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Backpacks

best-commuter-backpacks-for-cyclists

Best Commuter Backpacks for Cyclists

by , October 11, 2016

If you’re commuting by bike, a backpack is one of the easiest carry formats to roll with. You can keep the load comfortably stable on your body, move your gear conveniently between cycling and being off-bike, and accommodate changing loads with relative ease. That being said, not just any pack will do. So to help you choose a pack that’s right for you, we’ve highlighted some important factors to consider, followed by a selection of top-notch commuter backpacks that have our tick of approval.

Water Resistance

When you commute by bike, your bag is at the mercy of the elements. So you want to make sure it offers decent water resistance to protect the contents. See if the bag comes with a raincover. Look for key phrases like ‘weatherproof’, or for more extreme cycling conditions, ‘waterproof’. Roll-top closures and water-resistant zippers are also good for keeping the elements out.

mission-workshop-fitzroy-in-the-rain

Pockets and Organization

This is a matter of personal preference, but it’s a good idea to have at least one or two pockets for storing small items so they don’t get lost in the recesses of your bag. Also, if you need to regularly access items, look for a pack that offers quick-access pockets. On the other hand, if you need to carry a variety of EDC and work items, ensure your bag offers sufficient organization to keep the contents tidy and secure during the commute.

Harness Setup

One of the most important elements to consider in a cycling bag is how it will handle the load. A sternum strap and waist belt will help to keep the load stable and reduce shifting when you’re leaning left or right. User comfort is also important. Good ventilation as well as a padded back and shoulder straps will go a long way to making your journey more comfortable. The heavier your load, the more padding you’ll need. However, lots of padding and warm climates will necessitate increased airflow to help you stay cool.

boreas-bolinas

Reflective Detailing

It’s important to be visible to other road users when you’re commuting by bike. Since a backpack can cover a large amount of any reflective clothing you may be wearing, it’s handy to have reflective detailing on the bag itself to boost visibility. Bags will vary in how much reflectivity they offer. Some provide a few reflective hits while others offer extensive reflectivity.

property-of-archie-light-bulb

Versatile Aesthetic

While a commuting pack should work well on a bike, at some point you need to take it into a work environment. While some work spaces are casual, others lean more towards formal, so a versatile aesthetic is important. Try to go with a bag that looks understated enough to suit a range of work settings, and – no matter how much you’re digging that neon orange – opt for colorways such as black or gray to get the best flexibility out of your bag.

Mission Workshop The Rambler

Mission Workshop The Rambler

The urban aesthetics are sharp, the weatherproof construction is great for rainy commutes…but what really makes this pack shine is the ability to easily expand from 22L to 44L. While you don’t want to be carrying massive loads all the time, having the freedom to do so as required (such as taking care of the grocery run after work) is awesome.

Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack

Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack

Want to travel light with just the essentials? Weighing in at less than a pound, the Especial Raider helps you cut carry weight right from the start, while also including just enough organization to keep a change of clothes and small EDC in order.

Timbuk2 Especial Cuatro

Timbuk2 Especial Cuatro

Sometimes you carry the essentials. Sometimes you’ve just got to haul. A lot. This pack’s 3,051 cubic inches will do the job, while offering other handy features such as a waterproof liner, magnetic buckles on the flap, reflective detailing, plus space for your laptop.

Rapha Backpack

Rapha Backpack

While many bike packs deliver a smooth ride during your commute, they hit a wobble when it comes to transitioning into an office environment. The Rapha Backpack however combines useful riding features with smart aesthetics. The minimalist, streamlined silhouette looks good in a work setting, and is complemented by reflective detailing, a chest strap and stowable waist strap for load support, a padded laptop compartment, and a raincover.

Osprey Radial 34

Osprey Radial 34

Cycling is a sweaty business. Add hot weather to the mix and things start to get pretty unpleasant. But the Radial 34 has your back with its AirSpeed™ trampoline suspended mesh backsystem to boost airflow. Plenty of other features add to the functionality, including good organization, an integrated kickstand to keep the bag upright, a helmet attachment point and an included raincover.

Brooks England Rivington Backpack

Brooks England Rivington Backpack

If sleek, pared-back style is what you’re after, the Rivington is one to have on your radar. While pleasing in looks, the pack also provides practical features such as a roll-top closure to suit diverse loads, quick-access pockets, a laptop compartment, and a water-resistant coating to shed those unavoidable commute showers.

Mission Workshop The Fitzroy – Advanced

Mission Workshop The Fitzroy - Advanced

Riding hard puts bags through the wringer. But that’s not a problem for the AP Series Fitzroy. Made with Mission Workshop’s lightweight but durable urethane-coated HT500 fabric, this pack tackles the elements and demanding use head-on. The bag also features the Arkiv closure system and a choice of pockets for organizing smaller items.

Ortlieb Velocity Backpack

Ortlieb Velocity Backpack

Most of the time a weatherproof bag should be sufficient for your commute. But if you need to cycle for extended periods of time in heavy rain, or you’re carrying items you just can’t afford to get wet, a waterproof pack may be the way to go. The Velocity Backpack has an IP 64 rating and a roll-top closure to keep water at bay, and comes with a removable inner pocket for stashing smaller items.

