When I was talking to a friend about bike commuting he told me it wasn’t really an option for him, because his dress-code for work was shirt and tie. Having to wear a suit for work is a common and reasonable objection against bike commuting for those who don’t have the luxury of wearing regular clothes for work. Not knowing how to have crease-free garments keeps many people back from even considering getting to and from work on two wheels.
Being a regular bike commuter myself, but not having to worry about wearing a suit for work this question didn’t even occur to me until not too long ago I needed to wear a suit for a few events at my workplace. I had to find a solution. I checked out the available options and read a bunch about the types of suit bags, packing and folding knacks and alternative ways to have your suit ready to wear.
I came up with a makeshift solution, but I researched what options were available for those who want to carry their suit to work.
It seems that only a few manufacturers venture into making bags for bike commuters that is designed to carrying suits and there isn’t much competition on the market. (probably because there are quite a few other solutions for a bike commuter for having a crease-free suit) In the past six years only 4 products have been launched that are worth mentioning and only 3 of them are still available even today, so there aren’t very many options to choose from. First I’m going to show you the ones I found and then I will show you some alternative ways bike commuters can dress in style at their workplace.
Henty suit bag is a commuter suit backpack, though it is a special one for sure. You roll the suit or shirt instead of folding them, because folding will always end up creasing the clothes. The cylindrical shape backpack is in a vertical position when worn.
There are two different backpack types of the Henty suit bags. The messenger style bag has only one strap on your shoulder with a secure strap to buckle under your unloaded shoulder to prevent the bag from spinning. The opinions differ on this one. Since it has only one strap it can freely swing around your torso. People either love it or hate it. It appears that for people with wider shoulders this type works fine in general. But if you prefer the ride without feeling a loose bag bouncing on your back this might not be your best bet.
The bag is available in a backpack version too. It has two straps resting on your shoulders and there is another security strap that can be buckled around you at chest-height which prevents the straps from slipping off your shoulders and as a result the bag is much more steady on your back.
Users in general agree that the clothes in it are crease-free even after a long and rough ride. Its weakest point is that it is not really waterproof. Some people had their suit stained when riding in rain. A rain cover of a rucksack can make it waterproof though, but you really need to think twice if you live in a rainy climate (not made for the Irish, I’m afraid). The Henty Wingman Backpack (available on Amazon) will set you back around 200 USD.
Slicks 25 backpack
The Slicks 25 is another commuter suit backpack ideal if you cycle to work and want to carry their suit with you every day. It weighs about 4lbs (2.2 kgs) and it’s a large, 30 liter bag that can be bought in several different configurations. It’s a modular system and depending on the intended use you can choose which modules to include. It is definitely an eye-catching, simple yet very elegant design that you will gladly wear everywhere. The company designs products that can be used for sports, work and travel in a minimalist design.
The SUIT bundle has a built in compartment for suits with a hanger and it costs 279 dollars. There are also compartments for shoes, laptop, clothes and for other easily accessible personal belongings.
The BIZ bundle includes a shirt cover, with special collar protection for the shirt, a laundry bag and a wash bag for the toiletries. This upgraded bundle costs USD 369. While the price-tag is quite high for some, it may be worth the investment if you want a reliable multi-use backpack to carry your suit in.
It is fully waterproof and your suit will be crease-free after unpacking. Even if you don’t have a locker at your workplace you can hang your suit in it and it will look just fine. It is really nice that the backpack can be transformed into a suitcase and can be used as a carry-on bag for short trips as well. So if you travel a lot this could be a good carry-on bag as well.
Two Wheel Gear Garment Pannier 2.0
It is a convertible suit bag and a pannier bag in one that can be mounted on the bike rack. It is fully waterproof as it is made of polyester and includes a rain cover as well, so your clothes will be dry even if you have to ride in the rain. Just like Slicks 25, this bag looks nice and tidy so if you do not have a locker you can hang it anywhere and it will look fine.
The bag weighs 4lbs (2 kg) and it is a 55 litre monster when fully extended . So there is more than enough room for a suit. You can pack even 3 or 4 of them in it and keep them crease-free.
It’s a very smart solution . You hang your suit in the bag and fold it in half when mounting it on the bike rack. In addition to the suit you can fit shoes, toiletries, a 15 inch laptop, a folder and you still end up with more room to spare. There are several compartments with plenty of room on the outer part too which can be easily accessed.
The Two Wheel Gear Garment Pannier 2.0 (available on Amazon) is worth its weight in gold if you need to carry a suit on your bike. The bag looks classy and not only when it is mounted on a bike. In fact it comes with two suitcase handles and a completely removable shoulder strap making it fit for carrying around. So if you need to use suit bag this is a solid option.
Some bike commuters manage to put their suit and shirt in a normal pannier without having to iron their clothes when they arrive at work. The trick is that they put something in the center and roll the suit and shirt around it . As long as you do it with care and don’t roll them too tight, the suit and the shirt will stay crease-free. Just make sure that the shirt comes second so that the jacket doesn’t wrinkle it. To take this solution to the next level, you can invest in an inexpensive purpose-made suit roller from Rollor. It looks stylish and it will keep your clothes neat even if you carry other things in your pannier besides them.
An alternative solution could be to check whether there is a dry cleaning laundry service near your workplace which could pick up and deliver your suit without you having to carry it back and forth. You can keep several shirts and suits without ever having to worry about creasing or ripping them or having them stained in the transportation process.,
I showed you my makeshift solution at the beginning, but I really think it is a solid one. It’s an overkill for one suit, but you can carry 5-6 suits in it easily, which means that you’re set for a number of days, and you don’t have to cycle with a wardrobe on wheels behind you regularly.
As you can see there are quite a few solutions to be a suit-wearing bike commuter hero. If there’s a will there’s a way. This is always true.
Enjoy the ride!