Ill be commuting on a single speed fixed gear for about 14 miles round trip. Ill be carrying appx 5-10 pounds of flexible cargo ( lunch, change of clothes, etc ) . In your opinion , what would be the most comfortable way, without compromising handling and or range of motion on the bike . Ill be doing plenty of head turning as the streets I'll be on have no marked bike lanes.... thx
Ortlieb rear pannier has been one of the best bike investments I've made. I like them too cause when i'm not worried about stability I can get groceries with them. I don't ride a fixie though, and I don't see too many fixies with panniers.
Your load is reasonably light and you can probably do whatever you think best. I think you have to ask yourself what you prefer. Do you mind having a bag on your back? While I don't mind a bag I find it easier to use a rack and put either a trunk bag or pannier on the rack. Do you have a rack and if not are you up for getting one? If not, the bag is on your back. If so you can get a trunk bag or pannier. Or, you can hedge your bet and get a messenger bag that you like to carry but can also bungee to your rack. I think the guy in the mirror has the answers for you.
Rear pannier all the way. Backpack is not awful, but going to get really sweaty. I find messengers impair my sight lines a little. I'd also co-sign for Ortliebs specifically if you've got the money. Until you get about 20lbs of gear in there, you don't really notice any differences in handling.
Ortlieb rear panniers.
rear pannier for certain. Ortlieb gets tons of cred. Me, I did not know this and blindly bought into the 'topeak' line - works well for me as they have briefcase, crate, and saddle bag / pannier (TOPEAK MTX TrunkBag EXP) depending on whether I'm commuting lite (just laptop), getting groceries, or commuting heavy (change of clothes, shower) or long day trip. Frankly I love the topeak system, very well designed, it's been 4+ years, all works well - highly recc. I ride mountain bikes, both 26" & 29"
I just use a backpack.
I am a rear rack with 'trunk' bag kinda guy. I have used several brands and only get problems when I overstuff 'em. I have busted a couple of zippers by the ol'5# of shit in a 3# sack move. I have gone to 'townie' bags...fit shopping bags, mount like panneirs. and prefer cloth with stiffeners rather than wire frame rattle traps. It is real easy to overload townies so ya gotta be careful.
My last adaptation for shopping (rated 60#) has been a Burley Travoy, 2 wheeled trailer. It mounts to the seat post with a Quick release and arches over a rack. When off the bike the attachment arm folds to allow use as a shopping cart type o'thang and the 16" wheels roll over curbs and stuff well.
I find all these options better for me than hanging bags on my body for safety and convenience as well as the sweat factor.
I have a rear rack and a Timbuk2 Shift (discontinued, was very hard to track one down) messenger/pannier bag. I also have a folding wire basket on the opposite side of the rack. The bag isn't huge, but it can hold the essentials. I carry my wallet, keys, phone, lock, lunch and a change of clothes in it no problem. The wire basket is for when I stop at the grocery store on my way home. It just so happens to fit my canvas grocery bag (or a 12 pack of bottles) perfectly .
The last couple years I was going about 22 miles round trip, so the backpack got old real quick. I looked long and hard for a pannier bag that I liked in terms of carrying around off the bike, which is why I did not get a rack top bag. It doesn't noticeably affect my ride at all, unless I stuff it. The basket only affects riding while loaded. As Jeff mentioned, I actually feel a good bit safer as I have nothing distracting on my body.
Any of them will work for you. I hate having stuff on my back, and you might as well after you try it for a couple of weeks, but then again you might not.
Between front loading and rear loading, either will work perfectly fine depending on the equipment you use. If one is more easily adaptable to your bike, you can go with that. My SS (a Raleigh One Way) has a rear rack and a front rack with a basket on it. For commuting, I use my Ortlieb pannier on the back. For lighter loads, I just toss things in a bag in the front basket (there's a net on top.) If you have a messenger bag that you like and want to keep using, a porter rack in front and a net will secure it well.
Does the bike already have a rack? If not, may I recommend the Public Bikes rear rack. The nice part of it is that it has a spring clip, which can be nice for holding and bungeeing down boxes or other top bags. I fitted one to my fixe with no problem. It is a great commuter rack IMO.
Thanks for all the insight :)