Velo Transit Quintessential 40 Waterproof Backpack

Velo Transit Quintessential 40 Waterproof Backpack

With its roll-top closure and RF-welded liner, the main compartment of this pack is a great place to keep gear safe and sound from inclement weather. The Quintessential 40 also provides exterior pockets to keep quick-access items within easy reach.

Trakke Assynt 17

Trakke Assynt 17

With its alpine heritage styling, the waxed canvas Assynt 17 lets you bring some mountain vibes to your daily commute. Best paired with the optional waist belt and sternum strap for load stability, this sleek little hauler fits a 15″ laptop, includes two pockets for bits and pieces, and will develop great character with use.

Mixed Works Falcon M

Mixed Works Falcon M

The Falcon M rocks an attractive combination of durability, compact urban style and flexible access. The tough 1000D Cordura exterior can take a beating, while the roll-top main compartment can also be accessed through a side zip. Side and top grab handles are useful additions for off-bike portability, and optional extras such as a phone pouch, integrated laptop sleeve or waist belt let you tweak the design to your preferences.

Blue Lug Chimney

Blue Lug Chimney

Great build quality and eye-catching Japanese style come together in this functional and versatile everyday pack. Handy storage pockets keep bits and pieces accessible, while exterior carry options and a roll-top closure give you the flexibility to adapt to changing carry needs.

Boreas Bernal

Boreas Bernal

The Bernal brings tactical and everyday elements together in a simple yet thoughtful design. Keeping you cool on the go is an integrated Super-Tramp suspension. There’s also a choice of exterior attachment points and compression straps, giving you the freedom to handle a variety of loads.

Boreas Lagunitas

Boreas Lagunitas

The Lagunitas packs a host of handy features into its streamlined form. Stretch panels allow the pack to expand and curve to suit different loads, with the option to add additional gear on the exterior daisy chains and gear loops. A waterproof top pocket keeps valuables safe from the elements, the padded laptop sleeve protects your tech, and an adjustable sternum strap and removable waist strap stop the load shifting while you’re clocking up the miles.

Property Of… Archie

property of… archie

Cycling is a way of life in Amsterdam. So it’s fitting that Amsterdam-based Property Of have created a line of reflective bags inspired by this bike culture. Archie is one of those bags, and it’s more than happy to stand out with its water-resistant construction, everyday functionality and light bulb-esque reflective form.

Life Behind Bars Peloton Rolltop

Life Behind Bars Peloton Rolltop

The Peloton Rolltop is a well considered pack that delivers a host of practical features to see you through the day. Water-resistant construction, a suspended laptop compartment, a height-adjustable and removable waist belt, pockets and organization for small daily essentials, plus exterior carry options all play their part in making this a highly versatile commuting bag.

Inside Line Equipment Default Backpack

Inside Line Equipment Default Backpack

The Default handles a diverse array of loads with its rolltop design, and protects the contents from a soaking thanks to weatherproof construction (with a waterproof liner in the main compartment). There’s space for a laptop and tablet, a sternum stap and waist belt, as well as handy snaps to prevent the rolltop from obscuring your view while you ride.

  • Banagher

    Great list. I was wondering what you would think about Bedouin Delireis or Ottoman as a cycling bike. I am planning to get one.

    • TeamCarryology

      Hey @Banagher, Bedouin make really beautiful bags! If you’re after an heirloom piece that will turn heads and age brilliantly, then it’s a great option. The sacrifices: there’s little organization (so you might need to carry some modules inside, if that’s your thing), you’ll need to re-wax every year or so, and there’s no waist or sternum strap (not a big deal with the Delireis but something larger like the Ottoman could do with some for cycling everyday).

      • Banagher

        Thanks for giving me more informations, really appreciated.

  • Виктор Ковыршин

    Where is Chome, Life behind bars, ILE(InsideLineEquipment)?
    I think those three, as well as three mentioned here: Mission Workshop, Timbuk2, and Mixed works are the best ones for commuters.

    • TeamCarryology

      Hey @kovyrshin:disqus, good point! The bags we love at Chrome are currently discontinued or unavailable (eg Orlov) but ILE and LBB definately deserve a spot. We’ll update.

      • Виктор Ковыршин

        I really want someone to compare those four:
        Chrome, Mission Workshop, ILE, LBB, Mixed Works
        These are bomb-proof, minimalistic packs with some nice options.

  • Seattle Commuter

    Great list and review. I’m just bummed you didn’t talk about the SealLine Urban Pack here.

  • Trader

    A bit late to the discussion. However I use the Thule commuter bike bag. Excellent. Has extra waterproof cover and clips for lights. Got mine from REI.

    • TeamCarryology

      Nice @disqus_18mM0CTdaS:disqus, we’ll take a look!

  • Michael Hellemans

    I use the Berghaus Freeflow backpack. It keeps the pack away from my back with a mesh. It also has a built in rain cover you can put on when you need it. My pack is already around 15 year old. Berghaus has changed its design though.
    These aren’t specifically designed for cycling but do a great job at it.

    • TeamCarryology

      Looks super interesting @michaelhellemans:disqus. We’ll try and track down a sample.

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