Cool, Sustainable Commuter Backback


Backbacks may be brilliantly functional but they are also notoriously nerdy. Enter Alchemy Goods which has produced an array of sustainable, stylish options for those of us who gotta be hands free.

My search requirements? Sturdy, waterproof, easy to sling on for regular rides in to the city over the Brooklyn Bridge. But I also wanted something that wouldn’t be out of place in the business meeting to which I might be riding. Bonus points if I could find something cool enough for days when I wasn’t biking.

My first attempt was Metro Backpack from Banjo Brothers. Love the branding of the site but was overwhelmed with the bulk of the bag. My Femme Nikita (otherwise known as my wife, Shannon) immediately gave it the thumbs down so back it went. If you need big and are okay with a little sporty, this may be the right option for you. But it didn’t meet all my requirements so I went back to the Google.

When I found Alchemy Goods on-line, and its AG logo, I thought I must be dreaming. (If you read dapperQ and don’t know what an AG is, start here.) According to the website, the company is anchored by its commitment to producing products from scrap:

While medieval alchemists sought to turn lead into gold, we strive to turn useless stuff like blown-out inner tubes, old seatbelts and advertising banners into useful stuff like bags and wallets. Another word for this is upcycling. Recycling turns stuff into the same thing over and over again. Upcycling turns something of lesser value into something of greater value.

I selected the Madison Backback — known as a petite commuter backpack — which lists for $138. I’ve been wearing it most every day since then. It’s got great pockets which easily accommodate my water bottle, iPad, keyboard, books and occasional purchases. If you need to carry your gym clothes, this is not the bag for you.


It feels sturdy and understated. My one complaint is the vigor of the velcro. Opening it indoors is a big loud fuss. Straps are intended to click over the velcro but I usually leave them hanging (which robs from the stylish profile.)

I highly recommend this bag with one caveat: your femme may start sniffing around, suggesting she could rock one too. Put your foot down. This backpack is stylish but matchy matchy with your partner? Not so much…

Susan Herr (Founder, Emeritus)

As a teacher, nonprofit executive, and entrepreneur, Susan is passionately committed to advancing ideas that matter. She founded dapperQ in 2009 on the hunch that fashion could build solidarity in the GLBTQ community and positive visibility for her peers in the broader media landscape. For her work with dapperQ, Susan has been quoted and featured in media outlets that include the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Daily Beast, Curve, and Diva. She was also named to Go Magazine’s 100 Women We Love. She pays the bills as managing director for Trigger Creative, a film production company based in Brooklyn where she lives with her wife Shannon.

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