MSRP $160; Ogio.com
Let’s begin with a cautionary tale: Sometimes you don’t give good luggage enough credit until it’s too late. I think I just got lackadaisical about it all; I started thinking transition bags were for suckers. I’d watch people roll up to the transition area with bags as big as their toddlers, and I’d think “Hmpf. I don’t need all of that. I’m streamlined— and much cooler than those dorks.”
I started carrying less and less to races. A regular sized backpack, a couple of reusable shopping bags filled with bottles, shoes and my wetsuit. Let’s face it: I got sloppy. Then my anti-transition bag hubris caught up to me. I live in San Francisco, which for those of you who don’t know translates to: I reside in a fantastic city but I live in a crappy apartment the size of most people’s bedrooms. My crappy apartment is on the second floor, with a frightfully narrow, winding staircase up to our door. Carrying my bike up and down it is both comical to watch and incredibly exhausting.
One morning recently my bleary-eyed husband was helping me carry my gear down to the car so we could begin the super-fun 5 a.m. journey to a local triathlon. As we made our way down the death staircase, me with my tiny backpack, bike and extra shopping bag full of filled nutrition bottles, I failed to notice that the shopping bag was becoming wrapped around the banister. By the time I realized it, it was too late, and the bag snapped around at light speed and slammed directly into the back of my knee. What resulted was a dead leg I haven’t experienced since the summer of 1988 when dead legs became my brother’s weapon of choice. Luckily, my husband reacted fast, catching my bike as I crumpled to the ground like a doll. I couldn’t straighten my leg for the next 10 minutes. I finished the race, iced the back of my knee, and woke up the next morning to see that a golf-ball-sized lump had formed, which would keep me from running for nearly a week. Clearly the luggage gods had spoken.
Let’s just say I have once again become a transition bag devotee. And as far as transition bags go, I don’t really think you can get better than the Ogio M9. It’s more or less the Rolls Royce of the transition bag world. Getting past the IRONMAN branding on the bag (which may or may not be your thing, depending on if you rack up M-dot tattoos or not), the design just looks cool. It’s incredibly light considering all of the bells and whistles it comes with, and the backpack straps (it can also be carried as a duffle) are über-comfortable, which you might not think matters, but if you plan on doing any destination racing, believe me you’ll be glad to have this on your back heading through an airport and not something with cheap JanSport straps that feel like they are cutting off your shoulder circulation with every step.
The bag is split into three major sections: a very large middle compartment and two zippered areas on either side: one for your helmet and/or shoes and the other for wet/dry storage. The quadruple-coated, weather and abrasion-resistant wet/dry storage is ample enough for even an extra-large wetsuit, and it’s guaranteed leak proof. There are large zippered compartments on either side for nutrition storage, and small side compartments where you can slide in bottles.
My favorite feature of all Ogio athletic bags—the armored pockets for electronic storage—is amplified on the M9. There is a smaller one for items like sunglasses and then a larger one for safe storage of your phone and GPS watch. If you find yourself in wet conditions, this bag even has a hideaway rain cover to protect your gear from getting moist before the race even begins.
I’ve used this bag at races and at my twice-weekly treks to a CompuTrainer class downtown, and it’s made such a difference compared to the “streamlined” fallacy I was living before. This is a bag for the Type-A, meaning there are enough compartments and zippers and hidden areas to stuff things in that you really should enjoy that type of organization, or you might be overwhelmed. If you’re the type of person who just throws your gear in a bag, this might not be the bag for you. Unless you’d like to change your ways; after all—the OCD transition bag crowd? We’re pretty cool.