Review: Po Campo Rack Tote

For several weeks I got to test Chicago’s very own Po Campo Rack Tote during the perfect time of the year to be heading out around town on a bike.

My set-up with the Po Campo
po campo rack tote

Versus my usual voluminous pannier set-up

First order of business was to empty my current “gender-neutral” pannier and repack this rack tote for my daily bike commute. The founders of Po Campo say that their bike products “bring Functional Freedom to women who bike.”

I was skeptical that such a bag could possibly suit my needs and carry all the odds and ends I often find myself toting around, so I packed and unpacked it on a day I met a friend for a picnic lunch to test if this stylish bag could indeed be functional:

To my amazement, this tote held all my needs – spare tubes/tools, mini pump, hat, cosmetic bag, random papers, camera, rain jacket, snacks, wallet, keys and cell phone – plus a Neat Sheet for laying out our picnic lunch. It’s a real “Mary Poppins” bag. If I needed to carry an extra pair of shoes, I’m sure I could fit those in the bag, too, though I may suggest adding a separate shoe/large item compartment that would help keep the grime of shoes off the rest of the bag’s items.

Unlike the awkward handles that can make carrying my pannier unwieldy, this tote’s adjustable shoulder strap tucks neatly away while riding and allows for ease of carrying off the bike.
po campo off the bike

This bag comes with reflective striping on the velcro straps along the front and back – that also serve to stabilize the bag on the bike rack as needed and can be a useful place to attach a rear light. These straps will not work quite as well to stabilize the bag on a rack with a solid platform since there is no place to loop the straps in the center. Perhaps straps that loop around at each corner of the rack (like a typical trunk bag) could offer more stability. I also would prefer additional reflective striping along the side of the bag – maybe added to the adjustable straps that loop around the bottom of the rack – so as to increase side visibility. With the solid gold vinyl tote I tested, however, the fabric provided some of its own reflectiveness. In fact, this rack tote/purse got noticed quite a bit during my rides with it and I received plenty of compliments and questions from both guys and gals.

reflection at night

The fabrics Po Campo uses are water and fade resistant; it seemed the gold vinyl may have been a bit more water resistant – and the couple times I did get caught in a rain shower, no water got into the bag. Even without waterproof zippers, I had the shoulder strap tucked in along the top of the bag and it rested over the top zipper to sufficiently keep the rain out.

On the bike commuting days that I knew I might need more cargo space – like for that grocery trip after work – the rack tote fit nicely on the rack with my pannier. My pannier does not rise above the level of the rack, so it did not interfere with the tote resting on the rack; if you are using it with a pannier that will not allow the bag to site flush on the top of the rack, the bag may tilt to one side.
Sitting flush:
rack tote with pannier

Slight tilt:
rack tote tilt

This bike rack tote comes with ample interior space – not so cavernous that your items will get lost or buried but not limiting. This gold tote came with a flashy purple lining and and a single zippered interior pocket which was good for holding a slim wallet , pen or other small incidentals.
interior lining/pocket

The external pocket is also flush against the bag so as not to catch on your clothes when you carry it off the bike. For me, it held my keys and cell phone which I wanted to keep readily accessible. A few extra conveniently accessible pockets / compartments would have been useful for quickly stowing my bike light and computer when I would park my bike.
exterior pocket

The ladies (Emily and Maria) behind Po Campo continue to update their products and add new styles to their bag and accessories line-up. Having tested this bag, I can say they know their audience and have developed bags that will not disappoint.
emily and maria

I enjoyed bike commuting all around Chicago with this sleek Po Campo rack tote.
po campo in motion

A bit of trivia – do you know where the name Po Campo comes from?

If you guessed the character in Lonesome Dove, you’re right!
Just like the character, this Po Campo dances to the beat of its own drum , developing a bike business geared at female cyclists and keeping its production running locally in Chicago.

Please read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.


  1. Hilary July 29, 2010 1:00 pm 

    Very cute! I love the other colours they have. Was it fairly quick to transfer on and off the bike?

