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 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.
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 price is 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 ourselves out will love them.
Roadcc Jan 17