Stolt is “The Running Company” – a London-based company that makes backpacks with athletes in mind – athletes that need to fit in a visit to the gym or some miles on the trail into their average day; people that walk, run, or bike to work; people like Run Oregon readers! They have this amazing deal offering 20% off to anyone that’s training for a marathon – check out the full details here – you just need to send them your registration confirmation and you’ll get a code to use when you shop online.
I recently got a backpack made by Stolt: The Running Company, with a few uses in mind. First of all, I had a trip planned to Iowa to make sure my dad was settling back in okay; second, I just started a new job where I can ride my bike to work.
Unlike most backpacks, that have little structure, Stolt’s Alpha backpack has well-planned sections for what you need for work, what you need for working out, and add-ons that keep things dry and keep you safe. The materials used are water resistant, anti-stink, and super-durable, plus it looks professional enough to carry even if your workday wear is a three-piece suit.
There is one flat-packed pocket with other compartments perfect for your laptop (including padding and a velcro strap to keep it snug), phone, pens, and a zippered compartment for money and cards. I also stored my phone and watch chargers in these pockets.
The main compartment comes with a rigid-sided zippered case you can remove to pack/unpack and then fit back in without having to worry about things getting smashed or caught in a zipper. When I traveled to Iowa, I used the plastic folding guide and was able to fit in clothes for four days plus two running outfits — meaning I didn’t have to check a bag. It was wonderful. When I bike to work, this is where I put my lunchbox (I use a no-leak bento box for lunch).
There’s also an expandable pocket where I usually put shoes and books. You can unzip the expansion zipper if you need more room, which I did when flying with the backpack, but I don’t when I’m taking it to work. This is also where I kept one of my favorite additional elements: the dirty clothes bag. This makes it easy to keep sweaty clothes separate and can be washed, so you keep the inside of the backpack nice (and dry).
Speaking of transitioning between these two uses, it’s important to note that the back straps can be zipped into a sleeve, making it easy to bungee to a bike rack. That’s the most annoying thing about biking with a backpack – where to store the straps so they don’t get in the spokes.
Commuting with this backpack is really easy because it rides lightly on your back. So lightly, in fact, that you can run with it, thanks to a waist strap and chest strap to hold it in place. For my husband, who has been known to run 5 miles making loops around an airport, this is perfect. It’s less bouncy than your average backpack, so it’s more comfortable for both walking and running. Gear Patrol picked this pack as one of the best two for run-commuting, noting the 2.5-lb weight and expansion feature.
For biking, it works best with a rack or large crate. You can zip the straps in and then use the top handle to carry it, and there are no extra strips hanging off. Best of all, once you bungee it down, you can put the commuter cover over the whole thing (bungees included, on my set-up) – protecting the case from getting wet and with two wide reflective strips down the length. Coach Magazine recently named their Business backpack one of the best cycling backpacks, which is a slimmer version of the Alpha.
This backpack really offers the functionality of a small carry-on and the organization of a briefcase, but is lighter than you’d expect and works exceptionally well with a bike. If you’d like to get one for yourself, hurry, because they’re on sale right now for £119.00 (and yes, they ship to the US!).