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Craft Cadence IPX5 waterproof backpack review

12 Feb 2019

An ultra robust and waterproof backpack

Cyclist Rating: 
• Perfect sizing • Extra lashing options • Tough • Waterproof

• Sidewings may be superfluous • Undercut by some competitors

I love backpacks, so the quest for the perfect commuting bag has become something of a personal obsession. Could the Craft Cadence be a contender?

Being the exact right size it gets off to a good start. At 30 litres, the Cadence is spot on. Easily able to deal with a decent sized supermarket shop, any smaller and you’d lose utility, any larger and the bag would become cumbersome for daily use.

Apparently, Craft has recently reduced the width of its top compared to previous editions. Expanded at the bottom to maintain the same capacity, this makes it less likely to inadvertently smack people when hustling onto the tube or filtering through traffic.

Buy the Cadence backpack from Craft Cadence

A second benefit being that its corners now obscure less of your vision when checking over your shoulder.

Inside the bag, and held in place by velcro on either side, a full-size internal organiser pocket contains a padded space for a large laptop or tablet, along with an A4 sized mesh pocket.

Likely to stay in place for around town use, it’s easily whipped out for transporting bulky or mucky items. On the outside is a deep pocket for items you want to keep easily retrievable.

Shielded by a rubberised zip, this isn’t waterproof, although it’d have to be absolutely hammering down for rain to find its way inside.

Also instantly pleasing is the way in which it’s constructed. Recent experience with a textile bag convinced me that I don't want to use anything on the bike that doesn't wipe clean.

Not only did splatter soon leave that swanky new pack looking a mess, but it also soaked up water which I dragged inside with me.

Made of tough tarpaulin material you won’t be having that problem here. Constructed of thick, tear-resistant fabric, this is more robust than anything I’ve seen used on other packs or panniers.

Heat welded along the seams, it’s also reinforced on the bottom, assumedly to further increase the bag’s lifespan.

A unique and secure roll-top closure

Luggage nerds are likely to compare the Craft to the benchmark Ortlieb Velocity backpack, and there are certainly some similarities.

Both use equivalent materials, are minimalist in appearance, and employ a seemingly similar roll-top closure. However, one problem with my formerly beloved Ortlieb was that as its velcro tabs wore thin, the closure became prone to bursting open.

The Cadence solves this problem. Rather than using a single strap over the top, its initial roll sees twin velcro tabs on either side of the bag introduced to one another in order to seal it shut.

Once these are done up, a pair of buckled straps clamp the top edges of the rolled section in place. Combining for a closure that isn’t just secure - it's IPX5 waterproof, and it’s a system easily tailored to the volume of stuff inside.

Handily, its straps also provide a potential way of pinning extra items across the top of the bag if needed.

Straps and fixings

With the ability to carry a good amount of weight, thankfully the Cadence’s straps are up to the job. Soon forming to the particular shape of the user, they’re made of robust perforated EVA foam padding sandwiched between extremely breathable mesh.

A similar construction is used on the corresponding pads attached to the pack itself. Designed to follow the arches of your shoulders, while leaving an uninterrupted air channel in between, they also work well.

Doing a solid job of preventing oddly shaped cargo from poking you in the back, they’re both comfy and keep sweat patches to a minimum.

Further locking the bag to the wearer, between the two shoulder straps is an elasticated sternum strap, the height of which is itself adjustable.

Below this is a pair of wings that form the sides of the waist strap. Doing all of them up results in a very secure fit. However, if I were using the bag solely for commuting, and not more aggressive riding or mountaineering, I’d be tempted to hack off the lower set to cut down the number of flappy bits.

A multi-use product for multitudinous adventures

Available in ‘I’m cool’ matt black or ‘I don’t want to be run over’ neon yellow, both versions benefit from reflective patches on the back and sides of the main compartment and the front of the straps.

There’s also a light loop, along with straps that could perform a similar function on the front.

Whether the Cadence is neat enough for a work bag probably depends on your line of employment. Personally, even in yellow, I think its attractive in a utilitarian way and would definitely do for the office.

However, the yellow plastic does mark quite easily, so black might be the better if you need to stay looking smart. Not requiring a separate waterproof cover it’s also great for general adventuring, from hiking and mountaineering to kayaking and climbing.

For more information or to buy, see:

All things considered, I liked the Cadence a lot. So what are the reasons not to give it a perfect score?

First, a small one. I would have liked a rigid D-ring on one of the straps for attaching a carabiner to hold my lock keys, or whatever other do-dah I might wish to keep at hand.

Secondly, it’s possible to find similar, if not quite as nice, bags for a chunk less cash. However, given that the Cadence still manages to undercut its closest Ortlieb model, it can still be seen as good value.

Looking through Craft’s copious blog posts, it’s also clear this product is a labour of love and has been very carefully thought out and sourced.

Based in London, Craft makes a big effort to keep its products' environmental impact as low as possible. For instance, its upcoming smaller-volume pack will be switching to recycled polyethene terephthalate (rPET) material. So if you’re a dirty-toed hippy that might offset the price somewhat too.

This review was amended to clarify the use of rPET