The Bike List
       

Proviz Nightrider High Visibility Rucksack – Large £40

Tested by Neil Watterson, tester for The Bike List

Some things aren't obvious until they're pointed out. Take hi-viz clothing, for instance. It's great for helping people see you, but it has one flaw - if you put a backpack on your back, you seriously reduce how much can be seen. And that's where this rucksack from Proviz comes in - and thanks to the inclusion of the company's Nightrider technology, you can even be seen in zero light.

Made using a large quantity of high-visibility yellow material, the rucksack gives you another weapon in your arsenal to help you get noticed by other road users. It's a 30-litre day-sac size and I've found it just the right size for my commute to the office, having room for my work clothes and lunch on a daily basis and occasionally a pair of shoes or a DSLR camera. It's also big enough to take a laptop computer.

But while it may be large enough to take a laptop in the bladder pocket, I wouldn't use it as a substitute for a proper laptop backpack - the padding fore and aft is okay, but there's very little around the base. You certainly wouldn't want to put the bag down heavily with a computer in it. Proviz sell waterproof rucksack covers with similar features, so if you drag a laptop everywhere you go, slide one of them over a bespoke case for enhanced visibility.

So, the bag has one large main section accessed by a two-way zip which opens right the way down to a quarter of the height of the bag, meaning you don't have to fumble around in the dark to find objects in the bottom. It has a pocket for your water bladder - a two-litre CamelBak item fits well in there - and it has various other organiser pockets within the main pocket, but I'm not sure about them.

I've found the bag to be a bit flimsy, so if you put stuff in the organiser pockets and the front flops over, it disgorges the contents onto the floor. They're okay for pens and notepads that are a snug fit, but anything loose will try and escape. That's not to say it's any worse than most other bags - most other single-compartment day-sacs I've tried are the same - but it's just something to think about. Anyway, the only small items I've been carrying in it on a regular basis are notebooks, pens (which clip themselves onto the pockets), Pump, puncture repair kit and multi-tool, USB sticks, wallet and phone.

The bag has a purse-like pocket on the top which takes my wallet, phone and memory sticks - and, as it's conveniently located close to my head while I'm cycling, it means I can hear the phone if someone rings or texts and stop and answer it.

There's another large slip pocket on the outside of the bag - just the right size for a medium size (Kryptonite Series 2 -size) D-lock and cable. A little Velcro tab holds the contents in place, though being so deep stuff would be unlikely to jump out, and there's also a pair of bottle pockets on the side.

On top of all this, the bag has an exit for a bladder water tube, clip to hold the tube in place on the padded straps, chest strap, tie-off loops and an LED light mount. Oh, and the Triviz mount.

If you're unfamiliar with the gear from Proviz, it'll need a bit of an explanation. They make stuff to help you be seen, so it's liberally festooned with bright colours and reflectives. But they also have Triviz battery-powered light units which can be attached to bags or jackets using Velcro.

Being detachable, you only need to buy one Triviz unit and you can attach it to your Proviz Nightrider jacket, rucksack or cover and you'll be able to be seen. Two versions are available - blue, which catches your attention quickly, or red, which is obviously a warning sign.

The Triviz battery packs are charged via a supplied USB cable and have three settings: slow flash, quick flash and constant. You'd have to decide which you felt was most effective to warn others of your presence. Personally, I like the slow flash on my urban, road-biased, commute. Coupled with a steady light on the rear of my bike, I've found it catches drivers' attention and they can see where I am. I wouldn't use the Triviz as my sole light on a bike, but as an ancillary unit it works well.

So, what's it like to live with? Well, It's certainly bright - I always know which bag is mine. And it scores over hi-viz bag covers in that you don't have to think about putting it on after doing the bag up (or leaving it at home by mistake).

It's a good size for a commuter bound for the office, but it doesn't have the built-in stiffness/compression straps to make it a viable bag for leisure cycling: if it's full, it's fine, but if it's half-full with a lock in the pouch pocket, or you have a heavy load in it, it can wallow about a bit - off-putting when bouncing along singletrack. That said, it's not sold as that sort of bag, so it shouldn't matter.

It does have enough stiffness to make it easy to carry and the twin padding cushions keep it comfortable, with the gap down the middle allowing an amount of airflow down your back. The chest strap keeps the straps together, preventing the pack from moving around and, overall, it's comfortable enough for my eight-or-so mile commute.

I'm not keen on the base of the bag being black. I can appreciate why it is: that's the part that gets the dirtiest, but when you're hunched over the bars sprinting along, it's the only bit following drivers can see, so a lighter colour would be better. The yellow fabric has proved to be waterproof, as have the zips, in all but the heaviest rainstorms. I put my clothes in a plastic bag inside my commuting rucksacks as a matter of course as I've yet to find one that is 100% waterproof in every situation.

But while the yellow fabric is okay, the grey waterproof-backed material has started to suffer. I'm fairly confident this has happened because of the way I've been manhandling it - picking the fully-laden bag up by the fabric, rather than the handle, but the fabric has stretched and the waterproof backing has started to break up. Something to think about.

I like the sewn-in reflectives and the LED light mount. Then there's the Trivizmount. As standard it comes with a big triangular reflector, or you could fit the Triviz light unit. But your creativity doesn't have to end there. You could make up a Velcro-backed triangle sensibly pleading: 'Drivers: please don't kill me today' or be more abstract with: 'If you can read this, I've lost my caravan!' - the possibilities are endless.

But whatever you go with, the rucksack will help road users see you easier, which has got to be better for you (and them). And that's got to be a good thing.

At a glance

Verdict Ideal for commuting and popping to the shops. Be careful not to overload it, though.
Value
Performance

Proviz say:

The PROVIZ Nightrider rucksack is designed to give you everything you need all in one pack. Highly visible, reflective, water-resistant and ample storage along with being liquid bladder ready should you wish to add one on those hotter days. The rucksack is also compatible with our unique USB rechargeable TRIVIZ light pack that is attachable/detachable in seconds (click here for video demo).

Whatever activity you are doing on the roads, simply remove the reflective booster triangle and replace it with the TRIVIZ to ensure you are highly visible above the sea of red and white lights on the roads. (TRIVIZ Light Pack not included).

Features:

  • Triviz light pack compatible (simply replace the reflective triangle)
  • 30L capacity Highly water-resistant material
  • Highly reflective panelling, trim, logos and removable booster triangle
  • Hard-wearing rip-stop fabric
  • Water-tight zips Internal pockets for multi tool, eye-wear, keys, wallet etc
  • Hydration bladder ready
  • Chest strap for added stability
  • Padded laptop compartment with custom strap
  • Dimensions: 48cm x 34cm
  • Available in - Fluro yellow, black

Supplier: Todays Cyclist, +44 (0)1332 274252, todayscyclist.co.uk