn't have any issues with anything moving around. The only slight niggle I had was that if you remove the sleeve to organise your equipment, getting it back in without it sticking to the first of the two Velcro strips can be a pain.
Both zips on the two outer pockets have a waterproof seal, and the pockets themselves are big enough to put a phone or pump in. I used these for stuff I needed to get to quickly – keys, work pass and the like.
In addition to all of these pockets, the bag is covered in loads of extra little fixings to help you carry locks or attach lights: both shoulder straps have a plastic loop, and the back of the bag is covered in loops that are great for strapping your bike lock to.
On your bike, this bag is very comfy – both shoulder straps are supportive yet flexible, with adjustment to distribute the weight where you need it. These are vented to try to keep you from sweating and I didn't notice any issues here.
On the rear there are four panels made of EVA foam and covered in a mesh. EVA foam is a high-density foam used in the sports industry to absorb impact. Here they're designed to increase the amount of air flow around your back while riding, and minimise the chances of a sweaty back.
I started using the pack back in the summer, and on really warm days – remember those? – I did have a sweaty back by the time I got to work, but it wasn't really an issue for me.
Although Craft Cadence says the bag is designed for commuting, for some the visibility will be a bit too minimal: two small logos on the back of the bag and one strip per shoulder strap.
If you're worried about being seen then you might want to strap a light on, too.
At the time of writing, you can buy this bag for £89.99, but even at its rrp of £94.99 it's competitive with other brands. It's just £5 more than Oxford's Aqua Evo 22L Backpack, which Steve tested last year and thought was excellent, and the 17L Ortlieb Velocity, which George reviewed in 2020, is £96 (the 23L is £106).
It's far cheaper than others. As Steve pointed out in his review of the Oxford, the Brompton Backpack made with Liberty Fabric Jonathan is £145 despite being 14L and only waterproof with a cover, and though Matt loved Chrome's BLCKCHRM 22X Yalta 3.0 backpack, it's £160.
I've really enjoyed using the Craft Cadence backpack while riding to work or to the shops. It's a great design that I would happily recommend.
Great quality, loads of storage, comfortable to carry, and waterproof
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Cadence Backpack
Size tested: 21 litres
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?
Craft Cadence says: "Our newest 2022 roll top backpack for those looking for a compact, light, waterproof and smart looking cycling backpack for commuting and weekend day trips.
Thoughtfully designed by us as commuters, it features a molle system for D-locks, 2 front external zipped pockets for cycling accessories, a tech sleeve with 8 compartments to organise your essentials and 21-23 litres of capacity."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Craft Cadence lists these key benefits:
Lightweight: Sleek city cycle commute backpack for those who want to maintain a minimal carrying system (900 grams for the bag)
Waterproof: elegant metal buckle roll top enclosure system and welded seams ensures full waterproofing. No rain jackets needed.
Commuter focused: cycle commuting features include front-mounted molle straps for D locks and 2 external pockets on either side for tools and accessories
Superior organisation: laptop and tech sleeve with 8 dedicated compartments for laptop (up to 17 inches), paper notebook, tablet, electronic accessories, keys, 2 pens and your smartphone
Avoid sweaty backs: EVA foam back panels and ventilated shoulder straps minimize back sweat. Waist straps removable.
Be seen: Reflective Craft Cadence logo details and on shoulder straps
Buy with confidence: 5-year warranty for peace of mind
And these technical details:
21-23 Litres storage. 21 Litres if secured with 4-5 rolls. 23 litres if secured with 1-2 rolls.
800 grams (bag) + 100 grams (internal insert)
62 cm (unrolled height) x 38 cm (widest width) x 13 cm (depth)
600D polyester with TPU coating; seamless welding construction
Really well made from some really good materials.
Waist straps could be improved to aid fit while riding. But these are removable if you don't want to use them.
Everything's holding up really well; no wear after a good few months' daily use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Worked really well when riding to work or the shops; no problems carrying laptops or shopping.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's a really cool looking bag that works well.
Having the side pockets is a great bonus – some roll top bags don't have these, making it a pain to get to keys or your phone.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I didn't get on with the waist straps.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's in line with similar in the market, and a lot less than some. It feels like it will last a long time, so a worthwhile investment.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A tough, functional and great looking bag that still looks as good as it did when it arrived, with only a tweak to the waist strap to improve it. It's excellent.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road Bike: Specialized Diverge to Work My best bike is: Specialized Allez Sprint for Racing/Training
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Track and Bike packing