So you’ve decided to wear a backpack while riding. Follow that critical decision by selecting a quality backpack with correct ergonomics, durability, capacity, and pricing that supports “getting what you paid for.”
The Kriega R25 (the 25 denotes 25-liter capacity) has held the same design configuration since 2013. I purchased my Kriega R25 in 2013 for US$187. I rode a 70-mile daily commute from 2013 through 2018. In 2014 I spent two weeks riding from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City with the R25 on my back. Here’s a shot of the kids and me in North Vietnam. Notice the signature Kriega Quadloc system comfortably across my chest.
In 2018 I spent a month off-road in Mongolia, and in 2019 I rode home to California from Mongolia. The R25 was my constant companion, as shown below, with me in cold-weather gear Quadloc securely across the chest.
Throughout, I rode wearing the Kriega R25. The positives of this backpack far outweigh negatives. I will detail both.
For those of you who want the bottom line immediately, here it is. The Kriega R25 is robustly built, loading weight against the large muscles in your back and sternum. The full 25L capacity is available in a single central cavity with a large 15″ laptop sleeve against your back. Wide straps with multiple adjustment points let the rider distribute the weight, and those adjustments once set stay put. My R25 has been around the world and was used daily for seven years without any defects or problems. Material and construction quality is excellent, as evidenced by seven years of issue-free performance. Kriega says there are thousands of R25 backpacks in circulation—so you’re not buying a one-off.
There is a potential drawback to consider. Big riders (those with 44″ chest measurements and larger) report restricted movement even with the Quadloc straps fully expanded. I did not experience this restriction, measuring 42″ under the arms across the chest, and I have plenty of adjustment left when wearing layers in cold weather gear. As with any garment type of product, try the fit before you commit.
Let’s have a detailed look.
Adjustability and Fit
The Kriega R25 boasts wide shoulder and waist straps supporting weight distribution and providing airflow. There is breathable mesh on the straps and back of the pack where it touches the rider. The mesh against your middle back carries the thickest padding—where the muscles are most prominent, and loading is centered.
The Quadloc system fastens the backpack firmly across your chest. The sturdy round plastic clasps give positive feedback on closure and guard against accidental release.
Entry and exit can be a challenge, but I use the following method to hoist the thing on. It works every time!
The 2013 update to the R25 simplified the adjusters by eliminating two of the four alloy pull-rings. The two pull-ring adjusters that remain are next to your obliques for waist-fit adjustment. I make these adjustments with the pack off my back. The design leads you to believe these things can be adjusted underway–not true. The good news is, once set, these adjustments stay put.
Finally, regarding fit, I’ve ridden with “school bag” type generic backpacks, and inevitably they ride high and bump the back of your helmet. Kriega’s solution: design the bag pear-shaped, so the top of the bag is narrow, eliminating the chance for the backpack to touch your neck. Check it out.
Capacity and Pockets
I appreciate maximum flexibility in choosing how I pack my gear. Kriega thinks the same way and gives you one sizeable central cavity. There is an easily accessed wallet-sized zipper pocket at the top–I keep keys, phone, and wallet there. The only other internal sleeve is for a large laptop (my Toshiba Satellite fits in the 15″ pocket). Outside there is a single vertically zippered pocket measuring 14″ long and 6″ wide. This exterior pocket is great for on-the-road snacks and a one-liter drink.
Construction, Materials, and Features
After seven years of constant hard use, the R25 materials and construction have held up. On the top and sides, 420D ripstop nylon is seamed and edged with a heavier fabric. The bottom and harnesses carry the load with 1000D Cordura. Large 3M Scotchlite reflective panels on the back and front straps pop when exposed to even faint light. The YKK zippers are durable and have stainless steel pulls.
The attention to detail on this backpack is impressive. As one example, check out the carry handle. Constructed of a wonder-material, Hypalon, this low-profile handle is easy to grab from a truck bed or luggage conveyor. The handle is cross-stitched between the top of the shoulder straps and maintains the critical low-profile pack top away from the rider’s neck and helmet base. Could Kriega have reduced the cost of this robust handle by using a hook loop and relying on the shoulder straps as grab points? Sure, but that’s not what you expect in a high-quality pack.
If you look carefully at the handle in the photo above, you can see two areas (left of the index finger and straight out from the ring finger) where the ripstop fabric weave has pulled. There is no failure yet, but when I’ve crammed 30 liters of stuff into the 25-liter bag, those two areas have borne the load. Kriega, if you are listening, a design improvement awaits! For me, I’ll just cement a patch of sunbrella inside to spread the load and call it done.
At US$187, the Kriega R25 is a good investment that will reward you for years to come. Top-quality materials, flawless construction, and well-thought-out ergonomics have made this backpack my only carry-all backpack for the last seven years and beyond. As always, fitment is essential, so buy from a dealer that supports you in confirming the right fit.