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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
pannier

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.

Preview: a Sneak Peak at Po Campo

Delivered to my doorstep via Po Campo bike delivery last night – the latest generation rack tote:

pocampo_preview

As a female bike commuter, I often feel the need to be just one of the guys when it comes to buying practical gear that will perform for the daily haul. But – Po Campo offers the rocking Rack Tote.

[It] attaches easily to your bike rack, stores all your daily needs and is as durable as can be. Adjustable shoulder strap tucks away while riding and reflective side loops hold rear light.

For the next couple of weeks I’ll be testing it and comparing it to the gender-neutral gear. Stay tuned.

Fall Launched last night in Chicago with De Fietsfabriek and Po Campo Party!

My commute home last night amidst the cool 50 degree weather included the perfect detour for a warm up – a stop at the De Fietsfabriek and Po Campo fall launch party! The De Fietsfabriek storefront is located along my daily route, so my biking buddy and I just pulled over and walked in to join a great party on the way home.

Bikes outside the shop beckoned to us

And inside, the accessories and bikes on display welcomed us

We even met up with Dottie (and Mr. Dottie) from Let’s Go Ride A Bike.

All hosts (from left to right – Co-Founder Maria of Po Campo, Jon of De Fietsfabriek, and Alex of West Town Bikes) agree the night brought an impressive turnout and a great show of support

According to Jon of De Fietsfabriek, “By all accounts it was a great night, turnout was better than expected and everyone had a great time. Reactions to the new bags and bikes were extremely positive and a lot of great conversation and catching up amongst the Chicago biking community was going on. Sales were pretty good and we’re happy to be able to pass 10% of the proceeds to support WTB.”

Fall Launches in Chicago with De Fietsfabriek and Po Campo Party!

It’s that time of year — fall — and the weather reflects the season. I woke up today to 30+ mph wind gusts and temperatures in the 50s (after mid-70s yesterday)! But to help warm up the fall commuting season, two Chicago-based cycling companies are teaming up to launch their new fall lines this Wednesday, September 30! RSVP to attend this free event.

De Fietsfabriek Dutch bikes and Po Campo stylish bags bring functionality and style to commuter cycling. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the founders of each of these companies and even sampling their products. In fact, at Chicago’s Bike Commuter Challenge awards luncheon, I won a Po Campo rack bag in a raffle. Best of all – 10% of all accessory sales – including Po Campo’s new fall line – will be donated to the educational non-profit West Town Bikes. (Reviews on the bag and the bikes to come soon!)

po campo
pink oma

Now for the party details:

De Fietsfabriek and Po Campo have joined forces to celebrate their new wares, available just in time for the choicest of all Chicago biking seasons – fall! We’ll have our newest products on hand for you to check out and some light food and drinks.
We are pleased to welcome De Fietsfabriek’s newest shipment of bikes from Holland to their new home. All new styles in all new colors means that there’s probably one just perfect for you and your family.
Po Campo, Chicago’s own stylish yet highly functional bike bag company, is thrilled to roll out its fall line, which features their popular handlebar bag and rack bag in all new, limited-edition fall fabrics.
Plus, we’ll be donating 10% of all accessory sales – including Po Campo’s new fall line – to West Town Bikes. WTB’s overreaching goal is to promote bicycling in the city of Chicago, to educate youth with a focus on underserved populations, and to foster and serve Chicago’s growing bicycling community. We’re happy to help them with their worthy cause!

Hope to see you Wednesday at the party!