GoLED Commuter Backpack
GoLED LED Commuter Backpack
The Port Designs GoLED Commuter Backpack will get you noticed on the commute home.
At the moment I can’t seem to get away from products that help cyclists to be more visible. Just a pair of lights isn’t enough for standing out in the crowd anymore; extra LEDs worn on helmets, bar ends, attached to spokes and now woven into clothing and accessories. It is the way to get noticed on the commute.
The GoLED backpack is a well made and well designed commuter rucksack in its own right. Where it differs from an ‘ordinary’ back pack is that there is also an LED panel on the rear controlled by a wireless remote. This LED panel can signal your intended direction or display a red exclamation mark.
Port Designs is a French company that specialises in “the protection and carriage of transportable technologies”. In layman’s terms this means they design and manufacture laptop and computer bags. The display packaging was very impressive. It had a green LED light powered by a 3xAA battery pack flashing away at me straight out of the parcel.
The GoLED is impressive and looks like a quality item. It holds its shape well and feels like it will last forever. It has suede or suede effect material on the shoulder straps and carry handle. Outside there are plenty of pockets including a slim one in the side that’s perfect for a mini pump and one on the shoulder strap that’s the right size for the remote control, so you can take it with you instead of leaving it on the bike.
There’s a quick release strap to attach a helmet, and another one on the side which is designed to attach a GoPro according to the blurb but I didn’t test this. There’s an eyelet for a headphone lead, an adjustable chest strap and a rain cover which you can still see the LED panel through.
Inside there are two padded slots. One slot is for a laptop up to 15.6”, the other for a tablet. The bag opens via a zipped flap at the top of the bag, so your expensive hardware is unable to slide out even if you forget to close the zip. There’s an internal mesh pocket for accessories or valuables.
First impressions of the GoLED backpack are that it looks like an expensive commuter rucksack. Its 35L capacity and ability to take a 15.6” laptop mean that it’s going to be big enough for most commuters. Although physically it seems quite tall, the GoLED is lightweight and the well padded shoulder straps and adjustable chest strap do a good job of distributing the weight once you fill the bag.
The LED panel works perfectly. Once it’s been through its self test on the first activation all it needs is for the standby button on the remote to be pressed and held for it to switch on. As you ride the LED panel will flash green strips in a rotating pattern until you press one of the signal keys or turn it off again. The other buttons on the remote are left, right, ahead or straight on, and a red exclamation mark.
The direction buttons all turn on a green arrow for the relevant direction on the LED panel. I guess the red exclamation mark could be used when braking or to warn of some danger ahead. The battery can last up to 40 hours, I can confirm I haven’t charged it in the two weeks I’ve been testing it so that’s 20 hours or so as well as all the demonstrations to friends and colleagues. Charging is via a USB lead that sticks out of the internal pocket. This does mean that you need to get the bag near a USB port, but you might only have to do that once or twice in a month so it’s not a big deal.
The LED panel sits in the middle of the GoLED, so would probably be more visible when riding an upright hybrid or city bike. I found that if the bag wasn’t full, the LED panel didn’t push against the material of its pocket as much and the individual LEDs weren’t as clear. This was more noticeable in daylight. It doesn’t detract from the bag but considering the overall excellent quality of the bag it felt like a compromise.
The remote control fixes to the bars. This was done by attaching a backing plate with silicone bands which gave plenty of flexibility in the positioning and would mean that even oversize bars or other fixing points would be possible. If you have a Garmin or certain types of light you’ll be no stranger to this fixing method; it’s used because it works.
I experimented with attaching it to the inside of the drops and I could then reach the buttons with my thumb whilst operating the brakes or gears. I’ve got double jointed thumbs and long fingers so this solution might not work for everyone. With a little experimenting you’ll either put it on the top of the bars, or if space is at a premium, you’ll figure something out that works for you. The buttons are big enough to press with gloves on, but really thick winter gloves may take some practice to hit the spot in a hurry.
The Port Designs GoLED backpack is a quality item and well constructed. If I regularly cycled to work with a laptop or tablet then I’d definitely consider buying this bag. The added features of the LED panel and some well thought out pockets make it very useful on a cycle commute. The GoLED offers good protection for your hardware and better visibility and communication of your intended path to other road users. I’m a big fan of wearable technology and although this is a fairly basic idea it works well and makes a good addition to your regular commuting lights.
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