Gear Prudence: What’s the best way to think about rain forecasts when deciding whether to bike somewhere (and later have to bike back)? My weather app tells me the chance of rain, but that’s not super useful alone. If it’s a 100 percent chance of drizzle, I’ll ride, but if it’s a 30 percent chance of heavier rain, I might not. Do you have advice on this matter? —Realistic And In Need
Dear RAIN: You have two options, the first of which is to stop worrying about whether you get a little wet or very wet. If you adopt this lifestyle, prepare in advance by stocking your home with surplus newspapers for your shoes (they take longer to dry than you’d think), and get in the habit of saying with a straight face, “Oh, I hadn’t noticed,” in response to friends and colleagues asking you why you’re soaked.
Your second option is to switch to a weather app with radar. This will demystify the percentages. You can see the size, shape, and direction of the storm and, most importantly, the dreaded yellow and red splotches, which signal intense precipitation. The apps won’t guarantee you’ll stay dry, exactly, but should provide sufficient downpour warnings. —GP
Gear Prudence: What’s better for biking: a messenger bag or a backpack? Messenger bags look cooler, while backpacks seem more sturdy. But if backpacks were actually better, wouldn’t bike couriers use them? How much functionality would I be losing if I just picked the bag that looked better? —Bags Available Carry Knickknacks Plenty Adequately, Choosing Key
Dear BACKPACK: When choosing a bike bag and looking beyond aesthetics alone, you must consider two things: capacity and comfort when riding. Capacity is important because it delimits how much you can carry, and there’s nothing more shameful than a slow walk back down the grocery aisle to return the Funyuns you just couldn’t fit. Generally, but not always, backpacks outperform in this regard. But if you’re sure you’ll never need the extra space, that might not matter. Messenger bags are slung over one shoulder, whereas the dual strap affixment of the backpack provides for more stability and balance when riding—especially when carrying heavy objects. The weight is more evenly distributed and you’re much less likely to experience the discomfort of a shifting bag. That said, the stability comes at the (extremely low) cost of not being able to access the contents without removing the bag from your shoulders. GP wonders if you really need such immediate access, but perhaps you do. Long story short: If you need to carry a lot and want to make sure it’s stable, backpacks work better. Otherwise, if you don’t mind a little shifting, a messenger bag will be sufficient. —GP