Ergon BD-1 Backpack Review

A couple months back, we posted our first impressions of the Ergon BD1-M Team Edition backpack. I’ve had a chance to ride with this pack for all the time since (about 300 miles worth) in all weather and carrying a wide variety of loads.

First, a bit about the bag:


Gender • Male / Female specific
Capacity • 12 liter
Main fabric • 420 D Nylon
Hydration Pack • optional

As mentioned in the earlier article, the whole suspension system revolves (pun intended) around the novel “Flink”, or Flexible Link. Basically, this is a plastic half-sphere that allows the bag to move with the wearer, keeping the bag centered and floating without undue sway. After riding with this bag for those 300 miles, I’d say that the Flink really works!

And, as with other load-carrying backpacks, the hip belt is crucial for keeping the weight off a wearer’s shoulders. I subscribe to the Colin Fletcher method of adjustment.

“…hunch your shoulders so that the pack lifts a little, and cinch the hipbelt tight. Really tight. To achieve that end, pull firmly. Then shrug the pack even higher and tighten again. Now take a deep breath and pull even harder. If the belt hurts a little it’s about right.”

— From Colin Fletcher’s The Complete Walker III, originally published in 1968 and revised in 1984.

This method is a little extreme for the Ergon pack, but let’s just say the tighter the hip belt, the easier the load is on your shoulders. If the hip belt is nice and tight, you absolutely WILL NOT notice any appreciable weight on your shoulders, and that is truly comfortable. The tightness of the hipbelt, along with the sternum strap, the nicely-contoured shoulder straps and the Flink means this backpack stays right where it is supposed to with no wobbling or swaying. Towards the end of my “to work” commute, there is a nice downhill and then a sharp left turn into the edge of downtown Tampa. With this pack fully loaded, I can burn a high-speed turn at a very sharp cornering angle and the Ergon backpack would not shift an inch, even with a heavy load. Now THAT, I like!

high-speed cornering

The same goes with out-of-the-saddle sprints. When I tried either of those with my old messenger bag, I would have to reach back and adjust the location of that bag as it swayed and slipped all over the place. Not so with the Ergon.


As I mentioned in the earlier article, this bag is packed with features. There is one external and one internal zippered pocket, another open internal pocket and a large, spandex-y pocket for a hydration bladder (to go with the hose-routing loops on both faces of the shoulder straps). I emailed Ergon to ask their recommendation for an appropriate hydration bladder that would fit, as I had tried an older 70 oz. Camelbak bladder and it didn’t fit in the pocket so well. I never got a response from them, so I chalk it up to “lost in the mail” or perhaps less-than-stellar customer service. Oh well…that’s not a deal-breaker.

Here’s the internal pocket for the bladder:

water pocket

One serious drawback that kept coming back to me as I tested this bag is the capacity. It just isn’t big enough to rate as a truly serious commuting bag. Granted, Ergon does not market this bag as such — it is designed for extended mountain bike expeditions where a rider might need to bring spare tubes and tools, a rain jacket or extra warmth layers and some snacks. Nevertheless, it is something to consider. If your daily commuting load is only a few items, this bag would be a dream. If you have to carry a laptop, nice clothes or different shoes, this might not be the bag for you. My typical load for this bag was my lunch, a sweater and a hardcover book or two in addition to my mini-pump and a couple small tools. That’s about all this bag will carry without cramming items inside.

I got to test the built-in raincover a couple times, too. While the raincover doesn’t keep the bag totally dry, it does ward off the worst of the wetness. To be extra safe, it might pay to wrap sensitive items in plastic bags if you’re expecting to get caught in a downpour.

Overall, for the bike commuter who can travel light, I give this bag a resounding “YES”. It’s comfortable as can be, it is strong, and most importantly it is stable with a load. But, if you have a lot to carry, you might consider another brand bag that can handle a bulky load.

Check out Ergon’s complete line of bicycling products here.

Read this review in Spanish at here.

Check out these messenger bags and backpacks.


  1. Moe February 11, 2008 9:20 am 

    Would I be able to fit a pair of shorts, a T-shirt, a tube and tools? If so, the backpack sounds perfect for Casual day Fridays!

  2. Ghost Rider February 11, 2008 10:06 am 

    The bag would fit that load perfectly…

    Here’s exactly what I generally carry — two packs of gum, a small coin holder, mini-pump, three pens, name badge, packet of energy drink tablets, a bag of Naproxn for my neck, a spare inner tube, a Park mini tool, at least one hardcover book, a sweater, my lunch in a Tupperware box and perhaps a DVD or two from the library. The bag fits all this, but there is very little room for anything else.

