It would do the world a lot of good (and us too) if more of us rode our bikes to work. Less cars on the road which will result in less pollution and traffic. And everyone can get that much needed exercise that a lot of us are known to skip out on which will mean healtheir people, fewer illnesses and love handles (they’re important too, you know).
But the thing about biking to work is having to carry a lot of stuff with you – a change of clothes, your phone, keys, wallet, laptop, and other work stuff. And that’s where the cycling backpack comes in. Of course, not just any would do. The best ones should offer you comfort, style, space, water resistance, and reflective detailing. Check out the 10 best cycling backpacks that have our seal of approval.
Top 10 Cycling Backpacks of 2018
- Top 10 Cycling Backpacks of 2018
- How to Choose the Best Cycling Backpacks
1. Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack
The Rogue Laptop Backpack from Timbuk2 is perfect for any urban adventure you’ll be taking. This top-loading backpack features a water resistant tarpaulin exterior, an air mesh laptop sleeve, a small interior pocket for extra storage, a front zip pocket for extra extra storage, elasticized external side pockets, and an exterior daisy chain webbing with attaching points for your helmet, U-lock, carabiners, etc. You also get a removable sternum strap, a well-ventilated back panel, and a large main compartment for your laptop, clothes, and lunch.
- lots of storage space
- water resistant material
- laptop compartment needs more padding
- not for people with small frames; bag is too big
- the straps are placed too close together, tight around the neck
2. Timbuk2 Spire Backpack
Another great option from Timbuk2. This roll-top backpack has essentially the same features of the Rogue. What makes it different is the fact that this backpack was designed specifically for Apple. It has a laptop compartment for your 15” Mac Book Pro and a separate compartment for your Ipad.
- lifetime guarantee
- Lots of space
- Slim profile
- narrow straps make it a bit uncomfortable around the neck
- Pencil pocket is not ideally located, things fall out when you take out stuff from the main compartment
- No waist straps
3. TECOOL Biking Cycling Backpack
This 15L cycling backpack from TECOOL is made out of nylon-mesh. It features a unique packable net that allows you to attach your bike helmet to your bag. It also has two front pockets where you can store smaller items that you do not want to get jumbled with the rest of your big items.
The main compartment can easily accommodate your work clothes and shoes plus some daily necessities. The padded straps and the shape of the bag are ergonomically designed to provide comfort. And the breathable mesh pad is really that – breathable, not sweaty or hot.
- does not make you sweat
- extremely affordable
- no laptop compartment
- small bag
- side pockets is not deep enough to hold large water bottles
4. Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack
Winner of the International Design Excellence Award, the Timbuk2 Raider Pack is the perfect commuter pack for a pre-work ride. It’s small, lightweight, and offers enough space for you to bring your daily necessities – work clothes, shoes, hygiene kit, wallet, phone, etc. – or your laptop and iPad.
Made out of 70D Nylon Shadow Ripstop, the bag features reflective detailing on the bottom with two external pockets for water bottles or your sweaty clothes. There’s even a plastic folding board to help you keep your office duds wrinkle-free.
- Reflective detailing
- machine washable, just remove the plastic insert
- lots of space
- not water resistant; requires a pack cover
- the front pocket is a bit shallow
- thin material, can get holes when poked with sharp objects
5. Osprey Packs Radial 26 Daypack
The Osprey Raidal 26 Daypack is perfect for the commuter who travels in all sorts of weather. It features a built-in, highly visible, rain cover which will ensure your stuff remains bone-dry inside your bag.
It also features a Lid Lock system that allows you to secure your helmet to the bag; a padded compartment for your laptop; a zippered, padded compartment for your tablet; a reinforced blinker light attachment tab (blinker light not included); a fabric document sleeve; and mesh organizational pockets.
- lots of space
- waterproof and highly visible rain cover
- solidly built
- too large/bulky for some people
- needs a more supportive hipbelt to distribute weight
- the straps can get smelly
6. Ortlieb Velocity Backpack
The Ortlieb Velocity Backpack is a roll-top backpack with a velcro strap. Inside the bag, you’ll find the main compartment plus a removable inner pocket for small items. There are two things that make this a really good cycling backpack. One, it is completely waterproof. And two, it features a foam backing and dual-padded shoulder straps that make it extremely comfortable to carry.
- good support (foam backing + shoulder straps, chest straps, and hip straps)
- Good ventilation
- no padded compartment for laptop
- no reflective stripes
- the velcro strap is a bit short
7. Henty Wingman Backpack
If you bike to work and need to bring a suit or uniform, the Henty Wingman Backpack should be your top choice. This backpack was specifically designed to transport your clothes from home to work without causing a wrinkle.
It is made completely out of nylon. It is water-resistant. It has dedicated storage for a 15″ laptop and a tablet. And it includes an inner duffel bag where you can store shoes and a hygiene kit. And it has a rain cover.
