A year and a half ago I met Emily and Maria, two young women who started a company designing and producing stylish bike bags in Chicago called Po Campo. Holding one of their bags, I instantly saw that it was very high quality and the chicest bike accessory I’d ever seen. Since then, their business has really taken off and their bags are now carried all around Chicago, the country and the world.
Last April, I bought my Po Campo Rack Tote. I’m sure there are dozens of photos of my Po Campo bag on this site – almost every picture of my Betty Foy has the Po Campo on the back rack. Now that I’ve put the bag through extensive use and abuse and we’ve had time to bond, here is my full review.
As I mentioned, the bag is extremely high quality. The thick outer fabric is water and fade resistant, with an inside lining to provide extra protection. I probably should carry a rain cover with me because the bag is not made to be water proof, but I’ve been caught in several rain storms without extra protection and my contents always stayed dry. Magically, I have never cleaned this bag and it never looks dirty.
The stitching is clean and strong. The velcro has not lost its stickiness. The hardware has not tarnished, discolored, rusted or done anything bad over time, despite lots of exposure to extreme temperatures and rain. As you can see, it’s still super shiny.
The leather accents are likewise in great shape. The one exception is the piece of leather that wraps around the top of the handles and snaps together to hold the top of the bag closed. This piece of leather seems to have shrunk after the first rain, making it a little harder to pull the two side close enough to snap. This is an annoyance, but the main closure is a zipper, so I often leave the handles unsnapped with no issues.
The bag attaches in four different areas on your rack: two long straps that clip under the rack and two short velcro straps that loop around the ends of the rack. In my experience, using all four straps is necessary to secure the bag fully, but once it’s in place, it’s not going anywhere.
This attachment system is super clever because the straps look like normal purse accessories. The only downside to the system is that it takes a little extra fiddling to attach and detach the bag. This isn’t a big deal when I’m going to work and back, but is sometimes a hassle when I want to run in a coffee shop quickly. I was going to make a video of the process, but I saw that Po Campo already made one of their own (scroll to bottom). Watching the video, I see that the process is really quick and easy, but I guess my perception is skewed when I’m in a rush.
The velcro straps have very subtle reflective strips on them, helping to improve your visibility at night. The rear strap could be used to hold your light, which is what I do, although a separate dedicated bike-light loop would be a nice extra.
The carrying capacity of this bag is impressive. The pyramid shape allows you to throw a lot in the bottom, while the bag maintains a sleek shape overall. I almost always have a big camera, book, wallet, snacks, phone, comb, sunglasses and various odds and ends in the bag and everything stays structured and compact. There’s also a little zippered change pocket on the inside.
The outside has an amazingly convenient zippered pouch. Inside I keep my keys, garage door opener and cell phone. This makes my life so much easier because I don’t have to balance my bike while digging through the bag before locking up.
If you haven’t noticed yet, the bag is beautiful and looks like a regular stylish purse. What really puts the Rack Tote in a league of its own is this chameleon power to transition seamlessly from your bike to the rest of your life. I’ve gotten countless enthusiastic compliments about my “purse” from people at work and all around town. They have no idea that the bag is designed for my bike. How could they? Absolutely nothing about the bag denotes its true use when seen out of context. I carry it into work meetings and fancy restaurants with confidence.
The bag looks great on my bike, too! I think the bag will fit on almost any rack, but I advise you to measure the exposed part of your rack before purchasing. I can’t use this bag with Oma because too much of her rack is under my saddle, so about 25% of this bag hangs off the end. However, the bag fit perfectly on the De Fietsfabriek Oma that I test rode, so obviously it’s not a problem with all Dutch-style racks.
The Rack Tote comes in several different designs and colors, but the design I have is no longer available. In addition to the Rack Tote, they also make a cool Bungie Handbag (which Trisha owns), a Handlebar Clutch and a couple of super cute accessories.
The Rack Tote costs $160 and the handlebar clutch is about half that. For a beautiful bag designed and made in Chicago, I definitely think it’s worth the price, if you have the expendable income. Po Campo offered to give me a bag for free, but I insisted on paying for one outright. I already planned to buy the Rack Tote and figured that if I’m going to advocate for people to pay more for high-quality, locally-made products, I should put my money where my mouth is.
Po Campo is currently a sponsor of LGRAB – see their ad on the sidebar – but this is not a paid review (I would never write a paid review). I’m featured in their catalog and my bike Betty Foy modeled for their website. I know Emily and Maria and think they’re awesome, so I’d love for their business to continue booming. Obviously, I’m not the most neutral person in the world, but I don’t think any of this detracts from the honesty of my review.
Overall, I am in love with my Po Campo bag. It’s all I hoped it would be and more. If you want a highly functional tote that looks as good off the bike as on and are comfortable with the price, the Po Campo Rack Tote is the bag for you!
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.