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Craft Cadence’s 2022 IPXS waterproof roll top promises a backpack that’s both lightweight and packed with storage, stylish yet functional. Craft Cadence has long been a leader in the commuter backpack field, but how does this latest offering shape up?
My first thoughts upon unboxing the Craft Cadence were that this is a serious piece of kit. I was struck by the robust material (the backpack promises to be fully waterproof) and the build quality. It has the feel of a premium offering that could carry a much bigger price tag.
Craft Cadence describes the aesthetic as “minimalist but functional.” This might not be the most overtly stylish backpack on the market but it grabbed my attention through build quality alone.
Craft Cadence Rolltop Backpack
The Craft Cadence Rolltop Backpack is a stylish and functional cycling backpack with a roll-top closure, waterproof fabric, and reflective accents for visibility. It also features multiple compartments, a padded laptop sleeve, and a built-in helmet holder.
- Comfortable to wear
- Bit pricey
- No built in water bottle holder
- Roll top
- Waterproof and extremely durable
- 21 litre capacity
- Detachable tech pouch
- 8 internal pockets and 2 external
- Comfortable foam padding
- Anti-sweat straps
- High-vis detailing
First things first: this backpack holds a lot. It’s not the biggest on the market with just a 21 litre capacity, but it feels much larger than it is because it’s so organised. I was particularly impressed by the detachable tech sleeve. Secured to the interior by velcro straps, the pouch can be removed. This makes it much easier to arrange items without rooting around.
The pouch features 8 compartments, one of which is zipped. I found myself using the zipped pouch to store my laptop, the attached sleeve to hold my tablet and one of the two smaller pouches to hold my phone. The spacious, rear pouch is useful for holding cables, chargers and power banks. Two pen/pencil holders are a nice addition (I’m prone to losing stationary) and there’s a clip for attaching keys.
It can be a little fiddly to detach the pouch (especially if you have a lot of other items loose in the bag) since the velcro tends to reattach, but this is nonetheless a fantastic way to store your accessories. It’s also worth noting that the zipped pocket isn’t quite large enough to zip closed while holding a 15 inch laptop but that’s hardly a deal-breaker. Being able to remove all your tech at once is a real time saver.
Even with all of those pockets filled, the bag feels nearly empty with a vast portion of space left for a change of clothes, a packed lunch, shoes and nearly anything else that you can think of. I was surprised to find myself neglecting the main compartment. With most of my items stored in the tech pouch, I tended to stash my coat, newspaper and a few snacks in the remaining space – not coming even close to filling the 21 litre capacity.
Two external pockets offer ample space for storing maintenance items like pumps and inner tubes. The front strap will keep a D-lock secure but there’s no dedicated, external water bottle holder which might be an annoyance for some. That said, you can find an external water bottle holder on Amazon for a very affordable price as a workaround.
The Road Test
Most importantly of all, how does it fare on the road?
True to its word, the Craft Cadence is fully waterproof. With its durable materials and high quality finish I never expected anything less, but water really does run off this backpack without collecting. That kept me dry and it’s a big change from other backpacks that, while technically waterproof, accumulate a lot of surface moisture as you ride.
It excels in the comfort department too. Most backpacks feature foam panelling of some kind, but the panels on the Cadence are chunky and generous. The positioning of the tech pouch is flush against the back of the bag, but the cushioning is so deep that I didn’t feel any burden. Even after filling the pack to capacity it remained extremely comfortable and felt (almost counterintuitively) light.
Those pads are designed to prevent back sweat. I did feel heat build-up around the pads as I cycled but the ventilated straps are more effective. The roll top is streamlined and not too obtrusive when glancing back over your shoulder (a pet peeve of mine). I was also impressed with how well this bag holds its shape. No matter how you stuff it, it retains rigidity as you cycle, helping with balance and weight distribution. I got an extremely stable ride from this backpack, especially with the addition of waist straps (which can be removed).
The lack of an external water bottle pocket is a mild annoyance but won’t be too much of a concern on shorter commutes. You can use those two external pockets for a bottle (it will stick out) but otherwise, there are no “easy access” compartments on the outside. Last but not least I was pleased to discover that the Craft Cadence logo is reflective and that there are high visibility patches on the shoulder straps. Obviously, this isn’t the highest vis backpack that you’ll find, but these details do make a difference.
|Extremely organised storage
|No external water bottle pocket
|Comfortable and lightweight
|Not the most eye catching design
|Very high build quality
|Detaching tech pouch can be fiddly
This is the backpack of choice for anybody who likes to keep their belongings ultra organised. Don’t be put off by the 21 litre capacity. I’m yet to actually fill the space. The tech pouch holds nearly all your essentials with plenty of room to spare in the pack proper. Waterproof materials, stability and a comfortable ride make this the ideal commuter backpack. More accessible external pockets (especially one for a water bottle) would have been welcome, and some will prefer bags with a little more visibility.
Although it’s designed as a commuter bag, I felt that the Craft Cadence could be multipurpose. I’m certainly considering making this bag my go-to choice for longer rides. It’s got more than enough room to store supplies (even light luggage) and the padding feels comfortable enough to make much longer journeys a breeze. Being able to detach the tech pouch makes the backpack extremely versatile. Take it out and you’ve suddenly got a travel backpack.