As a dedicated cycle commuter, covering around 12 miles a day through London’s grimy streets, getting my possessions to and from the office safe, sound and dry is no trivial matter. While I have a waterproof cycle bag, it has a distinct absence of dedicated storage pockets, which can make locating keys etc somewhat traumatic, especially if stood in the pouring rain.
So when I was offered the opportunity to road test the Pitfield backpack by Mission Workshop I leapt at the chance.
The Pitfield is part of the Brooks Discovery range. Avid cyclists will know the Brooks name well. The company has been making cycle products and accessories since 1866 and all of its designs are still handmade in England.
The Discovery range has been created with cycle commuters in mind, with particular attention to technical details, comfort and visibility. There are five bags in the collection and all feature waterproof fabric and water repellent zippers, with interiors made from recycled materials.
The Pitfield’s design is smart enough to make the transition from commuter bag to office holdall. Like the rest of the range, it is made from black waterproof PU-coated nylon 66 and cordura. However, although it is black, the strap of material at the bottom of the bag is reflective so that cyclists are visible at night. The top flap, carry handle and aluminium hardware are nice features that add design flair.
The Pitfield boasts plenty of capacity, which means it can look bulky on more diminutive cyclists. Those who don’t require as much storage space can opt for the smaller Sparkhill, which is a more compact design.
The Pitfield is a dream when it comes to storage. There is a pocket for every conceivable purpose. The padded laptop compartment is sensibly on the back for additional protection and because it’s not something you’re likely to need to access while on the go.
The zipped front compartment stretches so that a helmet can be popped in there when not required and features an open pocket for objects you want to quickly toss in – chewing gum, sunglasses – plus two zipped compartment, one larger one smaller, that I find useful for keys and wallet. The main compartment of the backpack also has an additional pocket for keeping work organised.
If that weren’t enough, there is a zipped side pocket, great for your smartphone, and a stretchy fabric pocket for a drinks bottle that can be zipped away when not required.
Below the carry handle on top is another zipped mesh pocket, but I find this one is difficult to access and its shape is not conducive to carrying any of my possessions. I can’t really fathom what it would work for. But with some many other places to stow things, it’s hardly a problem.
I tend to carry a lot with me to work, including a change of outfit, and often do my food shopping on the way home. So far nothing has conquered the backpack’s storage capacity.
The long, dry summer had me worried that I was never going to give the Pitfield a true weather test. Oh ye of little faith; how could I have doubted the Great British weather? A recent bike ride to work in torrential rain proved it was truly waterproof. The material the bag is made from is also really easily wiped clean so the inevitable mud and grit that urban cycling throws at you can be removed without drama.
Comfort-wise the bag has ergonomic straps that can be adjusted to suit and straps to go across the chest and stomach, if the bag is on the heavy side. I find it easy to cycle with, it doesn’t obstruct my view when I turn to check traffic behind me and the back has a mesh panel so I don’t get all hot and sweaty.
The zips are sturdy and feel like they will never falter, as are the straps, while the neat hook design for the top flap is clever and easy to open and close.
This isn’t a cheap option, but Brooks products are renowned for a reason. The Pitfield is an extremely well-made design, with lots of thoughtful touches and superb design details, from the fabric it’s made of to the variety of storage compartments. It’s also a versatile backpack that can happily transition from cycle commute, to office bag, to carry-on luggage. A real all-rounder.
Volume 24/28 litres