Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
By “professionals,” I mean those who need to wear business attire at work, such as suits and dresses with nice shoes. While it’s possible to carefully roll or fold most clothing and get it – and wingtips or heels tucked away in ordinary backpacks – large enough ones, anyway – that does not always end well.
Alternatively, you can keep your spiffy duds at the office and change when you arrive. But, having enough clean clothes can be a challenge. And, there’s the logistics of getting the clothes home for cleaning. Which usually involves driving to work at least weekly. That doesn’t usually sit well with dedicated bike commuters.
So, I was intrigued when Aaron Weiss reached out to me about his Shellback pack, that he specifically designed for professionals biking to work. Weiss is a retired U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel turned inventor who has started the GrüneStrasse Backpack Co. in order to bring out a pack that solves all the problems of carrying dress clothes in a pack.
He has launched his product on Kickstarter and with seven days to go (as I type this), he’s almost met his goal. Here’s a link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/win-the-race/bike-to-work-backpack-for-fearless-commuters?ref=project_build.
As a military officer and bicycle commuter, Weiss needed to carry his uniform and dress shoes. He didn’t want to arrive with his kit wrinkled or wet from sweat passing through his pack. He wanted room for packing and organizing toiletries for showering at work. And, he wanted everything in the pack to be easy to put away and find. Because, he knew the more hassle-free a pack is, the easier it is to use it and the easier it is to bike to work everyday.
So he came up with what I think are unique features, such as a tri-fold garment bag on a rotating hanger that attaches inside to keep suit/uniform jackets, dress shirts and dresses wrinkle-free and make it easy to hang them while dressing. He included a compartment for your watch, belt and jewelry with easy-access exterior compartments for your wallet, thermos, power cords and other daily essentials.
To keep perspiration from reaching the clothes, he built-in a leaf-spring lumbar support, which provides an ergonomic fit with breathability, too. While there’s also an Air Max external frame for airflow between the pack and rider.
He made the pack of a highly water-resistant and reflective material (available in four color choices) and included an all-weather high-visibility rain cover. Inside, the padded neoprene laptop sleeve is waterproof. Plus, the Shellback is hydration-pack ready should you want to carry water.
Also, for a custom fit, the pack is available in two sizes and includes adjustable hip, shoulder and chest straps. External pockets plus storage on the straps makes it easy to organize your gear.
The Shellback is made to carry up to 44 pounds and it even boasts a shoe well, an exterior pocket for footwear that isolates dirt and odors from the rest of the pack contents and includes pull-out fabric for easy cleaning.
There are more clever details that I think will interest you if you’re biking to work and need to carry business clothes worry-free (it’s even carry-on compliant for flying). To see them and learn all about the Shellback, watch the videos and read this white paper on Weiss’s Kickstarter pages: https://www.grunestrasse.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Shellback-Product-Info-Sheet-v2.2.pdf.
Ride total: 9,541
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.