The M-24 might not be designed for cycling, and it has definitely some limitations for cyclists (not breathable, not comfortable straps and no chest clips), but it is a super strong product for a super interesting price
Shoulder strap not comfortable
Moves on the body if heavy loaded
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The story behind the UK backpack manufacturer M-24 is a mix of young and dynamic entrepreneurship, innovative ideas and strong will.
In 2012, when he was 24, Mat Dusting started to design his own backpack as the ones he had purchased previously were not as resistant as he wanted them to be. He started experimenting with many materials, including an old lorry tarpaulin. However, sewing the tough material was harder than expected, so he had to partner up with two specialists. Four years after, M-24 not only produces backpacks but also gym duffle bags, wallets, keychains, t-shirts and water bottles (fortunately the last two not in tarpaulin).
The name of the company, M-24, is also a mix of fantasy and cleverness that gives some extra points to the brand. The name could sound like a secondary version of the ring road that encircles Greater London (and recalls the lorries that drives on it and where the textile comes from), but it's actually the founder's name, initial and his age when he started the company.
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In terms of features, the very first think I noticed and appreciated about M-24 was its bright colours, which are very good in terms of visibility and safety for cyclists. Their materials are also among the most robust I have ever seen in a backpack, but a down side is that it takes a while to get used to the smell of tarpaulin. Yet, in a couple of weeks, it eventually reduces in intensity (or you just won't noticed it anymore).
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At the same time, though, it was a bit disappointing not to see an external pocket as some other similar backpacks provide. However, in view of the material it is made from, it is also understandable. At the same time, some really great and useful features are the extra internal, smaller pockets (that other backpacks of this kind do not feature), and the roll-top closure. This one is not only cool to see, but it provides great clearance in case you fill the backpack with more stuff, and in my opinion it keeps the water out of the bag better than most of the zippers on the market. Some extra buttons on the top of the bag also allow better closure (needed if you purchased the large version of the bag).
For cycling, however, this backpack has some limitations. First of all, the material is not breathable and does not feature a pad to make it more comfortable when riding. Consequently, if you sweat during your commute, this would not be the best backpack to use. Secondly, even though the shoulder strap made with old seat belts are super cool and in line with the philosophy of M-24, they are not comfortable on the shoulders when you ride, as they bite into them. Moreover, when the bag is very full (the size L is probably too big for cycling) the weight makes this feeling even more severe and the bag moves a bit as it doesn't have any clips to hold it to the body.
Finally, I think you can still cope with these features, particularly because the price of the M-24 (£75, mostly thanks to its direct sale through M-24's website and at events without the presence of middle men) is super interesting for a product that is likely to last many years and you will have a unique product.
For more information, visit the M-24 website.
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Nick Busca is a freelance cycling and triathlon journalist. He is also a certified triathlon coach and personal trainer.
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