I have at least a dozen commuter bags. Big ones, little ones, bright ones, dull ones, shoulder bags, backpacks, etc. I’m always looking for the best way to carry my turkey sandwich, spare tubes, rain jacket, laptop and other knick knacks to the office and then back home.
My current favorite is the Patagonia Black Hole 35L pack. Mostly because it’s simple. It has a huge main pocket with a laptop sleeve, then a top pocket for keys and a small front pocket for my precious Moleskines. There’s no searching through 12 different pockets to find what I need.
It also carries well. Broad shoulder straps help spread the weight and don’t dig into my shoulders. A contoured back panel keeps me from drenching my work shirt on the ride in, and a small waste belt keeps the bag from shifting around.
The pack is not waterproof, but it does the job. Last week I got caught is a total gusher. Sheets of rain driven by spring winds pelted me as I rode home but everything inside the pack stayed plenty dry. Not sure what you’d have to do to get it to leak, but it feels like you’d have to stand in the shower for 30 minutes to be in any real trouble.
I like to beat the shit out of my gear so thankfully it’s made from 1,200-denier fabric that can take a punch. As long as I don’t find a new favorite commuter pack anytime soon, this one should be around for a while to come.