I commute about 7 miles to work and average around 15-20 miles a day between work and errands, I currently do it with a backpack.
I live in Phoenix so luckily weather is easy.
Are frame bags as amazing as they look? Do they come big enough for my office clothes and a lunch?
What cool products do I need to be a cool kid?
If you are bike-commuting, you are already a "cool-kid". No worries there! I agree with others here that a pannier or two is the way to go. I hate having anything on my back when I'm riding, and having your extra weight lower on your ride keeps bike handling issues to a minimum. Even riding with just one pannier heavily loaded - a gallon of milk, plus other groceries - is no problem. I've used one of my Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus bags as my daily commuter bag for the past 8 years or so, and it works perfectly for me - both for commuting, and for errands/groceries. Ortliebs are also waterproof, and extremely durable - if eight years of wear-and-tear/Minnesota weather are any indication - and are super easy to load securely, and remove from a bike rack. Also, no straps to get caught on anything. Happy travels!
I have been bike/run commuting for 14 years in Austin, Texas. Most of that time our office did not have a shower. On some mornings I got to work after running for 2 hours. I was completely soaked with sweat, but there are ways to deal with that when you understand how body odor actually works.
1. Start out clean. Take a shower first thing and put on clean clothes to ride/run in.
2. When you get to work, allow time to cool off before doing anything else. This is CRITICAL and where most people get it wrong!
3. Go to restroom and use soap and water on a washcloth to quickly clean the parts of your body that produce the sweat that breaks down to smell bad. These are the naughty bits and the arm pits. Bits and Pits.
4. Put on your work clothes. PRO TIP: instead of using deodorant, use baking soda cut with a bit of cornstarch. It works WAY better, is cheaper, last longer, and doesn't stain your clothes! If you don't believe me, and why should you believe some random dude on the internet, give this system a try on a weekend day with a ride ending at home.
Not having a shower at work in NOT an excuse for driving a car if you can ride a bike/run instead.
Don't have any advice, but THANK YOU @jhillis and all for this thread! I live in Tucson and I'm beginning to do the research to start commuting the 14mi to work via The Loop. It's slightly cooler here than in PHX but still hot!! 😅
I commuted by bike for about thirty years until retirement, riding in Tucson and then in southern California, ten to twenty miles round trip. You definitely want frame packs or panniers rather than a backpack. Your bike will track better with a lower center of gravity.
Be ready to deal with the occasional flat.....
Favor bright clothing and adequate lighting, front and rear. I found leg lights to be very effective.