Northern California is where I call home these days, but I was born and raised on the Jersey Shore. Every summer my kids make the trek across country with me to Long Beach Island to bask in the sun and soak up the Atlantic Ocean’s warm waves. The beach time can’t be beat, but being able to park the car and spend more time on two wheels than four, only adds to the vacation experience.
During the warm summer season, bikes (typically rusty ones) cruise the streets of LBI, to the beach, the farmers’ market, the grocery store, the local hoagie shop and everywhere in between. (A hoagie is the best submarine sandwich ever created. If you don’t believe me, head east and try one for yourself.) The getting there is easy, but getting goods home can be tricky. Backpacks can be hot and bulky. Baskets aren’t bad, but things have been known to bounce out when tires hit a bump on the road. Add in typical warm temperatures and transporting perishables like ice cream means racing to get home before it returns to a liquid state.
So when I was asked to review Blackburn’s new Local Cooler Saddlebag Pannier Bag I wondered if I had finally found my summer solution. I ordered a rear carrier rack for my old cruiser in anticipation. If you don’t have one on your bike, you’ll need to get one in order to use the bag.
Light to carry, but nicely insulated, the dual cooler bags did a great job of keeping drinks and food cold. I zipped all over the place. The saddlebag has a shoulder strap so you can remove it from the rack, which comes in handy if you are having a picnic. There’s even an attached bottle opener, which means one less thing to carry when planning an outing.
But in my case the pannier bag got more use transporting goods from the store to home. As long as I didn’t over pack my re-usable cloth grocery bags, they easily slipped into the insulated pannier bags for the ride home. Having the weight of shopping trips on my bike instead of my back made the actual rides more fun and enjoyable.
I was surprised at how quickly I got into the habit of using the bag to hold things other than groceries. Cell phones, wallets, a camera and even a beach towel were securely stashed on a few occasions. It didn’t take long for my kids to wise up and start dropping things in as well when we’d roll off. I was happy to become the island sherpa. My thinking – the kids didn’t have to worry about losing something while in motion and at least in theory paid more attention to the road. But the best part about all of our pedaling is that my backpack stayed in the closet.
Blackburn’s Local Cooler Saddlebag Pannier bag sells for $79.99.
Disclaimer: Dana received a complimentary Local Cooler Saddlebag Pannier bag for review purposes.