  2. Elizabeth July 29, 2010 1:12 pm 

    It is a fairly quick transfer. Just loop the straps around the bottom of the rack and clip (adjust strap length until snug if necessary) and optionally use the velcro strap(s) on either end. Po Campo does have a demo video at the bottom of this page that shows how to connect the bag to the rack.

  3. Trisha July 29, 2010 4:36 pm 

    Ooh, the gold looks great on your bike! I agree that the metallic bags seem to be even more water/fade resistant than the other fabrics. My silver bag — the smaller style — gets loads of compliments.

  4. RANTWICK July 29, 2010 6:33 pm 

    I know I am not the target consumer for this item, since I am a 41 year old man, but that is one butt ugly bag. There are many bicycle accessories that one might call feminine or chic or stylish that are not to my taste, but at least they don’t make me think “gah! that’s ugly” like this one did.

  5. Cecily July 29, 2010 10:32 pm 

    I recently purchased one of these bags and I really, really want to love it, but I don’t. It may be that it doesn’t fit my rack properly, but no matter what I try, I can’t seem to get a good tight fit. In addition, I’m a little “well-padded” in the back, so when I’m on my seat, the part of the bag where the shoulder strap is attached constantly rubs against my rear end in a very distracting and unpleasant way.

    It’s beautiful, and I get compliments on it, but the time I spend putting it on and taking it off my bike and adjusting the straps actually adds to the amount of time I need to prepare for my ride into work every day, and as of now the bag just feels like a hassle. This was a very expensive lesson to learn. :(

  6. Ghost Rider July 30, 2010 4:41 am 

    @Rantwick…I’m right there with you. It LOOKS like a great bag; well-made and versatile. But, if you’ve ever been to the east coast of Florida, you’ll know what I mean when I say this bag looks like an “old lady purse”.

  7. Ben July 30, 2010 6:37 am 

    My wife has the smaller handlebar bag and she loves it. It works great and she gets compliments from all her girlfriends and strangers as well. They just think it’s a purse when she’s carrying it around. Then she blows their minds when she attaches it to the bike.

    It’s a fantastic well thought out product. Especially for the ladies that prefer not to accessorize with bags that look like they were made for camping.

  8. Elizabeth July 30, 2010 7:25 am 

    @Ghost – This particular rack tote is on the larger side – which is great for those who carry more, but their new intermediate size Bungee Handbag can be both attached to a rear rack or to the handlebars via a couple of bungee cords. Very easy on/off and big enough to hold the essentials and more. I have only seen this new bag and not tried it but it’s not as long or as tall of a profile either.

    @Cecily, have you contacted Po Campo about your issues? Have you considered this bungee bag as an option? The ladies stand behind their products and seek customer feedback/suggestions.

  9. Ghost Rider July 30, 2010 8:49 am 

    @Elizabeth…apparently you’ve never experienced the east coast of Florida. What I meant by “old lady purse” was not the size, but the color. The oldtimers over there favor gaudy metallic purses (that also match their shoes and other accessories).

  10. Raiyn July 31, 2010 12:15 am 

    Yeah it screams “Boca Bag”

  11. Cecily July 31, 2010 9:47 pm 

    Elizabeth, I hadn’t thought about that – thanks for the suggestion. I’ll contact them directly.

  12. Maria August 2, 2010 12:56 pm 

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone! For the SE Florida contingent, we do make the bags in fabrics other than gold that may be more to your liking. Pictures:

    And Cecily, please get in touch with me and Emily at so we can be sure you have a Po Campo bag you DO love!

  13. Po Campo August 2, 2010 9:06 pm 

    Elizabeth- thanks for the great review, and everyone for the great suggestions. Personally I love the jazzy gold bag on your black bike but fortunately for those in Florida the bags come in various styles & colors, you can check them out at

  14. maggie August 27, 2010 7:28 am 

    I like mine too but it’s gotten all floppy with age and no longer sits on my rear rack correctly. It slides over and isn’t really usable as a bike bag anymore. It’s still a cute handbag, though.

  15. maggie August 27, 2010 7:31 am 

    and by age, I mean only about 6 months old. I do use it a lot, though.

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