- clothes stay relatively wrinkle-free
- lots of storage
- rain cover is really waterproof
- can’t access the interior duffel bag once the backpack has been rolled up
- the rain cover doesn’t reach the laptop compartment
- the reflective detailing along the zipper is not that visible
8. Brooks England Pickwick Day Pack
This really cool looking backpack from Brooks England is one of our top 10 favorites. It is made of a water-resistant treated cotton canvas while the detailing is made of vegetable tanned leather.
It features a bottom pocket for storying your bike lock and other tools you want to keep separate from the stuff in your main compartment plus an easy-to-access rear pocket for storing your wallet, mobile, etc. Unlike some roll top backpacks, the closure on this one allows you to adjust the volume of the bag. Less “rolls” is possible so that you have more space. And you even get a laptop sleeve!
- solidly constructed
- very expensive
- no reflective detailing
- straps are not padded
9. Deuter Giga Bike
The Deuter Giga Bike is pretty heavy backpack but its numerous features more than makes up for that “flaw.” It has mesh hip wings plus the AirStripes Back System to ensure you never get the sweaty back syndrome. The chest and waist straps are wider for more stability. It also features a removable helmet holder, a rain cover, a front pocket, and three compartments (padded laptop compartment, main compartment, and front panel).
- loads of space
- rain cover
- breathable back panel
- a bit heavy
- minimal reflective detailing
- doesn’t fit well on individuals with long torsos
10. Proviz Reflect360 Rucksack
If you’re a person who frequently bikes in adverse weather or at night, then you’re going to love this cycling backpack from Proviz. Made of 50% Polyester, 20% Nylon, 30% Webbing, the Reflect360 Rucksack is just that – it is fully reflective.
It has 100% CE EN471 reflective material that reflects the smallest amount of light which makes you highly visible in poor light conditions, even if you’re a quarter of a mile away. It also features a hip strap, a chest strap, gear loops, and mesh pockets. It offers a lot of space for the average commuter with a big inner pocket for your laptop and main compartment for all your other stuff.
- impressive reflective material
- lots of space
- water resistant material + YKK AquaGuard water resistant zippers
- sweaty back syndrome (no ventilation)
- the straps feel flimsy
- the material itself doesn’t feel that it would hold up well with heavy loads
How to Choose the Best Cycling Backpacks
Biking to work is not a new thing. It’s a great way to get some pre-work exercise while helping save the environment. Obviously, your best bet for transporting stuff with you on a bike is a backpack. It help distribute the weight of the load on your back and doesn’t move around while you’re cycling.
However, not just any backpack will do. Biking can be sweaty work and it’s also vulnerable to changes in weather. Not to mention, it can be a dangerous activity under dimly lit conditions. So, you need to make sure your backpack cover most, if not all, your bases. Below are a list of features you need to look for when choosing the best cycling backpack for you.
How breathable is the fabric at the back of your backpack?
We all know that biking will make you sweat. But you definitely don’t want the back of your shirt soaked because your backpack acts like a wool blanket. You’ll need to make sure the cycling backpack you end up choosing makes use of breathable fabric, mesh, or even air channels like the AirStripes Back System found in the Deuter Giga Bike.
Is it water resistant?
When you bike, you know you’re vulnerable to changes in weather and so are your things. Which is why you’ll want a cycling backpack that will ensure they remain nice and dry. Check for a bag that uses water resistant material such as the Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack. If the pack is not made of water resistant material, you’ll need a rain cover. The Henty Wingman Backpack and the Osprey Packs Radial 26 Daypack.
How comfortable is it to carry?
Naturally, you don’t want a backpack that’ll dig into your shoulders or feel too tight around your neck. You also don’t want the bag swinging back and forth while you pedal. So you definitely want to look for a bag that offers extra padding in the straps as well as one that features adjustable chest and waist/hip straps.
The padding will make it easier to carry heavy loads while the other straps will ensure equal weight distribution. A padded back will also help you carry heavy loads but at the cost of making your bag sweaty so make sure you the bag has sufficient airflow.
How much stuff will your backpack need to carry?
Some people like having loads of pockets for storage because they like to carry a lot of stuff around. Others want minimal storage because they don’t want or need to lug that much stuff around. This feature is more of a “to-each-his-own” kind of thing so it’s never a good thing to be adamant about the number of pockets and compartments.
However, we do recommend that you get a bag that has at least one or two small pockets where you can store your small items. This way, they don’t get lost in between all the big stuff and you find yourself wasting time taking everything out just to find it. Also, if you carry a variety of different items – work clothes, laptop, iPad, chargers, books, etc – you might want to look for bags that offer organizational panels and numerous compartments to keep your stuff tidy and secure while you’re traveling about.
Does the backpack feature reflective detailing?
If you’re going to be biking at night or in adverse weather where vision is limited on the roads, you’ll definitely need a backpack that will make it easy for drivers to see you. The Proviz Reflect360 Rucksack offers a bag that is 100% reflective (including part of the strap) so you can be seen from a quarter of a mile away. If that’s a bit too much for you, you can choose the Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack which offers a reflective bottom. If you fancy a backpack that does not have this feature, you might want to look for a reflective cover that will increase your visibility.