Claire Tayler reviews our Ara Backpack
Our products get taken out into the real world, where they’re tested and reviewed by experts and enthusiasts.
What makes an item a keeper, and what could be improved?
We asked Claire Tayler, blogger and explorer at Detour Blog, to review our Ara Backpack.
Hi Claire, please introduce yourself
I’m Claire. I love cycling – it’s the feeling of exploring, freedom, sport and adventure all rolled into one.
Detour, my blog, is all about those. I’m a Londoner and I know how amazing discovering new places in and out of the city can be. I love sharing new places or weird things that make people go ‘holy shit, I want to go there. Right now.’
This summer I explored Norwegian mountains (less than four hours from London), cycled from London to Paris in 24 hours, walked from London to Brighton in 24 hours, met the guys behind a cycling cafe in Berlin, and cycled to the sea.
What adventures do you have planned?
I want to spend the next year exploring with my weekends and coming up with amazing one or two day adventures. We put off a lot because of the amount of time we think it will take. I can’t wait to find more close-to-home and easy-to-reach places that are surprisingly brilliant.
It’s got to be London to Paris in 24 hours in October. It was completely surreal and brilliant. Riding in light drizzle talking about life with my friend at 4am, then stopping in the foggy morning at 7am for breakfast as the first French village we met woke up. I think anyone can do that ride and everyone should.
Why our Ara Backpack, and why you?
I’ve taken it everywhere for two months solidly and have subsequently lost my old Scandinavian rucksack god knows where. It’s exactly what it wants to be: a gorgeous, fashionable messenger bag. I never look like a cyclist with it. Not that I mind that, but it’s nice to have kit that straddles style and practicality properly. It’s carried my laptop, gym kit, lunch and a few extra bits and bobs around easily.
When did the bag come in most handy?
I found myself up a Norwegian mountain in Bergen, a place known for its rain. I was hiking about, with the padding on the back being pretty light (whatever that material is, it’s great) and pleased as heck that it was really waterproof.
The bag was great and the hill was pretty enlightening, too.
What’s your favourite feature?
I love the way it rolls so neatly up and down, so I can go from having a small bag to Mary Poppins style instantly. It’s much bigger than it looks – it goes from a small satchel size to a giant sack. The popper system that lets you have it in one of three sizes just works.
What needs improvement?
One of the shoulder straps has crumpled a bit whilst using so it doesn’t sit as flat as it once did – it folds in more. It isn’t really a problem but doesn’t feel as glamorous as it once did.