Rugged, Stylish, Waterproof Backpack Put To Motorcyclist Test

Technology meets chic in Velomacchi Speedway roll-top backpack

An excellent backpack for a steep price. $300 velomacchi.comJon Whittle

I use a backpack every day. I ride to work, rain or shine, and when I'm traveling the world or visiting friends my backpack goes with me. It holds everything from ibuprofen to extra clothes to my laptop and business cards. Occasionally, my satchel comes along on a weekend trail ride and I sink in a massive puddle riding a bike with 90 hp and no rear fender and completely douse it with mud. It's rare, but it happens.

This time around, I was glad it was the waterproof Speedway pack on my back, keeping my spare gloves, snacks, and other effects safe from the tsunami of muck. When I got home, I propped it up in the driveway and blasted it off with a garden hose, returning it to its rugged, 1000D charcoal-fabric finish (check out page 87 to learn what it means if a fabric is rated as 1000 Denier).

Day to day, I’ve been spoiled by its features—namely the aluminum clip that easily totes a helmet, the sleeve that swallows my laptop, and the two toggle-closure pockets for bite-size stuff. A little leash inside keeps keys from getting lost, and there’s even a glossy mounting plate for an action camera on the front. I especially like the elastic holster on the left shoulder strap. It’s made for a tire-pressure gauge, but I use it to keep a pen handy.

By far the Speedway's sexiest feature is the aluminum coupler that clips the shoulder straps together at the sternum. A magnet snaps the system together, locking them in place, and a gentle turn counter-clockwise releases it. Velomacchi claims "hands free" closure—that's a bit of an overstatement, but it's a clever design for gloved hands. The straps can also be tucked away behind the quilted back panel, at which point the bag can be strapped to the back of a bike via the four nylon loops at the corners.

If you’ve liked hook-and-loop fasteners ever since your first pair of sneakers, the pin-and-grommet or hooks to close some of the pockets might seem inane. Fashion-conscious riders will like them. For me, it wasn’t better or worse; I just got used to it. The “three-point rotating harness system” (with pivots at the clavicle) is very comfortable when strapped in place, but sometimes 25 liters of stuff digs into my shoulder if I go for the more casual one-strap technique. Hate the aesthetic if you want, hate the price if you want, but functionally I found very few flaws in the Speedway Roll-Top backpack. Stylish, waterproof, and rugged enough for everything from airports to dual-sport rides.