Oh, winter. In theory, a beautiful season with a crisp clean blanket of snow, sunny skies, and friendly smiles from pedestrians and drivers alike. The reality, especially in downtown Vancouver, is wet slushy streets, constant drizzle and pre-occupied drivers and pedestrians just trying to get where they are going. Plus, there is only like, what, 8 hours of daylight? This is why cycling in the winter isn't my cup of tea. But then Alan from Ice Red Bags sent over his new laptop backpack, the AVA - designed for urban dwellers like me. And I thought, hmm .. maybe this could improve my commute.
The first thing you notice about the AVA from Ice Red is the bright colour palette. Alan sent me the yellow - and it is BRIGHT. Just the thing for early morning cycling commutes - it wakes you up AND helps you be seen by drivers, pedestrians and fellow cyclists. I also appreciate its slim silhouette. I'm often tempted to take more stuff than I need with me. The AVA encourages me to keep it tight - no lugging around my Game of Thrones novels.
The interior of the AVA has a padded laptop sleeve which holds my MacBook Pro 15". I can also fit my power cord, a notebook, a magazine and some files. The interior side opposite the laptop sleeve has slots for pens and various electronic gadgets. Oh, and there is one of those handy dandy key chain clips, so I don't have to go digging through the back for my office keys.
The AVA is a vertically-oriented bag which I like very much. There are two straps on the back which can be configured in a few different ways: traditional backpack, cross-body plus waist strap or simply cross-body (best when you're walking). The hardware on the straps is high quality and good looking. But here is another reason to not stuff your AVA full - the straps are not padded. So, in the winter, when you're wearing a coat, you don't notice as much - but in summer, if you overload the bag, you will notice the straps pulling a bit.
There are two pockets on the outside of the AVA. On the front, there is a deep non-zippered pocket. It is perfect for my ereader - not so much when I'm cycling but when I'm on transit. I don't have to dig around for my book - it's super easy to get to. My favourite pocket is the one on the back of the AVA - a clever zippered little side pocket where I can stow my mobile phone that I can reach if I need to when I'm on my bike. So handy!!
I think the AVA is a good choice if you are a light-packing commuter (or have a new year's resolution to reduce your bag clutter!) And if you're not into the sunny yellow, the AVA also comes in a royal blue, bright red and chic black. The AVA retails for $70 USD and is available via Ice Red's website.