  3. RL Policar February 11, 2008 4:13 pm 

    to the rest of the readers…

    I spoke to Jeffery Neal, the big cheese of Ergon USA. He did apologize for not getting to your email. He does think that it might have been lost in the hustle of things.

    But to vouch for their customer service, those are are usually on top of things. I emailed him this morning and got a response right away.


  4. Ghost Rider February 11, 2008 5:04 pm 

    I used their generic customer service email, not a direct email to a staffperson. That may have had something to do with it, too.

    So, what did they say about hydration bladders? I still want to know their recommendation!!!

  5. Jeff at Ergon USA February 11, 2008 8:52 pm 

    As far as bladders go, look at the 110 oz Hydrapack bladder. This is the bladder I have been using since day 1 with no issues. In the near future we will be offering a Ergon branded Hydrapack bladder. This bladder will be similar to what hydrapack offers….but with the addition of a longer hose.

    Also, down the road if you are thinking of commuting with the pack….I suggest the BD2 or the new BD3 coming in April. A bit more room to get in those needed items.

  6. Ghost Rider February 11, 2008 9:23 pm 

    Jeff, thanks for the recommendation. Since the internal pocket is a bit tapered, I was thinking the new generation of Camelbak bladders with the tapered foot might also be a good fit (but I only had an old squared-off model to test-fit).

  7. Jeff at Ergon USA February 12, 2008 7:27 am 

    As long as you stick with the rectangular shape….you should have no problems with the bladder fitting in the pack.

  8. Ghost Rider February 12, 2008 7:53 am 

    What I meant by squared-off is a rectangular 70 oz. Camelbak bladder. It just didn’t fit very well in that pocket. The new generation of Camelbak bladders is tapered toward the foot, and they appear like they’d fit better in that contoured pocket.

    In any case, I’ll try out a couple and see what happens. Thanks again for your input!!

  9. no_vice March 15, 2008 12:37 am 

    Hello Ghost Rider, I like the bike you are riding in this photo, what model is it?


  10. Ghost Rider March 15, 2008 3:34 am 

    no_ vice,

    the bike is a 1984 Trek 460…painted olive drab. I had to replace the original fork with a carbon model (Kinesis bladed carbon with an alloy steerer). The frame was one of Trek’s early forays into foreign production…a few models, including this one, were manufactured in Japan. The Japanese makers were true craftsmen…the brazing is so clean and perfect!

  11. Jesmond Desira November 8, 2009 9:49 am 

    I need to buy a back pack to use on my mountain bike.The back pack that i want preferably with compartments for the inner tube ,tools ,tyre levers,pocket money,mini topeal pump, etc Can you please recomend which back pack suitable for me.
    Thanks and regards

  12. Ghost Rider November 8, 2009 10:06 am 

    Jesmond, the above pack serves quite well for the needs you describe. A lot of mountainbikers are using them instead of a Camelbak backpack.

  13. Brian December 21, 2009 12:03 pm 

    I have a messenger bag that fits well and has a decent capacity. My main reason for searching for a new backpack is to eliminate the “sweaty back” I have when I get to work. Does the suspended pack give your back enough room to breathe?

    Thank You for the review.

  14. Ghost Rider December 21, 2009 1:44 pm 


    a surprising amount of airflow across your back is possible with this backpack — provided it is set up correctly (check our “first impression” article for some of that information). Particularly, the waistbelt must be tight.

    You will still get a bit of a sweaty back on the worst days, but overall I was impressed with the performance of the bag in terms of air cooling.

  15. ed December 21, 2009 7:52 pm 

    can anyone enlighten me as to how to choose between ergon’s S and L men’s version? i’m 5’10”, 155# and narrow shouldered. both S and L of a given model carry the same capacity (16 l for the BA1, for instance), but it’s all about the body fit ultimately, no?

  16. D June 28, 2010 12:07 pm 

    Would it fit a small DSLR? I’ve been searching for a good bag to take my camera with me on road bike training rides. Saw this for 55 on sale. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  17. Ghost Rider June 28, 2010 12:32 pm 

    @D — yes, it should fit a DSLR (with a fairly big lens) with no problem. There’s no padding in there, though, so the camera would get bumped around a lot.

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