Pannier Meets Backpack: a project proposal

Heather Kraft
5 min readNov 5, 2020


As a frequent commuter via bike, I need my gear to be versatile and dynamic.

Photo by Murillo de Paula on Unsplash

Over the past few years, I’ve spent a fair amount of time scouring the internet for a pannier bike bag that can also double as a backpack or shoulder bag once I’m off my bike. I have nothing against backpacks but after a long commute, I’ll often arrive with a sweaty back and sore shoulders. I’ve done market research and while there are a few packs that accomplish this task there are none that look good while doing so.

I want to build a pack that can seamlessly move between being a bike pannier and an around town pack that I wouldn’t think twice about bringing to a meeting or social gathering. We as commuters shouldn’t have to compromise on function or style.

The pack will combine a traditional ‘backpack’ style with a hardware component that will enable it to attach to a bike rack system. I am still ironing out how and where the hardware will attach to the pack and whether it will be on the front or back of the bag. I am expecting that I will run into challenges reinforcing the bag material and understanding how to evenly distribute the weight within the pack. Not only do I want the pack to fulfill a function but I also want it to be successful as a backpack, both in terms of comfort and usability.

In my UX Fundamentals class, we have been working on building a site map, content model, and low + high fidelity prototyping for an entrepreneurial idea. I choose to build upon my pannier/backpack idea. Ultimately I would like to build a website and brand around the pack if it proves successful in form and function.

To realize this project I would like to utilize a few different skills and technologies.

For the packs' hardware and attachment system, I would like to 3D print a prototype or two to test fit both the bag and the rack system. For this element, I plan to utilize the Ultimaker machine in the studio. I have found a potential hook on The Thingiversa that was specifically designed for a pannier bag setup. To begin I would like to print and test fit this model for my design.

To build the pack itself I plan on putting my sewing skills to the test. As I move forward I will be working to build a pattern for my prototype. Once my pattern is developed, if I have time, I may see if the IdeaForge can laser cut my material. I am not attached to utilizing this technology so this will be a timing consideration.

For this iteration of the pack, I plan to use fabric (heavy + durable), plastic (3D printing), and some metal to attach the hardware. Additionally, perhaps some padding material to build in a laptop sleeve and back support.

Idea sketches with questions + things to take into consideration.

I have never constructed a product before which is why I am taking on this challenge. I want to use my hands to build something so plan on limiting my use of ‘digital devices.’ Ideally, I would like the fidelity of this pack to be very high. However, I recognize the time constraint and that getting a product perfect will take multiple iterations and trial uses. By the end of this semester, I would be happy to have a functional prototype that I can utilize and make adjustments to moving forward.

At this point in the project, I have already completed a competitive analysis. I have also done research into the hardware and attachment systems that are currently being used in the pannier market. Moving forward I would like to do more research into fabric durability, structure reinforcement, and weight distribution. I know a few people in the world of textiles and plan on connecting with them to learn a bit more before I dive in.

To complete the project on time I need to begin thinking about material specifics, sourcing, and ordering an adequate amount. Finalizing a pack design and building a pattern will help me narrow in on the amount of material I will need and help me decide how many types of material I want to use. I also want to print a 3D pannier hook to have with me as I visualize and structure the fabric. At this moment I don’t feel as though I have any questions however, I am sure some will arise as I begin to prototype.

I do not know much about 3D printing so that is a skill where I could use some assistance. I have experience sewing but plan to do additional research to make sure I am reinforcing seams correctly.

Photo by Reuben Kim on Unsplash

I am looking forward to bringing this idea to life. I have been thinking about this product for quite a while, but haven’t taken the time to critically think about the right solution.



Heather Kraft

Designer. Strategist. Innovator. Wondering why the first questions we often ask people is, “what do you do?” Currently being educated @ The Studio (CU Boulder)