- Buyer's Guide
The Best Cycling Backpacks for Daily Commuting
Cycling to work offers a range of benefits, from providing a great way to fit exercise into your daily routine, to embracing eco-friendly transport. But to make it really work for your needs, you’ll want a trusty cycling backpack as your sidekick. So what sort of things should you be thinking about when picking your pack?
Keeping the weather at bay
Commuting by bike offers no easy escape for your gear if the skies open and rain or snow descends. So picking a pack with trusty water resistance is important. Keep an eye out for features such as water-resistant materials and zippers, roll-top closures, welded construction, and included rain covers. In most cases, water-resistant bags will do the job just fine. But if you want that extra bit of reassurance, you can opt for a completely waterproof pack if you think you’ll need it.
Useful organization and quick-access pockets
The degree of organization you require in a bag will obviously depend on your specific setup and personal preferences. However, the chances are high you’ll at least want quick access to keys, a wallet, phone or other small essentials. So check whether a bag you’re interested in offers quick-access pockets. Having interior organization will also be handy for preventing the contents moving around while you’re pedaling hard. Plus you’ll be able to easily reach items with suitable pockets on hand. Interior pockets located high up are useful for keeping small and fragile items away from the bottom of the bag and crush zones. And if you need to carry tech, look out for padded laptop or tablet storage.
When you’re commuting, you want to be focused on the road, not on the load on your back. Features such as a sternum strap and waist belt help stabilize the load and keep the pack close to the body while leaning left or right. And a well-ventilated back panel will go a long way to keeping you comfy too (especially in warmer climates). If you’ll be carrying heavy loads, look for a pack that offers more padding in the back panel and shoulder straps.
High-vis safety features
The more visible you are on a bike to fellow road users, the better. Reflective detailing on a bag will help increase your visibility, especially if the pack itself covers reflective clothing and you need that added boost. For enhanced safety, also look out for attachment points where you can secure bike lights to the bag.
Street to office suave
Any bag you’re taking to work should look suitably appropriate in that environment. If you have a more casual work environment, you can be a bit more flexible when it comes to the bag’s aesthetics. But for more formal settings you’ll want stylish and low-key aesthetics that blend in well. Clean silhouettes and muted colorways such as black, gray or navy will help the pack transition more easily between a range of environments.
With the above in mind, we’ve selected some worthy options below to serve as your biking companion. Discover some of the best cycling backpacks for daily commuting…
Thule’s tough and weatherproof Pack ‘n Pedal Commuter Backpack offers comfort, space and organization for your daily commute essentials, with the option to pack in a little extra when you need to carry more. The 24L pack features a breathable padded back panel and a rolltop closure that opens wide for easy access. A removable padded 15″ laptop sleeve with a tablet pocket makes it easy to transfer tech in and out of the bag, while exterior pockets store quick-access items at the ready. An external-access Crushproof SafeZone compartment stores your phone and sunglasses safely, while a bike helmet net provides additional storage. The pack also comes with a stowable rain cover, reflective detailing and bike light attachment points.
If absolute waterproof protection is a priority, look to the Urban Ex Rolltop from Chrome Industries. This 100% waterproof backpack features Knurled Welded™ construction and a rolltop closure for peace of mind when inclement weather threatens. A quick-access pocket and exterior webbing lets you store frequently used items within easy reach, with further pockets internally to safely store your tech.
The Momentum 32 keeps you comfy and moving freely with its ventilated back panel and flexible harness system. The pack offers a dedicated LidLock™ bike helmet attachment point, a removable high-vis rain cover, and a range of pockets for work and EDC items including a padded laptop and tablet sleeve. And if you’re looking for a more compact alternative for smaller loads, check out the Radial 26.
If you’re after a slim profile and a compact pack for essentials, check out the EVOC Commuter 18L Backpack. A combination of PVC-free EVOC tarpaulin, PU-coated 1000D Cordura and water-resistant zippers provides reliable protection from the elements. Inside you’ll find a variety of pockets to organize work and EDC items including a padded laptop pocket and tablet pocket. The pack includes reflective detailing and a bike light can be secured externally. And for flexible portability you can stow the shoulder straps away and carry the bag using the side handle.
Want to increase commuter safety and maximize your visibility on the go? Ortlieb’s Velocity High Visibility Backpack features integrated high-luminosity reflective yarn to do just that. Plus there’s also an attachment point on both the front and back of the pack for a bike light. The water-resistant bag includes a sternum strap and waist belt for stability on the go. And for organization there’s a removable interior zippered pocket to keep smaller items within easy reach.
Bellroy delivers a sleek cyclist-specific twist on their Shift Backpack with this thoughtful MAAP collaboration. The 22L pack features padded 15″ laptop storage, while a quick-access valuables pocket accommodates a variety of items. With its Slide Hook closure you can easily open and secure the pack even while wearing gloves. And for added convenience zippered side access lets you easily reach gear in the main compartment. The contoured mesh back panel provides breathability while you’re crushing the commute and there’s also a bike light loop and reflective strip to help keep you visible on the go. The bag is crafted with water-resistant Venture Weave and leather and will keep your gear well protected from the elements while looking suitably suave in the office.
Need the flexibility to carry lots of gear if required? The Timbuk2 Bruce features an expandable design that offers up to 60L of storage space, making it a versatile pack for extra-large work loads or travel use. Adjustable sternum and waist straps help stabilize the load on the go and can be removed if not required. The roll-top pack includes magnetic clips for quick and easy access, as well as side zipper laptop storage to get to tech in a jiffy. The reflective panel helps keep you visible on the move, while a choice of pockets give you options for organizing smaller items. The water-resistant pack also comes with a removable rain cover for extra protection if desired and is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Want a sleek urban-friendly pack that can grow on demand to double its volume? Meet the Rambler from Mission Workshop. The pack expands from 22L to 44L when you need extra storage space. The main compartment can be used either in roll-top or flap-down form, with organization pockets on hand to store quick-access items. The USA-made, weatherproof Rambler is backed by a lifetime warranty and comes in a variety of colorways to suit your personal style.
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