built for athletes
£69.99 via builtforathletes.com
We've managed to gather quite a collection of backpacks in our time, we have been a big fan of Osprey over the years labelling them as the 'swiss army knife' of the backpack world. Trend has changed though, the world of cross-fit and fitness classes/studios have been making strides in the fitness industry and people want a bag that'll carry their sweaty kit but also their work attire with a core of simplicity. Built For Athletes sent us over one of their Hero range to commute with and it's got depth...
Big. Bulky. Brash. But all in a good way. You can imagine all the gym goers pumped up wearing the bag packed with their compression gear and huge protein tubs. We're the opposite. We're packing it with our smart clothing for school (we try make ourselves presentable!), bike spares and our personal things too. One thing is for certain, I won't be losing this bag anytime soon, it's not a fluorescent yellow but it does add colour to our riding.
Compartments are deep and wide, it's a 45L but as we found you get given acres of space. There's a sleeve for your laptop inside (outside would be weird and impractical!) but unlike the Osprey range, there's no secret pockets, they've kept it simple and spacious probably for the simple reason who wants to be checking a million zips looking for their keys after a hard session?!
We didn't realise this at first but at the front of the pack you'll find a couple of velcro patches encourage you to personalise your bag either from BFA own website or with whatever patches you have lying around the home, this we like, a bit of personalising is a big tick in our book.
I think this is where you'll find what the target audience is. You do notice you're basically a turtle with a shell on your back. Don't get us wrong, it's not uncomfortable on the shoulders, you have plenty of padding on the straps and on the back but the depth of the bag means most of the weight sits at the lower end of your back. For us, it was an issue occasionally as we suffer from lower back problems from time to time. We found tightening the shoulder straps eased the stress but you can tell brands such as Osprey design their bags to spread the weight around with the sacrifice of space via it's main compartment.
There's no obvious bottle holder which we like on other backpacks. You'll be wondering why this is an issue as surely on your bike you have a bottle cage or two? Unfortunately and weirdly on on our gravel bike which we are using to commute on needs longer bolts for the cages which we haven't gotten around to sorting out so having a side bottle holder on the rucksack is handy for us at the moment.
We got caught in a few rain showers on our commutes but the bag is waterproof, just have to be aware of the droplets sitting on top of the bag when taking the Hero off. The bag itself opens flat like a suitcase which is handy if you need to squeeze something bulky inside, whether this will affect ride comfort when carrying something of a weird shape remains to be seen. Our previous commuting bag had a hard backing due to having an internal kickstand so the bag can stand up and this acted as protection from anything protruding too.
It's a bag that looks like it could carry your house and it'll give it a good go. It's also nice to have a big splash of colour, the Hero comes in a wide range of designs including a pure white, you'd feel so guilty though getting a splash of mud on that one! As we've reported, the compartments are generous in space, we often have to squeeze in our day to day attire and personal belongings in past rucksacks, the BAF Hero kinda challenges you to see what else you can fit in, I've even weighed up putting a kettle in there just because we never get a chance to grab a cuppa at lunch!
It has small flaws but only if you're using it for the wrong lifestyle. Our commute is pretty short in comparison to others we know, 7-8 miles on average each way so the weight to comfort issue we could handle. We wouldn't say it's a bag for long rides though even though you could easily fit a tent inside and a stove at a push! So for hiking, we would give it a miss but for an overnight bag, fill your boots!
The price is very reasonable and a good case for value for money. The velcro patches are a nice touch, we just need to go hunting now for some NITP ones!