I’ve been using an Arkel Bug as my primary commuting bag for the past couple of years. It’s a convertible pannier/backpack that works well for multi-modal commuting, particularly when a long walk and a lot of weight are involved. While the Bug is not a bad looking bag, visually it’s more of a student’s daypack than a professional’s briefcase. I’m fortunate that my workplace environment is fairly casual, but there are times when I need to dress more professionally for client meetings, and on those days, the Arkel Briefcase fits the bill better than the Bug.
The design of the Arkel Briefcase is similar to other soft-sided briefcases. It has two main compartments that fold down on each side, a front organizer pocket with slots for pens, pencils, etc., and a small key pocket on the outer flap. One of the main compartments has organizer pockets that work well for power adapters, cords, iPods, cell phones, etc., and the other contains a removable, suspended laptop pocket that will easily hold a 15″ notebook. The main body is reinforced on both sides with hard plates to protect your laptop in case of an accident. The center of the bag expands out to make room for books, papers, lunch, or a change of clothes. The padded should strap is on rotating hooks to prevent twisting, and the heavily-reinforced top handle should outlast the bag.
While the design of the Briefcase is similar to garden-variety soft-sided briefcases you’ll find at office supply stores, the construction is more robust. The materials used in its construction are similar to those used in Arkel’s touring panniers, with heavy-duty Cordura nylon, beefy YYK zippers, and National Moulding buckles used throughout. The mounting hardware is also borrowed from their touring panniers. I really like Arkel’s mounting system; the bags are securely held in place while being very easy to install and remove, and in all of the years using their panniers, I’ve never had a failure. An additional feature that’s not included on their touring panniers is a flap that folds down to hide the hardware when the bag is off of the bike.
My commute is unusual in that I carry an above average amount of weight and employ at least three modes, one of which is a fairly long walk. Consequently, a convertible backpack/pannier like the Bug works well for me. But, if I had a more typical point-to-point bike commute in which I didn’t need to carry a heavy bag long distances on foot, I’d prefer the Briefcase because of its organizational pockets, suspended laptop pouch, and more business-friendly appearance.
Volume: 1500 cu. in.
Weight: 4.3 lbs.
Made in Canada
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