Home Page for Convertible Pannier Backpacks

Family Classic_med_Color LabeledEllite Family_1

Where do you find something that lasts a quarter century, and you can’t live without it when its gone?

Re-dream, Re-use, Keep Cycling with convertible pannier backpacks!

If you’re like me, you often dream of perfectly optimized gear: an investment, to be sure, but with a great payback. Like, what if kitchen gadgets were standardized, and there was just one motor to rule them all? But it would have to be a great motor – not like the landfill-bound BS available now.   How about one great phone and hundreds of awesome apps? (OK, I’m good there.) My contribution is a set of bags for your camping gear that is comfortable on your back, and also stable on your bike. But not just camping gear – you’ll be surprised when you discover what you can strap on! I recently had another repeat customer – his pack wore out after 25 years, but he did not.  25 years… That’s  good.  Tom took his new pack to Myanmar.

“Since I last wrote, I’ve trekked through Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and now Malaysia and on South to Indonesia.  The bags are holding up super.  I wish I could say the same for my bike.”  — David Clair, Planet Earth


You can go deep with a Mountain Bike, but often you can not go all the way to the better destination.  Certain areas are off limits, others are much better hiked.   International touring cyclists know all too well that they’ll be on foot at some point, negotiating airports and/or other public transportation where a good backpack makes for a happier day.   Until the Convertible Backpack by Richard Jones, dual-mode bags were panniers first, and cobbled into a structure that could be carried on the back.  With the Convertible, its hard to tell which came first.  It is entirely at home in both configurations, with the features you’d expect in the ‘best in class’ of either single product.  But you only have to buy one of these, and never worry about how you’re going to take it with you. Whether you choose our Classic (rear panniers), or the Elite model with front pannier capacity, you’ll go further than you ever thought possible.

CB Max Smolkin

Happy with my best companions: the Convertible Backpack and my Dahon Folding bike (in the suitcase).

“Your bag is a warrior: falls, mud, rain, planes, trains…and still like new. I wish I would have bought the bigger one with the front panniers…” Max Smolkin, 2015



By Popular Demand, We’ve Added New Features for 2016Shadow1_1

1. First of all we’d like to reintroduce the baby of the Convertible family, the Shadow Pack 3.0, a rack trunk bag that converts to a belt bag.  In the current iteration she carries 2 water bottles for your hike. See her feature page for details!

2. For the Convertibles and Shadow, there is now a small zipped pocket just inside the rack trunk compartment for wallet & keys.

3. The Classic now has ladderloc buckles at each end of the “rack trunk” (middle) compartment to anchor a removable handle if desired to pick up the pannier set like luggage, or to help fasten long items (skiis?) to the sides of the backpack, or bulky items with a longer compression strap.

4. We’ve also added a bag for stashing the hiking harness when you’re biking. This bag mounts to the compression straps with belt loops, so light loads can be carried without compression. We call it the “Piggyback” because it has no straps of its own, and has to hitch a ride on something else. As seen in the colorful pack-lineup photo above, the 013-5compression-strap mount allows the bag to be positioned wherever you want it, including as an extension to the Shadow Pack. This is also meant to be a breathable bag – all sides are made of a durable mesh. Whether or not you want to use it to carry your  your hiking harness, it makes a handy bag for a drying swimsuit, or packing anything you don’t want crushed in a tight bag (i.e. dinner). This comes standard on the Classic and Elite models, in a face color to match your pack. If you’d like another, they can be purchased separately – due to the difficulty of matching dye-lots, if you order this bag at a later time than your Convertible, we suggest you go with black.

5. Free shipping to the “lower 48” contiguous United States

(excluding islands) – all others please email us for a quote: [email protected]

All in-stock packs are shipped USPS, insured and tracked. (Custom orders will take additional time.)  Orders to Alaska, Islands, or foreign countries have their own unique shipping rates. Please inquire to receive a quote, [email protected]

Video: Quick-Convert the Classic to Rear Pannier (no frame):

Customers have pointed out to us that the harness does not need to be removed when converting for a short (dry) bike trip, so with many thanks to our resourceful customers, here’s a video of how it is done:


Detailed Conversion to Panniers:

See a quick video of the Elite Model now:

See real time video with commentary on the conversion steps under Product Description/”Backpack” and “Panniers”

What sort of gentle(w)man prefers the Convertible Backpack?

“I’m convinced that the winner is one who dies in his tent, next to his bicycle, hugging his backpack.”  – Dr. George

Look for the latest Reviews under the tab: “About Us\Product Reviews…”

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While browsing the site, please keep in mind that the photographs are compiled over our 30+ year history, including some submitted from customers.  The basic design has remained constant over 30 years;  2012 has brought a major redesign of the harness and many incremental improvements to the overall design.  While we’re sure you’ll love the improvement, please refer to the photos on the Product Pages for current details.


Since you’re here, visit our blog, where you’ll meet others who have combined trips, or used the same equipment for either bike touring or backpacking.  In particular, Ron Enders, a long-time customer, has graciously provided us with the log of his many international travels, which include key details about negotiating the borders and finding good food and lodging on a vagabond’s budget.

Convertible Backpack

Get off it and go!!

Bicycle trekies know that the shortest distance between points A and B is best left to geometry class – in our world, the path is the destination; the circuitous route makes for a more interesting life.

Please share your stories!  When I’ve been on long tours, the people I encountered along the way seemed to look a bit wistful as they contemplated how their day would be different if they were on my bike instead of on the treadmill of busy-ness they would be pursuing again today.  It is good to dream.  We all benefit from the vicarious thrill of an adventure.  Thank you for visiting — please join the conversation.

Many of my customers go for complete flexibility by choosing a bike that matches their needs.  Here’s a photo of our Classic mounted to a Bike Friday – Synergy!

Classic on Bike Friday