A bag is just a bag isn't it?! Mrs Notinthepeloton has loads and if you asked us before we got into cycling what we think of bags, we would probably of said 'as long as it doesn't have a hole in it...!' But we've come to appreciate how easier the right bag can do for your lifestyle. If you're a commuter, comfort, functionality and durability are your trifecta criteria. Obviously it's gotta' look the part too but it's got to fit into your lifestyle, no one wants a bag who is more of a diva than a servant! So our trusted pal Sam Hodges offered to put The Summoner to the test on his lengthy commutes, is it a bag for life or does it turn out to be a mixed bag?!...
I’ve been testing the Modal Summoner bag on my daily cycling commutes for the past 2 weeks. While I've been very impressed with the bag’s clever, practical and stylish design features, there have been some aspects that may be of concern looking to use this bag while on their bike. Upon handling the bag for the first time I was immediately impressed with the simple design and its denim-like fabric material. The Summoner boasts a whopping 32L capacity, but it's how the bag allows you to access and organise its contents that is one of the stand out features.
After opening the main clamshell zipper you are greeted with a smart internal organisation system. There are compartments for a range of accessories including laptops, notepads, flasks, stationary and money. A clever feature of the Summoner back pack is that each main compartment can be accessed independently without the need to open the main clamshell zipper.
I was impressed by the 4 compression straps on each outer corner that squeeze the bag down to a compact size when not at capacity. This allows the Summoner to be used as a compact day-rucksack, as well as a longer weekend / travel bag.
The main features of the Summoner are:
• 32L capacity
• Polyester/600D Twill melange fabric
• Two separate compartments for long-term organisation
• Front access zipper for front compartment
• Top access coated zipper for rear compartment
• Dedicated laptop sleeve with coated zipper fits a 15” laptop
• Internal org pockets for pens, notebooks
• Multiple quick access pockets for small items
• Cinch-down straps with strap containment system
I usually commute to work using my no-thrills £10 Amazon Basics bag. While packing the Summoner back pack for my first morning commute test I was most impressed with the bag’s abundant capacity and clever storage system. There seemed to be a compartment for everything. I slid my laptop into the dedicated laptop sleeve, packed my clothes and a towel for the day into the rear compartment and secured them in place with the mesh cover.
Neat packing was made easy by the bag’s suitcase style clamshell opening, giving you full access to each compartment. I zipped the bag up, feeling like it was hungry for more.
Everything about the Summoner feels like quality. From the twill fabric to the handle constructions, it's obvious that this is a high-end product that's built to last. Although I only tested the bag for a couple of weeks, I have no doubt that the Summoner would stand up to long term heavy use.
Suitcase style opening made packing easy
Large capacity but still compact
Unfortunately I was not long into my first commute before realising that the Summoner might not be best suited for cyclists. The height of the bag on my back meant that the back of my helmet would often knock against the top of the bag if I was in a lower riding position, such as in the drops. Although a bit annoying, my next problem was much more of a safety concern.
I approached the first major junction on my commute and prepared to move from the left hand lane over to the right to take my position going into the roundabout. As I looked over my right shoulder and prepared to signal, my vision was quite badly obscured by the top right corner of the bag. Again this was caused by the height of the bag on my back. Any approaching cars more than 20 feet or so behind me would have been very hard to spot.
There’s no doubt the Summoner is a quality, high end back pack that can justify its £180 price tag. If you are looking for a top of the range bag for travel and work with I cannot recommend it highly enough. If however you are looking for a back pack for your cycling commutes and can sacrifice some storage space, I’d suggest looking for something a little more compact that will offer you greater visibility and movement on the bike.